Natalie De Vincenzi

Trade Crucial to Every State's Economy

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Wednesday, October 12th, 2016, 8:59 AM PERMALINK

Every state across the country relies on international trade. Trade has not only a significant impact on the entire nation as a whole, but on each and every state’s GDP and jobs.

Washington leads the way with 24.18 percent of their state GDP is tied to trade,followed closely by Louisiana with 23.84 percent and Texas with 21.26 percent. For 33 of 50 states, more than 10 percent of the state’s GDP is tied to trade.

While it has been subject to criticism on the campaign trail, free trade is positive. It cuts and reduces tariffs—taxes on trade—as well as other barriers to trade. Despite being about 5 percent of the world population, the U.S. contributes close to 10 percent of all world exports. Additionally, the United States sells to 234 countries around the world, who buy U.S. goods and services. It’s clear that the U.S. has a significant stake in trade and that trade has a weighty impact on the U.S. economy. Fewer barriers to trade therefore results in greater economic gains for the U.S. and lower prices of goods and services for consumers.

Trade-related jobs account for more than one-quarter of ALL jobs in almost every state and a total of 41 million jobs across the country are tied to trade. These jobs pay on average 15-20 percent more than jobs in industries not tied to trade.

Without a doubt, promoting free trade will lead to greater economic growth, greater GDP, and more jobs for the American people.

 

Percent of State GDP Tied to Trade (2015)

1. Washington

24.18%

 

26. Massachusetts

11.41%

2. Louisiana

23.84%

 

27. South Dakota

11.36%

3. Texas

21.26%

 

28. Kansas

11.30%

4. South Carolina

17.56%

 

29. Ohio

10.89%

5. Kentucky

17.16%

 

30. Florida

10.76%

6. North Dakota

16.78%

 

31. Minnesota

10.32%

7. Vermont

15.13%

 

32. New York

10.26%

8. Michigan

14.96%

 

33. New Jersey

10.21%

9. Oregon

14.30%

 

34. North Carolina

9.99%

10. Indiana

13.94%

 

35. New Hampshire

9.92%

11. Mississippi

13.82%

 

36. Wisconsin

9.91%

12. Tennessee

13.30%

 

37. Connecticut

9.59%

13. Iowa

13.10%

 

38. Arkansas

8.69%

14. Alaska

12.88%

 

39. Pennsylvania

8.66%

15. Illinois

12.88%

 

40. Missouri

8.45%

16. Utah

12.64%

 

41. Montana

7.62%

17. Delaware

12.63%

 

42. Rhode Island

7.36%

18. Georgia

12.24%

 

43. Hawaii

7.40%

19. West Virginia

12.20%

 

44. Colorado

7.15%

20. Nevada

12.03%

 

45. Virginia

7.13%

21. Alabama

11.75%

 

46. Maine

7.07%

22. California

11.71%

 

47. New Mexico

6.94%

23. Idaho

11.65%

 

48. Maryland

6.71%

24. Nebraska

11.49%

 

49. Wyoming

6.21%

25. Arizona

11.43%

 

50. Oklahoma

5.82%

           

Source: (Bureau of Economic Analysis, TradeBenefitsAmerica.org)

 

 

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ATR Supports H.R. 3687, the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Tuesday, October 11th, 2016, 3:13 PM PERMALINK

ATR today sent a letter of support for Congressman Rick Crawford’s bill H.R. 3687, the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act. This bill would lift the current restrictions on private financing that exist under the Trade Sections Reform Act (TSRA) and institute safeguard measures to ensure that no funding is given to the regime. H.R. 3687 would also permit USDA marketing programs and limited agricultural investment in Cuba. Cuba imports nearly 80% of its food. Enacting this bill will enable American farmers to fulfill Cuba’s agricultural demand without any monetary funds granted to the regime. See the letter of support here or below. 

October 11, 2016

The Honorable Rick Crawford
United States House of Representatives
1711 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Crawford,

I write in support of H.R. 3687, the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act. By removing needless private financing restrictions that exist under the Trade Sections Reform Act (TSRA), this legislation promotes market access for American agriculture that will lead to more jobs and higher wages.

American farmers have lost nearly $1 billion in the last few years due to the existing Cuba financing restrictions. It is important that we expand trade with Cuba, while keeping safeguards that ensure that no taxpayer funding is given to the regime.

