What's Next For Congress: Tax Reform, Debt Ceiling Debate

Geronimo Vena
Agosto 5, 2017

Republican President Donald Trump, frustrated that Obamacare survived attempts to repeal it, has threatened to cut off about $8-billion in subsidies that help control costs for low-income Americans under the Affordable Care Act, Democratic former President Barack Obama's signature domestic initiative.

"The president will not accept those who said it's, quote, 'Time to move on, '" White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, are in the fight until the end, despite polls that show a majority of Americans support Obamacare. Earlier this year, the governors sent a letter calling on Congress to fully fund the cost-sharing payments.

Lee called the failed vote a "blessing in disguise" in his weekly newsletter and said Congress must go back to the drawing board.

The GOP somehow decided they had to pass something, anything, just to keep away primary challengers because they failed to live up to their seven-year promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. But that effort crashed most recently in the Senate Friday. While the GOP is gearing up to bypass Democrats, McConnell said he hopes they will come together with Republicans to address the issue. One of the GOP defectors, Sen John McCain, has since returned to Arizona for treatment for brain cancer.

Senate Republicans are turning to reforming the tax code after failing to gain the 50 votes needed to move forward on repealing and replacing Obamacare. The House of Representatives has passed an overhaul but the Senate has been unable to do so despite having worked on it for months. "Our message is simple: a fairer and more simple tax code", said White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short.

"The fact that they broke all these rules but kept to the reconciliation rules, it raised a question in my mind", said Sarah Kliff, senior editor at Vox Media. In that case, the premium increases for individual coverage would rise by an average of 20.3 percent, according to the insurers.

Last week, Trump tweeted that if the Senate didn't approve health care legislation, "BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies" would end "very soon!"

Although it's not completely clear what Trump is talking about by suggesting Obamacare should "hurt the insurance companies", it could be a reference to an ongoing issue of whether the Trump administration will continue cost-sharing payments to insurers.

Under Obamacare, if lawmakers want insurance through their employer - the federal government - they are required to buy policies through the ACA exchanges. "Congress can and should pass health care legislation that lives up to that greatness".

"I think the President is frustrated", Sen. One of those Republicans is Tennessee's Lamar Alexander, Senate health committee's chairman.

We kept sounding the alarm about the damage that Congress had unleashed by foisting the ironically named "Affordable Care Act" on the public, while the Obama administration insulated them from the full costs of the program with taxpayer subsidies that were never even appropriated.

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