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Republicans OK With Raising Taxes, but Only When It Hurts Obamacare

A view of the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse that houses the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, on Tuesday, July 22, 2014, in Washington. Obama's health care law is enmeshed in another big legal battle after two federal appeals courts issued contradictory rulings on a key financing issue within hours of each other Tuesday. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange took to Facebook yesterday and bragged about his role in a federal appeals' court decision in Halbig vs Burwell. This is the case that attempts to end ACA tax credits for families in states that participate in the federal marketplace — a group that includes Alabama. When families lose those credits, their federal tax bills will rise. Mark your calendar, because this is surely an enormous reversal of the long-time GOP mantra of "no taxes, no where, no how."

As part of his self-stated job goal to "think up ways to sue President Obama," Strange signed the state of Alabama on to this complaint that makes a rather startling claim: people who live in states that refused to set up a state insurance marketplace aren't eligible for federal tax credits that make insurance affordable for most families.  However, consumers in states that did set up their own state-run exchanges will be eligible. 

If this ruling holds, it means that those of use in these unlucky, mostly GOP-led, will receive no benefits from a program supported by our tax dollars. It means insurance will become more unaffordable for many working families and could increase premiums as the pool of insured people shrinks.  Meanwhile, Alabama taxpayers will continue to subsidize generous health care benefits for Luther Strange.

In Alabama right now, this tax hike ruling affects about 85,000 people.  Wait until they hear what their AG has accomplished in their name.

Strange and company like to refer to the families who receive tax credits as "takers, "moochers" and other unflattering names — even though they're receiving far less help from the federal government than say, Chinese manufacturer Golden Dragon received from the State of Alabama this year.

Let's review some important points about the health insurance industry in this country and how most people actually get health insurance coverage.   

Obamacare insurance subsidies are expected to cost $1 trillion over ten years.  An estimated 160 million people have employer-provided coverage, and tax subsidies for employer-provided coverage cost the federal treasury $200 billion in 2007.  

Multiply that $200 billion by 10 years and the federal treasury takes a $2 trillion hit — twice the cost of ACA premium subsidies. 

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People without employer-paid coverage have been helping pay the freight for the other 160 million for a long time, and frankly, the whining coming from some in that group of beneficiaries is getting really, really tiresome.   

In Alabama, a heck of a lot more people get subsidized employer coverage than received tax credits for ACA coverage. Will our Attorney General be coming after them next? Probably not, because it's easier to protray the people purchasing their own coverage as "takers" and people who want a free ride.  

Except that we aren't. Yes campers!  The cathouse family receives a tax credit.  We qualify because we have a small business that turns a profit.  Not a huge one, but one large enough to support the family.  Prior to the ACA, health insurance payments were our largest monthly expense — approaching $1200/month for pretty crappy coverage.  Post-ACA, even if we hadn't qualified for a credit, we would have STILL paid hundreds less for better coverage.  And I bet you that most Mom and Pop businesses, independent contractors and struggling entrepreneurs can tell the same story.

There are no "takers" or "freeloaders" getting these ACA tax credits.  You have to have income and income that raises you above the Medicaid level. You can be part of the working poor — people who struggle to stay above the poverty line and may work multiple low-wage jobs without benefits — to do that.  Or you might be a middle class family that made the sacrifice to have one breadwinner and one spouse home with the children.  The key here is that all these people work and work hard.  What's amazing is that the Republican begrudge the little help these families get from the government at the same time they cheerlead for bigger corporate tax breaks & subsidies.

For years, small businesses and the self-employed  — and the uninsured! — have subsidized the people who receive employer-provided coverage.  The ACA finally leveled the playing field.  So what does our state's Attorney General do?  File suit in federal court to raise the tax burden on our family and others like us.

 

 

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