Tag Archives: Obamacare

After their tax bill, the GOP is coming for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

The Senate Finance Committee late Thursday approved the Senate’s version of the GOP’s “tax cuts for corporations and Plutocrats” bill, after the House passed its version earlier in the day. Senate panel approves GOP tax plan. The panel voted to send the tax plan to the full Senate on a party-line vote of 14-12.

The Septuagenarian Ninja Turtle, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said in a statement “When the Senate returns after Thanksgiving, I will bring this must-pass legislation to the floor for further debate and open consideration.”

Well, this is going to make for some heated discussions at Thanksgiving dinner when your drunk uncle shows up wearing his MAGA hat and Trump T-shirt. Here’s some information that you can use to try to properly educate your ignorant drunk uncle.

Paul Waldman of the Washington Post explains, The GOP tax plan is moving forward. It’s a big scam on Trump’s base.

If you’re one of those white working-class voters who propelled Donald Trump into the presidency and gave Republicans total control of Washington, the GOP has a message for you: Sucker!

Today the House [passed] its version of a tax reform bill, and if and when the Senate passes its version, the two will be combined in a final bill that will most likely wind up becoming law. We already knew that the House version would raise taxes on tens of millions of Americans — about 36 million, according to figures from the Joint Committee on Taxation, whose job it is to analyze tax bills before they’re voted on. Now we’re learning more about the Senate version:

The tax bill Senate Republicans are championing would give large tax cuts to millionaires while raising taxes on American families earning $10,000 to $75,000 over the next decade, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’ official nonpartisan analysts.

President Trump and Republican lawmakers have been heralding their bill as a win for hard-working Americans, but the JCT report casts serious doubt on that claim. Tax hikes for households earning $10,000 to $30,000 would start in 2021 and grow sharply from there. By the year 2027, Americans earning $30,000 to $75,000 a year would also be forced to pay more in taxes even though people earning over $100,000 continue to get substantial tax cuts.

Everyone always knew Republicans were going to cut taxes for the wealthy. They’re Republicans; that’s what they do. But it’s a genuine surprise to see them raising taxes on people with more modest incomes. Why isn’t this being angrily decried by all those conservatives who believe that tax increases are a crime against humanity? Could it possibly be that they don’t really care about the middle class as much as they say? Was the whole point of this exercise to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and if regular people have to pay more so those at the top can pay less, then that’s fine with them? Say it isn’t so!

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Arizona Supreme Court upholds Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion

Finally, some good news today! The Arizona Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the Court of Appeals in a decision, Biggs v. Betlach Opinion (.pdf), that  Governor Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan is not a tax and is excepted from the two-thirds supermajority vote required by Prop. 108 (1992), the “Two-Thirds for Taxes” Amendment (aka the GOP’s weapon of mass destruction).

This is a major defeat for the “Kochtopus” Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, which represented the GOP legislators who voted against the Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan.

Boom! goes the Death Star! The Rebellion has won!

The Arizona Capitol Times reports Arizona Supreme Court upholds Medicaid expansion:

The state’s high court this morning upheld the legality of an assessment on hospitals that helps pay for health care for 400,000 Arizonans.

In a unanimous decision, the justices rejected arguments by the attorney for some Republican lawmakers that the levy, approved by the Legislature in 2013, was illegally enacted.

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Action Alert: Time to kill the evil GOP bastards’ ‘tax cuts for corporations and Putocrats’ bill

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch released the revisions to the Senate tax plan Tuesday night. The new version sunsets most of the individual tax provisions after 2025, but makes the lower corporate tax rate permanent. Senate GOP changes tax bill to add Obamacare mandate repeal, make individual income cuts expire:

Senate Republicans announced that the individual tax cuts in the plan would be made temporary, expiring at the end of 2025 to comply with Senate rules limiting the impact of legislation on the long-term deficit [by making the individual income tax cuts temporary, Senate leaders are seeking to ensure that the bill does not violate the chamber’s Byrd Rule that prohibits legislation passed with fewer than 60 votes from raising the deficit after 10 years]. A corporate tax cut, reducing the rate from 35 to 20 percent, would be left permanent.

Oh, and it also repeals the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

This would result in 13 million fewer people having health insurance, according to projections from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The CBO has also projected that repealing the individual mandate would drive up insurance premiums for many Americans by roughly 10 percent.

As Axios.com says:

Remember “skinny repeal”? The repeal bill that all but three Senate Republicans voted for on the express condition that it not become law? Because, as Sen. Lindsey Graham put it, “the skinny bill as policy is a disaster”? The policy is basically the same this time around.

  • “Skinny repeal” would have done more than just end the individual mandate, but that was its biggest change, and the one that made it a “disaster” for insurance markets. Any vehicle that repeals the individual mandate, without a replacement, will cause premiums to rise and leave millions more Americans uninsured.
  • That said, none of the three senators who killed skinny repeal — Susan Collins, John McCain or Lisa Murkowski — has said repealing the individual mandate would be a deal-breaker for their tax votes.

