Tag Archives: Medicare

We started a revolution over this once

Do you remember voting for lobbyists to decide who pays what in taxes? We don’t.

Photo: Daniel Huizinga/flickr

On Friday night, the Senate passed their version of the #GOPTaxScam. The bill, all 479 pages of it, was presented to the full Senate just hours before the vote. The vote was along party lines, with the one dissenting vote among the Republicans coming from Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee.

So, what was in this bill, and why did they vote on it before all the Senators could actually read through the bill? We’re glad you asked. First, what’s in it.

A lot of the bill is what you’d expect. For example:

  • The top individual rate is reduced from 39.6% to 38.5%, and the threshold at which the top rate kicks in is increased from $418,000 for a single/$480,000 for married filing jointly to $500,000/$1,000,000
  • The estate tax exemption is doubled, to $11 million for a single taxpayer and $22 million for married taxpayers.
  • The corporate rate is reduced from 35% to 20%.
  • The top rate on the income earned by owners of “flow through” businesses — S corporations and partnerships — is reduced from 39.6% to a shade below 30%.

Questions about these measure that we were forced to ask include; how is it that corporations are able to keep the tax deductions that have now been excluded from individual tax bases? Why is the corporate tax is now LOWER than the top individual rate? If corporations are people too, why is there ANY difference in these tax rates?

Then, there’s the “Why are these items in a tax bill, anyways?” parts. These include:

  • A provision that explicitly allows parents to use tax-free college savings plans, known as 529s, for a “child in utero.” This is essentially a personhood bill, setting a precedent for the legal definition of life beginning at conception.
  • The bill repeals the Johnson Amendment, which bans non-profit groups from engaging in political activism. This would mean that churches and the like could actively engage in elections without disclosing individual donors; think of it as Citizens United on steroids. This serves the purpose of blurring the lines between the separation of church and state, allowing the churches to donate and promote individual candidates in local and national elections, all while cloaked under the donation secrecy this provision allows.
  • Eliminating the individual mandate of the ACA. While this actually does deal with taxes (the fine for not being insured is paid as part of your taxes), removing the mandate means that younger and healthier people won’t buy insurance until they need it. These are the people who currently offset the cost of providing healthcare to the older and sicker people. Without this in place, premiums will rise dramatically more than the anticipated 10% over the next 10 years.
  • A provision that would open part of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, to oil and gas exploration. While this would raise revenue, it only amounts to $2 billion over the next ten years, at the cost of almost assuredly ruining the local environment and ecosystem. Additionally, it is worded in such a way that it is actually ILLEGAL to not drill, forcing Alaska to accept ANY drilling permits and fields desired.

Of course, the individual tax cuts are set to expire, meaning that the middle class will see a tax increase. And, what’s going to pay for these? The GOP mantra’s always been that tax cuts pay for themselves, but others, such as Marco Rubio, have already admitted that the tax reform is part one of a two-step process designed to defund and eventually dismantle Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security; the very programs designed to help the elderly, disabled and poorest members of American society.

Now obviously, a lot of these proposals don’t sit well with the electorate. So, why the rush to pass it? The GOP needs a victory. Even with controlling both houses of Congress and the White House, this administration’s been notably inept in getting meaningful things accomplished. Furthermore, the GOP donor class has stated that the campaign money will dry up if they don’t get the tax cuts they want.

Photo: Represent.US

So, who came up with most of the amendments? Lobbyists. Out of the 11,000 registered lobbyists in Washington, more than 6,000 said that they worked on taxes this year. That works out to 11 lobbyists for each member of Congress. Do you remember electing lobbyists to write our laws? We sure don’t.

We still have a chance to stop this. The House and Senate bills now go to a conference committee. The bill that comes out of that will need to be passed by both houses. The healthcare fiasco this summer proves that if we’re loud and persistent enough, our message gets through. And, with the bill only having 37% approval before the vote, there’s enough of us to make the message get through.

And what if it doesn’t? The last time that the GOP had won control of both houses and the presidency before 2016 was 1928. The new tax bill looks even more extreme than the policies put into place by the Republicans after the 1928 election. Does anybody remember what happened in 1929?

