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AltAusterity Digest #44 April 19-25, 2018

This week in Austerity News:

Apr 30, 2018

With the announcement that the UK government budget deficit is lower than expected, chancellor Philip Hammond has suggested that he might be able to “enable further increases in public spending.” For the first time since 2001-02 the government met it’s target deficit, with borrowing down to £42.6bn in 2017-18, against the projected £45.2bn. While these “healthy public finances” are being widely celebrated, tax revenue and public spending are still down from the previous fiscal year, suggesting the UK’s economy is still struggling.

Amnesty International has published a new report, Wrong Prescription: The Impact of Austerity Measures on the Right to Health in Spain, highlighting the human rights impacts associated with cuts to the Spanish National Health System (SNS). The report highlights how the austerity measures have had a disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations including those with lower incomes and those with disabilities. The SNS has decreased spending on health workers – leading to declining working conditions and a decrease in the number of workers by almost 30,000 – resulting in a substantial increase in waiting times and a deteriorating quality of health care.

Greek protestors took to the streets again on Wednesday in opposition to the sale of power plants, planned pension cuts, and cuts to healthcare funding. The “left-wing” government of Alexis Tsipras has agreed with creditors that it will continue infrastructure privatization and spending controls. Hospital workers have also gone on strike, demanding increased funding. If austerity measures are expanded into 2019-2020, it will mean Greece has been under the thumb of their creditors for a decade, starting with the international bailouts in 2010.

On Monday, the release of a US congressional report from the Joint Committee on Taxation found that a new deduction for “pass-through” companies are heavily benefiting the rich. Pass-through companies – such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, or S corporations – will save $40.2bn in 2018. Of that $40.2bn, individuals and households making more than $1 million will save $17.4bn. These savings for the super-wealthy are a part of the Republican tax bill that cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.

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!