Legislation eliminates the individual mandate and medical expense taxes.
It was as inevitable as, well, death and taxes that the Democrats would react to the Senate tax reform bill with public lamentation, rending of garments, and portentous declarations about the death of the Republic. It was no surprise, then, that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) charged the Republicans with “tearing down our democracy” or that Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) also accused them of “undermining democracy.” In reality, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is among the best pieces of legislation produced by either house of Congress in decades, not least because it eliminates the individual mandate and medical expense taxes.
The ostensible concern of Warren and Blumenthal for the fate of the republic is, of course, no more authentic than the former’s native-American heritage or the latter’s heroic service in Vietnam. Their real problem is that, despite the monomaniacal obstructionism with which they and their accomplices have greeted every attempt by the GOP to carry out the will of the voters, the good guys are slowly but surely winning. No matter how many histrionic performances the Democrats act out for the C-Span cameras, no matter how much propaganda they promulgate via the “news” media, the public is tired of paying good money for bad ideas.
And Obamacare is an exceptionally bad idea, particularly its individual mandate. Americans dislike being ordered by the federal government to buy a product from a private corporation and threatened with a tax-penalty if they fail to comply. Tens of millions are forced to choose between unaffordable, government-designed health insurance that doesn’t fit their needs, or paying a tax-penalty that they also cannot afford. Unless Congress repeals the mandate, the 2017 IRS will bill families for $695 per adult and $347.50 per child up to $2,085. And, as the Wall Street Journal points out, it isn’t the fabled “1 percent” who pays:
The payers aren’t Warren Buffett or any of the other wealthy folks Democrats say they want to tax. More than one in three of taxed households earned less than $25,000, which is roughly the federal poverty line for a family of four. More than 75% of penalized households made less than $50,000 and nine in 10 earned less than $75,000. Fewer families paid the tax in 2015 than in 2014, yet government revenues increased to more than $3 billion from about $1.7 billion, as the financial punishment for lacking coverage increased.
The individual mandate and its associated fine is, in other words, a tax on the poor. This is why, after years of Obamacare, the number of uninsured Americans is still nearly 30 million. These people can’t afford to buy the insurance, so many simply pay the fine. Ironically, this very situation was predicted by none other than Illinois Senator Barack Obama during the 2008 Democratic presidential campaign. In debate after debate with Hillary Clinton, Obama said that the uninsured are, for the most part, going without coverage because they can’t afford it and that a mandate won’t fix the problem. His reasoning went as follows:
You can have a situation, which we are seeing right now in Massachusetts, where people are being fined for not having purchased health care insurance but choose to accept the fine because they still can’t afford it even with the subsidies. And they are then worse off. They then have no health care and are paying a fine above and beyond that.
Obama forgot about all of those people as soon as he became President, of course, and endorsed the congressional bill — complete with mandate — that eventually became known as Obamacare and which has created the unholy mess we have now. The Senate tax reform bill that Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Richard Blumenthal began complaining about so loudly Saturday morning and continued denouncing all through the weekend simply seeks to fulfill the pledge made by former President Obama to the American people in 2008. Obama’s rhetoric was right during that campaign, if his intentions were somewhat less than honest.
In addition to killing the tax on the poor, the Senate tax bill will reverse the medical expense tax. Before the advent of the “Affordable Care Act,” people who incurred high medical bills got a tax deduction for medical expenses exceeding 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income. Obamacare bumped that percentage up to 10 percent, cutting millions of sick Americans out of a much-needed tax break. At the request of Maine Senator Susan Collins, the Senate Tax bill reinstates the 7.5 percent threshold. But now comes the hard part — getting the Senate and the House on the same page on taxes. In a statement House Speaker Ryan put it thus:
For the first time since 1986, both the House and the Senate have passed a major overhaul of our nation’s tax code. Now we will move quickly to a conference committee so we can get a final bill to President Trump’s desk. The hardworking people of this country are counting on us to deliver real relief. That means more jobs, faster economic growth, bigger paychecks, and a tax cut for Americans from all walks of life. These opportunities only come around once in a generation, and now it is time for us to seize this moment.
Unfortunately, the Democrats and the “news” media will also seize the moment to demagogue the tax cut issue. They will parrot the usual propaganda about “tax cuts for the rich” and claim that killing the individual mandate will toss “13 million people off their insurance plans.” But can they be trusted? Senators Warren and Blumenthal will make all manner of wild claims, and that is to be expected from them. Even far left outlets like Think Progress have called out the former for her fraudulent claims about her heritage, and the latter was busted by that hive of wingnuts at the New York Times for lying about his military service.
Nor are Warren and Blumenthal the only members of the Democratic Party from whom no rational person would buy a used car. The Republicans, for all their myriad faults, seem to have finally grasped that they must respond to the will of the voters if they wish to maintain their majorities in Congress. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, reconciled with the House tax bill in conference and signed by President Trump into law is a good start toward regaining the trust of their constituents by doing what they were sent to Washington to do.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (AFGE/Creative Commons)