Alex Hendrie

KEY VOTE: ATR Urges YES Vote on legislation to Expands HSAs, Offer Relief From Obamacare Taxes


Posted by Alex Hendrie on Wednesday, July 25th, 2018, 9:00 AM PERMALINK

Members of Congress urges a YES vote on H.R. 6311, the Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans and Expanding Health Savings Accounts Act, and H.R 6199, the Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act.

This week, the House of Representatives will vote on several pieces of legislation that expand Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and offer relief from Obamacare taxes.

All members of Congress should support both pieces of legislation.

HSAs are used in conjunction with low premium, high deductible health insurance plans and provide a vehicle for individuals to spend and control their own money on their own health needs. These bills will further build on the success of HSAs by lowering taxes, increasing patient choice, and reducing the cost of healthcare for all Americans.

H.R. 6311 - “Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans and Expanding Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018”

This legislation contains numerous proposals that expand HSAs. Most notably, the legislation doubles the contribution limit of HSAs. Under the reform, the limit will increase from $3,450 to $6,650 for an individual and $6,900 to $13,300 for a family.

Doubling the contribution limit will allow individuals and families more money to spend on qualified medical expenses tax free.

H.R. 6311 also expands HSAs in several important ways. First, the bill will allow working seniors enrolled in Medicare part A to continue to contribute to their HSA. Eligibility for an HSA will also be expanded to those who are enrolled in bronze and catastrophic Obamacare health plans.

Finally, the legislation pauses the Obamacare health insurance tax for 2020 and 2021. This destructive tax is imposed on health insurance premiums and impacts 11 million households that purchase through the individual insurance market, 23 million households covered through their employer, and 1.7 million small businesses.

The health insurance tax is estimated to increase premiums by as much as 3 percent and could increase premiums by an average of $5,000 over a ten year period, according to the American Action Forum.

H.R. 6199 – “Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018”

The Restoring Access to Medication and Modernizing Health Savings Accounts Act contains a number of bipartisan proposals designed to expand the ability of HSAs to be used on medical expenses.

Most notably, the legislation will end the Obamacare restriction on purchasing over-the-counter-medications. Under current law, individuals may not purchase these medications without a prescription, a needless requirement that restricts access to medicines.

H.R. 6199 also expands HSAs so they can be used on certain sports and fitness expenses of up to $500 for an individual and $1,000 for a family. The bill also offers employers flexibility to offer free or discounted medical services at on-site or retail medical clinics without disqualifying an enrollee from an HSA and allows HSAs to be used for direct primary care up to a limit of $150 per month for an individual and $300 per month for a family.


Conservatives Urge House Action on Making Individual Tax Cuts Permanent


Posted by Alex Hendrie on Tuesday, July 24th, 2018, 4:15 PM PERMALINK

Today, 47 Conservative organizations and activists signed a coalition letter urging the House to make the individual tax provisions from The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanent. When the TCJA was originally passed, Senate rules and liberal obstructionism prevented many important individual provisions from being made permanent, forcing Republicans to sunset these provisions starting in 2026. 
 
Since its passage, the TCJA has increased take home pay, grown the economy and simplified the tax code. The House should build on this success by making the individual tax provisions permanent.  
 
The full text of the letter and signers can be found here and below:
 
Dear Speaker Ryan and Chairman Brady:
 
On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we urge the House of Representatives to take action to make all of the individual tax provisions from H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) permanent.
 
The TCJA has turbocharged the economy, leading to the creation of new jobs and increased take-home pay for 90 percent of wage earners.
 
However, many important provisions in this bill could not be made permanent because of liberal obstructionism and arcane Senate rules. Due to these constraints, Republican lawmakers were forced to sunset the individual tax provisions starting in 2026.
 
We urge you and your colleagues in the House to work with President Trump to make these provisions permanent so that the many benefits of the TCJA last.
 
Because of the TCJA, this year a family of four with annual income of $73,000 will see a tax cut of more than $2,058, a 58 percent reduction in federal taxes. Similarly, a single parent with one child with annual income of $41,000 will see a tax cut of $1,304 -- a 73 percent reduction in federal taxes. 
 
