WASHINGTON, January 23, 2018: Think the GOP and President Trump have forgotten about that pledge to begin eroding Obamacare. Think again. Largely overlooked in the media s—storm surrounding the #SchumerShutdown and its inglorious Monday morning conclusion was this little-noted item, finally noted around noon Tuesday by CNBC:
“Three Obamacare taxes have been put on ice — for now — by the deal that ended the shutdown of the federal government.
“The stopgap spending deal reached by Congress on Monday suspended imposition of the three taxes: the so-called Cadillac tax on high-value health plans, a 2.3 percent levy on medical devices and the health insurance tax.”
This is astoundingly good news, particularly for Deplorable Trump voters who felt betrayed when GOP RINOs helped scuttle the full Obamacare “repeal and replace” legislation that was proposed and then defeated last spring. Aside from deftly dealing with the immigration issue (still simmering) in a way that satisfied actual American citizens over the weekend, ending Obamacare – aka, the “Affordable Care Act” or ACA – was the second most important issue that attracted voters to the GOP in 2016.
Killing this costly and unworkable new entitlement was originally one of the lynchpins of the tax package the GOP was working on last spring. Wiping out Obamacare taxes first would pave the way to the economy-stimulating tax reduction package the GOP fully intended to pass next. Taking a fall on that issue set back the GOP’s tax-cutting agenda considerably.
But now, they’re driving ahead once again. Having passed an impressive tax package in December – the main impetus behind Wall Street’s continuing rally mode – the GOP-led Congress, with President Trump and the White House leading the Twitterstorm charge, is draining the beast of its taxpayer sustaining life-blood.
Killing Obamacare outright might be impossible, at least in the current Congress. Eroding Obamacare by a thousand cuts may turn out to be the preferred route toward gutting this still-hated legislation.
Obamacare was, and remains, a money-hungry, hydra-headed beast. Some aspects of that legislation are actually under the bureaucratic control of select government agencies. The White House controls other provisions, while still more provisions can only be altered by Congressional action.
This was by design.
That’s because Obamacare’s complex, interlocking structure makes this legislative mess extraordinarily difficult to take down in a single “repeal and replace” piece of legislation. That was part of the GOP’a problem last spring. Eroding Obamacare piece by piece may be a far more workable solution.
What we’re witnessing now is nothing less than a piecemeal dismantling of Obamacare by denying this income-sucking beast the massive middle-class taxpayer subsidy that’s required to feed it.
In its initial, solo attempt at eroding Obamacare after last spring’s legislative defeat, the Administration killed the punishing tax that Obamacare imposed on all who chose to spurn the government’s
income redistribution “universal healthcare” plan. In return, the government would “offer” subsidized care to all, regardless of income or pre-existing medical conditions.
Now, under cover of re-opening the government, the GOP-led Senate has taken the axe to three more unpopular and dubious ACA taxes, as reported by CNBC online. First:
“The health insurance tax on insurers, which was projected to collect more than $14 billion in revenue this year, was suspended for one year. It now is set to take effect in 2019.
“Elena Tompkins, executive director of a group opposing the tax, Stop The HIT, said the suspension of the levy is ‘an important step that will help provide much-needed relief and certainty to 29 million small businesses and their employees next year.’”
“However, small businesses are bearing the costly burden of the HIT and need immediate, urgent relief,” Tompkins said. “We urge Congress to continue to advance solutions that will provide relief from the HIT in 2018 and protect millions of small businesses from this misguided tax.”
“The medical device tax was delayed for two years, until January 2020, after having previously been extended. The Congressional Budget Office had estimated that a total of $3.27 billion would have been collected from device makers this year and in 2019 if the tax were in effect.”
“Also delayed for two additional years was the ‘Cadillac tax,’ which would impose a 40 percent surcharge on job-based health insurance coverage with premiums of more than $10,200 per year for individuals and $27,500 for families.
“The tax will be delayed until 2022. There had already been a prior suspension of the tax, which originally was supposed to take effect this year.
“The tax is much loathed by employers, who will not be able to deduct the surcharge as a business expense.”
Little reported is the nearly forgotten fact that the “Cadillac Tax” provision also hit a number of gold-plated union health plans. That further alienated the working-class constituency that Obama and the Democrats chose to jettison after winning the 2008 national election sweepstakes. Unionized workers do notice this kind of subversion by their “friends” in the Democrat party.
This act of treachery may well have cost the Democrats their allegedly pre-ordained Presidential triumph in 2016. If President Trump and the GOP can continue their success in eroding Obamacare further in 2018, that may bring more lifelong union Democrats into the Deplorable fold in this fall’s crucial midterm elections.
On the downside, Congress has also re-authorized the costly and highly bureaucratic Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for another six years.
You can’t win them all.