As gas prices continue rising across the United States, it is becoming more clear that – particularly for lower-income Americans – the meager benefits of President Donald Trump’s tax cuts will be swallowed by increases at the pump.
Whether or to what extent Trump’s policies are to blame is open for debate, but the reality is that heading into this year’s midterm elections, one of the Republican party’s biggest talking points could be losing what little power it might have had in the beginning.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics compiles data looking at how much households spend on gas. On average in 2016, consumers spent the equivalent of a bit over 3 percent of their household incomes on gas. That wasn’t uniformly the case; wealthier consumers spent a lower percentage of their incomes on gas even as they bought more of it. The highest percentage spent was by middle-income Americans.
A gallon of gas currently costs about 78 cents more than the 2016 average of $2.14, and if this increase holds, the Post notes that Americans will spend on average about $700 more on gas this year.
Viewing this increased spending on gas alongside Trump’s tax cuts shows just how quickly the extra cash realized by lower- and middle-income Americans will disappear:
The Tax Policy Center calculated how much people in various income groups would be expected to see in federal tax cuts thanks to the new tax law passed last year. In many cases, the expected cuts are minor. If we compare those expected cuts to how much more a household might pay in gas costs,* using the increase from Trump’s first week in office until now, the results are remarkable.
Those in the bottom 20 percent of income-earners will pay three or four times more in higher gas prices than they’ll get back in tax cuts. Those in the next highest quintile of incomes will see a wash — getting back about as much as they pay in higher gas prices.
Facebook Will Now Require Social Security Numbers
Facebook users in the U.S. who want to buy certain ads will now have to provide the last four digits of their Social Security number.
It is all about confirming a buyer’s identity and attaching a “paid for by” tag to the ads, according to WPTV.
Users who want to buy certain ads will have to identify themselves by providing the last four digits of their Social Security number.
Those who want to buy these kinds of ads will also need to give Facebook a picture of a government-issued ID and provide a U.S. mailing address.
Facebook says it will use all this information to confirm the ad buyer’s identity and then delete it.
The company also says approved ads will be identified with a “paid for by” tag.
The new guidelines for political ads comes as the social media giant is reeling from revelations related to alleged Russian election interference and the improper accessing of its users data.
This month, the House Intelligence Committee released a cache of more than 3,000 ads purchased by the Internet Research Agency, a pro-Kremlin group that purchased political advertising on Facebook in an attempt to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took his apology tour to Brussels on Tuesday.
He faced questions about the scandal over improper use of millions of Facebook users’ data.
He defended his company over the misuse of data by the British company Cambridge Analytica, a consultancy that worked on the Trump presidential campaign.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal affected up to 87 million users and prompting several apologies from Zuckerberg and generated calls for regulation and for users to leave the social network.
Novartis Drug Company May Have Bribed Cohen to Reach Trump
Novartis AG is among the companies reacting to reports that they made payments to a consulting company created by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.
And the Swiss drugmaker’s response is essentially that its deal with Cohen’s Essential Consultants has nothing to do with its current management team.
“In February 2017, Novartis entered into a one-year agreement with Essential Consultants shortly after the election of President Trump,” and the deal was “focused on U.S. health-care policy matters,” Novartis said in a statement.
“The terms were consistent with the market. The agreement expired in February 2018,” the company added.
“The engagement of Essential Consultants predated Vas Narasimhan becoming Novartis CEO. Dr. Narasimhan had no involvement whatsoever with this arrangement.”
Narasimhan became the drugmaker’s CEO on Feb. 1, taking the reins from Joe Jimenez. Jimenez stepped down after leading the pharmaceutical giant through a tumultuous eight years marked by big patent expiries and intensifying scrutiny on drug pricing in the U.S.
Before scoring the CEO job, Narasimhan served as the company’s global head of drug development and chief medical officer. He joined Novartis NOVN, -0.85% in 2005 after a stint with consultancy McKinsey & Co.
The reports about companies paying Cohen’s firm have come as a memo on the topic was released on Twitter by Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for former porn star Stephanie Clifford. Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, has alleged she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.
Small Businesss Praise Senators Markey’s and Schumer’s Action to Preserve Net Neutrality
In advance of today’s expected U.S. Senate discharge petition to reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality protections, businesses and business groups released statements supporting net neutrality and the action by Senators Markey and Schumer.
The American Sustainable Business Council, Engine, Main Street Alliance, Small Business Majority, Etsy, and others are releasing a co-sponsored business sign-on statement that has collected nearly 6,000 signatures of support of the Senate action to restore net neutrality. Additionally, ASBC, MSA, SBM are releasing a separate letter in support of net neutrality signed by nearly 250 member businesses.
Scientific polling commissioned by Small Business Majority found that 56% of small business owners oppose the FCC’s 2017 repeal of its 2015 Open Internet Order that established net neutrality protections.