The TCJA also dramatically simplified the tax code for families and individuals. For instance, the standard deduction was doubled so that an estimated 93 percent of taxpayers can now file on a single page.
 
Tax reform also raised the threshold at which the alternative minimum tax hits taxpayers, offering relief for 4.3 million Americans who will no longer be forced to calculate their taxes twice and pay the AMT.
 
The threshold at which the death tax hits was doubled providing welcome relief for family businesses and the House should move quickly to provide permanence in this area. House leadership should consider the political and economic benefits of making President Trump's position of full repeal permanent law. Permanent death tax repeal has unanimous support among House Republicans and was passed in the House's first version of TCJA. Seven House Democrats including current lead sponsor Sanford Bishop (D-GA) joined Republicans to help pass Congressman Brady's Death Tax Repeal Act in April of 2015. 
 
Tax reform further offered relief and simplicity to more than 22 million families who take the Child Tax Credit by doubling this provision and consolidating other family provisions.
 
The individual tax title of the TCJA even implemented tax reduction for 28 million small businesses through the creation of a 20 percent deduction on pass-through income, expanded 179 expensing, and other changes to encourage more investment in small firms and new business creation generally.
 
The TCJA has also offered relief from Obamacare by repealing the individual mandate tax penalty. More than 6.6 million individuals and families paid the individual mandate tax penalties in 2015. This tax penalty is also one of the most regressive taxes in the code – nearly 80 percent of taxpayers impacted by the mandate made less than $50,000 in annual income.
 
Since it was signed into law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has increased take-home pay, simplified the tax code, and grown the economy. The House of Representatives should build on the success of this law by taking action to make individual tax provisions from H.R. 1 permanent.
 
Sincerely,
 
Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform
 
James L. Martin
Founder and Chairman, 60 Plus Association
 
Saulius “Saul” Anuzis
President, 60 Plus Association
 
Phil Kerpen
President, American Commitment
 
Steve Pociask
President, American Consumer Institute
 
Dan Weber
President, Association of Mature American Citizens
 
Lisa B. Nelson
CEO, ALEC Action

Norm Singleton 
President, Campaign for Liberty
 
Andrew F. Quinlan
President, Center for Freedom and Prosperity
 
Jeffrey L. Mazzella 
President, Center for Individual Freedom 
 
Mary Adams
Chair, Maine Center-Right Coalition Meeting
 
Olivia Grady
Senior Fellow, Center for Worker Freedom
 
Chip Faulkner
Executive Director, Citizens for Limited Taxation (MA)
 
Chuck Muth
President, Citizen Outreach
 
David McIntosh
President, Club for Growth 
 
Matthew Kandrach
President, Consumer Action for a Strong Economy
 
Tom Schatz 
President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste  
 
Penny Morrell
State Director, CWA of Maine
 
Katie McAuliffe
Executive Director, Digital Liberty
 
Palmer Schoening
Chairman, Family Business Coalition
 
Patrick D. Purtill
Director of Legislative Affairs, Faith & Freedom Coalition
 
Richard Watson
Co-Chair, Florida Center Right Coalition
 
Adam Brandon
President, FreedomWorks
 
Daniel Perrin
Executive Director, HSA Coalition 
 
Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D. 
President & CEO, Heartland Institute 
 
Mario H. Lopez
President, Hispanic Leadership Fund 
 
Carrie Lukas
President, Independent Women’s Forum
 
Heather R. Higgins
CEO, Independent Women’s Voice 
 
Tom Giovanetti
President, Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI)
 
Dave Trabert
President, Kansas Policy Institute
 
Lance Hines
Little Rock City Director Ward 5, Priority 1
 
Paula G. Sutton 
State Representative, Maine House of Representatives
 
Jameson Taylor, Ph.D. 
Vice President for Policy, Mississippi Center for Public Policy
 
Tim Jones
Former Speaker, Missouri House of Representatives
Leader, Missouri Center-Right Coalition
 