Why now? The savings. Repealing the mandate would save the government roughly $340 billion over a decade, and Republicans need that money to help offset the lost revenues from $1.5 trillion in tax cuts.

  • As CBO reminded lawmakers yesterday, if the tax bill does end up adding $1.5 trillion to the deficit, automatic cuts would kick in — including $25 billion from Medicare. Some Republicans have also said they won’t vote for a tax bill that adds to the deficit, making the search for spending cuts especially important.

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Action Alert: Sabotage of ‘Obamacare’ is back on the agenda in GOP tax cut bill

Tea-Publicans have a math problem with their tax cut bill to avoid the Senate cloture rule of 60 votes to close debate on their tax cut bill, so now the repeal of  the “Obamacare” individual mandate is back on the table to raise the revenue necessary to comply with the “Byrd Rule” in the Senate.

In short, Tea-Publicans are going to sabotage “Obamacare” in order to give tax cuts to corporations and Plutocrats.

Phil Mattingly at CNN explains in brief, Tax reform state of play: Republicans’ math problem:

House Republicans have a math problem, according to a separate JCT analysis circulated to members Tuesday night.

Due to changes made to the proposal in committee, most notably a significant change in a 20% excise tax for multinational companies, the bill is now about $74 billion over the $1.5 trillion target for deficits the committee is supposed to hit. And aides acknowledge more changes are coming that will likely add more to that.

So what do they do? Well, they need revenue.

Where can they find it? There’s a reason the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate hasn’t been taken off the table yet. As I’ve noted many times, House GOP leaders do not want to bring this into play and Senate Republicans are very unlikely to include it at any point, sources tell me.

Tara Golsham at Vox.com adds further, The Republican tax reform bill will live and die by this obscure Senate rule:

Republicans have a math problem.

The tax reform bill they are pushing through the Senate will live and die by a complicated rule — known as the “Byrd Rule,” a condition of the “budget reconciliation” process that allows Republicans to pass legislation with only 51 votes in the Senate. Because of how they set it up, Republicans’ tax bill can only increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion in the first 10 years, with no increase outside that window.

But as it stands, neither the House tax bill nor the Senate’s passes this test.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the House bill will increase the deficit by $1.7 trillion, and the initial analyses of the Senate bill show it is on track to increase the deficit outside the 10-year window — the plan’s largest impact on the deficit is by $216.7 billion in 2027.

Maneuvering around Senate rules is not new to congressional Republicans, who recently tried, and failed, to pass Obamacare repeal through budget reconciliation. They said tax reform would be easier.

* * *

It will all come down to what the Senate parliamentarian will permit. There’s no question that Republicans are desperately in search of budget gimmicks and rosy economic projections to make it all work — the question is if it will.

Which brings us to today.  Trump Again Wades Into Tax Debate, Suggesting Repeal of Obamacare Mandate:

As Republican lawmakers worked on Monday toward a delicate compromise on a $1.5 trillion tax cut, President Trump threw himself back into the discussion, suggesting that Republicans could reduce taxes even further by repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate that most people have health insurance.

After a long day of meetings in the Philippines, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to congratulate House and Senate Republicans for making progress on tax cut legislation during his 12-day trip through Asia. Then he pressed them to change course.

“Now, how about ending the unfair & highly unpopular Indiv Mandate in OCare & reducing taxes even further?” Mr. Trump said, referring to the health law’s mandate that most people have coverage or pay a penalty. “Cut top rate to 35% w/all of the rest going to middle income cuts?”

Mr. Trump’s latest suggestions came hours before the Senate Finance Committee met to begin its formal “markup” of the tax bill, a process that includes debate about the legislation and the consideration of amendments.

The Septuagenarian Ninja Turtle, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will agree to an amendment to the tax bill from Senator Aqua Buddha, Rand Paul, fresh off having his ribs broken after a neighbor tackled him in a bizarre incident. Senate GOP to add repeal of Obamacare insurance mandate into tax bill:

Senate Republican leaders are changing their tax bill to include a repeal of a key plank of the Affordable Care Act, a major alteration as they now try to accomplish two of their top domestic priorities in a single piece of legislation.

GOP party leaders said Tuesday they would now attach a provision to their tax bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, a part of the health care law that creates penalties for Americans who don’t have health insurance.

“We’re optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal would be helpful,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday after meeting with party members during a closed-door lunch.

Republicans had up until Tuesday resisted making the change, worried that injecting health care politics would imperil the tax bill. But many of their members have supported adding the repeal, which President Trump has suggested repeatedly.

Repealing the health care provision would free up more than $300 billion in government funding over the next decade, but it would also eventually lead to 13 million fewer people having health insurance, according to projections from the Congressional Budget Office.

