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Simple Swap: Repeal Corporate Tax Cuts, Add Back Dental & Vision To Medicare

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I have a simple proposal to make to the U.S. Congress. A budgetary swap, on behalf of the elderly and disabled Americans: repeal the corporate tax cuts in the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA), and add back into the budget the Medicare dental, vision, and hearing benefits that were cut from the Build Back Better bill.

By Al Norman

I have a simple proposal to make to the U.S. Congress. A budgetary swap, on behalf of the elderly and disabled Americans: repeal the corporate tax cuts in the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA), and add back into the budget the Medicare dental, vision, and hearing benefits that were cut from the Build Back Better bill, which failed to pass in Congress.

In 2017, President Donald Trump signed the TCJA into law. “Corporations are literally going wild over this,” Trump said at the signing. He predicted that his corporate tax cut would cause a boom in business investment and that factories were “not going to be abandoned any longer.” Two years later, Trump’s Chief of staff said the administration would seek to cut the corporate tax rate even further if the president gained a second term in office.

There were many projections of the cost of these corporate tax cuts. The U.S. Department of Treasury said the tax cuts themselves would reduce federal coffers by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. The corporate tax rate was changed from a tiered tax rate ranging from 15 percent to as high as 39 percent depending on taxable income, to a flat 21 percent. Over 10 years, corporations would receive around $320 billion in benefits.

These corporate tax reductions were made permanent, so Congress has to repeal these provisions — which it has not done. The cost of these corporate subsidies is too high to pay for the tax cuts themselves. Instead, the deficit and debt will continue to grow. The drop in corporate revenue has been even sharper than expected.

patient-centered, Social Security, ageist, nursing, COVID, Trump, vaccineBefore the tax cuts were enacted, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that corporate tax revenues for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 would total $668 billion. In a forecast published soon after the TCJA was enacted, the CBO lowered corporate tax revenues over those two years to $519 billion. By 2019, The CBO assessed the 10-year cost of corporate tax cuts at $750 billion, or $400 billion more than the pre-TCJA projections.

Unfortunately, the TCJA did not stimulate corporations to invest in new plants and jobs. Instead, corporations began transferring their tax windfall to shareholders. The International Monetary Fund found that the top S&P 500 companies directed 80 percent of their increased cashflow to stock buybacks and dividends. Because of the TCJA, America now collects only 1 percent of its GDP in corporate tax revenue — far less than neighbors like Canada and Mexico, which collect 3.7 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

Many large corporations admitted that they didn’t need the money from the Trump tax cuts. They were hoarding a record $2.3 trillion in cash reserves. The Center for American Progress stated in 2019: “the large corporate tax windfalls have gone mostly toward lining the pockets of already wealthy individuals, and there is little evidence that middle- and working-class families will see real benefits.”

When President Biden unveiled his Build Back Better (BBB) bill last Fall, he gave hope to about 24 million Americans on Medicare–nearly half of all Medicare beneficiaries in 2019 – who had no dental insurance coverage at all. Biden proposed expanding Medicare to include dental coverage and adding hearing and vision coverage. Dental coverage would begin in January 2028, including preventive, basic and major dental treatments, including a full or partial set of dentures every five years. A 20 percent cost-sharing would be enacted for beneficiaries to cover preventive, screening and basic services, which would increase to 50 percent by 2032.

The majority of Americans support expanding Medicare to include dental care coverage. A CBS poll in October, 2021 found that 84 percent support expanding Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing coverage. According to Families USA, “Dental care is so expensive without insurance, that it’s often skipped. It’s the No. 1 medical service people in America skip due to costs.”

But by late October, 2021, the Biden Administration, under pressure to secure enough votes to pass the BBB, cut the cost of the bill in half. The White House extracted its plans for dental and vision benefits, and dropped language to give Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices. The U.S. House passed their version of the BBB on Nov. 19, 2021, but the Senate did not muster enough votes to pass any BBB.

A Morning Consult/Politico poll several months ago showed that adding dental and vision care to Medicare was still the top priority for voters in the BBB bill. So, here’s the swap: the CBO estimate of the 10-year costs of the corporate tax cuts is $750 billion. The projected cost of adding dental, vision and hearing benefits to Medicare over 10 years is $358 billion.

I urge readers to go to the website of your two senators and your member of Congress, and email this column to them as a letter. Let’s put seniors and people with disabilities ahead of subsidies to wealthy corporations and stockholders.

Al Norman worked for nearly four decades in the elderly home care field in Massachusetts. He has been writing columns for the 50+Life almost as long.

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