Republican Budget Seriously Slashed Medicare by $4.73B

Medicare is a fundamental tool of economic security – a guarantee that seniors will not be denied health care just because they cannot afford it. But Republicans in the House, led by Paul Ryan, just voted for a budget plan (HR553) (Roll Call Vote 552) that would gut Medicare – slashing funding for the program by more than $473 billion.  (Note: Rep. Mark Amodei from NVCD2 was absent for the vote, as were all three Las Vegas Reps from CD1, CD3 and CD4.)

We Need to Protect Access to Medicare | Getty Images

Fresh off their failure to pass #TrumpedUpCare and take away health insurance for millions, cruel and heartless Republicans in Congress, led by Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, are desperate to tell their insurance industry donors that they have been able to do something to undermine the social safety net, and so they are sneaking this massive cut into their 2018 budget proposal.

More than 58 million seniors rely on Medicare, and the program is overwhelmingly popular. When we have collectively taken action to stop #TrumpedUpCare, we have been able to keep the Republicans from gutting health care. With Medicare now on the chopping block, we need to make it clear that any attempt to privatize, cut, weaken or damage Medicare is completely unacceptable.

Speaker Ryan has wanted to destroy Medicare for years. His ultimate goal is to end Medicare as we know it and replace it with a privatized program in which seniors would get federal vouchers to help offset the cost of premiums charged by commercial insurance plans. It’s a trick designed to create the appearance of cutting costs by shifting some of the financial burden from the federal government to America’s seniors. If Ryan gets his way, folks who have been working their whole lives counting on Medicare in their retirement won’t ever be able to enroll in Medicare – instead, they will get a check that might help cover their premium for private insurance, if they are lucky.

The devastating budget bill (HR553) that Ryan just pushed through the House would destroy the social safety net: slashing funding not just for Medicare, but also for Medicaid, affordable housing and Pell Grants. All so they can give the ultra-wealthy a 1.5 billion-dollar tax cut.5

During his campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly pledged that he would not attack Medicare, but since inauguration, he has only undermined the program. First he appointed Tom Price, who has a long history of opposing Medicare as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Price has since resigned over his use of tax payer-funded private jets, but another Trump appointee and fervent Medicare opponent, Mick Mulvaney, remains the budget director, where he has significant influence on social safety net spending.6 These attacks on Medicare are enormously unpopular, and if we speak up now, we can stop cruel and reckless Republicans from gutting this essential program just so they can give a massive tax hand out to corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

It’s time to lean on Senator Dean Heller  (who’ll likely be looking to vote “Aye” to please Trump) and Senator Catherine Masto  (pretty sure she’s all ready a “No”) to make sure these massive cuts don’t pass the Senate as currently written and sent to the White House for signature.

Resources:

The CBO Report is Out—We’re Still Screwed!

— as Posted at the Website of the Congressional Budget Office on June 26, 2017


View the full CBO Report Here


The Congressional Budget Office and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have completed an estimate of the direct spending and revenue effects of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, a Senate amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 1628. CBO and JCT estimate that enacting this legislation would reduce the cumulative federal deficit over the 2017-2026 period by $321 billion. That amount is $202 billion more than the estimated net savings for the version of H.R. 1628 that was passed by the House of Representatives.

The Senate bill would increase the number of people who are uninsured by 22 million in 2026 relative to the number under current law, slightly fewer than the increase in the number of uninsured estimated for the House-passed legislation. By 2026, an estimated 49 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.

Following the overview, this document provides details about the major provisions of this legislation, the estimated costs to the federal government, the basis for the estimate, and other related information, including a comparison with CBO’s estimate for the House-passed act.

Effects on the Federal Budget

CBO and JCT estimate that, over the 2017-2026 period, enacting this legislation would reduce direct spending by $1,022 billion and reduce revenues by $701 billion, for a net reduction of $321 billion in the deficit over that period (see Table 1, at the end of this document):

  • The largest savings would come from reductions in outlays for Medicaid—spending on the program would decline in 2026 by 26 percent in comparison with what CBO projects under current law—and from changes to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) subsidies for non-group health insurance (see Figure 1). Those savings would be partially offset by the effects of other changes to the ACA’s provisions dealing with insurance coverage: additional spending designed to reduce premiums and a reduction in revenues from repealing penalties on employers who do not offer insurance and on people who do not purchase insurance.
  • The largest increases in deficits would come from repealing or modifying tax provisions in the ACA that are not directly related to health insurance coverage, including repealing a surtax on net investment income and repealing annual fees imposed on health insurers.

Pay-as-you-go procedures apply because enacting this legislation would affect direct spending and revenues. CBO and JCT estimate that enactment would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027. The agencies expect that savings, particularly from Medicaid, would continue to grow, while the costs would be smaller because a rescinded tax on employees’ health insurance premiums and health plan benefits would be reinstated in 2026. CBO has not completed an estimate of the potential impact of this legislation on discretionary spending, which would be subject to future appropriation action.

