Two serious debates in Washington right now: Climate change and taxes. These are connected. And the decisions made over the next few days and weeks will impact you and your children’s future.
This is Trahant Reports.
The federal government is required by law to publish a climate assessment. The report is out and it’s troubling.
Quote: “Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present. Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont are all observing climate-related changes that are outside of recent experience. So, too, are coastal planners in Florida, water managers in the arid Southwest, city dwellers from Phoenix to New York, and Native Peoples on tribal lands from Louisiana to Alaska.” The National Climate Assessment concludes that the evidence of human-induced climate change continues to strengthen and that impacts are increasing across the country.
So how is the Congress and the Trump administration responding to the report?
Well, the White House said no worries, the climate is always changing. And both the president and Congress are instead focused on tax cuts.
The tax cuts will save many American Indian and Alaska Native families money. Or perhaps not. Here is the deal. The tax measure would double the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for joint filers. That’s the amount of money you can earn sort of tax free. But the plan takes away deductions for children — so a larger family could end up paying more from the start because of the fewer deductions.
Let’s be clear: The goal of this tax measure is to cut taxes for businesses. Individuals are a side debate.
But this tax proposal is also linked to a budget measure that has already passed Congress. That budget calls for deep spending cuts in federal programs — including those that serve Indian Country. And because of the process: the Senate will need just 50 votes to implement these budget cuts.
That budget also opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development — and an increase in fossil fuel production (the very cause of climate change).
The National Climate Assessment says Alaska is already at risk. “Alaska has warmed twice as fast as the rest of the nation, bringing widespread impacts. Sea ice is rapidly receding and glaciers are shrinking. Thawing permafrost is leading to more wildfire, and affecting infrastructure and wildlife habitat. Rising ocean temperatures and acidification will alter valuable marine fisheries.”
You would think Congress would pay attention to the government’s own warnings. That’s not likely. I am Mark Trahant.