Another annoying historical factoid that you may wish to remember at a time like this: 244 years ago, a group of people decided that they weren’t going to pay taxes without proper representation, and what became known as the Boston Tea Party took place. This in turn led to a revolution, and the founding of this country.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

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Trump Tax “Hoax” Would Blow $5 Trillion Hole In Budget Over Next Decade: Analysis

‘The idea that this plan would help average Americans instead of the wealthy and big corporations has been a hoax all along.’

Mick Mulvaney press conference about President Donald Trump’s budget plan. Screenshot: YouTube

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-26-2017

Trumpcare may be dead again (for a while at least) on Tuesday, but Republicans now want to get serious about what they call “tax reform,” but which critics are resolute in saying is just a major push to give the nation’s corporation and wealthiest individuals another massive giveaway they don’t need and certainly don’t deserve.

A day ahead of the Trump administration’s scheduled release of what it says will be a “detailed” tax plan, progressive policy groups are again warning the American people not to be fooled by rhetoric as they highlight estimates showing the likely proposal will cost the government trillions of dollars in revenue over the next decade and lead the way towards massive cuts in key social programs that help insulate low-income and working Americans from an economy already “rigged” in favor of the wealthy and powerful. Continue reading

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Refusing to ‘Sit Down and Shut Up,’ Trumpcare Opponents Mobilize Against GOP

“We have millions of Americans on our side,” declares Sen. Elizabeth Warren as groups aim to thwart ACA repeal once more

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-19-2017

Progressive groups and senators rallied outside the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to protest GOP attacks on the national healthcare system. (Photo: PFAW/@peoplefor/Twitter)

Progressive groups and lawmakers continued to mobilize on Tuesday in response to Republicans’ last-ditch attempt to cut off millions of Americans from healthcare by dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Following “red alerts” issued after weekend reports revealed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is considering a vote for a new bill crafted by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) that’s been called “Trumpcare by another name,” several groups planned a Tuesday afternoon rally at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Continue reading

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Why on Earth Is Trump Attacking Nation’s Nursing Home Population?

Proposed rule called “disturbing” new direction for federal agency which “should be protecting patients, not making it easier for facilities to harm them and cover it up.”

By Common Dreams. Published 8-7-2017

An elderly resident using a walker passes a golden retriever April 28, 2000 in the New Mark Care Center in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Don Ipock/Liaison)

“Why does Trump hate grandmothers?”

So asked Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) on Sunday as he decried a proposal from the administration that would prevent abused or mistreated seniors in nursing homes from getting their day in court, jeopardizing their health and safety.

Lieu’s concern and outrage over the effort is shared with fellow lawmakers as well as patient and consumer advocacy groups like Public Citizen, who said the effort to roll back protections from some of society’s most vulnerable people is just part of “a disturbing trend of the Trump administration attempting to reverse critical protections against forced arbitration,” which prevents individuals or groups of people from filing lawsuits or seeking damages for fraud, abuse, neglect, medical malpractice and other forms of wrongdoing. Continue reading

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What happens when the federal government eliminates health coverage? Lessons from the past

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Larissa Pisney of Denver protests outside the Aurora, Colorado offices of Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) to show her displeasure with efforts to dismantle the ACA. David Zalubowski/AP

Simon Haeder, West Virginia University

After much secrecy and no public deliberation, Senate Republicans finalized release their “draft” repeal and replace bill for the Affordable Care Act on June 22. Unquestionably, the released “draft” will not be the final version.

Amendments and a potential, albeit not necessary, conference committee are likely to make some adjustments. However, both the House version – American Health Care Act (AHCA) – and the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) will significantly reduce coverage for millions of Americans and reshape insurance for virtually everyone. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected to provide final numbers early the week of June 26. Continue reading

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Disabled, Sick or Poor? Trump’s America is not for You

Trump’s contempt for disabilities became apparent early in his campaign. Now echoed by Ryan’s budget and the GOP’s pushing of a healthcare plan whose success depends on Americans with illness dying to save billions over the years in lowered medical costs, many are losing hope.

Written by John Benedict

Photo: fionao71/tumblr

I’m angry.

As an American who works for a company whose owner is disabled; as a coworker of a person who is disabled; as the son and nephew of disabled American Veterans; and the spouse of a person who receives RSDI income due to a disability; I’m sickened by the proposed 2018 Federal Budget put out by the Trump White House.