Effects on Health Insurance Coverage

CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 15 million more people would be uninsured under this legislation than under current law—primarily because the penalty for not having insurance would be eliminated. The increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number projected under current law would reach 19 million in 2020 and 22 million in 2026. In later years, other changes in the legislation—lower spending on Medicaid and substantially smaller average subsidies for coverage in the non-group market—would also lead to increases in the number of people without health insurance. By 2026, among people under age 65, enrollment in Medicaid would fall by about 16 percent and an estimated 49 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.

Stability of the Health Insurance Market

Decisions about offering and purchasing health insurance depend on the stability of the health insurance market—that is, on the proportion of people living in areas with participating insurers and on the likelihood of premiums’ not rising in an unsustainable spiral. The market for insurance purchased individually with premiums not based on one’s health status would be unstable if, for example, the people who wanted to buy coverage at any offered price would have average health care expenditures so high that offering the insurance would be unprofitable.

Under Current Law. Although premiums have been rising under current law, most subsidized enrollees purchasing health insurance coverage in the non-group market are largely insulated from increases in premiums because their out-of-pocket payments for premiums are based on a percentage of their income; the government pays the difference between that percentage and the premiums for a reference plan (which is the second-lowest-cost plan in their area providing specified benefits). The subsidies to purchase coverage, combined with the effects of the individual mandate, which requires most individuals to obtain insurance or pay a penalty, are anticipated to cause sufficient demand for insurance by enough people, including people with low health care expenditures, for the market to be stable in most areas.

Nevertheless, a small number of people live in areas of the country that have limited participation by insurers in the non-group market under current law. Several factors may lead insurers to withdraw from the market—including lack of profitability and substantial uncertainty about enforcement of the individual mandate and about future payments of the cost-sharing subsidies to reduce out-of-pocket payments for people who enroll in non-group coverage through the marketplaces established by the ACA.

Under This Legislation. CBO and JCT anticipate that, under this legislation, non-group insurance markets would continue to be stable in most parts of the country. Although substantial uncertainty about the effects of the new law could lead some insurers to withdraw from or not enter the non-group market in some states, several factors would bring about market stability in most states before 2020. In the agencies’ view, those key factors include the following: subsidies to purchase insurance, which would maintain sufficient demand for insurance by people with low health care expenditures; the appropriation of funds for cost-sharing subsidies, which would provide certainty about the availability of those funds; and additional federal funding provided to states and insurers, which would lower premiums by reducing the costs to insurers of people with high health care expenditures.

The agencies expect that the non-group market in most areas of the country would continue to be stable in 2020 and later years as well, including in some states that obtain waivers that would not have otherwise done so. (Under current law and this legislation, states can apply for Section 1332 waivers to change the structure of subsidies for non-group coverage; the specifications for essential health benefits [EHBs], which set the minimum standards for the benefits that insurance in the non-group and small-group markets must cover; and other related provisions of law.) Substantial federal funding to directly reduce premiums would be available through 2021. Premium tax credits would continue to provide insulation from changes in premiums through 2021 and in later years. Those factors would help attract enough relatively healthy people for the market in most areas of the country to be stable, CBO and JCT anticipate. That stability in most areas would occur even though the premium tax credits would be smaller in most cases than under current law and subsidies to reduce cost sharing—the amount that consumers are required to pay out of pocket when they use health care services—would be eliminated starting in 2020.

In the agencies’ assessment, a small fraction of the population resides in areas in which—because of this legislation, at least for some of the years after 2019—no insurers would participate in the non-group market or insurance would be offered only with very high premiums. Some sparsely populated areas might have no non-group insurance offered because the reductions in subsidies would lead fewer people to decide to purchase insurance—and markets with few purchasers are less profitable for insurers. Insurance covering certain services would become more expensive—in some cases, extremely expensive—in some areas because the scope of the EHBs would be narrowed through waivers affecting close to half the population, CBO and JCT expect. In addition, the agencies anticipate that all insurance in the nongroup market would become very expensive for at least a short period of time for a small fraction of the population residing in areas in which states’ implementation of waivers with major changes caused market disruption.

Effects on Premiums and Out-of-Pocket Payments

The legislation would increase average premiums in the non-group market prior to 2020 and lower average premiums thereafter, relative to projections under current law, CBO and JCT estimate. To arrive at those estimates, the agencies examined how the legislation would affect the premiums charged if people purchased a benchmark plan in the non-group market.

In 2018 and 2019, under current law and under the legislation, the benchmark plan has an actuarial value of 70 percent—that is, the insurance pays about 70 percent of the total cost of covered benefits, on average. In the marketplaces, such coverage is known as a silver plan.