While U.S. producers are now free to export agricultural goods to Cuba, there are many restrictions that still prohibit agricultural businesses from reaching full export potential.  Under TSRA, only cash-based trade and third-party financing agreements are allowed with Cuba. Additionally, under current law, businesses are not permitted to receive help from USDA marketing programs or invest in agricultural business development in Cuba.

The Cuba Agricultural Exports Act would fix this by lifting the private financing restrictions under TSRA, permitting the USDA marketing program to function in Cuba, and allowing limited agricultural development investment in Cuba.

The legislation implements key safeguards to ensure that no funding is granted to the regime. Before being allowed to invest in Cuba, businesses must receive joint approval from the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Agriculture. This bill also contains restriction on investment in Cuban government entities as well as those who operate in property that was confiscated during the revolution.

ATR is opposed to any government guarantees of loans to the regime or any taxpayer grants to the regime. We do support free and open trade as well as open travel to Cuba. Americans trading with island will serve as the best ambassadors of freedom to help liberate the people of Cuba from the failed socialist regime. This legislation is one step toward ensuring open trade with Cuba. As such, all members of Congress should support and co-sponsor the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act.

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

 

 

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Large Share of Jobs Tied to Trade in Every State

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Wednesday, October 5th, 2016, 9:34 AM PERMALINK

The negative sentiment towards free trade is misguided. Across the nation, international trade supports high paying jobs for millions of Americans.

As seen below, international trade is directly linked to millions of jobs across all 50 states. In 46 of the 50 states, trade-related jobs account for more than one-quarter of ALL jobs. In total, more than 1 in 5 jobs, or close to 41 million are reliant on trade. These workers earn 15-20 percent more than jobs in industries not tied to trade.

Hawaii has the largest percentage of jobs tied to trade, with 32.31 percent of all state jobs tied to trade. California has the most number of jobs tied to trade--4,869,200 jobs in the state are tied to trade.

Free trade cuts and reduces tariffs – taxes on trade – and other barriers to global commerce. Fewer barriers on American exports means less money taken by foreign governments out of the pockets of workers and business owners seeking to trade overseas. Fewer barriers on imports into the U.S. results in more competition and access to a greater range of products at lower prices for consumers across the country. Between 2009 and 2014, exports accounted for one-third of U.S. economic growth. In 2014 alone, the U.S. exported $1.6 trillion in goods and $710.6 billion in services. Not only does trade benefit workers and businesses, but it also benefits the average U.S. consumer in the form of lower prices for goods and services.

Free trade agreements have a history of success. Current U.S. FTA partners purchased 12 times more goods per capita from the United States than non-FTA partners. But the United States is falling behind other countries. The EU has agreements with over 50 countries and is the top trading partner with 80 countries, while the U.S. only has 14 free trade agreements and is the top trading partner with only 20 countries.

The fact is, trade is crucial to the livelihood of millions of Americans and promoting free trade will lead to further growth in the U.S. economy and higher paying jobs and wages for the American people.

 

Percentage/Number of State Jobs Tied to Trade (2015)

 

1. Hawaii

32.31% (205,800)

2. Connecticut

30.96% (518,300)

3. Florida

30.92% (2,502,500)

4. Maryland

30.56% (812,700)

5. Vermont

30.50% (95,300)

6. Montana

30.43% (140,200)

7. South Dakota

30.37% (130,000)

8. California

30.33% (4,869,200)

9. Georgia

30.08% (1,283,800)

10. Washington

29.99% (945,700)

11. Idaho

29.97% (202,200)

12. Mississippi

29.93% (339,500)

13. Missouri

29.68% (826,700)

14. Tennessee

29.64% (857,200)

15. Maine

29.60% (180,500)

16. Virginia

29.48% (1,135,500)

17. New Jersey

29.48% (1,185,700)

18. Arizona

29.31% (772,800)

19. New York

29.30% (2,709,200)

20. Nevada

29.25% (367,800)

21. Iowa

29.21% (456,300)

22. Alabama

29.14% (567,500)

23. South Carolina

28.90% (579,300)

24. Nebraska

28.90% (290,800)

25. Colorado

28.88% (733,900)