The current administration shows no regard for Americans with disabilities. Nor do they appear to care about anyone with a “pre-existing” medical condition. Nor do they care about anyone else who will lose their healthcare coverage when the Republicans figure out a way to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Oh, did I mention that they also plan on slashing spending on Medicaid,  the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Childhood Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Social Security Disability Insurance, Social Security Benefits, and other programs?

Since when do we care so little about our fellow Americans that we would be willing to let them suffer and even die so that “we” can build up our already enormous stockpile of military weapons and be able to give each of the millionaires in the United States a nice $50,000 tax break (round numbers- if you happen to be a millionaire -your slice of what is left of the sick / disabled /or poor may be slightly different)?

I have paid taxes for 39 years to fund these programs. Now this administration tells me and the rest of the American taxpayers that we don’t need any safety nets. If you can’t work, well then , you don’t deserve to eat. If you are unfortunate enough to get hurt on the job, well then, it sucks to be you. You don’t deserve a “hand-out” from the insurance fund that you have paid into your entire working life. If your child has cancer that is being treated under your current insurance policy, and your employer decides to change insurance providers, well sorry about that, but that is a ‘pre-existing’ condition now and your new insurance won’t cover it, or it will up to a limit that you will surpass in a short amount of time, we can’t worry about that, because this country needs more bombs and missiles, and a tax cut for the millionaires who REALLY don’t care if that child of yours dies or not. Suck it up buttercup and get with the program. You and your well being JUST DON’T MATTER.

I love my county. I believe  the politicians that “We the People” elect are supposed to represent  all of us that comprise”We the People”. Not the Corporations (no matter what SCOTUS told us in the ‘Citizens’ United’ decision), and NOT just a small amount of “citizens”who have filled their campaign coffers. We need politicians who have the gumption to stand up against this budget which is nothing more than a vile attack on those who are poor, sick or disabled.

We as Americans deserve better. Much Better.

Related Article: No country for people with disabilities

About the Author:
John Benedict grew up in white, middle-class America when there still was such a thing. He has worked blue collar jobs for nearly 40 years. He grew up in a home where one parent who had a disability. He also is now married to a disabled spouse.

 

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Is Trump’s Pledge to Make ObamaCare Fail an Impeachable Offense?

Is Trump’s Pledge to Make ObamaCare Fail an Impeachable Offense?

By William Boardman for Reader Supported News. Published 3-28-2017

Photo: YouTube

We were very close [on the health care bill]. It was a very, very tight margin. We had no Democrat support. We had no votes from the Democrats. They weren’t going to give us a single vote, so it’s a very difficult thing to do. I’ve been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do, politically speaking, is let Obamacare explode. It is exploding right now…. It’s going to have a very bad year…. This year should be much worse for Obamacare…. We’ll end up with a truly great healthcare bill in the future, after this mess known as Obamacare explodes…. I know some of the Democrats, and they’re good people – I honestly believe the Democrats will come to us and say, look, let’s get together and get a great healthcare bill or plan that’s really great for the people of our country. And I think that’s going to happen.

– President Trump, press briefing March 24, 2017

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With Epic GOP Failure, Dems Urged to Go Bold with Medicare-for-All

Americans rallied against the GOP to defend their right to healthcare, Democrats are being urged to seize on the moment

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-24-2017

Physicians for National Health Program president Dr. Carol Paris said Friday’s failure by the GOP to pass their “slash and burn” healthcare bill “presents a unique opportunity to move beyond” a profit-based system.

With the Republican attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) going down in flames Friday as Americans rallied to defend their right to healthcare, Democrats are being urged, both by experts and constituents, to seize on the moment and counter with a plan that will truly provide coverage for all.

Uproar over the GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA), which was estimated to strip 24 million people of their healthcare by 2026, prompted a political firestorm as it drove voters across the nation to town halls and local legislative offices to demand that House Republicans vote against the bill. Continue reading

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Trump Vows to Make Paul Ryan’s Nightmarish Budget Vision a Reality

President Donald Trump’s campaign promises on safety net programs would certainly be broken if House Speaker Paul Ryan gets his way

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-26-2017

President Donald Trump on stage with Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan at the GOP congressional retreat on Thursday. (Screenshot)

In Philadelphia on Thursday, President Donald Trump seemed to reassure his party that he supports right-wing budget priorities like those embraced by House Speaker Paul Ryan—whose past budget plans have been denounced as “cruel,” “draconian,” “a massive cut-off of state funds to the most vulnerable population in the country,” “going after what Americans want, on issue after issue,” and “a Koch brothers’ dream and the American peoples’ nightmare.”