Under the Senate bill, average premiums for benchmark plans for single individuals would be about 20 percent higher in 2018 than under current law, mainly because the penalty for not having insurance would be eliminated, inducing fewer comparatively healthy people to sign up. Those premiums would be about 10 percent higher than under current law in 2019—less than in 2018 in part because funding provided by the bill to reduce premiums would affect pricing and because changes in the limits on how premiums can vary by age would result in a larger number of younger people paying lower premiums to purchase policies.

In 2020, average premiums for benchmark plans for single individuals would be about 30 percent lower than under current law. A combination of factors would lead to that decrease—most important, the smaller share of benefits paid for by the benchmark plans and federal funds provided to directly reduce premiums.

That share of services covered by insurance would be smaller because the benchmark plan under this legislation would have an actuarial value of 58 percent beginning in 2020. That value is slightly below the actuarial value of 60 percent for “bronze” plans currently offered in the marketplaces. Because of the ACA’s limits on out-of-pocket spending and prohibitions on annual and lifetime limits on payments for services within the EHBs, all plans must pay for most of the cost of high-cost services. To design a plan with an actuarial value of 60 percent or less and pay for those high-cost services, insurers must set high deductibles—that is, the amounts that people pay out of pocket for most types of health care services before insurance makes any contribution. Under current law for a single policyholder in 2017, the average deductible (for medical and drug expenses combined) is about $6,000 for a bronze plan and $3,600 for a silver plan. CBO and JCT expect that the benchmark plans under this legislation would have high deductibles similar to those for the bronze plans offered under current law. Premiums for a plan with an actuarial value of 58 percent are lower than they are for a plan with an actuarial value of 70 percent (the value for the reference plan under current law) largely because the insurance pays for a smaller average share of health care costs.

Although the average benchmark premium directly affects the amount of premium tax credits and is a key element in CBO’s analysis of the budgetary effects of the bill, it does not represent the effect of this legislation on the average premiums for all plans purchased. The differences in the actuarial value of plans purchased under this legislation and under current law would be greater starting in 2020—when, for example, under this bill, some people would pay more than the benchmark premium to purchase a silver plan, whereas, under current law, others would pay less than the benchmark premium to purchase a bronze plan.

Under this legislation, starting in 2020, the premium for a silver plan would typically be a relatively high percentage of income for low-income people. The deductible for a plan with an actuarial value of 58 percent would be a significantly higher percentage of income—also making such a plan unattractive, but for a different reason. As a result, despite being eligible for premium tax credits, few low-income people would purchase any plan, CBO and JCT estimate.

By 2026, average premiums for benchmark plans for single individuals in most of the country under this legislation would be about 20 percent lower than under current law, CBO and JCT estimate—a smaller decrease than in 2020 largely because federal funding to reduce premiums would have lessened. The estimates for both of those years encompass effects in different areas of the country that would be substantially higher and substantially lower than the average effect nationally, in part because of the effects of state waivers. Some small fraction of the population is not included in those estimates. CBO and JCT expect that those people would be in states using waivers in such a way that no benchmark plan would be defined. Hence, a comparison of benchmark premiums is not possible in such areas.

Some people enrolled in non-group insurance would experience substantial increases in what they would spend on health care even though benchmark premiums would decline, on average, in 2020 and later years. Because non-group insurance would pay for a smaller average share of benefits under this legislation, most people purchasing it would have higher out-of-pocket spending on health care than under current law. Out-of-pocket spending would also be affected for the people—close to half the population, CBO and JCT expect—living in states modifying the EHBs using waivers. People who used services or benefits no longer included in the EHBs would experience substantial increases in supplemental premiums or out-of-pocket spending on health care, or would choose to forgo the services. Moreover, the ACA’s ban on annual and lifetime limits on covered benefits would no longer apply to health benefits not defined as essential in a state. As a result, for some benefits that might be removed from a state’s definition of EHBs but that might not be excluded from insurance coverage altogether, some enrollees could see large increases in out-of-pocket spending because annual or lifetime limits would be allowed.

Uncertainty Surrounding the Estimates

CBO and JCT have endeavored to develop budgetary estimates that are in the middle of the distribution of potential outcomes. Such estimates are inherently inexact because the ways in which federal agencies, states, insurers, employers, individuals, doctors, hospitals, and other affected parties would respond to the changes made by this legislation are all difficult to predict. In particular, predicting the overall effects of the myriad ways that states could implement waivers is especially difficult.

