Category: Mitch McConnell

Republicans turn their irresponsible tax bill into monumentally unwise social policy

Republicans turn their irresponsible tax bill into monumentally unwise social policy

The Washington Post
By Editorial Board
Image courtesy of Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Republican Senators remade their tax bill into an Obamacare repeal bill, announcing Tuesday that they inserted an Obamacare sabotage device into the text. In a stroke, they turned a fiscally irresponsible tax plan into a monumentally unwise piece of social policy that would do much more than widen the deficit. If passed, it would be the most significant health-care shift since the 2010 Affordable Care Act — and in a decidedly negative direction.

The Senate GOP’s new bill would eliminate Obamacare’s “individual mandate,” which requires all Americans to get health coverage if they can afford it. Independent health-care analysts and the Congressional Budget Office, Congress’s official scorekeeper, agree that this move would deeply undercut the Obamacare system. The CBO estimated last week that ending the mandate would lead to 13 million more Americans lacking health-care coverage.

Yet, for Republicans, the coverage loss is not a regrettable side effect of an otherwise sensible policy. It is the point. Fewer people covered means that the federal government would save money that the treasury would have otherwise spent on their health care, such as by helping them buy health insurance or offering them Medicaid — $338 billion over a decade. Republicans want to use that cash to help finance the rest of their tax bill. They could have removed some of the bill’s expensive and unnecessary giveaways to the wealthy, such as its rollback of the estate tax. But they opted instead to raise money by ballooning the ranks of uninsured.

 

Trump’s real constituency isn’t the white working class at all

Trump’s real constituency isn’t the white working class at all

The Washington Post
By E.J. Dionne Jr.

The focus on President Trump’s political strength among white working-class voters distracts from a truth that may be more important: His rise depended on support from rich conservatives, and his program serves the interests of those who have accumulated enormous wealth.

This explains why so few congressional Republicans denounce him, no matter how close he edges toward autocracy, how much bigotry he spreads — or how often he panders to Vladimir Putin and denounces our own intelligence officials, as he did again this weekend.

The GOP leadership knows Trump is tilting our economy toward people just like him, the objective they care about most.

To borrow from the president, he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and still not lose House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) as long as they have a reactionary tax bill to push into law.

Trump’s willingness to help Republican leaders pay off their largest contributors is the clearest explanation for why they debase themselves through their complicity with him. If you think this is harsh, consider the words of Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.): “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get this done or don’t ever call me again.’ ”

I bet they are.

McConnell calls on Roy Moore to end Senate campaign following accusations of sexual misconduct

McConnell calls on Roy Moore to end Senate campaign following accusations of sexual misconduct

The Washington Post
By Sean Sullivan and Elise Viebeck

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that Republican nominee Roy Moore should end his Senate campaign in Alabama, following allegations that he initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32.

“I think he should step aside,” McConnell said. His comments marked the most definitive position he has taken on Moore’s candidacy since The Washington Post reported the allegations on Thursday.

Asked by a reporter whether he believed the allegations, McConnell responded: “I believe the women, yes.”

Although it is too late to remove Moore’s name from the ballot before the Dec. 12 special election, McConnell said he is exploring the option of a write-in campaign by Sen. Luther Strange, whom Moore defeated in the primary, or another Republican.

The Post reported Thursday that Leigh Corfman alleged that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 and Moore was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Moore has denied the allegations and has vowed to continue his campaign.

Republicans search for proof their tax plans will pay for themselves

Republicans search for proof their tax plans will pay for themselves

The New York Times
By Jim Tankersley
Image courtesy of Tom Brenner/The New York Times

Republican leaders keep insisting that their plans to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade will not add to the national debt — yet economic analyses of the Senate and House proposals keep predicting that the plans will do just that.

The disconnect is prompting House and Senate Republican leaders and the Trump administration to hunt down — and promote — more optimistic forecasts, even if they exclude large parts of the tax bills from their analyses or assume growth-boosting features that are not, in fact, in the bills.

Republican leaders have said the tax cuts they are planning will essentially pay for themselves. Lawmakers gave themselves, via their 2018 budget resolution, space for $1.5 trillion in revenue losses from tax cuts, but they have promised those losses will be offset by increased economic growth spurred by the tax overhaul. Finding a model that supports the ambitious economic growth projections is critical to their ability to pass a tax cut along party lines.

The House and Senate bills have been introduced and amended at a rapid clip, and economists are only now beginning to plug their details into sophisticated models that predict how much additional growth the cuts might produce. So far, every so-called dynamic analysis that scrutinizes the full details of the bills and factors in economic growth finds that those plans would add at least $500 billion and as much as $1.7 trillion to the deficit.

In an interview on Friday, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said that “we’re confident that the $1.5 trillion gap would be filled” by economic growth. Mr. McConnell said the tax bill would add 0.4 percentage points to annual economic growth, though he did not cite a specific analysis suggesting that assertion. “So we believe this is a responsible budget and a responsible tax reform,” he said.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin insisted last week that the House bill would not add to the deficit, even after an analysis by the independent Tax Foundation, which uses a model that tends to find large growth effects from tax cuts, found that the bill would add $1 trillion to deficits over a decade.

