Friday, January 31, 2014

Last Call To Replace "Repeal And Replace"

If you're wondering where this month's Senate GOP's plan to replace Obamacare went, and why nobody is talking about it on the conservative side, it's because it took all of a couple days to figure out Senate Republicans were about to hit tens of millions of middle-class Americans with a substantial tax increase to pay for their overpriced high-risk pool scheme.

The apparent change centers on the plan's tax treatment of health insurance. Right now, health insurance contributions by employees and their employers are not taxed; the GOP wanted to include a cap on how much of those contributions can remain untaxed. 
But the devil is in the details. The original eight-page proposal released by the Senate Republicans -- Richard Burr of North Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and Orrin Hatch of Utah -- said that the new cap would be "65 percent of an average plan's costs." Health policy experts told TPM that this would likely result in a big tax increase on most Americans and some would probably lose their insurance. 
"It's obviously a substantial increase on people who get employer-sponsored insurance," Gary Claxton, vice president at the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation, told TPM of the original proposal. "This would be a meaningful hit on people. It's a big radical change. This is not an incremental thing, and it affects most people under 65." 
The Congressional Budget Office recently analyzed a similar, though not identical, proposal and estimated that it would raise $613 billion in revenue over nine years, while six million people would lose their employer coverage in the five years after it took effect
The initial reporting on the GOP's new proposal, by the Washington Post and National Journalas well as TPM, highlighted that the plan would likely lead to many Americans paying more for their insurance. National Journal observed that, under the GOP's plan as originally proposed, if you had an average health plan, you'd pay taxes on 35 percent of its costs.
So, say you earn $60,000 a year and have an employer-sponsored health plan for your family of four.  Let's say that plan is worth $10,000.  Under the GOP plan, you're responsible for taxes on 35% of that plan as additional income, and the marginal federal tax rate at $60k is 25%.  So 25% of $3,500 is an extra $875 in federal taxes you pay.  Gosh, that seems so much better than Obamacare, right?

No wonder they're scrambling to "fix" their plan:

So they're only going to tax the highest earners with the "most generous" insurance plans?  Oh, I'm sure THAT will go over well with the one percenters.

Christie's Bridge Now Sinking In Radioactive Lava

And the aide GOP New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie fired for being "responsible" for the lane closures last year on the George Washington Bridge is now publicly saying Christie knew everything and lied to pretty much everyone in his rambling press conference last month.

The former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge in the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Friday that the governor knew about the lane closings when they were happening, and that he had the evidence to prove it
In a letter released by his lawyer, the official, David Wildstein, a high school friend of Mr. Christie’s who was appointed with the governor’s blessing at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge, described the order to close the lanes as “the Christie administration’s order” and said “evidence exists as well tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference” three weeks ago. 
“Mr. Wildstein contests the accuracy of various statements that the governor made about him and he can prove the inaccuracy of some,” the letter added.

If this is true, he's done.  Good night, Chris.  Shut off the lights on the way out of Trenton.

[UPDATE]  The Newark Star-Ledger calls for Christie's resignation if Wildstein's allegations are true.  Fecal matter just became empirical.

Republicans Have A Bigger Problem

Republicans are hoping that Americans will only care about the problems with Obamacare and vote solely based on that in November.  Unfortunately, the GOP has one glaring, massive problem that is threatening to split the party again, and it's once again immigration reform.

For more than a year House Republican leaders have insisted the chamber would act on new immigration laws. And for more than a year, Republicans have done virtually nothing on the issue — despite intense pressure from activists, business groups, and the nation’s changing demographics.
And although there are a variety of reasons for inaction, one Republican lawmaker recently offered a frank acknowledgement that for many House Republicans, there’s one issue at play that’s not often discussed: race.
Part of it, I think — and I hate to say this, because these are my people — but I hate to say it, but it’s racial,” said the Southern Republican lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “If you go to town halls people say things like, ‘These people have different cultural customs than we do.’ And that’s code for race.”

Republicans know that Latino voters will make up an increasingly larger share of the voting population, and while immigration reform is far from the top priority of most Latino voters, the absolute bigotry many Republican lawmakers display towards Latinos is going to keep them from ever winning the White House anytime soon, and they know it.

"Amnesty is wrong in any circumstance, and if we are going to fix our broken immigration system--and we should--it makes much more sense to do so next year, so that we are negotiating a responsible solution with a Republican Senate majority rather than with Chuck Schumer," Cruz said in a statement to Breitbart.

In other words, Republicans figure they can force President Obama to sign a ridiculous bill rather than a real, long-term solution.  Because Republicans don't want to fix the problem.  They need to keep the issue alive to rally the Tea Party.

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