* * *

[T]he change could unnerve less conservative Republican senators, who voted against previous Senate efforts to repeal large parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

In addition to repealing the individual mandate, the updated tax bill could also likely include a new bipartisan health care agreement recently reached by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) and Patty Murray (D-Wash), according to Republican Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

That Murray-Alexander agreement would fund federal subsidies used to help lower-income Americans afford their health care.

The push for the change came after repeated demands from Trump, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark).

Earlier Tuesday, Paul said he would introduce an amendment to the tax bill that would repeal the individual mandate and use the savings to lower taxes for middle class families. The tax bills in the House and Senate would lower taxes for many Americans, but nonpartisan analysts have concluded millions would pay higher taxes, particularly if they lived in states such as New York, New Jersey, and California.

But he might not need to propose an amendment not that GOP leaders have largely agreed to make the change. The bill could not be amended during debate this week in the Senate Finance Committee.

Trump has called for the adding a repeal of the individual mandate into the tax cut bill, though he has said the savings should go toward lowering the top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans.

Republicans spent much of the first eight months of 2011 trying to repeal or roll back the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. But they were repeatedly stymied by GOP defections in the Senate, with a handful of Republicans saying they wanted the changes to be either more sweeping or done in a bipartisan way.

Republicans control just 52 votes of the 100-seat Senate, and so the defection of three members would imperil any changes to the bill. They are trying to pass the tax cut bill through a process known as reconciliation, which means they only need a majority of support to pass the bill.

House GOP leaders have said they would explore whether to include a repeal of the individual mandate in their version of the tax cut bill, but they have so far not made that change. They are hoping to vote on their version of the measure as soon as Thursday.

The House and Senate must pass matching versions of the tax cut bill in order for Trump to be able to sign them into law.

So, sabotaging “Obamacare” and taking health care away from 13 million Americans is how the GOP will pay for its tax cuts for corporations and Plutocrats.

This is only one means the Senate can use to get around its “Byrd Rule.” Tara Golsham continues:

It will all come down to what the Senate parliamentarian will permit. There’s no question that Republicans are desperately in search of budget gimmicks and rosy economic projections to make it all work — the question is if it will.

* * *

Republicans have tied their hands: They have passed a budget that allows them to increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion in the first 10 years, but they want to pursue massive tax cuts that appear to increase the deficit outside that 10-year window.

House Republicans are expected to vote on their tax bill this week, as the Senate is marking up its version — both would have to see substantial changes to pass the Byrd test.

The ways Republicans are trying to get around the Byrd question

Already Republicans are using gimmicks to get around this, the major one being passing what appears to a sweeping tax cut that will sunset after 10 years. This is what former President George W. Bush did with his tax cuts under budget reconciliation in 2001, essentially getting around the deficit restriction by making the tax cuts temporary. This House included some of this, sunsetting the $300 family credit after five years. The Senate could do the same.

There are already rumors of a temporary and permanent split in tax reform proposals among Republican members. The question is whose tax cuts are permanent and whose are temporary. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said his committee has “every intention of making the business reforms permanent” at the start of the bill’s markup — meaning it might be the individual tax cuts that will sunset, instead of the corporate rate.

One way this happens, floated by Zach Moller, a senior policy analyst for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, is what he calls the “Title Gambit.” Republicans could split up their tax bill into three separate titles: One would be a temporary Republican-led effort that would pursue aggressive tax cuts; a second would be permanent and comply with Senate rules; and the third would be a permanent bipartisan proposal needing 60 votes that would likely find consensus around issues like the child tax credit or doubling the standard deduction. By going this route, Republicans would be able to split the impact of the deficit between budget reconciliation bills and regular order.

But again, it comes down to whether the parliamentarian will go for these separate titles, which are usually separated by committee involvement.

Some analysts have also floated the nuclear option, in which the presiding officer of the Senate — Vice President Mike Pence — just overrules the Senate parliamentarian. McConnell did not allow for this in the health care debate, but some have theorized there is more pressure for him to go to extreme lengths this time.

Either way, Republicans are relying on projections of increased economic growth from tax cuts to offset the revenue losses from those cuts, known as “dynamic scoring,” to sell their tax bill.

The Senate Budget Committee could also use a different, more ideologically conservative score of their tax plan instead of the CBO’s evaluation, like the Tax Foundation’s score or the Treasury Department’s.

But currently, even under the rosiest of projections, economic growth alone doesn’t seem to be enough to offset the full losses from the deepest cuts Republicans have proposed. The conservative Tax Foundation found the House tax bill would still increase the deficit by $500 billion, and projections from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School showed that by 2040, the debt would increase by $6.4 trillion to $6.9 trillion.

The tax cuts aren’t paying for themselves. And there’s still skepticism whether the Senate parliamentarian will accept those growth numbers.

