Weiss: Aging Groups - House GOP Tax Rewrite a Turkey
Monday, November 20, 2017
Herb Weiss, GoLocalProv Guest MINDSETTER™
Thanksgiving approaches the GOP-Controlled House has passed H.R. 1, “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” its tax reform legislation, on November 16, by a partisan vote of 227 to 206, with 13 Republicans siding with the Democrats. The House tax bill would dramatically reduce corporate and individual income taxes and would increase the deficit by $ 1.7 trillion over 10 years — — possibly offset by $ $338 billion saved by repealing the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate.
On Thursday, after four days of debate, members of the Senate Finance Committee voted 14 to 12 along party lines to approve their version of the tax package. Now the full Senate is expected to consider the bill after Thanksgiving hoping to quickly get it to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.
Medicare and ACA Takes a Hit
Matt Shepard, of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, warns that the GOP’s attempt to overhaul to nation’s tax code is an immediate threat to the Medicare program and healthcare coverage to millions of Americans covered by ACA.
According to Shepard, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that the huge cost for the Republican tax plan would result in immediate, automatic and ongoing cuss to Medicare — $25 billion in 2018 alone.
After the GOP’s failed attempts to repeal the ACA, the Senate now uses a provision in its tax rewrite plan to finally repeal the ACA’s individual mandate to purchase insurance coverage in order to help pay for tax cuts, he says. If the GOP tax reform legislation becomes law, 13 million more people will be without health coverage and increasing premiums will disproportionately affect people age 50 who are not yet eligible for Medicare.
“These new dangers are on top of an already bad bill. Congress is engaged in a rushed effort to push through a massive tax cut for corporations and the wealthy, presenting a clear and present danger to health coverage, other vital programs, and families throughout the nation,” says Shepard.
“After adding $1.5 trillion to the federal debt, policymakers will use the higher debt – created by the tax cuts – to argue that deep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other bedrock programs are necessary,” predicts Shepard.
Responding to the House passage of its tax reform bill, just days ago, in a statement AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond expressed disappointment in passage, warning that the legislation is harmful to millions of Americans age 65 and over.
Older Tax Payers Get Financial Hit with GOP Tax Code Fix
“AARP estimates H.R. 1 will raise taxes on 1.2 million seniors next year alone. Millions more older Americans will see tax increases in the future, or at best, no tax relief at all,” says LeaMond.
As Congress continues its debate to hammer out tax reform, LeaMond calls on lawmakers to retain the medical expense deduction at the 7.5% income threshold for older tax filers. “Nearly three-quarters of tax filers who claim the medical expense deduction are age 50 or older and live with a chronic health condition or illness. Seventy percent of filers who claim this deduction have income below $75,000.,” she says, urging that Congress also retain the standard deduction for older taxpayers, which helps reduce tax liability and can help seniors avoid a tax increase.
AARP also urges Congress to assist working family caregivers in a new tax code that creates a new, non-refundable tax credit to offset the often high out-of-pocket costs associated with caring for a loved one.
Finally, LeaMond calls on Congress to reject adding a provision in the tax bill that will lead to higher premium costs in the individual insurance market, as well as 13 million Americans losing their health coverage, including 2 million Americans who would lose employer-sponsored coverage.
In a statement, Max Richtman, President and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, calls the House passed tax rewrite, “Robin Hood-in-Reverse tax legislation.” Now, the House Republicans have sent out a “crystal-clear message “that the elderly, disabled, poor, and working class are no longer part of the GOP’s vision for America,” he says.
Blooming Deficit Might Trigger Raid Social Security
“This craven giveaway to the wealthy and big corporations at the expense of everyone else flies in the face of public opinion, basic decency, and good old common sense, says Richtman, “By ballooning the deficit, Republicans have teed up a raid on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to make up the difference,” he warns.
“The repeal of the medical expense deduction will punish seniors paying out of pocket for treatment of chronic and serious diseases – or long-term care., says Richtman.
With Senate Republicans gearing up their efforts to pass their version of the House’s “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” Richtman calls on Senators “to show courage and to do what House Republicans refused to [do]: stop the tax juggernaut before it does irreparable harm to our nation.”
If the GOP tax reform legislation is passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump, we will quickly find out by Christmas if it a financial gift to America’s middle class or a lump of coal in their stockings. Aging groups already know this answer.
Herb Weiss, LRI’12 is a Pawtucket writer covering aging, healthcare and medical issues. To purchase Taking Charge: Collected Stories on Aging Boldly, a collection of 79 of his weekly commentaries, go to herbweiss.com.
Rhode Island General Election Voters Margin of Error: +/- 4.9% at 95% Confidence Level
Interviewing Period: October 9-11, 2017
Mode: Landline (61%) and Mobile (39%)
Telephone Directed by: John Della Volpe, SocialSphere, Inc.
Are you registered to vote at this address?
When it comes to voting, do you consider yourself to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Moderate, or Unaffiliated with a major party?
Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?
Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...
Definitely be voting: 78%
Probably be voting: 13%
In general, would you say things in Rhode Island are headed in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?
Right track: 39%
Wrong track: 45%
Don't know/Refused: .6%
What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?
Jobs and economy: 21%
State budget: 9%
Corruption/Public integrity: .8%
Don’t know: .9%
Over the past three years or so, would you say the economy in Rhode Island has improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?
Changed for the better: 35%
Changed for the worse: 16%
Not changed at all: 43%
Don't know/Refused: 5%
Over the same time, has your family's financial situation improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?
Changed for the better: 26%
Changed for the worse: 19%
Not changed at all: 54%
Don't know/Refused: 1%
Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?
Net: Approve: 28%
Definitely approve: 15%
Probably approve: 14%
Net: Reject: 67%
Probably reject: 19%
Definitely reject: 48%
Don't know: 4%
Could you please tell me your age?
Don't know/refused: 1%
What was the last grade you completed in school?
High school grad: 16%
Technical/Vocational school: 1%
Some college: 23%
College grad: 34%
Graduate degree: 24%
Don't know/refused: 1%
The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).
$50,000 or less: 27%
More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%
More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%
More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%
$150,000 or more: 13%
Don't know/refused: 17%
What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?
Black or African American: 6%
Would you say that Donald Trump has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as President?
Never heard of: 0%
Cannot rate: 3%
Would you say that Jack Reed has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 6%
Would you say that Sheldon Whitehouse has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 7%
Would you say that David Cicilline has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 8%
Would you say that James Langevin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 11%
Would you say that Gina Raimondo has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Governor?
Never heard of: 1%
Cannot rate: 3%
Would you say that Daniel McKee has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Lieutenant Governor?
Never heard of: 26%
Cannot rate: 25%
Would you say that Peter Kilmartin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Attorney General?
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 19%
Would you say that Seth Magaziner has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as General Treasurer?
Never heard of: 21%
Cannot rate: 21%
Would you say that Nellie Gorbea has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Secretary of State?
Never heard of: 20%
Cannot rate: 23%
Would you say that Jorge Elorza has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Mayor of Providence?
Never heard of: 9%
Cannot rate: 15%