The Short Version: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The Short Version: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The point of it all is to break down the headlines, determine why an issue is important, and reveal the best arguments on each side of the story. Recently Cleo Abram explored the hot button issue of net neutrality.

This week she tackles the massive tax bill passed by the Senate on Saturday morning. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as it’s called, has huge implications on health care, corporate tax rates and the national deficit, among other things. 

Note: If you have missed any of Cleo’s blogs, just go to our Home Page, type “The Short Version” into Search (magnifying glass icon) and poof, like magic, all her blogs will appear.

Cleo Constantine Abrams of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

What’s happening?

At 1:50 am Saturday morning, the Senate passed a massive tax bill without a full analysis of its impact. The bill:

Favors corporations by cutting the tax rate they pay on profits (the corporate income tax rate) from 35% to 20%.

Undercuts Obamacare by repealing the part of the law that requires people to buy insurance (the individual health care mandate).

Lowers taxes for most Americans in the short term but dramatically advantages the wealthiest 5%. And tax cuts for the lower income half of all Americans disappear after 10 years, while the benefits to the wealthiest remain.

Cuts federal alcohol taxes, which would reduce the cost of booze. Public health experts say this would also lead to 1,550 more alcohol-related deaths annually.

Disincentivizes charitable donations by shrinking associated tax benefits.

Doubles the amount of money you can give tax-free when you die, from $5 million we have now to $11 million (the estate tax). The change would reduce the number of people who pay the estate tax from around 5,000 to only 1,800.

Adds approximately $1 trillion to the national deficit, adjusted for economic growth ($1.4 trillion without adjustments).

The bill isn’t law yet. The House and Senate bills are different—the House also adds a crushing tax on PhD students, for example—so the two need to go through a conference committee process. Each house nominates members to negotiate, create and pass a conference report, which is sent back to both houses for a full vote before reaching the President.

Why is it important?

In case that list wasn’t obvious, this bill would meaningfully restructure critical parts of the American economy, from health care to education to philanthropy to corporate business.

The bill, like every major Republican plans since President Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts, rests on one central claim: that cutting tax rates for corporations and high-income individuals creates jobs and increases wages for everyone.

But experts say the bill would skyrocket the national debtworsen income inequality, and usher in the collapse of Obamacare insurance marketplaces.

If passed, this bill will affect you.

Debate it!

Should Congress pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act?

Read the full debate here.

Why The Short Version on TIO?

Over nine years ago, Telluride Inside…and Out began as a lifestyle webzine. Today, in the full knowledge that Telluride is a window on the world, we continue to bring the “zazz” (short for “pizzazz) of the region to a local, national, and global audience by covering everything from Telluride’s robust cultural economy – major events and festivals – to health and fitness and outdoor adventure. When Telluride travels, we write about places to go, people to meet too. (That’s part of the “Out” part of our handle, the other, obviously, Outdoors.)

And now, this weekly column, “The Short Version,” which offers simple summaries of issues of national and global importance.

“The Short Version” is written by Cleo Constantine Abram, the daughter of Telluride locals Eleni Constantine and Jonathan Abram (and therefore an honorary local and regular visitor) and a digital strategist.

Why “The Short Version”? Because, though we live in Shangri-La, our bubble is not impermeable and the rest of the world is only a click away. Because there is no inconsequential action; only consequential inaction. And because information is power in a moment so many of us are feeling powerless.

More about Cleo Constantine Abram:


Cleo Abram 2

Cleo grew up in Washington D.C., lives in New York City, and loves to visit her parents in Telluride. She authors “The Short Version,” a newsletter that explains each week’s most important issue and both sides of the debate around it.

Cleo is a digital strategist now working at Vox, a general interest news site for the 21st century. Its mission is simple: Explain the news. Politics, public policy, world affairs, pop culture, science, business, and more.

Cleo’s work focuses on ways to share, educate, and inform using online platforms. While in college at Columbia University, she guided the school’s entrance into online education through her role as the youngest elected representative to the Columbia Senate, which makes university-wide policy.

She continued her work on online education at TED-Ed, the educational branch of the nonprofit, building new programs and online tools to support high school teachers worldwide.

Continuing her work with TED, Cleo founded and led an early TEDx conference, the organization’s community-specific series.

Recently, Cleo returned to school, studying video storytelling at Columbia Journalism School.

Most importantly, Cleo loves to ski.


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