Cutting taxes on corporations and the wealthy should be the last thing on the mind of federal policymakers. But as the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reports, the White House is mulling several election-year proposals to make life easier for those who already are doing just fine. The proposals include a capital gains tax cut, deductions for meals and entertainment expenses and a suspension of payroll taxes that would mainly affect the richest one-fifth of Americans:
None of the tax proposals considered by the administration would provide help to those who need it or do much, if anything, to boost investment. All would be less helpful than extending and improving unemployment insurance benefits, which the administration is seeking to limit.
The Louisiana Legislature, with advice from a task force composed mainly of corporate lobbyists, is taking a similar approach. The agenda for the current special session is larded with tax breaks for businesses, which would result in fewer dollars being available for programs that educate children and provide direct relief to families in need.
Split-jury cases back in lower courts
More than three dozen Louisianans who were convicted of crimes by non-unanimous juries will have their cases reviewed in lower courts. But the Louisiana Supreme Court stopped short of overturning the convictions of people who were ensnared by the state’s racially motivated split-jury law, which Louisiana voters abolished in 2018 for new cases. The U.S. Supreme Court also invalidated split jury verdicts, but has not yet ruled on whether that should apply retroactively. Outgoing state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson spoke with Nola.com:
“There are some rules of procedure untethered to our history of discrimination against African Americans where the question of retroactive application may carry less weight,” Johnson said. “But this was an intentionally racially discriminatory law that has disproportionately affected Black defendants and Black jurors. There is no principled or moral justification for differentiating between the remedy for a prisoner convicted by that law whose case is on direct review and one whose conviction is final. Both are equally the product of a racist and unconstitutional law.”
Events of 2020 exposed major disparities
The coronavirus pandemic followed by the killing of George Floyd has exposed structural and systemic racial inequities that often result in poorer health outcomes for people of color. Samantha Artiga with the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that these conditions predated the pandemic, and cannot simply be fixed by improving access to health care services.
Though health care is essential to health, it is a relatively weak health determinant. Research shows that social determinants of health—the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age—are primary drivers of health. They include factors like socioeconomic status, education, neighborhood and physical environment, employment, and social support networks, as well as access to health care.
No way to return to normal
The federal government’s rapid response to the Covid-19 pandemic – which rushed hundreds of billions of dollars to people, businesses and communities – showed that Washington has the power to help people in need when it wants to. It simply has chosen not to. As leaders now push for a “return to normal,” Diallo Brooks writes that the old status quo won’t be good enough. He writes for Colorlines:
Going back to the old normal would be a disservice to us all. Going forward, let’s strive to create a country that values all human life equally and provides safeguards and solutions to mitigate the suffering and injustice of “business as usual.” Because our country isn’t a business, and we find ourselves at this crossroads largely because of the business-driven models that prioritize corporate wellbeing over safety, equity and the welfare of all people.
Number of the Day
16 – The percentage that millennial employment plunged in March and April of this year, which is faster than either Gen X (12%) or for Baby Boomers (13%). (Source: The Washington Post).