“He’s writing his heart out,” Trump said, looking over at Ryan during his address at the Republican congressional retreat. “And we’re actually gonna sign the stuff that you’re writing—you’re not wasting your time.” To the room of GOP lawmakers, who erupted in whistles and applause, Trump continued: “He would write and send it up—and nothing would happen. But now it’s gonna happen.” Continue reading

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Paul Ryan vs. the People

The GOP’s new House speaker says he “trusts the American people,” but his budget takes direct aim at them.

Written by Richard Kirsch. Published by Common Dreams on 10-4-2015.

'The real conflict isn’t Washington vs. the people. It’s the super-rich vs. the rest of us. And Republicans are rallying behind a House speaker who’s built his career representing the rich and powerful.' His name Rep. Paul Ryan. (Image: DonkeyHotey / Flickr)

‘The real conflict isn’t Washington vs. the people. It’s the super-rich vs. the rest of us. And Republicans are rallying behind a House speaker who’s built his career representing the rich and powerful.’ His name Rep. Paul Ryan. (Image: DonkeyHotey / Flickr)

Paul Ryan paints himself as a champion of “the people” over “Washington.”

But the “people” the new House speaker defends are corporations. And the “Washington” he attacks is the one that does deliver for real people.

For the past five years, Ryan has authored the budget passed by the House of Representatives. His imprint is so great that each document is commonly known as the “Ryan budget.”

Every year, those budgets reliably propose sharp cuts to social services alongside steep tax discounts for the rich. His caucus demands these cuts, Ryan claims, because “we trust the American people.” After all, he adds, “Who knows better? The people or Washington?”

But when you look beyond these sound-bite politics at the actual choices Ryan makes in his budget, it’s easy to see whom he really trusts — and whom he really works for.

How, for example, does cutting $89 billion in Pell grants for college — as his budget last year did — put more trust in working families who are struggling to give their children a college education?

Then there’s his $125 billion in proposed cuts to food stamps for the upcoming fiscal year. Isn’t Ryan breaking the trust we have as people — through our government in Washington — with a mother who relies on food assistance to feed her children because her employer pays her a poverty wage?

Ryan pretends that the heroes in his story are “the people,” but his budget takes direct aim at them. And when he makes “Washington” the villain, he’s covering up for the super-rich campaign contributors bankrolling the assault.

Ryan’s latest budget would slash $759 billion from infrastructure, medical research, and virtually every other service and investment ordinary people rely on to help provide security and opportunity. Are there any real people who don’t need good roads, bridges, and health care?

On health care, Ryan’s proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act would end regulations that stop insurance companies from denying care because of pre-existing conditions. Are “the people” that Ryan puts his trust in health insurance executives?

On taxes, Ryan would eliminate tax credits for 13 million working families, including 25 million children, by an average of $1,073 a year. At the same time, instead of ending tax breaks for corporations that ship profits overseas, he’d make them permanent.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There actually are representatives in Congress who do work for working families, not CEOs. This past May, 96 House lawmakers voted for the People’s Budget — and against Ryan’s proposal.

Developed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the People’s Budget invests in infrastructure, renewable energy, and schools to create 8 million jobs in the next three years.

Instead of cutting back on vital services for families, it helps families secure debt-free college, child nutrition, and affordable housing. Instead of more money for Pentagon contractors and less for veterans, it reduces spending for outdated weapons and increases support for vets. It ends tax giveaways for corporations that ship jobs and profits overseas, and it taxes Wall Street speculation.

The People’s Budget also includes a small-donor campaign finance system, so members of Congress could run for office without taking any large contributions from the super-rich or corporations. That might help put real people back in charge of “the people’s house.”

The real conflict isn’t Washington vs. the people. It’s the super-rich vs. the rest of us. And Republicans are rallying behind a House speaker who’s built his career representing the rich and powerful.

Americans need to rally behind a different kind of politician — the folks who will really stand up for people.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

About the Author:richard_kirsch-105x140
Richard Kirsch is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and the author of Fighting for Our Health: The Epic Battle to Make Health Care a Right in the United States, published in February 2012 by the Rockefeller Institute Press. He is also Senior Adviser to USAction and an Institute Fellow at the Rockefeller institute.

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