Pete Sepp
President, National Taxpayers Union 
 
Stephen Stepanek
Co-Chair, New Hampshire Center-Right Coalition 
 
William O'Brien 
Co-Chair, New Hampshire Center Right Coalition
 
Niraj J. Antani
Ohio State Representative
 
Jeff Kropf
Executive Director, Oregon Capitol Watch
 
Grant Maloy
Chair, Orlando Center-Right Coalition 
 
Lorenzo Montanari
Executive Director, Property Rights Alliance
 
June Matheny 
Secretary, Pulaski County Republican Women
 
Mike Stenhouse
CEO, Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity 
 
Karen Kerrigan
President, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
 
David Williams
President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance
 
Judson Phillips
President, Tea Party Nation
 
Jenny Beth Martin
Chairman, Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund
 
Edwin Tripp
Senior Political Reporter, The Boston Broadside 
 
Mike Thompson 
President, Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

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KEY VOTE: ATR Urges YES Vote on Legislation to Repeal the Obamacare Medical Device Tax


Posted by Alex Hendrie on Tuesday, July 24th, 2018, 11:05 AM PERMALINK

H.R. 184 repeals Obamacare’s 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices.

ATR Urges a Yes VOTE

Today, the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 184, the “Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2018,” introduced by Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN). This legislation repeals the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device manufacturers that is currently set to go into effect in 2020.  

Obamacare’s taxes have driven costs up, reduced choice, and needlessly punished American families with higher taxes. Over the long term, all Obamacare taxes should be repealed. However, this legislation represents a step in the right direction toward conservative healthcare reform.

First imposed in 2013, the tax is paused for 2018 and 2019, but will go into effect in 2020 absent congressional action.

This excise tax is projected to increase taxes by $30 billion over a decade, so supporting full repeal of the medical device tax represents significant tax reduction that will also help lower health care costs.  Failing to act and allowing the medical device tax to go into effect in 2020 will lead to higher healthcare costs in the future.

Repeal of the medical device tax will also relive businesses of a major financial burden, as the 6,500 medical device manufacturers contribute $150 billion to the U.S. economy. This legislation will also offer strong relief to small businesses, as over 80 percent of medical device manufacturers are small businesses.  

ATR Urges a Yes Vote on the Protect Medical Innovation Act.


Rep. Nunes Introduces Legislation to Index Capital Gains Taxes to Inflation

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Thursday, July 19th, 2018, 4:19 PM PERMALINK

Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) today introduced H.R. 6444, legislation to index the calculation of capital gains taxes to inflation. The legislation, known as the Capital Gains Inflation Relief Act, would end the taxation of inflationary gains leading to the creation of more wealth and a stronger economy.

All Members of Congress should support and co-sponsor this pro-growth legislation.

"Ending the taxation of inflationary gains will have clear, immediate economic benefits and will increase the wealth of Americans across the country," said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax reform. "The value of all property in America would increase. Trillions in land, buildings and share of stock would move to higher and better use. The capital gains tax on the increased number and amount of sales would dramatically increase federal revenues."

Under current law, the capital gains tax fails to account for gains that are based on inflation. This unfairly exposes taxpayers to additional taxation. For example, an investor makes a capital investment of $1,000 in 2000 and sells that investment for $2,000 in 2017 will be taxed for a $1,000 gain at a top capital gains tax rate of 23.8 percent. After adjusting for inflation, the “true gain” is much lower – just $562. (1,000 in the year 2000 equals $1,438 in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator).

This “inflation tax” has real world consequences. For instance, property owners may be dis-incentivized from selling their property because of higher levels of taxation. According to a 2013 analysis by the Tax Foundation on individual capital gains taxes, the average effective rate excluding gains from inflation between 1950 and 2012 was 42.5 percent, nearly twice today’s 23.8 percent top capital gains tax rate.

Congressman Nunes should be applauded for his leadership in working to end the taxation of inflationary gains.

At the same time, the inflation tax can and should be ended through the regulatory authority of the Treasury Secretary.

The Treasury Department has the legal authority to index capital gains taxes to inflation, as noted by Lawyers Charles J. Cooper, Michael A. Carvin and Vincent Colatriano in a 1993 legal memo published in Virginia Tax Review, and again by Cooper and Colatriano in a 2012 legal memo published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.     

