JANUARY 23 MEETING PREVIEW – OUR ELECTIONS!

At our January meeting we will vote on the following:

  • 2018 Officers for our Club
    Our Budget for 2018
    Our general calendar of meetings for 2018
    Delegates to the California Democratic Council Convention

OFFICERS

As Immediate Past President, it is my responsibility to recruit members to run for the officer positions.  Here are the current officer candidates (* indicates incumbent):

Executive Vice President – Mister Phillips *

Treasurer – Greg Lyman *

Vice President of Membership – Champagne Brown

Vice President of Records – Rosa Esquivel

Vice President of Communications – Mollie Hazen *

Vice President of Programs – Paul Fadelli

Our current president, Peter Chau, has agreed to continue as Interim President until we are able to recruit someone else to run.

We are still trying to recruit someone to agree to be Vice President of Publications.

BUDGET

We will have a proposed budget for your consideration by Friday; however, we wanted to give notice that the budget will be voted on at our January 23 meeting.

PROGRAMS

As in the past, once our new officers have been elected, the Vice President of Programs will chair the discussion about our program calendar and topics.  However, since 2018 is an election year, there are several meetings that will be focused on endorsements.  Here is the tentative schedule for endorsement meetings:

February 27 at Harding School Auditorium – Candidate forum with the 9 candidates running to fill the 15th Assembly District seat currently held by Tony Thurmond.  Assemblymember Thurmond is running for State Superintendent of Schools.

March 27 – Consider state wide candidates and ballot measures  that will appear on the June primary ballot

July 4 — Club participation in celebration at Cerrito Vista Park.

August – A Saturday meeting at El Cerrito High School for local races (City Council, School Board, regional parks, etc.) Date to be announced.

August – Regular Tuesday meeting to consider ballot measures and propositions that will appear on the November, 2018 ballot

October – annual dinner; speaker to be determined

December – Holiday Party

We will be able to propose program topics for the regular meetings in April, May, June, July and September.

DELEGATES TO THE CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC COUNCIL CONVENTION

The ECDC has been a member of the California Democratic Council (CDC) since its founding in 1952.  There’s a good article about it on Wikipedia; you can see it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Democratic_Council

For the past few years, the leadership of the CDC has been in disarray, and its activities have been erratic.  However, there is a new effort to re-vitalize it, and as an affiliated club, we can participate in the election of new officers to the CDC.  That election will take place in San Diego during the California Democratic Party Convention on February 23, 2018.  Since we have 198 members we are entitled to 20 delegates. Delegates must be present to vote.  We can elect our delegates at our January meeting.  Delegates will have to attend the CDP convention in order to participate.  Travel and accommodations will be the responsibility of the individual delegates unless our members vote to subsidize these expenses as part of ratifying our club budget.

Several members of our club are also delegates to the CDP Convention, so attending the CDC meeting would not entail additional expense should any of them decide to volunteer to run as CDC delegates.

Voting delegates must supply their email address to the CDC in order to receive election related communications.

Hilary Crosby
Immediate Past President, ECDC

INCOME INEQUALITY AND THE TRUMP TAX PLAN

Income inequality is defined as the disproportionate allocation of household or individual income to a proportion of the population. Thus, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported in 2013 that the top 10% of U.S. families held 70% of the nation’s wealth while the bottom 50% of families held 1%–and that this unequal distribution had worsened from 1989 to 2013.  As Robert Reich has said, income inequality is the defining issue in America.  Income inequality can be made much worse by a regressive tax code, such as is contained inthe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that Trump signed into law in December, 2017.

The Tax Policy Center in Washington, DC expects the Act to decrease federal revenue by $7.2 trillion over the next 10 years and another $8.9 trillion in the following decade.  Three-quarters of this decline results from reductions in business taxes.  We will thus experience higher deficits, expected to dampen the economy and not produce job growth.

In its December, 2017 report, the CBO describes the Trump tax plan as providing more tax benefits to higher income individuals and businesses. For businesses, the Act lowers the maximum corporate tax rate from 33 percent to 21 percent, the lowest since 1939–and it is estimated that corporation tax deductions further lower this to an effective rate of about 18 percent.  The business tax cut is permanent (it does not sunset in 2025, unlike individual rates). The Act eliminates the corporate AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax), adding an estimated $40B to the deficit. And the Act raises the standard deduction to 20 percent for pass-through businesses (i.e. S corps, LLCs, sole proprietorships, partnerships) including real estate companies, private equity funds and hedge funds.

For higher income families, the Act doubles the estate tax exemption to $11.2M for individuals and $22.4M for couples, benefiting the top 1%.  It keeps the AMT, but phases it out at $500,000 for individuals and $1M for couples. It provides a tax deduction for $10,000/year contributions to 529 plans for tuition at private and religious K-12 schools.

Overall, the Act keeps seven personal income tax brackets, but lowers tax rates (only until 2026). But the Act uses a chained consumer price index, which means that over time, people will move into higher tax brackets. It doubles the standard deduction, but eliminates personal exemptions and most itemized deductions, limiting the mortgage interest deduction to $750K and deduction for state and local taxes to $10K.  Significantly, the Act’s doubling of the standard deduction will cause an estimated 21 million Americans to lose the tax benefit of itemized charitable deductions–and nonprofits are projecting serious declines in charitable giving that provides a real safety net for the poor in every community.

The Act expands the deduction for medical expenses (dropping the deduction threshold from 10% to 7.5% of income), but only for 2017 and 2018.  Meanwhile, the Act ends the Affordable Care Act mandate for health insurance, which is estimated to cause more than 10 million people to drop their plans, thereby increasing healthcare plan costs for lower-income Americans and reducing the number of healthcare plan providers in every state.

Passive activity bonds, that are utilized by developers of affordable housing, are continued.  However, lower corporate tax rates are anticipated to reduce developer interest in affordable housing tax credits.

One big unknown:  will the GOP continue to believe in supply-side economics (where tax cuts to businesses and the wealthy lead to economic growth) or, with rising deficits, will they resort to the Reagan-era cuts in social services — and go beyond those cuts to threaten Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid?

Stay tuned and keep resisting!