CBO and JCT’s projections under current law itself are also uncertain. For example, enrollment in the marketplaces under current law will probably be lower than was projected under the March 2016 baseline used in this analysis, which would tend to decrease the budgetary savings from this legislation. However, the average subsidy per enrollee under current law will probably be higher than was projected in March 2016, which would tend to increase the budgetary savings from this legislation. (For a related discussion, see the section on “Use of the March 2016 Baseline” on page 15.)

Despite the uncertainty, the direction of certain effects of this legislation is clear. For example, the amount of federal revenues collected and the amount of spending on Medicaid would almost surely both be lower than under current law. And the number of uninsured people under this legislation would almost surely be greater than under current law.

Intergovernmental and Private-Sector Mandates

CBO has reviewed the non-tax provisions of the legislation and determined that they would impose intergovernmental mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) by preempting state laws. Although the pre-emptions would limit the application of state laws, they would impose no duty on states that would result in additional spending or a loss of revenues. JCT has determined that the tax provisions of the legislation contain no intergovernmental mandates.

JCT and CBO have determined that the legislation would impose private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA. On the basis of information from JCT, CBO estimates that the aggregate cost of the mandates would exceed the annual threshold established in UMRA for private-sector mandates ($156 million in 2017, adjusted annually for inflation).

Resources and Related Links

On Infrastructure: Trumpspeak is Cheap … and Empty

EPI’s Josh Bivens and Hunter Blair find that, in addition to “enormous cuts to public investment already embedded in their overall budget plan,” Trump’s budget funds only $200 billion of the $1 trillion he pledged for new infrastructure—leaving state taxpayers and infrastructure users to pick up 80% of the tab. Trump’s infrastructure plans are empty promises and they’re not backed by money.

“Trump’s plan is merely obfuscation and magical thinking.”

Read the full article … HERE.

Really? This is Tax Reform to Improve the Lives of Middle Class Americans? NOT!

They’re introducing #TaxReform today which will provide massive tax cuts for corporations ….. to a mere 15% …. and guess who’s paying for that … YOU and me!  And just so you understand what I mean, they’re dumping all “Obamacare” subsidies and dumping all “individual” deductions except mortgage and charitable deductions. No more deductions for healthcare costs or for 401k contributions. No word as to a single solitary corporate tax loophole has yet been mentioned!

I may be a Democrat, but I’m fiscally conservative and I know this is going to blow a nuclear-sized crater in both our federal budget deficit AND debt in terms of 10s of trillions of dollars.  But Republicans, who want to quadruple down on trickle down with super-duper fairy dust and steroids, along with their latest magic dynamic scoring gimmick, claim that we’ll see job growth that’s unbelievable and they’ll “Make America Great Again.”

“What this is about is creating jobs, and creating economic growth. And that’s why massive tax cuts and massive tax reform and simplifying the system is what we’re going to do.” — Steven Mnuchin

According to Speaker Ryan, you’ll be able to do your taxes on a postcard once they’ve completed their reform package. And if you’ve seen a picture of his proposed “tax postcard” it will tax “wage earnings” and 1/2 of earnings on investments/savings.

Hello?  You do realize that a large number of rich folks don’t have “wage and compensation” income.  They only have “investment income” which automatically is only taxed on 50% of that income!  This is insanity with a serious twist of evil!  I’m pretty sure that’s what Kansas’ Gov. Sam Brownback told Kansans before he totally bankrupted their state.  This is nothing more than a race to the bottom!  We’ve seen this before.  Corporations did NOT use their new found tax savings to create more jobs or invest in infrastructure.  They pocketed the money, or increased CEO salaries, or bought back outstanding stock.  None of it when to employee salaries.

But, if all of that isn’t bad enough, we still have no CBO report, and may not have one before the bozos in the House cast their votes to pass the bill … and  …  no, the trumpster will NOT be releasing his tax returns so we can evaluate just how bigly he’ll benefit from his tax rate reduction to a mere 15%, before deductions and loopholes.

GOP Is In Chaos—and 2018 is just around the corner

70 days in and it’s already been pretty rough for residents of Trumpland.

  • The “Obamacare” repeal? Couldn’t get a vote.
  • The Muslim ban 1.0 and then 2.0? Laughed out of court.
  • The budget? “Dead on arrival,” at least, according to Senator Lindsey Graham.
  • “You’re fired” seems to have taken over as the mode of operation, thus far: every US Ambassador effective upon his inauguration (without a single identified replacement to date),  every high-level State Department employee,
    46 District Attorneys General, Acting US Attorney General, National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh 
  • The president thinks it’s a great idea to threaten and mount primary challenges against ultra conservative Republican Freedom Caucus members who defy his will. (He might want to look back in history.  That tactic didn’t work so well, even for a very popular FDR.)
  • This is supposed to be the presidential “honeymoon” period.  Uh — not with ratings in the mid-thirties and dropping like a rock!
  • House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, who was also a member of the trump transition team, flunked the “smell test” and appears to have completely derailed the House’s efforts to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the trump campaign colluded in any way with the Russians.
  • Then there’s our Internet Privacy? ISPs are now free to sell your browsing history to the highest bidder without our permission.
  • Via executive fiat, climate change is now collectively being ignored across the board in every governmental department and LGBT statistics have been wiped from the 2020 census.
  • And what’s next? Passage of an actual budget and the need to once again raise the debt ceiling to pay for government spending Congress has already authorized.  Is yet another government shutdown on the near horizon? Will that force Democrats to vote for passage of a horrific budget just to keep the United States afloat?

