The shameful DACA decision

The shameful DACA decision

Faith leaders, CEOs of major U.S. businesses and a strong majority of Americans disagree with President Donald Trump’s decision to end the federal program that allowed unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children the chance to live and work without the threat of deportation.

Number of the Day

$30 million - Amount of public funding Shreveport’s mayor, Ollie Tyler, is willing to put towards a new arena intended for the New Orleans Pelicans’ minor league team. (Source: Shreveport Times)

Faith leaders, CEOs of major U.S. businesses and a strong majority of Americans disagree with President Donald Trump’s decision to end the federal program that allowed unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children the chance to live and work without the threat of deportation. The Advocate’s Bryn Stole reports on the reaction of leaders in Louisiana.

Others in Louisiana pointed to the potential economic costs of ending the program for about 2,000 undocumented immigrants in the state, many of whom have obtained degrees and are now employed. Jan Moller, with the Louisiana Budget Project, called it a “shameful and cruel political decision” with ramifications for the state’s budget and broader economy. … “It’s a shame that immigrant families keep getting caught up in American politics, especially when study after study shows they’re an economic benefit to this country, even those who are undocumented,” said David Aguillard, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. “They pay taxes and increase our nation’s economic productivity.”

Vox’s Ella Nilsen, Alexia Fernandez Campbell, Dylan Matthews and Dara Lind fact check a number of claims about DACA made by the Trump administration, finding that officials repeatedly misled the public in its justifications for ending the program.

The economic evidence is very clear that immigration is a huge boon for Americans as a whole. In part that’s because of complementarity: Immigrants don’t take jobs from Americans; they let Americans take higher-skill jobs (ones requiring English language fluency, for instance) and complement their labor. America’s past experience confirms this. When the US ended a guest worker program that let Mexican laborers work on US farms in the early 1960s, wages for US farm workers didn’t rise at all, nor did more Americans get jobs. Companies simply bought more machines to make up for the lost workers.

Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, urged Congress to act. NPR’s Aarti Shahani:

“There is nothing that we will be pushing on more strongly for Congress to act on,” Smith said in an interview with NPR. “We put a stake in the ground. We care about a tax reform bill. The entire business community cares about a tax reform. And yet it is very clear today a tax reform bill needs to be set aside until the DREAMers are taken care of. They have a deadline that expires in six months. Tax reform can wait.”

 

Changes to neo-voucher program

A state program that ultimately funnels state dollars to private schools is undergoing some changes. The largest “donor” to the program – First NBC Bank of New Orleans – recently went belly-up, meaning other groups had to plug the gaps in upfront funding. In addition, legislation passed during the 2017 regular session converted the program from a rebate to a tax credit. The Advocate’s Charles Lussier explains how the program works and how it’s changing.

Donors underwrite part, but not all, of a child’s private school tuition. Later, donors get back 95 cents for every dollar they give. And they can write the whole thing off as a charitable donation on their federal taxes. Starting Jan. 1, though, donors to the program will no longer get recompensed via a state rebate that’s paid out of general state tax collections. Instead, donors will be repaid in the form of a credit on their state income taxes. That’s in line with how 16 other states already organize their own private school choice programs. Their tax payments then will be redirected out of the state treasury and into the hands of Louisiana private schools to offset student tuition.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy has documented how wealthy individuals can game the system and actually turn a profit through tax credits similar to the revised version of the program that will go into effect in Louisiana on January 1, 2018.

 

Bipartisan opportunities for Congress

For each area of Congress’ long to-do list, there are two paths forward. A divisive, partisan track and a consensus, bipartisan one. Bob Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, details these options on appropriations, disaster relief, health care, debt ceiling and tax legislation.

Disaster aid has sometimes been delayed in the past because some in Congress wanted to attach controversial budget cuts to legislation providing needed relief.  (Proponents of “paying for” disaster aid never propose using revenue-raising measures to offset any of the costs, showing that there is an ideological component to their demands.)  Policymakers’ top priority must be to aid hard-hit communities and families as quickly as possible.

One crucial piece of the agenda is renewing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which expires on Sept. 30. The CBPP’s Jesse Cross-Call describes what’s at stake:

Children’s health coverage has hit an all-time high, with 95 percent of children covered in 2015, and the children’s uninsured rate fell by nearly two-thirds between 1997 and 2015 (see graph). That largely reflects the success of CHIP, Medicaid, and the ACA’s coverage expansions. To avoid jeopardizing this historic progress, the President and Congress should enact a clean, multi-year CHIP funding extension in September.

 

Employer-sponsored health insurance history

A wage freeze during World War II led employers to try to attract workers by offering generous health insurance benefits. A tax exclusion for employer-paid premiums was then added into the tax code, effectively linking health insurance to the labor market in the United States. Aaron E. Carroll takes a look at this history in The New York Times’ Upshot blog.

The single largest tax expenditure in the United States is for employer-based health insurance. It’s even more than the mortgage interest deduction. In 2017, this exclusion cost the federal government about $260 billion in lost income and payroll taxes. This is significantly more than the cost of the Affordable Care Act each year. This system is regressive. The tax break for employer-sponsored health insurance is worth more to people making a lot of money than people making little.

 

Number of the Day

$30 million – Amount of public funding Shreveport’s mayor, Ollie Tyler, is willing to put towards a new arena intended for the New Orleans Pelicans’ minor league team. (Source: Shreveport Times)