26. Arkansas

28.83% (348,400)

27. Illinois

28.71% (1,711,100)

28. Kansas

28.64% (400,900)

29. Kentucky

28.62% (539,300)

30. Pennsylvania

28.41% (1,658,100)

31. North Carolina

28.38% (1,232,100)

32. Massachusetts

28.36% (990,700)

33. Delaware

28.30% (127,000)

34. Rhode Island

28.17% (136,500)

35. Utah

28.11% (387,200)

36. Oregon

28.02% (498,400)

37. New Hampshire

28.02% (183,900)

38. Michigan

27.99% (1,187,900)

39. Louisiana

27.81% (553,200)

40. Ohio

27.72% (1,502,600)

41. Wisconsin

27.72% (800,800)

42. Minnesota

27.61% (788,600)

43. Alaska

26.79% (90,900)

44. Indiana

26.78% (812,600)

45. Texas

26.61% (3,150,600)

46. New Mexico

26.42% (218,100)

47. West Virginia

24.48% (187,000)

48. North Dakota

24.48% (111,100)

49. Wyoming

24.35% (70,700)

50. Oklahoma

24.03% (401,000)

 

Source: (Bureau of Labor Statistics, TradeBenefitsAmerica.org)

 

 

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ATR Supports H.R. 6098, the TRUTH in Government Act

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Tuesday, October 4th, 2016, 3:15 PM PERMALINK

 

Congressman Mark Sanford (R-SC) has introduced a bill H.R. 6098, the “Transparent Recognition of Unjustified Tax Hoarding in Government Act of 2016,” (Truth in Government Act).  This bill would stop taxpayers from acting as a free loan to the IRS. As it stands, the IRS utilizes a system of withholding in which taxpayers dollars are taken out of paychecks. Three out of four taxpayers end up getting their withheld dollars back, an average of almost $3,000.  But, this money that is used as an interest free loan to the government could better be spent by Americans for personal decisions, such as paying for college or earning interest at the bank. ATR President Grover Norquist wrote a letter in support of this bill and agrees that it is time we restore government transparency and allow Americans to take control over their finances. See the letter of support here or below. 

 

October 4, 2016

The Honorable Mark Sanford
U.S. House of Representatives
2201 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman Sanford:

I write in support of H.R. 6098, the “Transparent Recognition of Unjustified Tax Hoarding in Government Act of 2016,” (TRUTH in Government Act). This legislation replaces the system of mandatory federal tax withholding with the active payment of taxes each quarter. All members of Congress should support and co-sponsor this legislation.

The current system of withholding masks the payment of taxes, and many taxpayers end up inadvertently giving the IRS a free loan by paying too much through withholding. Close to three in four tax returns – more than 100 million taxpayers – receive a refund every year, and the average refund is close to $3,000. This means that close to $300 billion is loaned to the IRS every year only to be returned to taxpayers as a lump sum.

This is money that taxpayers overpaid to the IRS and could have been better spent to earn interest at a bank, pay down debt, fund a retirement plan, save for college education, or spent on a vacation. Instead, it is kept by the IRS for months. Ending the system of mandatory tax withholding will mean money is no longer automatically taken out of a taxpayer’s paycheck and will give American’s more control over their finances.

The current system of tax withholding gives the IRS billions of taxpayer dollars as an interest-free loan – money that could better be spent by American families. The TRUTH in Government Act replaces a system that conceals the true process of paying taxes with a system that gives taxpayers more transparency over their income, to better ensure they do not pay too much. All members of Congress should support the TRUTH in Government Act.

Onward,

Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

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Here’s Why Millennials Should Be Wary of Obamacare

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Tuesday, September 27th, 2016, 4:32 PM PERMALINK

Today, Obama held a millennial outreach summit in an attempt to revitalize Obamacare and grab more young, healthy enrollees. But millennials shouldn’t buy into it. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, David Barnes, Policy Director of Generation Opportunity, speaks the truth about Obama’s event:

“Young Americans aren’t looking for “outreach” and “engagement” from President Obama. We’re looking for affordable health-insurance plans—and ObamaCare doesn’t offer them.”

