11.16.2017 0

Senate GOP ends individual mandate in tax bill. Could the Republicans actually get something right?

By Natalia Castro

Republicans have been trying to reclaim ground since they entered Congress. Despite having a majority in both the Senate and the House, Republican failure to repeal Obamacare left them a step behind in all aspects moving forward. Specifically, they are $338 billion behind, are now struggling to fill the hole.

Republicans needed to repeal Obamacare if for no other reason it was a costly measure.  When former President Obama initially signed the legislation, he claimed it would cost $940 billion over the first ten years. A year later, the Congressional Budget Office admitted the total cost of Obamacare would be closer to $1.74 trillion.

Even with the revenue garnered from the many Obamacare taxes, the expansion of Medicaid and CHIP alone account for a $931 billion in cost over the next ten years. But Congress failed to repeal these measures, so now, Republicans must find ways to gain revenue to make promised tax cuts possible under budget reconciliation rules.

Earlier this month, Trump suggested via Twitter that Congressional Republicans repeal the “very unfair and unpopular” individual mandate in Obamacare to provide room for middle-class tax cuts.

Trump’s plan immediately prompted support from Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).

This week, more Senate Republicans agreed.  According to the New York Times, the Senate hopes to include the repeal of the individual mandate in their tax proposal. Republicans appear laser-focused on moving forward with a tax plan and gaining enough support for passage.

Business Insider’s Bob Bryan explains this is a feasible option to make up revenue losses, “By lowering the number of people on the Obamacare exchanges, the government would pay out less in subsidies to help people pay insurance premiums. In the end, the CBO estimated this would add $338 billion in new revenue.”

The individual mandate was grossly unpopular amongst Republicans. It represents the opposite of Republican values seeing that it is the government forcing individuals to purchase insurance, repealing this mandate with the passage of record tax cuts should not be a hard Republican passage with a majority in Congress.

Even the American people do not want the individual mandate. While testifying before Congress in January 2017, Thomas Miller a Resident Fellow in Health Policy Studies explains, the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll conducted shortly after the November elections found that only 35 percent of Americans even feel favorably toward the individual mandate. The policy has been politically unpopular and costly for the American people; Congress would be doing right in repealing the mandate.

Comparatively, tax cuts are much more popular among the American people; polls show 61 percent of respondents want significant tax cuts for the middle class. Middle-class Americans want policies that cost less, not more.

The Senate took the right advice from the President when he suggested the repeal of the individual mandate in exchange for middle-class tax cuts. This is the only way Republicans in Congress can make up for the mistakes they have made and fill the holes in the budget. This is not just the most fiscally responsible decision Congress can make — it is also the one the American people want.

Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government

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