By Kayla Tarlton |
Do not be fooled, the tax “reform” debate heating up in Congress is all about health care cuts.
Tax cuts are part of a two-step budget process: Cut taxes first, and then cut spending to make up for the shortfall in revenues. The end result for health care programs will be worse than the worst of the repeal bills that were voted down this summer.
The budget resolution passed by both houses of Congress and lauded by President Trump sets up this two-step process, and paves the way for any budget-related bills to be approved in the Senate by only 51 votes.
The resolution shows that the Republicans remain committed to dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and making significant cuts to Medicaid and Medicare. It calls for $5.8 trillion in program cuts over the next ten years, including $1.8 trillion in cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, the ACA and other health care programs. An earlier version of the resolution passed by the House proposed even deeper cuts: $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and about $500 billion to Medicare. And the Senate version explicitly called for “repealing and replacing the [ACA].”
Cuts of even greater magnitude may be required. As Robert Greenstein of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has noted, the GOP budget assumes a $1.5 trillion increase in the budget over the next decade. You can just see what will happen. Congress will be “shocked, shocked” that the budget deficit is growing and call for even deeper cuts to programs that working families rely on.
Tax Cuts for the Rich on a Fast Track
President Trump and the GOP are proposing a huge tax heist, where 80% of the benefit will flow to the wealthiest 1 percent. In contrast, middle-income households would see an initial “tiny tax cut” in 2018, but by 2027, more than 1 in 4 of every middle-income household would actually be paying more taxes.
The House Republicans released a version of the tax bill two days later than promised, an indication of the struggle they are experiencing to agree on a plan. They are still aiming to vote on the bill by mid-November. The Senate Republican tax bill is expected to be released by mid-November, and to reach a vote by December 1.
While tax legislation will continue to evolve during the next month, it remains clear that major problems any tax bill the Republicans release and try to pass: the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations will benefit, the national deficit will rise, and low- and moderate-income families will see little or no tax relief and cuts to programs they rely on.
The voices of the people who fought hard against ACA repeal and replace are needed now more than ever. Just like repeal and replace, the two step process of the Trump-GOP tax plan and budget poses similar and significant threats to working families. It is critical that this message is not lost in the confusion of empty tax reform promises and Trump’s tweet storms: tax cuts = health care cuts.