The corruption of this administration is both brazen and incompetent. Case in point: Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is about to sell his debt-laden Manhattan office tower to a bank owned by the Chinese government —> for several billion dollars above fair market value.

And if that’s not bad enough, it appears there might be evidence of Trump’s campaign coordination with Russian intelligence, strong enough that Mike Flynn won’t testify  before Congress without immunity.  Isn’t that the same Flynn who raled about if  one needs immunity, that’s an indication of being guilty?  The same guy who went on an on about that throughout the campaign?

Surprisingly, the Republican congressional delegation continues to insist that the emperor is fully clothed and has all his real hair. They are going to go down with this ship.  Once again, the Republican party is destroying itself.

Now the question is: Are progressives ready with a positive vision of a just society and the policies?  Are you ready to step up and run against the void?  Are you ready to step up to the plate and throw your hat in the ring?  Let us know, we’re listening and ready to step up and support your campaign run.  Need training?  Need folks willing to contribute or provide shoe leather for door-to-door canvassing?  We can help with that!  We just need to know who you are and how we can help.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

FACT CHECK: Heck on Taxes and the Federal Budget

factcheckheck

Heck voted to give tax breaks to the wealth and large corporations while stiffing his constituents back home and our diplomats overseas.

  • Joe Heck supports policies that increase taxes on the middle class while lowering taxes on the wealthy.
  • Joe Heck sponsored a tax break for the Big Banks.
  • Joe Heck voted to protect tax breaks for corporations that ship American jobs overseas.
  • Joe Heck supports Donald Trump’s tax plan that would help millionaires and special interests

Background

  1. Joe Heck SIGNED the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge which solemnly opposes “any and all” tax increases to raise revenue. [ATR.org, 9/10/10]
  2. Joe Heck is AGAINST increasing taxes on wealthy individuals, such as the estate tax, to pay for federally funded programs. [H.R. 1105, 4/16/15]
  3. Joe Heck SPONSORED a bill giving a tax break to the Big Banks. [Politifact, 7/12/16]
  4. Throughout his career in Congress, Heck received $687,599 from the banking industry. [Opensecrets.org, updated: 9/21/16]
  5. Joe Heck supports a flat tax rate, allowing the wealthy to pay less in taxes and the middle class to pay more. [KNPR, 5/20/10]
  6. Heck Voted To Block Bring Jobs Home Act To Eliminate Tax Incentives For Companies Moving Jobs Overseas. [CQ, 7/10/12, H.R.5542, Vote 456, 7/10/12; 112th Congress Previous Questions]
  7. The Hill: The Bring Jobs Home Act “Would End Tax Breaks For Companies That Send Jobs Overseas.” [The Hill, 7/30/14]
  8. Heck Voted Against A Bill To Eliminate Tax Breaks for Companies That Move Jobs And Profits Overseas. [CQ, 8/2/12; H.Amdt.1475 to H.R. 6169, Vote 550, 8/2/12]
  9. Heck Voted Against Barring Tax Benefits In Bill To Inverted Domestic Corporations And Against Extending Tax Provisions For Two Years. [CQ, 7/17/14; motion to recommit H.R. 4719, Vote 431, 7/17/14]
  10. Heck Voted Against Prohibiting Inverted Domestic Corporations Formed After May 8, 2014 From Using Special Bonus Depreciation Rules. [CQ, 7/11/14; motion to recommit H.R. 4718, Vote 403, 7/11/14]
  11. Heck Voted For A Budget That Would “Nearly Eliminate U.S. Taxes On American Corporations’ Earnings From Overseas Operations.” [CQ, 3/29/12; H.Con. Res. 112, Vote 151, 3/29/12; Wall Street Journal, 3/20/12]
  12. Heck: Trump “Has The Best Ability” To Change Our Economy And That’s Why I Support Him. [Reno Gazette-Journal, 8/17/16]
  13. Heck voted in favor of Paul Ryan’s budget plan that cut tax rates for large corporations. [CQ, 3/29/12; H Con Res 112, Vote 151, 3/29/12]
  14. Heck voted to rescind all unobligated funding for the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program and to terminate the program [Roll 112-174, HR 836, 3/11/2011]  He also voted in favor of passage of the NSP Termination Act which rescinded and cancelled assistance to states and local governments for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes and residential properties [Roll 112-188, HR 861, 3/16/2011], and in favor of passage of the Hamp Termination Act [Roll 112-198, HR 839, 3/29/2011] which provided new mortgage modification assistance under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).  When homes throughout Nevada were still ‘under-water’ — he pulled the any hope of rescues out from underneath them.
  15. Heck voted to prohibit Federal funding of National Public Radio and the use of Federal funds to acquire radio content [Roll 112-192, HR1076, 3/17/2011]