In order for Obamacare to work, there needs to be a significant portion of young healthy people to offset the cost of older, less healthy people. For a sustainable Obamacare, 40% of all enrollees need to be in the “golden” 18-34 age. However, Obamacare does not have its 40%. According to HHS, only 28% of enrollees are in this “golden” age range. While Obamacare relies on young people, it is the young people who get the brunt of the deal. Here’s why:

1. Pay this or Pay that

Young people are forced to pay one way or another. Either they buy unaffordable insurance or pay a penalty. Even if a young person is healthy and does not need insurance, they do not have the option to not pay for health insurance and save their money. Money will be spent towards Obamacare regardless. If a millennial chooses to not participate in Obamacare, they must pay the individual mandate tax penalty. In 2016, the annual fee was $695. So, in essence, as a millennial you must pay $695 or 2.5% of your household income (whichever is higher) for “noncompliance” or pay more for health insurance you may not use in order to subsidize older, more costly people.

2. One size fits all

The costs of Obamacare are just way too high. Young people are paying for insurance they simply do not need or does not fit their needs. They are stuck having to buy a more expensive option and get more coverage than necessary. If a millennial does not have coverage that meets the requirements of Obamacare or what fits them best, then they will be charged the individual mandate anyway.

3. Unstable

The health insurance marketplace is far from stable. Insurers are hiking premiums and fleeing exchanges. Insurers operating on Obamacare exchanges have requested an average premium hike of 24 percent across the country, according to independent analyst Charles Gaba.  Even as they request higher premiums, many insurers have announced plans to flee exchanges or reduce their involvement, leaving enrollees with fewer options and more expensive insurance. Due to insurmountable losses, the nation’s largest insurer, UnitedHealth, will be pulling out of 26 of the 34 exchanges it participated in last year. Following United’s footsteps, Aetna announced that it would pull out of all but 4 states and remain in only 242 counties. Additionally, Obamacare co-ops are continually collapsing. Seventeen have completely collapsed, and only 6 of the original 23 are hanging on by a thread.  So even though you may have insurance today, who knows if it will still be up and running tomorrow?

 

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Congress to Vote on Legislation to Protect Americans from Failed Co-Ops

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Tuesday, September 27th, 2016, 1:54 PM PERMALINK

Congress will vote on an important piece of legislation today—the Co-Op Consumer Protection Act of 2016 (H.R. 954). This legislation would protect individuals who were enrolled on a failed Obamacare co-op from having to pay the individual mandate tax. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are without insurance because Obamacare has failed them.

These taxpayers were enrolled on Obamacare and were then dropped because the system crumbled underneath them. It is unfair to force these Americans to pay a tax that is intended for people who don’t want to enroll in Obamacare.

In all, seventeen co-ops have failed. Of the original 23 co-ops, only 6 remain. These 6 however are struggling to keep afloat. Even with billions of taxpayer dollars from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to finance co-ops with start-up and solvency loans, the remaining are hanging on by a thread and our bound to collapse like the others. 

A total of $1,820,114,940 has been lost in taxpayer dollars from these failed co-ops and hundreds of thousands are without coverage despite Obama’s promises.

ATR President Grover Norquist wrote a letter to Congress urging members of Congress to support this legislation that would protect the American people from Obamacare’s failure. See the letter here or below. 
 

September 27, 2016

The Honorable Adrian Smith
United States House of Representatives
2241 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman Smith

I write in support of H.R. 954, the Co-Op Consumer Protection Act of 2016. This important legislation protects individuals who enrolled on a failed Obamacare co-op from the individual mandate tax. Members of Congress should support and co-sponsor this important legislation.

Failed Obamacare co-ops have displaced hundreds of thousands of individuals who have found themselves without insurance through no fault of their own. These individuals have also been hit with the Obamacare individual mandate tax penalty for not having insurance, despite doing nothing wrong.

The Co-Op Consumer Protection Act address this problem by exempting any individual from the individual mandate tax penalty if they lost their coverage because of a failed co-op. This will result in significant tax relief – for a family of four the tax penalty exceeds $2000 or 2.5 percent of income.

Co-ops were created under Obamacare as not-for-profit alternatives to traditional insurance companies. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) financed co-ops with startup and solvency loans, totaling more than $2.4 billion in taxpayer dollars. They have failed to become sustainable with many collapsing amid the failure of Obamacare exchanges. 

