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Republican Bill Risks Tax Cuts for 160 Million Americans

Democrats have been clear: we cannot go home for the holidays without extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits. On December 13th, House Republicans passed H.R. 3630--a partisan bill full of poison pills--that:

  • Destroys Jobs: Hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost due to provisions slashing unemployment benefits next year.  [The Hill, 12/12]
  • Reduces Economic Growth: $22 billion will be lost in economic growth because of the unemployment insurance provision.  [The Hill, 12/12]  
  • Shortchanges Middle Class: Offers one-third less tax cut to the average middle class family than the proposal by President Obama and House Democrats. 
  • Increases Health Care Cost to Seniors: Requires millions of seniors to pay more for health care, while refusing to ask 300,000 of the wealthiest Americans to pay one cent more.
  • Violates Budget Rules: Violates the bipartisan debt limit agreement, statutory PAYGO and GOP's own Cutgo. 

Leader Reid has already said it will not pass the Senate and the President has said he will veto the bill:

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3630. With only days left before taxes go up for 160 million hardworking Americans, H.R. 3630 plays politics at the expense of middle-class families. H.R. 3630 breaks the bipartisan agreement on spending cuts that was reached just a few months ago and would inevitably lead to pressure to cut investments in areas like education and clean energy. Furthermore, H.R. 3630 seeks to put the burden of paying for the bill on working families, while giving a free pass to the wealthiest and to big corporations by protecting their loopholes and subsidies.

Instead of working together to find a balanced approach that will actually pass both Houses of the Congress, H.R. 3630 instead represents a choice to refight old political battles over health care and introduce ideological issues into what should be a simple debate about cutting taxes for the middle class.

This debate should not be about scoring political points. This debate should be about cutting taxes for the middle class.

If the President were presented with H.R. 3630, he would veto the bill

Key Provisions

Medicare
Requires millions of seniors to pay more for health care, while refusing to ask 300,000 of the wealthiest Americans to pay one cent more in taxes.

  • Makes millions of seniors, some with incomes as low as $80,000 a year, pay substantially more for their health care under Medicare - increasing the health care costs of these seniors by $31 billion over 10 years.
  • AARP strongly opposes these increased health care costs for millions of seniors.
  • Republicans are asking many middle-income seniors to help pay for the payroll tax cut, all in order to protect those making over $1 million per year from paying even a little bit more in their taxes.

Unemployment Benefits
Cuts off Unemployment Insurance Benefits for more than one million Americans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own, especially in states with highest jobless rates.

  • Slashes Americans' unemployment benefits by more than half, even as families still struggle under the weight of the economic downturn with five people looking for work for every one job opening.
  • This would harm people in 22 states, cutting the length of unemployment benefits by 40 weeks in:  Alabama, California, Connecticut, DC, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia.

Imposes new limits on Unemployment Insurance by restricting benefits that employees have effectively paid for.

  • Unemployment insurance is for all Americans who have been working, have lost their job through no fault of their own, and are actively seeking a job.
  • These new burdens would deny insurance to those without a high school degree, unless they use the benefits to pay for getting their GED, and require drug testing.

Keystone Pipeline
It contains unrelated, controversial provisions like the Keystone pipeline.

  • Even Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said: “The pipeline's probably not going to sell. And it is important that we extend the tax cut through next year…” [Meet the Press, 12/11]
  • These unrelated provisions jeopardize the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, and could leave a typical family facing $1,000 tax increase and nearly 2 million Americans without a lifeline in January.
  • The State Department has warned that the congressional GOP's interference would lead to a rejection of the pipeline altogether (the exact opposite of Republican intentions).[Associated Press, 12/13]
  • '…In the Pledge to America, released by GOP leadership under much fanfare in September 2010, Republicans said they would ‘end the practice of packaging unpopular bills with ‘must-pass' legislation to circumvent the will of the American people.  Instead, we will advance major legislation one issue at a time,' they said. They'll be doing the exact opposite this week.  The year-end legislative package centered on extending the payroll tax has turned into a holiday tree filled with legislative ornaments ranging from the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the sale of broadband spectrum, an extension of jobless benefits, changes to Medicare and easing of certain environmental standards.” [Politico, 12/11]

Budget
Violates the bipartisan debt limit agreement, statutory PAYGO and GOP's own Cutgo.

  • Despite agreeing to caps on spending in August, the bill reneges on that deal and cuts discretionary spending by an additional $26 billion.
  • It increases the deficit by $136 billion over five years in violation of PAYGO, and increases direct spending by $156 billion over five years and $61 billion over 10 years in violation of their own Cutgo rule.

Health
Increases taxes on working families and makes 170,000 more people uninsured by requiring large, end-of-the-year health care payments for many.

  • Substantially increases the end-of-the-year repayments of premium tax credits that working class families receive under health reform if their situation changes during the year - increasing these repayments by $13 billion.
  • The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that these provisions would result in the ranks of the uninsured increasing by 170,000.

Slashes prevention funding that is designed to reduce Medicare and Medicaid costs.

  • Slashes nearly $11 billion in budget authority and $8 billion in outlays from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, despite the fact that prevention has been proven to save lives, avert illness, and achieve savings in health care costs.
  • Cutting this prevention funding is opposed by the American Lung Association, American Heart Association, and the Cancer Action Network American Cancer Society.

Cuts hospital and skilled nursing facility reimbursements, which can jeopardize seniors' care.

  • Cuts over $21 billion from Medicare provider rates, over 50 percent of which fall solely on hospitals.  Due to these cuts, the American Hospital Association is urging Congress to oppose this bill that will harm health care in communities across America.
  • The American Health Care Association (an organization of skilled nursing facilities) also opposes the bill and its cuts in Medicare reimbursements. 

Undermines air quality, endangering the health of children and families by blocking mercury pollution reduction (EPA rules would place emission limits on less than 1% of all boilers).

  • Blocks and indefinitely delays any regulation of very large industrial boilers (less than 1% of all boilers), which is estimated to result in 20,000 premature deaths, 52,000 asthma attacks, and 5,100 heart attacks each year.
  • Industrial boilers are the second largest source of airborne mercury pollution in the U.S. and mercury is a powerful neurotoxin that damages the ability of infants and children to think and learn.

Spectrum Auction

  • Includes provisions strongly criticized by police and firefighters and Republican Senator John McCain as “wholly irresponsible and dangerous” that prevent the creation of an effective national public safety communication network and prematurely take away the current airwaves that first responders use for talking to each other in an emergency.
  • Permits restriction on the creation of content, sites, platforms and types of equipment by permanently blocking a wireless net neutrality standard.