Mental health is easily the most frustrating corner of a healthcare sector rife with shortcomings and unmet needs. What’s maddening in this case is that government funding has declined even as the potential for improving mental health has increased. Worse, perhaps, is how a backward mental health system routinely inflicts harm on those people who come in contact with it.
From our union brothers and sisters:
Some Certified Nursing Assistants report having to buy their own equipment to make sure they can monitor patients’ oxygen levels. Physical plant workers report troubling shortages of critical equipment they need to combat mold in ventilation ducts to patient and operating rooms. Now the Hospital is threatening to make the situation even worse by laying off more employees.
At the same time, Lifespan – A Health System paid more than $16.6 million in compensation to just ten executives last year. These individuals averaged $1 million more in compensation than the average compensation earned by CEOs of nonprofit hospitals nationwide. Meanwhile, Rhode Island’s largest healthcare employer has employees working more forty hours per week that get no health coverage.
As the New Year gets underway, we could conjure up a list of “top trends” in philanthropy for 2015 or make a bunch of predictions that we would probably regret twelve months from now, along with all the junk we ate over the holidays.
But we’re going to skip such exercises and instead offer up a quick tour of the obsessions, favorite causes, and pet peeves that we’ll be indulging this year. If you’re still wondering what the agenda is at Inside Philanthropy, you’ve clicked on the right post.
From the Whitehouse Press Office:
Congressman Doggett, Senator Whitehouse Introduce Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act
Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, introduced the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act. The bill closes a number of offshore tax loopholes, eliminates many tax incentives for U.S. companies to move jobs and operations offshore, and modifies rules on corporate inversions for businesses dodging U.S. taxes.
“While most Americans contribute their fair share to our national security and vital public services, some large corporations still are not,” said Doggett. “They revel in single digit effective tax rates, and in some years, many pay their lobbyists more than they pay in federal taxes. Corporations that renounce their citizenship not only invert their business operations but pervert our tax laws. This bill is a step toward righting some of these inequities and ensuring that taxpaying small businesses are provided a more level playing field.”
“Big corporations shouldn’t be allowed to play games with the tax code and benefit from shipping jobs overseas,” Whitehouse said. “This bill would force corporations that are dodging their responsibilities to pay their fair share of taxes, and create an even playing field for American companies that already play by the rules.”
The Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated that provisions similar to those in this bill would raise at least $278 billion in revenue over ten years. More than two dozen of the largest profitable corporations paid no federal taxes at all over a recent five-year period. Among the many provisions of this bill are some recommendations contained in President Obama’s previous Budget Proposals. Find a full summary of the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act House version here.
The bill is one of three “tax fairness” measures introduced by Whitehouse today, which he hopes will help shape the upcoming debate on tax reform.
Good news and more good news: Senator Whitehouse is looking for ways to put the middle class first, get billionaires to pay their fair share, and generate new revenues. Not for nothing, but sometimes I really wish Senator Whitehouse could have been Vice President with Obama. These are the reforms our country desperately needs. From the Whitehouse Press office:
Providence, RI – With President Obama and Republican leaders in Congress citing tax reform as a key area for bipartisan cooperation in the new year, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today announced that he will introduce three bills to make the federal tax system fairer for middle-class families and small businesses. The package would end tax breaks and loopholes that benefit multi-national corporations and the highest earners, and is projected to generate over $300 billion in revenue over 10 years.
“Our tax code is riddled with giveaways and special deals for the biggest corporations and top earners, and that special treatment hurts hardworking Rhode Islanders,” said Whitehouse. “Multi-national corporations stash assets and profits abroad to avoid paying a fair share in taxes. Companies ship jobs overseas and get a tax break for doing it. And billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. These bills would help end this kind of special treatment for special interests, and generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue in the process.”
All three bills will be introduced tomorrow when the Senate is in session. Senator Whitehouse will fight to include these proposals in any tax reform package that moves through the Senate.
Whitehouse’s plan includes:
The Paying a Fair Share Act – The Paying a Fair Share Act would implement the “Buffett Rule,” ensuring that multi-million-dollar earners pay at least a 30 percent effective federal tax rate. The rule is named for legendary investor Warren Buffett, who has famously pointed out that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. The bill, which includes language to preserve the incentive for charitable giving, would generate an estimated $71 billion over ten years.
The Offshoring Prevention Act – Currently, U.S. companies that manufacture goods abroad for sale here at home are allowed to defer payment of federal income tax – waiting to pay taxes on foreign income in years that minimize their tax liability. The Offshoring Prevention Act would require companies that send factories and jobs overseas to play by the same rules as ones supporting jobs in the U.S. The bill would generate an estimated $20 billion in revenue over ten years.
The Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act – Estimates show that Fortune 500 companies hold roughly $2 trillion in offshore holdings to benefit from favorable foreign tax systems and bank secrecy. Championed in previous Congresses by retired Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act would close loopholes that allow multi-national corporations to avoid paying a fair share in taxes by moving assets and profits through intricate networks of offshore subsidiaries and bank accounts. This bill would generate at least $220 billion in revenue over ten years.
None of the bills prescribe uses for the revenue they would generate. It would be up to Congress to decide how the funds would be spent – anything from investments in infrastructure to deficit reduction.
Whitehouse has been a leader in the Senate on tax fairness issues. In addition to authoring the Buffett Rule and Offshoring Prevention legislation in previous Congresses, in 2013, he proposed a plan to replace strict austerity measures contained in the 2011 debt ceiling deal – the budget “sequester” – by closing tax loopholes that benefit the wealthiest Americans and big corporations, and he has spoken often of the injustices in our present tax code.
Exciting things happened in philanthropy this year. Check out this list.
“There is still some stigma about men who say, ‘My kids are more important than my work,’ ” said Scott Coltrane, a sociologist studying fatherhood who is the interim president of the University of Oregon. “And basically that’s the message when men take it. But the fact that women are now much more likely to be at least a principal breadwinner, if not the main breadwinner, really changes the dynamic.”