Seventeen Obamacare co-ops have now failed, losing millions despite receiving enormous government subsidies. Since September last year, 14 Obamacare co-ops have collapsed, with only six of the original 23 co-ops remaining. In July, co-ops in Oregon and Illinois collapsed leaving close to 100,000 without insurance. In all, failed co-ops have cost taxpayers more than $1.8 billion in funds that may never be recovered. The Health Republic insurance of New Jersey announced it would close earlier this month, leaving 35,000 members without coverage next year. The New Jersey co-op, which received almost $110 million in taxpayer loans now joins a list of 16 other Obamacare co-ops that have collapsed since Obamacare has been implemented.

The failure of Obamacare co-ops is just one of the many broken promises coming from the healthcare law. While lawmakers should work to replace Obamacare with patient centered, free market healthcare, they should also work to protect Americans from the failure of the President’s healthcare bill. The Co-Op Consumer Protection Act is a key way to do the latter. As such, all Members of Congress should support this important legislation.

Onward,

Grover Norquist 
President, Americans for Tax Reform

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Free Trade is Good for American Businesses and Families


Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Thursday, September 22nd, 2016, 10:00 AM PERMALINK

Free trade is critical to the American economy and is an essential component to guaranteeing a high standard of living for all Americans.  Free trade cuts and reduces tariffs – taxes on trade – and other barriers to global commerce. Fewer barriers on American exports means less money taken by foreign governments out of the pockets of workers and business owners seeking to trade overseas. Fewer barriers on imports into the U.S. results in more competition and access to a greater range of products at lower prices for consumers across the country.

Although both Presidential candidates have spoken negatively about trade, they are mistaken. Free trade is a positive, not negative force. In a letter to members of Congress, ATR together with 35 conservative, free-market groups urged Members of Congress to continue advocating for free trade policies that benefit the American economy.

Since Adam Smith published Wealth of Nations in 1776economists have universally supported free trade. In the past, tariffs were the chief source of federal revenues. However, these taxes on trade have inhibited economic growth and produced serious economic consequences. Conversely, cutting them has led to economic prosperity. Today, more than 1 in 5 American jobs are tied to trade, and these workers earn 16 percent more than jobs in industries not tied to trade.

While the concept of trade is sound, the execution is not always perfect. The 12 member Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) contains more than 18,000 tax cuts on American exports and will benefit consumers and businesses, but also contains flaws that may undermine property rights. These issues should be addressed before the agreement moves forward.

Under U.S. law, medical innovators have access to 12 years of exclusivity, while TPP grants as little as five years. The 12 year protection exists for a reason -- it was legislated by Congress following careful consideration of the extensive development costs associated with medicines.

Similarly, TPP explicitly excludes the tobacco industry from the use of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), a “neutral, international arbitration procedure, ”designed to act as a safeguard to ensure that countries do not skirt their responsibilities toward free, open trade.

Despite these flaws, TPP will produce significant economic growth.  A recent report by the International Trade Commission found that TPP will increase U.S. exports by $57.2 billion annually by 2032 and increase overall U.S. real income by $57.3 billion annually over the same period.

The fact is, free trade is pro-growth, pro-business, and pro-American. Members of Congress should freely support and defend free trade.

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EU State Aid Cash Grab Threatens Rule of Law and Investment

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Thursday, September 22nd, 2016, 10:00 AM PERMALINK

The recent European “illegal state aid” ruling threatens to upend business certainty and existing international tax rules, and reduce business investment. The ruling, which forces Apple to retroactively pay Ireland $14.5 billion plus interest also shortchanges the American people and threatens the prospects for tax reform.

European Commissioner for Competition Margarethe Vestager has justified this decisions as a way to stop “cozy” relationships and break “unfair competition.”  Clearly though, this is a case of money hungry EU bureaucrats clawing back more revenue after the fact.

The ruling has  caused universal condemnation from American business leaders, Congressional Republicans and Democrats, and the Treasury Department who have all raised concerns that the EU investigations will set a precedent allowing international bodies to override the sovereignty of individual countries.

Both Apple and Ireland have announced that they will appeal this decision and both claim they did nothing wrong. In fact, there are no accusations that the arrangement constituted tax dodging, but rather than not enough tax was paid.