This effort also has historic support for this effort:

  • Larry Kudlow, the Director of the National Economic Council, supports using Treasury’s regulatory authority to index capital gains taxes to inflation. In a CNBC op-ed published on August 11, 2017, he described indexation as a way to promote economic growth and prosperity:
     
    • President Trump's absolutely best economic policy so far has been his relentless rampage against onerous, burdensome, costly, prosperity-killing regulations on business. And the taxation of inflationary capital gains fits right in there. It is an unfair and misguided policy that punishes risk and success. The president should use his executive authority — as he so often has to drain the swamp — to remove this prosperity-killing practice.
       
  • Current and former members of Congress, led by Vice President Mike Pence, support indexing capital gains taxes to inflation. Pence introduced legislation in 2007 with 88 co-sponsors including now-Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas).
     
  • Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has introduced legislation indexing capital gains taxes to inflation. This legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.).
     

To learn more information about indexing capital gains to inflation and who is supporting it, please go to https://www.atr.org/indexing-capital-gains-taxes-inflation-resources.

Photo Credit: Daily Caller


41 Conservative Groups Support Scalise/McKinley Anti-Carbon Tax Resolution


Posted by Alex Hendrie on Wednesday, July 18th, 2018, 12:26 PM PERMALINK

Today 41 conservative groups signed a coalition letter in support of the Scalise/McKinley anti-carbon tax resolution. The groups reject "any carbon tax." The full text of the letter and signers can be found here and below.

--

Dear Members of Congress:

The undersigned organizations urge you to support the concurrent resolution, introduced by Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Congressman David McKinley (R-W.V.), which expresses the sense of the Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the U.S. economy. 

We oppose any carbon tax. We oppose a carbon tax because it would lead to less income and fewer jobs for American families.

For example, a 2014 Heritage Foundation report found that a $37 per ton carbon tax would lead to a loss of more than $2.5 trillion in aggregate gross domestic product by 2030. That is more than $21,000 in income loss per family.

In addition, a carbon tax would cost over 500,000 jobs in manufacturing and more than one million jobs by 2030. According to a 2013 CBO report, a carbon tax is highly regressive.

After President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law on December 22, 2017, more than 90 percent of wage earners have had higher take-home pay.

At least 500 companies of all sizes have already announced special bonuses, pay raises, 401(k) match increases, tuition assistance, new training programs and other benefits for workers.

Thanks to the GOP tax cuts, utility companies are lowering rates, which means lower bills for consumers.

A carbon tax would reverse many of these successes.

We support the House Concurrent Resolution in opposition to a job-killing carbon tax and urge members to co-sponsor and support this effort.

Sincerely,

Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

Brent Wm. Gardner
Chief Government Affairs Officer, Americans for Prosperity

David McIntosh
President, Club for Growth

Kent Lassman
President, Competitive Enterprise Institute

Daniel J. Erspamer
CEO, Pelican Institute for Public Policy

Phil Kerpen
President, American Commitment

Matt Schlapp
Chairman, American Conservative Union

Tom Pyle
President, American Energy Alliance

Lisa B. Nelson
CEO, ALEC Action

Jason Pye
Vice President of Legislative Affairs, FreedomWorks

Norm Singleton
President, Campaign for Liberty

Andrew F. Quinlan
President, Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Jeffrey Mazzella
President, Center for Individual Freedom

Olivia Grady
Senior Fellow, Center for Worker Freedom

Matthew Kandrach
President, Consumer Action for a Strong Economy

Thomas Schatz
President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Katie McAuliffe
Executive Director, Digital Liberty