“We believe that we’re going to be fine on that,” Mr. Ryan said. “We believe that when you look at other analysis, whether it’s going to be Treasury or the rest, that we’re right there in the sweet spot, with economic growth that gives us more revenue with where we need to be.”

Trump’s quote on shifting blame just about says it all

Trump’s quote on shifting blame just about says it all

The Washington Post
By Aaron Blake

President Trump almost admitted Monday that he is failing on his agenda. Then he caught himself.

“We’re not getting the job done,” he began, before quickly shifting course. “And I’m not going to blame myself. I’ll be honest: They are not getting the job done,” he said, referring to Congress.

You hear that, Congress? Trump is washing his hands of you. That “bully pulpit” that Theodore Roosevelt talked about? Overrated. Lyndon Johnson’s physical intimidation of wavering lawmakers? Trump shouldn’t be expected to dirty his hands. Harry Truman’s “buck stop here?” Nope, it actually stops over there, down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Points for honesty, I guess. If there was one microcosm of Trump’s attitude toward blame acceptance, this was it. In the span of a few seconds, Trump served notice that he separates himself from any responsibility for what Congress does or doesn’t do. It’s all on them.

This might be the most obvious bit of blame-shifting from Trump, but it’s certainly not the first time he’s done it.

It’s fine to note that things aren’t completely under your control as president — we don’t have a dictator — but presidents do get a chance to exert influence over the things the country talks about and Congress passes. The president can bring to bear plenty of pressure when it comes to swaying wavering lawmakers. When it comes to health care, Trump needed only to help win over skeptical Republican senators.

But Trump has shown considerably less interest in providing a helping hand to McConnell and Ryan than he has in absolving himself of the blame for their failures to produce. He has frequently given conflicting signals about what he wants to see from the health-care effort, has feuded with senators who provide key votes — often after the bills have already failed — and has generally shown very little interest in policy details. It’s one thing to not be a details guy; it’s another to seem completely clueless about what’s working its way through Congress at any given moment. Trump is almost always far to the latter end of the spectrum.

And at it’s core, it’s more a sign of desperation than it is of his power as president. To be clear: The president admitted Monday that he’s been neutered in the Oval Office. And whether you think he shoulders lots of blame or even just a little, he certainly carries at least some of the blame for that.

Sorry GOP, tax reform will not be easier than replacing ObamaCare

Sorry GOP, tax reform will not be easier than replacing ObamaCare

The Hill
By Howard Gleckman
Image courtesy of Tom Williams

You hear it all the time these days: Republicans should just move on to tax reform. It will be so much easier than overhauling the law on healthcare.

No, it won’t. Indeed, if the GOP thinks replacing the Affordable Care Act has been a nightmare, just wait until they try to reform the tax code.

Tax reform, at least the version that raises the same amount of revenue as the current code, will create far more losers than a health bill. It will divide the business lobby, produce a storm of criticism from charities and home builders, and set off a firestorm among political ideologues. It will sow confusion and uncertainty among ordinary taxpayers. And it will split congressional coalitions, not just by party, but by geography.

Think of it this way: Nearly two-thirds of Americans get insurance through their employers, Medicare, or the military, and they would be largely immune from changes to the ACA. By contrast, nearly every American and all businesses could be touched by a major tax bill. Even those who currently pay no federal income tax could be at risk, depending on how reform is structured.

McConnell says GOP must shore up ACA insurance markets if Senate bill dies

McConnell says GOP must shore up ACA insurance markets if Senate bill dies

The Washington Post
Juliet Eilperin and Amy Goldstein
Image courtesy of AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that if his party fails to muster 50 votes for its plan to rewrite the Affordable Care Act, it will have no choice but to draft a more modest bill with Democrats to support the law’s existing insurance markets.

“If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur,” McConnell said. “No action is not an alternative. We’ve got the insurance markets imploding all over the country.”

McConnell, who pledged in 2014 to eradicate the law also known as Obamacare “root and branch,” initially raised the prospect of having to work with Democrats last week after he pulled a measure he had crafted behind closed doors.

But while he previously declared that Republicans “need to come up with a solution” if they wanted to make real changes to the nation’s health-care system, McConnell on Thursday acknowledged how difficult it is proving to craft an alternative that can satisfy the GOP’s conservative and centrist camps.

His suggestion that he and his colleagues might instead try to bolster the insurance exchanges created under the ACA is at odds with Republican talking points that they are beyond repair.

Yet the Fourth of July recess has not bolstered the political prospects for McConnell’s legislation; GOP senators have been peppered with questions by constituents anxious about the potential impact on their coverage. In the past several days, some senators have implied that considerable work would still be required before the Better Care Reconciliation Act could pass the Senate.