"One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results."
Apparently the next big thing in Washington will be a run toward tax reform. Will it be as successful as Repeal & Replace? That is, not successful at all? The country will soon find out. But there are a couple of U.S. senators who aren't waiting around to see if tax reform will implode after the next presidential tweet. One of them is named Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. The other senator is Tom Cotton, who lives around here somewhere.
These two senators have proposed legislation that would exempt many lower-income Americans from that Obamacare tax that was forced on people who didn't get mandated insurance. The thought during the Obamacare process was that folks had to be, uh, "encouraged" to buy health care to keep premiums as low as possible. So millions of people are fined every year for choosing not to buy health care.
A young person who isn't making a lot of money can sign up for a health care package that costs him thousands of dollars a year in monthly premiums. And another several thousand for deductibles. That's what the Obamacare architects had in mind. But if the young person can't afford that, at least he can pay a lot less in fines and get nothing at all. Call it a tax on folks who can't afford insurance.
Your government at work.
The Cotton-Toomey legislation would remove the fines for millions of people who make less than the national median income. In 2015, almost 65,000 people in Arkansas alone paid the mandated fine. Of those, Sen. Cotton says, more than 52,000 made less than $50,000 a year. Talk about a regressive tax.
The idea is such a good one that even the chairman of the state's Democratic Party had something good to say about it. The paper noted that Chairman Michael John Gray said, "Sure we would support that if Senator Cotton made an earnest effort. We are a party that will always support solutions."
Besides, as Sens. Cotton and Toomey noted last week, the mandate hasn't exactly been a windfall for Obamacare: "In 2010, when Obamacare became law, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 21 million people would enroll in the exchanges--largely due to the mandate. In reality, less than half the original projection--10.4 million--signed up despite the fact that the prior administration doubled its advertising budget to encourage people to enroll. Even one of Obamacare's chief architects, Jonathan Gruber, admitted in a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that the mandate has had little impact on overall coverage rates. The mandate has fallen far short of expectations while hurting the working poor more than it is helping them. This is why we have introduced legislation to give millions of Americans much-needed relief."
Call it an early attempt at tax reform. And if this is the only reform Americans get this year, it'll still be well worth the trouble.
Editorial on 10/22/2017
Print Headline: Early tax relief