Craig Richardson
President, Energy & Environmental Legal Institute

Alex Ayers
Executive Director, Family Business for Affordable Energy

Matt Kiibbe
President, Free the People

Annette Meeks
CEO, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota

George Landrith
President, Frontiers of Freedom

Tim Huelskamp PhD
President and CEO, The Heartland Institute

Mario H. Lopez
President, Hispanic Leadership Fund

Amy Oliver Cooke
Executive Vice President, Independence Institute

Carrie L. Lukas
President, Independent Women’s Forum

Heather R. Higgins
CEO, Independent Women’s Voice

Sal J. Nuzzo
Vice President of Policy, The James Madison Institute

Becki Gray 
Senior Vice President, John Locke Foundation

Seton Motley
President, Less Government

Matthew Gagnon
Chief Executive Officer, Maine Heritage Policy Center

Brett Healy
President, The MacIver Institute for Public Policy

Lorenzo Montanari
Executive Director, Property Rights Aliance

Mike Stenhouse
CEO, Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Paul Gessing
President, Rio Grande Foundation

David Williams
President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance

James L. Martin, Founder/Chairman
Saulius “Saul” Anuzis, President
60 Plus Association

Judson Phillips
Founder, Tea Party Nation

Michael W. Thompson
President, Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

Amy Kremer 
Co-Chair, Women for Trump

Becky Norton Dunlop
Former Secretary of Natural Resources, Commonwealth of Virginia

 

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ATR Leads Coalition Letter in Support of Expanding HSAs


Posted by Alex Hendrie on Wednesday, July 11th, 2018, 1:41 PM PERMALINK

ATR today led a coalition of 30 organizations and activists in support of efforts to expand tax-advantaged Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). The legislation being considered today by the House Ways and Means Committee will build on the success of HSAs in many ways including by doubling the contribution limit, ending the prohibition on purchasing over-the-counter medications, expanding access to HSAs, and allowing HSAs to be used by working seniors. 

You can read the letter here or below:

 Dear Chairman Brady & Chairman Roskam:

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we write in support of your Committee’s efforts to expand tax-advantaged Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). HSAs promote consumer driven healthcare, reduce taxes for families, and encourage lower healthcare spending.

There are numerous important pieces of legislation that your Committee is considering that will improve HSAs including proposals to double the contribution limit, end the prohibition on purchasing over-the-counter medications, expand access to HSAs, and allow HSAs to be used by working seniors.

Since they were created in 2004, HSAs have become a popular and successful vehicle that promotes patient choice in health care. HSAs are used in conjunction with low premium, high deductible health insurance plans and provide a vehicle for individuals to spend and control their own money on their own health needs. Today, HSAs are used by over 25 million American families and individuals. 

HSAs contribute to lower healthcare spending by promoting consumer driven healthcare. HSA funds are completely controlled by the individual and follow them between jobs creating an incentive to spend funds wisely.

Research shows that families and individuals that utilize HSAs spend less on health care and use fewer medical services without forgoing necessary primary and preventative care.

HSAs are already a significant vehicle to pay for healthcare expenses. An HSA user can accumulate as much as $360,000 after contributing to an account for 40 years assuming a rate of return of just 2.5 percent, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. With a rate of return of 5 percent, an HSA user can accumulate $600,000 over 40 years.

HSAs also reduce taxes for American families. HSAs offer triple tax benefits to users – contributions made are tax free, interest and investment is earned tax free, and payments made to qualifying health expenses are tax free. Expanding HSAs will provide additional tax reduction for American families and will promote saving and investment.

Since they were created almost 15 years ago, HSAs have proven successful in promoting healthcare choice, lowering taxes and lowering healthcare costs. Expanding HSAs will build on this success.

Sincerely,                                                         

Grover Norquist 
President, Americans for Tax Reform                

James L. Martin
Founder/Chairman, 60 Plus Association

Saulius “Saul” Anuzis
President, 60 Plus Association

Dan Weber
Founder and President, Association of Mature American Citizens

Ashley N. Varner
Executive Director, ALEC Action

Lisa B. Nelson
CEO, American Legislative Exchange Council

Brent Wm. Gardner
Chief Government Affairs Officer, Americans for Prosperity

Norm Singleton
President, Campaign for Liberty

Bob Carlstrom
President, The Carlstrom Group

Thomas Schatz
President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Star Parker
President/Founder, CURE

Katie McAuliffe
Executive Director, Digital Liberty

Palmer Schoening
President, Family Business Coalition

Patrick Purtill
Director of Legislative Affairs, Faith & Freedom Coalition

Nathan Nascimento
Executive Vice President, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce

Jason Pye
Vice President of Legislative Affairs, FreedomWorks

Grace Marie Turner
Founder and President, Galen Institute (Affiliation listed for information purposes only.)

