Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Granny Starver's Revenge

The largest Republican effect on our country in 2016 isn't going to come from Trump or Jeb or any of the 2016 candidates, even the ones in the Senate currently.  It's House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has a budget plan that will starve Obamacare of tens of billions heading into an election year and it looks like nervous, cowardly congressional Democrats will throw the President's signature legislation under the bus yet again.

The Speaker told rank-and-file Republicans that they won more victories in the tax package than in the $1.1 trillion omnibus funding bill, which has been largely stripped of the policy amendments that Republicans wanted, according to a GOP lawmaker in the room.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, said the tax package provides $560 billion through breaks that will no longer expire — and $650 billion in total tax relief — over 10 years.

The text of that bill, which runs more than 200 pages, was posted online just before midnight.

Several lawmakers who heard the presentation said the omnibus includes a two-year delay of the Cadillac tax, something senior officials in the Obama administration opposed.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) made an all-out push for including the Cadillac tax freeze, which is a top priority of labor unions, whose members would be hit especially hard by it.

The deal also includes a five-year extension of tax breaks for wind and solar energy companies, something Democrats wanted.

It extends the 30 percent solar investment tax credit and a credit for solar-powered energy efficient properties for three years before phasing it down the final two.

The deal also extends the wind protection tax credit for two years before phasing it down over three years until the 2022 expiration date.

In exchange, Republicans have secured language in the omnibus that would lift the ban on exporting crude oil from the United States that has been in place since the 1970s.

Ryan emphasized that many popular business tax provisions, including the research and development tax credit and the Section 179 small-business expensing deduction, would be locked into law by the agreement.

Democrats in turn won provisions that would keep the 2009 expansions of the child tax credit, earned income tax credit and American opportunity tax credit for college tuition, all core pieces of President Obama’s stimulus law, on the books indefinitely.

It's good to have tax breaks for green energy and for low-income families, as well as for college tuition, but the notion that exporting crude oil will lower prices here in America is ridiculous, and it just means the production of even more fossil fuels that need to remain in the ground in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

And the Cadillac plan tax was put in to lower insurance costs and raise money for Obamacare subsidies.  Republicans already broke co-ops and high-risk poll funding with the last omnibus spending bill, this one will only make it worse.

This is a terrible bill, and the GOP will win because the alternative is shutting down the government at Christmastime, an untenable position.

The real problem is that Paul Ryan is Speaker.  Perhaps we should put more Democrats in Congress in 2016, yes?

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