Categorized | Opinion, Pushback

Tax Cuts, Budget Cuts, Medicare & Social Security

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At the end of 2017, Congress passed $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that will reduce federal dollars available for public programs. Those who voted for it are now on the record in support of stealing the earned Social Security benefits of Americans.

By Al Norman

At the end of 2017, Congress passed $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that will reduce federal dollars available for public programs, and the White House proposed a 2019 budget that will cut $1.7 trillion from Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security disability programs, food stamps, and more.

A new report from Americans for Tax Fairness and Health Care For America NOW says most of these tax cuts “will explode the national debt…and endanger future funding for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other public services working families rely on.”

Eighty-three percent of these tax cuts will go to the wealthiest 1 percent. In Massachusetts, the richest 1 percent of taxpayers will get 31 percent of the total tax cut — an average tax cut of $84,720. By contrast, the bottom 60 percent of the taxpayers in the Commonwealth get only 12 percent of the cuts — an average tax cut of $560.

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Prescription drug companies and health insurers will see billions of dollars in tax savings, but the report says that very few of these corporations plan to invest any tax savings in their workers, or to give consumers a cut in their drug or insurance prices.

The new tax law also repeals a key part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which requires that those who can afford it buy health insurance. This will result in higher premiums and millions losing coverage. Thirteen million Americans nationally will lose health coverage by 2027 and insurance premiums in the individual market will rise by $2,000 on average, or 10 percent, or in 2019.

President Trump’s proposed budget for 2019 would cause 665,000 Baystate residents to lose health coverage by 2027, because it completely repeals the ACA. The Trump budget would cut 115,536 families in Massachusetts to lose their Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) by 2028. A total of $72 billion over 10 years would be cut in the Commonwealth from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Massachusetts could lose $1.66 trillion based on its share of spending. The state would lose billions in highway funding, mass transit, and education. Some 7,477 Massachusetts families could lose their Section 8 housing vouchers that help them afford rent, and $24.3 million for affordable rental housing would be gone. The Community Development Block Grant program would be eliminated, cutting $91 million that helps Massachusetts cities and towns pay for a variety of community and economic development services. The main hope now is that Congress will not adopt anything like the Trump budget.

“We need a different direction,” the report concludes. It calls on Congress to:

?Repeal the Trump-Republican tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations that threaten Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and affordable housing.

?Make the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share of taxes.

?Strengthen the ACA to provide moreAmericans with quality, affordable health care.

?Lower prescription drug costs by allowing federal health programs to directly negotiate with drug firms and expand healthcare programs like Medicaid and Medicare.

On top of all this, a group called Social Security Works charges that the House of Representatives recently tried to adopt a “balanced budget” amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would “steal” Social Security’s $2.9 trillion surplus. “America’s workers contribute to Social Security,” the group said. “Social Security does not add even a penny to the deficit. When Social Security runs a surplus, Social Security holds the funds in trust.

In the guise of a so-called balanced budget amendment, Congress votedto not pay back hardworking Americans when those funds will be needed to pay their earned benefit. Fortunately for Social Security beneficiaries, the amendment did not attain the two-thirds majority required to pass the House. But those who voted for it are now on the record in support of stealing the earned Social Security benefits of Americans.

Al Norman worked as an advocate and lobbyist in the field of aging services in Massachusetts for 38 years. He can be reached at alnormaneldercare@gmail.com

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