Naomi Lopez Bauman
Director of Healthcare Policy, Goldwater Institute

Jeff Kanter
Co-founder, Health Freedom Hub

Mario H. Lopez
President, Hispanic Leadership Fund

Daniel Perrin
Executive Director, HSA Coalition

Dean Clancy
President, HSAs for All

Carrie Lukas
President, Independent Women’s Forum

Heather R Higgins
CEO, Independent Women’s Voice

Andrew Langer
President, Institute for Liberty          

Daniel Garza
President, The LIBRE Initiative

Gov. Gary Johnson 
Honorary Chairman, Our America Initiative

Pete Sepp
President, National Taxpayers Union

David Williams
President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Nancy Piotter
Executive Director, Virginians for Quality Healthcare


House Republicans Call on Congress to Protect Medicare Part D

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Thursday, June 21st, 2018, 11:21 AM PERMALINK

155 Republican members of Congress are calling for protecting the successful structure of the Medicare Part D program in a letter to Congressional leadership.

These lawmakers, led by Congressman Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), highlighted two urgent issues that must be addressed. First, they urged Congress to fix the market distorting incentives that were inadvertently created when the “donut hole” coverage gap was closed early this year. Second, these lawmakers warned against allowing the Part D catastrophic coverage cliff to take effect, which would slug many seniors with cost increases as high as $1,500 per year.

Enacted into law 15 years ago, the Medicare Part D prescription drug program has been a successful model of healthcare by levering free market competition to deliver cost effective outcomes for patients and taxpayers.

Part D’s free market competition relies on incentives that empower consumers to make choices that best fit their needs and a structure that promotes competition between pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacies, and plans.

As a result, the program is extremely popular and has saved billions of dollars. Part D’s costs are under budget by 45 percent compared to estimates at the time the program was enacted, while 9 in 10 seniors are satisfied with the Part D drug coverage.

However, the success of this program will be significantly undermined if Congress fails to address two pressing issues.

The Part D Catastrophic Cliff Must Be Addressed in A Responsible Way

When Part D was first enacted, the catastrophic threshold grew at the rate of beneficiary per capita spending, which is the same rate as Part D’s other coverage phases.

However, this growth rate was artificially altered when Congress passed Obamacare.

Obamacare temporarily slowed the growth rate between 2014 and 2019, only to increase the threshold to pre-Obamacare levels in 2020. This has the effect of increasing the catastrophic threshold by $1,500 in a single year, which will lead to significantly higher out-of-pocket costs for seniors.

Instead of allowing this threshold to increase, lawmakers should protect seniors by setting the growth rate on a sustainable path that phases in the Part D cliff over several years. Such an approach will grant certainty to seniors who will be better able to plan ahead for higher costs over the long-term.

In addition to protecting seniors from higher prices, this reform will also promote honest budgeting.  Because both parties fear they would be punished at the ballot box, it is unlikely that the $1,500 coverage cliff will ever be allowed to take effect. This means that Congress could soon create a budget gimmick similar to Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate, which was extended regularly for more than a decade.

Address the Market Distorting Price Controls in the Part D Donut Hole Coverage Gap

The donut hole is a coverage gap in Medicare Part D between the initial coverage limit and the catastrophic threshold. Within the donut hole, consumers have been forced to pay out-of-pocket costs far exceeding other coverage thresholds. In 2018, this coverage gap was between $3,750 and $5,000 in out-of-pocket costs.

When Obamacare was passed, the law implemented a gradual closing of the donut hole, culminating in a 2020 fix that instituted a 50 percent price control on medicines in the form of a mandated discount on medicines sold within this coverage threshold (consumers would pay 25 percent of the cost and plans would cover the other 25 percent).

