Sen. Casey speaks out against GOP tax bill

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., on Wednesday during a Senate Finance Committee meeting, said he is strongly opposed to the Republican tax bill.
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., on Wednesday during a Senate Finance Committee meeting, said he is strongly opposed to the Republican tax bill. AP file photo

Senate Republicans are taking another shot at dismantling the Affordable Care Act — this time they’ve added a repeal of the individual mandate to their latest version of the tax bill, which U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., is calling a “thief in the night.”

The Republicans revealed their plan to repeal the ACA individual mandate as part of the tax bill on Tuesday, and on Wednesday morning, during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the bill, Casey used voiced his “strong objection” to the legislation.

Casey held a conference call after the hearing to discuss the affect the legislation would have on the health care of Americans, including the 3,500 Centre County residents who purchase insurance in the ACA marketplace, according to a report Casey’s office released in July.

“The process here is almost as objectionable as the substance,” Casey said. “When it comes to reforming the tax code and moving around in this process $9 trillion plus, for the first time in 30 years, that warrants weeks and even months of hearings and review, not Thursday to Thursday.”

Since the Republicans introduced the plan, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation have released projections based on the legislation in its current form.

The CBO estimates that due to the repeal of the individual mandate, 4 million people will lose health insurance coverage in 2019 and the number is expected to grow to 13 million over 10 years.

The JCT estimates that 13.8 million middle-class households making less than $200,000 per year will experience a tax increase in 2019 under the legislation.

The combination of the two assessments means that a large number of people could experience a tax increase while losing their health coverage in the same year, according to Casey.

“This overlap would be particularly destructive,” Casey said. “And all the while, you have a bonanza of a tax cut for the super-rich and the corporations.”

Prior to the addition of the individual mandate repeal, the Republican tax plan was projected to raise the deficit for a period of over 10 years, which violates the rules of the Senate if the bill is voted on using a simple majority. With the inclusion of the repeal, the deficit will grow, but by about $338 billion less between 2018 and 2027, according to the CBO. The difference allows for a simple majority vote.

“They not only want to give them (corporations) that size of a tax cut from a 35 percent rate to a 20 percent rate, but they want to make it permanent. Permanent law,” Casey said. “And they can’t make the math work unless they throw some people off of health care.”

The Republicans are planning to vote on the bill on Thursday, but Casey said he will continue to fight the attempt to “ram it through” the Senate and pass a bill by the end of the year that meets the demands of Republican donors.

“This is about the super-rich donors of the Republican party,” Casey said. “This isn’t about reforming the tax code and making taxation simpler and fairer.”