This ruling and those to come threaten to set a precedent for the European Union to take aim at other U.S. companies doing business abroad and leaves them vulnerable to having the same treatment. The EU is set to continue its investigations into American businesses like Amazon and McDonalds, which could open the door to similar action from other countries and international bodies:

“Absent reversal, other countries outside the EU will interpret the decision as acceptable governmental behavior and will put all companies with cross-border investments –including EU-headquartered companies – at risk of having their assets expropriated by foreign governments seeking extra revenue or seeking to punish a successful foreign competitor.”

This is far from hypothetical and is already happening. Officials from EU member countries are already eyeing their “fair share” of the $14.5 billion and just last week Japan ordered Apple to pay $118 million in back-taxes.

Not only do these developments impact business certainty and rule of law, the rulings come at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. Money that is stolen from American businesses under the guise of illegal state aid is no longer available to be brought back to the U.S. economy to be reinvested in jobs and the economy.

As noted by Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) these investigations illustrate why the U.S. desperately needs pro-growth tax reform. American Companies are already struggling to compete because we have the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world – 39 percent, compared to the average in the developed world which is just 25 percent. In addition, our tax code subjects our businesses to double taxation – once when it is earned overseas and once when it is brought back to the U.S.

This system of double taxation – which is used by just six of 34 developed countries – has resulted in more than $2 trillion in after tax U.S. income being stranded overseas. This is just one consequence of the out-of-date tax code, and it should be fixed in pro-growth tax reform.

When this happens, lawmakers should repatriate double taxed income at a rate of just over 5 percent, which when done in the 2000s resulted in $320 billion returning to the country that was reinvested in the economy, in higher wages, and in federal revenues. Now, with more than two trillion stranded overseas, the time is ripe for another round of repatriation that can finance pro-growth tax reform.

EU officials have shown they are aggressively targeting US businesses through state aid investigations.  These efforts should signal that the U.S. desperately needs tax reform so that American businesses can once again compete in the global economy and not be at the will of bureaucrats from other countries.

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Report: Government Failing to Verify Obamacare Eligibility

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Tuesday, September 13th, 2016, 3:03 PM PERMALINK

The federal government is failing to verify enrollment and eligibility information for individuals enrolled on Obamacare exchanges or on Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, according to two reports by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Individuals who did not meet the eligibility requirements were still being approved, resulting in billions of dollars in payments by the government to fraudulent individuals.

GAO performed undercover testing and created fictitious accounts for 2015 and 2016 to check if applicants were being properly verified. GAO tested enrollment verification on both the federal and state exchanges. In both cases, GAO found insufficient verification of its fictitious applicants and determined that the marketplaces still remain vulnerable to fraud.

With its passage, Obamacare created two new government programs: exchanges for private insurance and the expansion of Medicaid. In order for enrollees to be eligible for subsidies or Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, applicants must meet basic eligibility requirements. To be eligible, an applicant must provide their Social Security number, proof of citizenship, household income, and family size. This information is then verified by an electronic verification system or approved by HHS.

Obamacare exchanges unable to screen fictitious applicants

In 2015, GAO created ten fictitious accounts that did not meet the eligibility requirements and therefore, should not have been approved. In four of these accounts, the GAO used Social Security numbers that had never even been issued. The other applications were duplicately enrolled or received coverage by claiming that their employer-provided care did not meet the minimum coverage requirements. As the 2015 report notes, all ten applications were approved even though fraudulent or insufficient documentation was provided:

“Although 8 of these 10 fictitious applications failed the initial online identity-checking process, all 10 were subsequently approved.”

Similarly, in 2016 GAO used fictitious applicants to check for basic identity and citizenship verifications, and found that all eight applications were approved even though the applicant’s identity was fraudulent. As the 2016 report notes:

“For eight applications, GAO used new fictitious identities to test verifications related to identity or citizenship/immigration status and, in each case, successfully obtained subsidized coverage.”

Obama’s Medicaid expansion fails to screen fraudulent applicants

GAO also tested whether Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion properly screened individuals that provided insufficient or fraudulent documentation. For each application, GAO provided identity information that did not match the records of the Social Security Administration. For two of these applications, the GAO was asked to submit supporting documents. Despite this documentation being fraudulent both applicants were approved. As the report notes:

“For eight additional fictitious applications, initially made for Medicaid coverage, GAO was approved for subsidized health-care coverage in seven of the eight cases through the federal Marketplace and the two selected state marketplaces.”