Earlier this year, Congress took action to close the donut hole one year early. Unfortunately, they did so in a deeply flawed way – by expanding the price control on medicines in this threshold so that manufacturers would be forced to shoulder 70 percent of all costs. Perversely, the 20 percent price control increase does not benefit seniors, but rather benefits insurers managing Part D plans.

This policy change has resulted in an 80 percent decrease that plans were required to spend on medicines in the donut hole threshold and a 40 percent increase in the amount that manufacturers were forced to discount their products.

Part D plans offer competitive prices and access to medicines based on the incentives inherent in the pricing structure. Modifying the structure of Part D threatens to erode the incentives that drive choice, cost, and access.

In fact, according to the American Action Forum, the changes to the donut hole reduce insurer liability by $3 billion in which will significantly reduce any incentive to keep prices low.

Congress can rectify this market distortion by reducing the price control on medicines in the donut hole.

Photo Credit: Flickr


ATR Leads Coalition Opposing Obama EB-5 Rule


Posted by Alex Hendrie on Wednesday, June 20th, 2018, 10:00 AM PERMALINK

ATR is leading a coalition opposing the Obama midnight regulation on the employment-based (EB-5) visa program. By limiting the EB-5 program, this Obama rule will negatively impact the U.S. economy, and the creation of American jobs.

You can read the letter here or below:

Dear Director Mulvaney and Director Kudlow:

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we write in opposition to the Obama midnight regulation on the employment-based (EB-5) visa program. By limiting the EB-5 program, this Obama rule will negatively impact the U.S. economy, and the creation of American jobs.

On January 13, 2017, the Obama administration led U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services  (USCIS) issued a regulation raising the eligibility requirements of participants in the program.

This rule was one of the last acts of the Obama administration and occurred just days before President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The EB-5 program has been a key driver of foreign investment. EB-5 visas are capped at 10,000 per year and allocated to individuals that invest at least $1 million in a U.S. business ($500,000 for economically depressed areas) and create at least 10 full-time jobs.

According to research by the American Action Forum, the program has increased foreign investment in the United States by $20 billion since 2008 and created over 174,000 jobs. If the EB-5 program was doubled, U.S. GDP would increase by $11 billion annually.

In addition, according to a 2017 Department of Commerce report, the EB-5 program has increased investment in the U.S. by $5.8 billion in 2012 and 2013.

Allowing the Obama-era restrictions to the EB-5 program also undermines the gains made by President Trump to date.

As President, Trump has made significant strides toward making America a more competitive place to do business.  

Trump’s leadership in passing the tax reform modernized the U.S. international tax system and reduced rates on businesses so they can grow and invest in the economy and in American workers. Following passage of tax reform, capital investment is up, business confidence is strong, and unemployment is at a 17 year low.

Limiting the EB-5 program, as President Obama has proposed, would undermine the gains already made by this administration, and would reduce foreign investment in the economy.

Sincerely,

Grover G. Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

Andrew F. Quinlan
President, Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Iain Murray
Vice President, Competitive Enterprise Institute 

Andrew Langer
President, Institute for Liberty

Jerry Taylor
President, Niskanen Center


Conservative Groups Support Senate Ratification of the Kigali Amendment


Posted by Alex Hendrie on Wednesday, June 20th, 2018, 8:00 AM PERMALINK

Senate ratification of the Kigali amendment will allow American manufacturing to compete and thrive overseas leading to the creation of new U.S. jobs and stronger economic output, as noted by a coalition of conservative groups comprised of Americans for Tax Reform, the American Council for Capital Formation and FreedomWorks.

As the coalition notes, ratification could grow American market share over the air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration industry by 25 percent, creating $12.5 billion in economic output and leading to the creation of as many as 113,000 direct or indirect jobs.

The full letter endorsing the Kigali amendment can be found here and is below:

Dear President Trump:

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we commend the many steps your administration has taken to making America a more competitive place to do business. The administration can build on this success and ensure the creation of new American jobs by backing the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol and then supporting its Senate ratification.

