GOP may leave some Obamacare taxes in place

The race to “repeal and replace” Obamacare appears to now be focused on whether some of the taxes will stay in place. A couple Republican senators have told reporters it’s part of the debate on Trump/Ryancare. Via The Hill:

Republicans are looking to slowly phase out extra federal funds for Medicaid expansion, beef up the new tax credits for buying insurance and add money for opioid abuse treatment — but they’ll have to pay for it to ensure the bill passes muster.

That’s because the Senate healthcare bill must save at least as much money as the House’s legislation. Some senators are interested in additions to the healthcare bill that could cost the government, and savings would have to be found elsewhere, perhaps in some of the taxes, Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the chamber’s No. 3 Republican, said.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who is heavily involved in the healthcare discussions as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said that his preference is to repeal all of the taxes but that senators would “look at everything.”

“We’re not going to ignore anything,” he told reporters Tuesday. “We’re going to have to really look very carefully.”

Delaying the repeal or keeping more of the ObamaCare taxes would be the easiest fix, but it risks creating a backlash on the right — and substantial pushback could imperil the bill’s prospects. About 45 conservative groups and activists said in a letter Tuesday that it “would be a mistake” for a Senate bill to not include the tax repeals that were a part of the bill passed by the House last month.

Of course it would be a mistake to not include tax cuts, but the entire process the GOP Congress has taken over “repeal and replace” has been wrought with stupidity from the beginning. Reason’s Peter Suderman wrote in The New York Times last month he believed the entire push for Trump/Ryancare had to do with tax reform, which is one of the few things Republicans can mostly agree on. Their biggest issue is doing government spending cuts to offset those tax cuts.

In March, for the earlier version of the bill, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan explained the need to move quickly. “The schedule that we have here is very aggressive, and we can’t get to tax reform until we do this,” Mr. Ryan said.

The desire to set up tax reform is not the only reason Republicans pushed forward on the bill. Many were motivated by a desire to make good on a promise to repeal a law that they had spent years opposing.

But the focus on tax cuts explains why they were so eager to move on an unpopular bill that they had not read and struggled to defend or even describe. And it explains why the bill is so poorly conceived as health policy.

The Senate may rewrite the bill, but it’s difficult to imagine a version in which most of Obamacare’s taxes are left in place. Remember the primary debate moment in 2011 when all of the Republican presidential contenders said they wouldn’t trade $1 in taxes for $10 in spending cuts? The principle applies in 2017: Tax cuts are the one thing every Republican agrees on.

See the situation in Kansas as why tax cuts alone don’t do anything to improve the economy.

FreedomWorks Director of Public Policy and Legislative Affairs Jason Pye told Hot Air the news isn’t surprising at all.

As far as I’m concerned, this is par for the course. The American Health Care Act wasn’t ObamaCare repeal when it passed the House, though, because of the inclusion of the MacArthur-Meadows amendment, it was better than the status quo. Unfortunately, it sounds like the bill is moving to the left in the Senate. Republican leaders are breaking their seven-year-long promise to repeal ObamaCare. There’s no getting around that.

Pye is absolutely correct because there is no way to get around the fact the GOP is breaking their promise to the people who put them in power. We all knew Trump/Ryancare was awful when it was constructed, but making it more awful isn’t going to solve the problem. Especially when it appears like the Senate is considering increased spending in their “fix” of Obamacare and Trump/Ryancare. Via The Hill:

Senators are examining adding more money to help curb the opioid epidemic, which could be to the tune of $45 billion over 10 years, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said.

Additionally, Thune has a proposal to bolster financial assistance for older adults who buy plans in the individual market. The House gave the Senate some extra savings, in theory, to use for this by lowering the threshold for deducting medical expenses.

This is ridiculous and not the way to get rid of a very bad health care law. If anything, it will actually hurt much more than help and cause even longer term issues for the country. The GOP has to cut spending along with getting rid of taxes, and not doing that is a betrayal of the voters who put them in office. There is a potential solution, but it’s a dangerous path for the GOP to consider because it involves using a knife to slice away spending and taxes, but not a bearded axe. There is something to the idea of death by a thousand cuts, meaning using multiple bills to take out one big piece of legislation. The danger to it is giving House and Senate members the chance to add riders or amendments or whatever else to lessen the bill’s effectiveness. The GOP doesn’t have a supermajority in the Senate, so it can’t exactly limit amendments to a bill. But it can vote every suggested amendment down, if members are willing to show some spine. The GOP can also sit there and say, ‘We’re dealing with this issue in another bill, please focus on this issue.”

Will it work or even be considered? Probably not. But the GOP-run Senate’s decision to consider keeping tax increases in their “fix” of Obamacare is stupid policy. Too bad the House’s version isn’t any better.