These latest findings should not be surprising. Watchdog groups have raised concerns that the federal government is not properly verifying enrollment eligibility for Obamacare on numerous occasions. Since the start of 2015, government watchdog groups have released warnings at least ten other times:

  • A February 2016 report found that the federal government has failed to properly monitor enrollee eligibility for Obamacare, according to a report by GAO. As a result, the government has made billions of dollars in Obamacare subsidy payments to individuals that may have been committing fraud.

 

  • ‘An auditor’s report examining Minnesota’s Obamacare exchange found the exchange enrolled more than 100,000 individuals who were ineligible for the program. In all, the audit estimated an error rate of close to 50 percent, and the state overpaid up to $271 million over the five-month period that was analyzed by auditors.

 

  • A December 2015 report by the Health and Human Services Inspector General (HHS OIG) found that CMS relied entirely on data from health insurers to verify whether enrollees had paid their premiums and were eligible. However, this data was completely insufficient - insurers provided payment information on an aggregate rather than enrollee-by-enrollee basis, making verification all but impossible. 

 

  • A October 23, 2015 report by GAO found that Obamacare exchanges (both state and federal) were failing to verify key enrollment information of applicants including Social Security numbers, household income, and citizenship.

 

  • A September 1, 2015 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) found that Obamacare exchanges are failing to provide adequate enrollment information to the IRS for proper payment and verification of tax credits.

 

  • A August 2015 report by HHS OIG found that the federal exchange is failing to verify Social Security numbers, citizenship, and household income of Obamacare applicants. As a result, the exchange is unable to verify whether applicants are properly receiving tax credits.
     
  • A July 16, 2015 audit by GAO found that 11 of 12 fake 'test' applicants received coverage for the entire 2014 coverage period despite many using fraudulent documents, and others providing no documentation at all. From these 11 applicants alone, Healthcare.gov paid $30,000 in tax credits.
     
  • A June 16, 2015 report released by the HHS OIG found that $2.8 billion worth of Obamacare subsidies and payments had been made in 2014 without verification.

 

  • A June 10, 2015 TIGTA report found the IRS failed to properly administer nearly $11 billion in Obamacare tax credits.
     
  • A May 21, 2015 report by TIGTA found that the IRS failed to test Obamacare processing and verification IT until a week before the filing season began.

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Hefty IRS Tax Bill Awaits Home-Bound Victorious Olympic Medalists

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Posted by Natalie De Vincenzi on Monday, August 22nd, 2016, 4:35 PM PERMALINK

The Olympics are over and the 558 members of Team USA are headed home having won 121 medals. Tallying 46 gold, 37 silver, and 38 bronze medals, Team USA athletes could owe the IRS hundreds of thousands of dollars in “victory” taxes.

As Olympians set foot back in the U.S., now is the time to pass much needed legislation that will exempt these athletes from being taxed. In March 2016, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced a bill (S. 2650) to stop the IRS from taxing Team USA medalists. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent on July 12, but the House has yet to pass a bill. Recently, the House Ways and Means Committee will mark up a bill come September, sponsored by Congressman Bob Dold (R-Ill.) and Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Texas).

Kevin Brady (R-Texas), House Ways and Means Chairman, has highlighted the importance of passing Congressman Farenthold and Dold’s bill:

"It seems like a small thing, but when America’s Olympians and Paralympians bring home the gold, our nation should congratulate them — not send the IRS to claim a share of their medal."

U.S. Olympic athletes receive a monetary award for winning a medal. This award is considered regular income, and is therefore subject to taxation. The U.S. Olympic Committee rewards its medalists with $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze.  

Taxes on these awards are as high as $9,900 per gold medal, $5,940 per silver medal, and $3,960 per bronze medal. These are the maximum possible tax amounts, and vary widely based on an individual’s tax brackets, circumstances, and available deductions. Still, the athletes must reckon their medal winnings with the IRS code, a headache they can do without.

                           Maximum Prize Tax             

Gold                                     $9,900                  

Silver                                    $5,940                  

Bronze                                  $3,960     

Americans who wish to express their support for the House bill can do so through the petition here or sign below:

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