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AltAusterity Digest #23 November 16-22, 2017

This week in Austerity News:

Nov 24, 2017

On November 17th, EU leaders met in Gothenburg, Sweden to discuss a European Pillar of Social Rights to build a “fairer and more inclusive European Union”. One of the discussed measures of the Social Pillar would be a “social scoreboard,” used for tracking the progressiveness of member states on criteria relating to working conditions, inequalities and social protections. These moves come less than a month before the European Commission plans to introduce to parliament legislation that will constitutionalize the Treaty on Stability, Cooperation and Governance into EU law. The TSCG is known for it’s non-democratic mechanisms of ensuring austerity in member countries. 

Bundled in with the U.S. House Republican tax cuts, is the elimination of the education expense deduction slated to save $210 million a year. The $250 per-year personal tax deduction is targeted towards teachers who use their own money to buy supplies for their classroom. This tax deduction is widely supported by teachers, who have used it to subsidize their underfunded classrooms. The House GOP’s drive to “simplify the tax code” will get rid of this deduction, along with other popular deductions for moving expenses, student loan interest and health savings accounts, all while cutting taxes for the richest Americans and corporations. While the House GOP has passed its version of the bill, the Senate GOP would like to see the deduction to $500, and would like to maintain student loan interest deductions.

Last week Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced her government’s plans to start “compassionately cutting” spending in the spring budget. Notley also said the government plans to negotiate “common-sense agreements” with public-sector unions. This announcement has worried the Alberta Teachers’ Association, who will begin contract negotiations in the spring, and the United Nurses of Alberta, who are currently in negotiations. Both unions have suggested raising taxes instead of cutting public services.

An analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown that certain departments could face real-terms cuts of as high as 40% from their levels in 2010 to the projected levels in 2020. According to the IFS report – which was confirmed by parliament – the departments with the greatest cuts will be “the Ministry of Justice, the communities part of the Department for Communities and Local Government, and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.” However, the report goes on to say that it will be in the areas of welfare and NHS cuts that the public will notice the greatest reductions in services, due to their already chronic underfunding.  

That's it for this week's Digest! Check back next Friday morning for another edition, or subscribe to our newsletter for a weekly roundup. We'll also Tweet each time we add new content, so you can keep up with our work @AltAusterity and join the #altausterity conversation!