Vail Kozatch: Budget plan hits cash-strapped retirees hard
November 19, 2017
The current G.O.P. tax plans from both the House and the Senate could implement a budget that cuts half a trillion dollars from Medicare over the next 10 years. Taking away federal spending on the elderly, the disabled and the poor translates directly to the proposed permanent tax cuts for corporations and the very, very rich. This is ill-conceived, but it's not a big surprise.
This betrays Mr. Trump's campaign promise not to touch Medicare. He has repeatedly insisted that his Republican-led administration would not do this, yet look at what is happening. Is this just another one of his many lies?
The 2018 House GOP budget plan cuts almost $500 billion from Medicare, raises Medicare's eligibility age to 67 and opens the door to replacing Medicare's guaranteed benefit with inadequate vouchers.
With the GOP plan, Medicare would be carved up by offering seniors “vouchers” to pay for private insurance. The idea is that you could get a better deal from commercial insurers. That does not work now, so what makes the GOP think it will work next year?
According to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the structure of this budget will sacrifice retiree benefits to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy. According to Forbes, Medicare beneficiaries cannot afford to pay more for less coverage. In fact, half of them have incomes of less than $26,200 a year and spend 25 percent of their Social Security check to pay for Medicare Parts B and D, out-of-pocket costs for premiums and cost-sharing amounts.
In addition, this budget would cut effective income security programs, including Supplemental Security Income, by $653 billion over 10 years. SSI provides vital and much needed economic security for 8.4 million low-income seniors and people with disabilities, including children with marked and severe functional limitations.
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Worse yet, the tax cuts embedded in the plan would provide almost no relief to the middle and lower classes. Annual tax savings alone for the 1 percent will be greater than the incomes earned by about 70 percent of Americans.
Trump, who has made more than $100 million in some years, will see his tax rate on most income fall from 39.6 percent to 25 percent. That's a tax cut of 14.6 cents on each dollar, $14.6 million. That's $14.6 million a year that will not go to providing healthcare to millions of people, upgrade the nation's nuclear arsenal, pay for soldiers' funerals, rebuild Puerto Rico, better predict hurricanes, protect endangered species, build a border wall or even cover the Secret Service tab at Mar-a-Lago.
This kind of dark politics is the enemy of middle-class Americans.
Now is the time to call our congresspeople, and let them know that we seniors have earned our Medicare plans and deserve to keep them.