Through a combination of deregulation and pro-growth tax reform, the economy is roaring again. The economy has grown at 2.9 percent in the past year, far outpacing the 2 percent growth avernaged under the Obama years.

Today, the unemployment rate is at 3.9 percent, a 17 year low. Job openings have hit a record high of 6.6 million, and real disposable income grew at 3.4 percent in Q1 of 2018. In the past year, optimism among small businesses, manufacturers, and middle market businesses has hit record high levels.

Your administration should now look to advance policies that further advance American competitiveness. The Kigali amendment will do this by allowing U.S. manufacturers to access foreign markets.

The Kigali amendment is an agreement guiding the phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in refrigeration, heating and air-conditioning equipment in favor of newer technologies such as hydrofluroolefins (HFOs).

Because of the technological prowess of American manufacturers, U.S. businesses stand to gain from this deal – ratification will open new markets at a time when demand for refrigeration, heating, and air-condition equipment is projected to grow.

According to a study conducted by JMS Consulting and Inforum, ratifying the Kigali amendment will grow the U.S. share for these products by 25 percent. Failing to ratify the Kigali amendment will see American market share decline by 14 percent.

Ratifying the Kigali amendment will increase economic output by $12.5 billion, leading to 33,000 more manufacturing jobs over the next decade and 117,000 indirect jobs in manufacturing dependent industries. The amendment also has broad support in the U.S. business and manufacturing community.

The agreement currently has enough support amongst other nations to go into effect on January 1, 2019. However, if the U.S. fails to ratify the agreement, American manufacturers will be restricted in their ability to sell into foreign markets at the cost of jobs and wealth.

Senate ratification of the Kigali amendment will build on the success of deregulation and tax reform and help ensure the economy continues to grow at strong levels. This agreement has our support because it will ensure that U.S. manufacturers are able to thrive in the global economy and create more wealth and jobs in America.

Sincerely,

Alex Hendrie
Director of Tax Policy, Americans for Tax Reform

George David Banks
Executive Vice President, American Council for Capital Formation

Patrick Hedger
Director of Policy, FreedomWorks


ATR Urges House Passage of Trump Rescissions Package

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Posted by Alex Hendrie, Tom Hebert on Thursday, June 7th, 2018, 4:30 PM PERMALINK

Tonight, the House is expected to vote on H.R. 3, the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act. This measure rescinds approximately $14.7 billion in previously appropriated but unspent funds, a good first step towards reducing federal spending. All members of Congress should vote for this legislation.

Since the passage of the 1974 Budget Control and Impoundment Act, presidents have proposed 1,174 rescissions totaling $76 billion. Every president from Gerald Ford to Bill Clinton successfully rescinded funds. The last president to submit a rescissions package to Congress was Bill Clinton in 2000. The unanimous Democrat opposition to the Trump rescissions package is confusing since Clinton’s rescissions packages had a 67% passage rate.

Trump’s nearly $15 billion rescissions package is the largest in history. Some of the proposed rescissions are listed below:

  • $4.3 billion from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program
  • $5 billion from Children Health Insurance Fund and $1.8 billion from the Child Enrollment Contingency Fund. The funds rescinded from this program either cannot be spent because the authority to obligate the funding ended last year or is not needed to operate the program. The nonpartisan CBO confirmed that this rescission would not affect the program, and no children will lose health insurance as a result of this rescission.
  • $800 million from Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovations
  • $356 million in unobligated balances of conservation programs that were not extended in the Agricultural Act of 2014, and $144 million in unobligated balances of the Environmental Quality Incentive Program. These funds are in excess of the amounts needed to sustain the programs in FY 2018.
  • $142 million from the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. This rescission allows the private sector and local governments to play a greater role in addressing affordable housing needs.
  • $523 million from the Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program
  • $500 million from the Farm Security and Rural Investment Programs
  • $50 million in prior year balances from the Department of Agriculture’s Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program. These funds are in excess of the amounts needed to sustain the programs in FY 2018.
  • $150 million in prior year balances from the National Service Trust. This rescission will not impact the agency’s operations.
  • $148 million from Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
  • $133 million from Railroad Unemployment Insurance Extended Benefits

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


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