American Sustainable Business Council’s President and Co-founder David Levine said, “Only the very few companies that sell internet access stand to benefit from the repeal of net neutrality. The rest of businesses are at risk. We know that unencumbered connectivity is a key engine of business productivity, innovation, and growth. We heartily endorse Senate action to preserve the principle of net neutrality, a key foundation of free enterprise in the United States.”
John Arensmeyer, Small Business Majority Founder & CEO said, “Entrepreneurs depend on an open and fast internet to process orders and market products, so it’s no surprise the majority of small business owners oppose the end of net neutrality. In the absence of net neutrality, small businesses will find it hard to compete with corporations that have the resources to ensure their websites are prioritized by internet service providers.”
Amanda Ballantyne, National Director of Main Street Alliance said, “The internet is vital to doing business in this day and age, and small businesses and entrepreneurs rely on a fair, open Internet to start businesses and reach a broader base of customers. Without net neutrality regulations, there’s nothing to stop big businesses like Verizon from charging Main Street exorbitant fees to do business online. In short, while only a few companies sell access to the Internet, nearly every business has to buy it – including those of Main Street Alliance. Eliminating the 2015 Open Internet protections would be a disaster for small businesses and consumers alike.”
Evan Engstrom, Executive Director of Engine said,”The open internet allows anyone with a great idea to cheaply and easily launch a business and reach a worldwide audience. If the FCC is allowed to proceed with its efforts to rescind net neutrality rules, the internet will become skewed towards large incumbents, making it much more difficult for the next generation of innovators to build companies and grow the economy.”
“As the owner of a cloud-based bookkeeping and tax prep firm, I depend on high quality, fast internet for the success of my business,” said Elizabeth James, owner of Rincon Controller and Tax Services in Carpinteria, Calif. and a member of Small Business Majority’s network. “My clients do as well. Dismantling net neutrality would be a blow to small businesses that already struggle to compete with larger corporations, and it could threaten free trade as well as America’s place as a worldwide leader in entrepreneurship.”
“Net neutrality is an important policy for ensuring a level playing field for the thousands of small businesses that build software on GitHub,” said Tal Niv, VP of Law & Policy for CA-based GitHub, a member of Engine.
“As the CEO of an online services company, I see the looming threats up close. ISPs have long wanted to charge extra fees and create pay-to-play fast lanes, but the FCC has always stopped them. Now our business and non-profit clients could face the prospect of having to pay ISPs just so their sites load properly. In the worst case, they might get stuck in a “slow lane” for lack of funds for the fast lane,” said Mac Clemmens, CEO of Digital Deployment, a CA-based web development company, and member of the American Sustainable Business Council.
The small business sign-on statement with nearly 6,000 signatures calls for Congress to reverse the FCC decision in December 2017 to repeal its own 2015 rule, which codified net neutrality protections. That statement and the list of signers may be found here: https://www.businessesfornetneutrality.com.
In addition, ASBC, MSA and SBM co-sponsored a separate business sign-on statement that calls on congress to restore net neutrality protections through any possible means. It says, in part, “Removing the 2015 standards undermines our free market economy by handing internet access providers immense power to steer businesses and customers one way or another.” That statement may be found here: netneutrality.asbcouncil.org.
The American Sustainable Business Council advocates for policy change and informs business owners and the public about the need and opportunities for building a vibrant, sustainable economy. Through its national member network it represents more than 250,000 businesses in a wide range of industries. www.asbcouncil.org
Engine supports the growth of technology entrepreneurship through economic research, policy analysis, and advocacy on local and national issues. Founded in 2011 to harness the political power of the startup and tech communities, Engine is a policy, advocacy, and research organization supporting startups as an engine for economic growth. Learn more at engine.is.
The Main Street Alliance works to provide small businesses a voice on the most pressing public policy issues across the nation. Our advocacy promotes vibrant businesses and healthy communities, and fosters leadership development of socially responsible business leaders. The Main Street Alliance national network formed in 2008 to give Main Street small business owners a new voice in the health care reform debate, and has since broadened its focus to work on a range of issues that matter to small businesses and local economies. Our growing network includes small business coalitions in over a dozen states. Alliance small business owners share a vision of public policies that work for business owners, our employees, and the communities we serve. www.mainstreetalliance.org
Small Business Majority was founded and is run by small business owners to ensure America’s entrepreneurs are a key part of an inclusive, equitable and diverse economy. We actively engage our network of more than 55,000 small business owners in support of public policy solutions and deliver information and resources to entrepreneurs that promote small business growth. Our extensive scientific polling, focus groups and economic research help us educate and inform policymakers, the media and other stakeholders about key issues impacting small businesses and freelancers. Learn more about us on our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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