Then there’s the Embassy Security funding cuts:  Democrats enacted $1.803 billion for embassy security, construction and maintenance for fiscal 2010, when they still controlled the Senate and House. After Republicans took control of the House and picked up six Senate seats, Congress reduced the enacted budget to $1.616 billion in fiscal 2011, and to $1.537 billion for 2012.  The administration requested $1.801 billion for security, construction and maintenance for fiscal 2012; House Republicans countered with a proposal to cut spending to $1.425 billion. The House agreed to increase it to $1.537 billion after negotiations with the Senate.  But what happened in Benghazi, of course, had nothing to do with lack of funding for Embassy security.

The Obama Health Care Legacy: More Coverage and Less Spending

—by Harry Stein

ImageOn March 24, the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, published data that surprised even the staunchest advocates for health care reform: New estimates show that total federal spending in fiscal year 2016 for major health care programs will be lower than was projected back in January 2009. Why is this shocking? The January 2009 projections did not include the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, which was not signed into law until March 2010. This means that federal health programs are covering more people while spending less money.

Though the ACA coverage expansion added new costs, total spending for federal health programs is still less than what the CBO projected in January 2009 because of huge savings from Medicare. In fact, the CBO’s projections for FY 2016 Medicare spending have fallen $107 billion since January 2009. A portion of the Medicare savings can be unambiguously attributed to the ACA.

Read more about how the ACA expanded coverage while saving money at the Center for American Progress.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter

House GOP Budget Committee Just Passed Their FY2017 Budget Proposal

628The House GOP-dominated Budget Committee held 9 hour markup, with several lawmakers going hoarse and one losing her voice. Democrats offered up 29 amendments, involving immigration reform, prescription drug prices, and equal pay. Every amendment failed, including one proposed by Rep. Debbie Dingell [D, MI-12] that would have designated $457.5M in emergency funding for Flint and required Michigan to match the federal funds. The budget advanced 20-16, with Democrats voting against and all but one Republican voting for the measure. Here’s their summary:

Balances the Budget

  • Balances the budget within 10 years – without raising taxes – and puts the country on a path to paying off the national debt
  • This budget achieves $7 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years through a combination of $6.5 trillion in savings coupled with economic growth
  • Savings are higher than any previous House Budget Committee proposal and discretionary spending is below 2008 levels
  • Requires consideration of legislation this year to achieve at least $30 billion in automatic spending reductions and reforms over the near term
  • Advances budget process reforms to promote fiscal discipline, and calls for a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment this year

Strengthens Our National Defense

  • Provides for greater security at home and strength abroad at funding levels above the president’s budget and with increased resources for training, equipment and compensation
  • Supports the bipartisan prohibition on closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and transfer of detainees to American soil
  • Identifies vulnerabilities in our nation’s refugee program and calls for oversight and rigorous screening
  • Calls for an improved and accountable Department of Veterans Affairs that can better deliver services and benefits to our veterans

Empowers Our Citizens & Communities

  • Promotes job creation and a healthier economy by calling for a fairer, simpler tax code, regulatory reform, expanded energy production, and a more efficient, effective and accountable government
  • Repeals all of Obamacare (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act)
  • Endorses patient-centered health care solutions that improve access to quality, affordable care (but does absolutely nothing to assure access to insurance nor does it rein in health care costs)
  • Saves, strengthens, and secures Medicare for current and future retirees (read the Q&A carefully as to HOW they intend to do that)
  • Empowers states and local communities with the flexibility to innovate and make improvements to Medicaid, nutrition assistance, education and other programs
  • Strengthens the Disability Insurance program by putting an end to the “double-dipping” loophole that currently allows individuals to receive both unemployment insurance and disability insurance simultaneously
  • Puts an end to corporate welfare and dismantles the Department of Commerce [that would mean they intend to help balance the budget by issuing pink slips to 43,000+ employees and ending measuring services like: Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), U.S. Census Bureau (Census), Economic Development Admin (EDA), Economics and Statistics Admin (ESA), International Trade Admin (ITA), Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), Natl Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Natl Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Natl Technical Information Service (NTIS), Operation Natl Telecom & Information Admin (NTIA), and United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Additional Resources

Breaking Down The Budget Deal

— by CAP Action War Room

The Omnibus Spending Bill And Tax Extenders Package Contain Significant Progressive Accomplishments

After weeks of negotiations, congressional leaders and the White House have agreed to a spending deal to fund the government through 2016. The omnibus spending bill and the tax extenders package still need final approval from the House and Senate. But with the release of the bill, all that’s left are the final votes, which are both expected tomorrow. There’s a lot to unpack in the 2,009-page bill, so we’ve broken it down into the good, the bad, and the fun.