Call your senators and demand that they reject destroying America’s health care system and taking away health care from 13 million Americans just so President Trump and Tea-Publicans can declare a “win,” his only legislative victory, by giving tax cuts to corporations and Plutocrats while also increasing taxes on th middle class.

Neither of Arizona’s senators have any concerns about reelection at this point. They are free to vote their conscience. They should do what is right for their constituents and America, not what is demanded by party loyalty.

UPDATE: Industry groups representing doctors, hospitals and insurance companies wrote to Congress on Tuesday to express their opposition to repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate. Medical Groups To Congress: Don’t Nuke The Individual Mandate:

In a letter, America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and the Federation of American Hospitals said that eliminating the mandate “likely will result in a significant increase in premiums, which would in turn substantially increase the number of uninsured Americans.”

“Experts agree that in order to have a health insurance system in which anyone can obtain coverage regardless of their health status, there must be incentives for everyone to enroll in and maintain coverage throughout the year,” the groups wrote in their statement.

They added: “Repealing the individual mandate without a workable alternative will reduce enrollment, further destabilizing an already fragile individual and small group health insurance market on which more than 10 million Americans rely.”

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate would increase the number of uninsured people by 13 million by 2027.

President Trump sabotages ‘Obamacare,’ will blow up health care markets out of spite

President Donald Trump, who promised to repeal and replace “Obamacare” on day one in office — “it will be easy” — suffered humiliating deafeats after several failed attempts by Congress. For a man fixated on erasing any legacy of Barack Obama out of jealousy and spite, he has been stewing about ways he can sabotage “Obamacare,” and with it the health care of millions of Americans, outside of congressional action. It is purposeful, malicious and amoral.

The New York Times reports that, as I predicted, Trump has gone nuclear in House v. Price, ending the Cost Sharing Reduction subsidies (CSRs) to insurers for low income Americans. Trump to Scrap Critical Health Care Subsidies, Hitting Obamacare Again:

President Trump will scrap subsidies to health insurance companies that help pay out-of-pocket costs of low-income people, the White House said late Thursday. His plans were disclosed hours after the president ordered potentially sweeping changes in the nation’s insurance system, including sales of cheaper policies with fewer benefits and fewer protections for consumers.

The twin hits to the Affordable Care Act could unravel President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement, sending insurance premiums soaring and insurance companies fleeing from the health law’s online marketplaces. After Republicans failed to repeal the health law in Congress, Mr. Trump appears determined to dismantle it on his own.

Without the subsidies, insurance markets could quickly unravel. Insurers have said they will need much higher premiums and may pull out of the insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act if the subsidies were cut off. Known as cost-sharing reduction payments, the subsidies were expected to total $9 billion in the coming year and nearly $100 billion in the coming decade.

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This week in the GOP’s war on the civil rights of women and LGBTQ

The House on Tuesday approved a bill banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, advancing a key GOP priority for the third time in the past four years — this time, with a supportive Republican president in the White House. The purpose of the bill is to create a direct legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, which provides for access to abortion in the first 24 weeks.  With Trump’s backing, House approves ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy:

The bill, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is not expected to emerge from the Senate, where most Democrats and a handful of moderate Republicans can block its consideration. But antiabortion activists are calling President Trump’s endorsement of the bill a significant advance for their movement.

The White House said in a statement released Monday that the administration “strongly supports” the legislation “and applauds the House of Representatives for continuing its efforts to secure critical pro-life protections.”

The bill provides for abortions after 20 weeks gestation only when they are necessary to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest. Under the bill, abortions performed during that period could be carried out “only in the manner which, in reasonable medical judgment, provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive” — note, not the life of the mother — and would require a second physician trained in neonatal resuscitation to be present.

How Arizona’s congressional delegation voted:

Stricter Abortion Ban: The House on Oct. 3 voted, 237-189, to outlaw abortions after 20 weeks of fertilization on the belief that the fetus can feel pain by then. This repudiates Roe v. Wade’s ruling that abortion is legal up to viability that occurs at about 24 weeks or later. A yes vote was to pass HR 36

Voting yes: Martha McSally, R-2, Paul Gosar, R-4, Andy Biggs, R-5, David Schweikert, R-6, Trent Franks, R-8

Voting no: Tom O’Halleran, D-1, Raul Grijalva, D-3, Ruben Gallego, D-7, Kyrsten Sinema, D-9

Women’s Health Exemption: The House on Oct. 3 defeated, 181-246, a bid by Democrats to add an overall woman’s health exemption to HR 36 to go with exemptions already in the bill in cases of incest or rape or to save the mother’s life. A yes vote was to permit abortions after 20 weeks if necessary to protect the mother’s health.

Voting Yes: O’Halleran, Grijalva, Gallego, Sinema

Voting No: McSally, Gosar, Biggs, Schweikert, Franks

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