The Good:

  • Permanent Renewals Of Earned Income Tax Credit And Child Tax Credit Expansions: Under the stimulus bill, the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit—two key programs that help keep millions of Americans out of poverty—were expanded until 2017. But the tax extenders package made the extensions permanent, a clear win for working families. Allowing these expansions to expire would have pushed 16 million Americans, including 8 million children, into or deeper into poverty.
  • Wind and Solar Tax Credit Extension: Renewable energy was also a winner in this year’s budget deal, thanks to a five-year extension of the solar Investment Tax Credit and the wind Production Tax Credit. Solar accounts for 1 in 78 new jobs in the country, and the solar Investment Tax Credit has been a crucial driver in the growing industry. The increase of wind and solar capacity is seen as a critical way for the U.S. to meet its goals under the Clean Power Plan as well as its commitments under the new UN climate agreement.
  • Accountability For Fast Food Chains: Congressional Republicans tried to block a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that makes large corporations like McDonald’s responsible for how their franchises treat workers. The ruling, which remained intact, may force McDonald’s and similar brands to take responsibility for workplace conditions. This could significantly improve the chances that workers can force change in the industry.
  • Health Care For 9/11 First Responders: A health care bill for 9/11 first responders—brought to national attention thanks to the advocacy of Jon Stewart—was included in the year-end spending bill. The legislation was also included in the omnibus, only after 9/11 first responders made hundreds of advocacy trips to D.C.
  • Investment In The Middle Class: The omnibus bill funds key investments in a number of areas to strengthen the middle class and grow the economy. These investments include education from early childhood through college, medical and science research, transportation infrastructure, and conservation. These investments were made possible by the recent budget deal, which reversed about 90 percent of the cuts sequestration would have made to nondefense discretionary programs in fiscal year 2016.
  • Defeat of Many Policy Riders: Congressional Republicans had a long wish list of inappropriate and nongermane partisan policy riders. Luckily, many failed, including riders that would have defunded Planned Parenthood, made it harder for Syrian refugees to come to the United States, blocked the Department of Labor from protecting retirees’ savings, and hindered the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s ability to protect consumers.

The Bad:

  • A Win For Big Oil: Unfortunately, lawmakers also handed a win to big oil. As a part of a broader energy package, including the wind and solar tax credit extensions, the 40-year-old crude oil export ban was lifted, meaning American crude oil can be shipped abroad for the first time since the 1970s. Lifting the ban has been a priority for the oil industry. Many environmental groups are concerned that the policy change could lead to more domestic drilling and the potential for additional pollution.
  • Decreased Transparency In Money In Politics: Snuck into the 2,009-page omnibus bill are two sections that will only make the influence of money in politics worse. Section 735 would block the Securities and Exchange Commission’s ability to require companies that receive federal contracts to disclose their contributions to political organizations. And Section 127 will prohibit the IRS from formalizing proposed rules to reign in political groups who use the title of tax-exempt 501(c)(4) “social welfare” non-profits to avoid disclosing their funding.
  • Bans On Gun Violence Research (Still): Public health, medical, and gun violence prevention advocates were unable to take out a rider known as the “Dickey amendment,” which effectively prevents the CDC and NIH from doing any research on gun violence. The provision was maintained despite the fact that former Rep. Jay Dickey (R-AR), for whom the amendment is named, has since spoken out against the policy saying he regrets no research is being done. The good news is, despite the fact that the NRA spent more than $27 million to elect a Republican majority in the 2014 elections, several other gun lobby priority items failed to make it in.
  • Budget Cuts For The IRS Enforcement Division: The budget deal cuts $25 million in funding for the IRS team that keeps people from evading their taxes. The IRS enforcement team has already experienced huge cuts, which limits its ability to save the government money through auditing returns and pursuing tax evaders.

The Fun:

  • Sledding provision: The crude oil export ban wasn’t the only ban lifted as a part of the budget deal: In a big win for winter cheer, the sledding ban on Capitol Hill was also lifted, ending an official ban of 14 years.

BOTTOM LINE: Crisis averted?  We’ll see tomorrow when the House has scheduled a vote on this ill-conceived budget. Congress has (almost) successfully avoided a government shutdown and agreed on a spending bill to fund the government for the next year. The deal is imperfect, but it is largely absent of highly partisan riders and funds key investments in a number of areas to strengthen the middle class and grow the economy.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter

This Week’s Democratic Campaigns and GOP Agitprop

Joe Biden will Not Run for President

Swipe Right for Hillary

Bernie Sanders Explains Social Security

O’Malley on the Need for New Leadership

 

Clinton vs. Sanders vs. O’Malley On Fixing Banking
How do we fix Wall Street, a.k.a. “the banks”? How do the candidates compare? … The first place to look, of course, is CAF’s Candidate Scorecard … Clinton’s 63 percent rating is primarily based on not having a position on a financial transaction tax … as well as opposing reinstating some form of a Glass-Steagall Act and a lack of specific proposals related to the categories “Break Up Big Banks” and “Affordable Banking.” Meanwhile, Sanders rates 100 percent … O’Malley is stressing his positions on and independence from Wall Street [and] also has a 100 percent…

Blue States Make Voting Easier as Red States Add Restrictions
“In Illinois, a new provision allows voters to register electronically when they visit various state agencies. And in Delaware, some residents with criminal records will regain the right to vote … In Republican-controlled states, the story is different. North Carolina has instituted a new voter ID requirement. North Dakota has narrowed the forms of identification voters can present … Ohio’s GOP-controlled legislature has instituted … shorter early voting hours.” Meanwhile, here at home in Nevada, folks who wish to participate in the Democratic County Caucuses will enjoy the ability to “same-day” register to participate, while Republican caucus goers will need to have registered at least 10 days prior to the caucus date AND will be required to present a government issued photo ID card … no indication as to which will be allowed and which will not (e.g., will VA photo IDs be accepted?).

Ex-Gov turned Democrat Charlie Crist announced a run for U.S. House
On Tuesday, ex-Gov. Charlie Crist announced that he would run for the St. Petersburg FL-13 seat. Crist said all the way back in July that he’d run for this seat if he lived in it after redistricting, so this announcement was no surprise. However, Republican Rep. David Jolly, who is leaving this district behind to run for the Senate, unexpectedly crashed what would have otherwise been a routine campaign kickoff. Jolly told reporters that he cares too much about the seat “to lay down and let this huckster walk into office.” Republicans utterly hate Crist, who left the party in 2010, so this kind of stunt certainly won’t hurt Jolly’s chances in the GOP primary.  If Crist wins, he’ll be one of only a few ex-governors to be elected to the House. The University of Minnesota’s Smart Politics blog finds that in the last half-century, only four other ex-governors have done this, and none of them had run a state anywhere near as large as Florida.

Meanwhile in the House of Representatives, the Freedom Caucus is vowing not to play nice —all this at a crucial time when some pretty critical votes will need to be taken:

  • A vote to raise the debt limit to avoid a default on our nation’s debt. House RW budget hawks are looking again at hijacking any efforts to raise the debt limit to pay for expenses they already authorized.  Expect new attacks on medicaid, medicare, social security and planned parenthood. And then there’s Teddy Cruz, urging GOP members to take an absolute hard line against any efforts to pass a “clean” bill to raise the limit to pay for the spending they already authorized.
  • A vote will be needed to pass a fiscal budget, not yet another let’s kick the can down the road continuing resolution to extend the current (previous) budget that was passed,  and
  • A vote will be needed regarding the Iran Deal, which the US and other foreign nations have already begun to implement regardless of any approval/disapproval from our disfunctional Congress.

November should prove quite interesting. But, if all of that that is not enough agitprop for your tastes, Speaker Boehner is proposing that it’s possible that they could actually “repeal Obamacare” by the end of the year. What is he smoking, drinking or otherwise ingesting?  Apparently he thinks President Obama is just gonna roll over and sign onto their repeal efforts taking away any and all opportunities for millions of Americans to be able to purchase health care insurance.  Somebody needs to throw some ice water in his face and yell “Wake Up Bozo!”

  • Rep. Paul Ryan announces speaker bid, with conditions. NYT: “…Ryan called for … an end to the antics of ‘bomb throwers and hand wringers,’ according to members in the room … He suggested that he wanted an answer by Friday. Mr. Ryan made it clear that he would not accede to preconditions set by ‘one group,’ a clear reference to the members of the hard-line Freedom Caucus…”
  • Freedom Caucus resists. Politico: “They were dismissive of his Ryan’s request that they relinquish a procedural tactic they used to threaten to strip outgoing Speaker John Boehner of his title – one of the most potent weapons in the group’s arsenal.”
  • Paul Ryan’s Conditions for House Speaker Bid Meet Early Resistance, Bloomberg: “How does giving Paul Ryan more power solve the problem of John Boehner having had too much power?” Rep. Tim Huelskamp tells Bloomberg.