ELDER MUSIC: Songs of Frank Loesser
Crabby Old Lady's State of the Union

How the Tax Bill Harms Elders

BarbaraLeeTweet

I'll get back to that tweet from the California Congress member in a bit. First:

In case you slept through the weekend, in the early hours of Saturday morning, the Senate voted along party lines 51 to 49 to pass their version of H.R. 1: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the sweeping tax reform bill that pretty much steals money from everyone else and gives it to corporations and the very rich.

Many different senators were adding and subtracting and changing items in the bill – often hand-written in the margins - until about two minutes before the vote took place. Here is Montana's Democratic Senator Jon Tester:

No one, not a single person in that legislative body had read the entire bill, let alone had any time to understand it or weigh the consequences before voting.

And don't apply any “what-about-ism”. Do not let the fact that Democrats have done this same thing in the past deter you from heaping contempt for those 51 yea-voting Republican senators, nearly every one of whom lied to the public about who will benefit and who will lose from the bill.

There are only three reasons, all of them corrupt, to vote for a bill that will affect every American and crush tens of millions of them:

To appease the Trump base who scare the crap out of Republicans who are up for re-election in 2018

To deliver on legislative promises to their rich and powerful campaign donors

To have this one and only thing to show the public that they did something this year besides sit on their thumbs

WHAT'S NEXT?
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act now goes to the conference committee to iron out the differences between the Senate version that passed on Saturday and the House version that passed on 16 November.

When that work is done and the bill is reconciled, it will be voted on in both chambers of Congress. Over the weekend, some pundits predicted that could be as soon as this week.

WHAT'S IN THE BILL “FOR” ELDERS
There are painful shockers in H.R. 1 for just about everyone who is not in the top one percent of wealth holders but we are concentrating on elders here not because I think they are more important than the poor, working and middle classes but because that's who we are at this blog.

With the caveat that especially with all the late-night, last-minute alterations, no one yet knows or understands the entire bill, here are some of the reported changes that will affect old people if the bill becomes law.

AUTOMATIC MEDICARE CUTS
Sarah Kliff, writing at Vox, notes that H.R. 1 is really a health care bill that affects more than 100 million Americans who rely on the federal government for their health insurance. The bill, she writes,

”...includes tax cuts so large that they would trigger across-the-board spending cuts — including billions for Medicare. The last time Medicare was hit with cuts like this, patients lost access to critical services like chemotherapy treatment.”

(Can you tell how terrified I am right now about that?)

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) explains in more detail why this would happen:

”...the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says that the tax bill would trigger an automatic $25 billion cut to Medicare, as required by the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 (PAYGO).

“In response, the President’s Office of Management and Budget would be required to cut Medicare payments to health care providers...”

SOCIAL SECURITY COLA REDUCTION
Both the Senate and House versions of the bill would replace the standard cost-of-living index currently in use (CPI-U) to calculate COLA adjustments to Social Security, military and federal civilian retirement benefits with the more slow-growing chained CPI. As the NCPSSM notes:

”According to the Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration, three years after becoming law, calculating the COLA based on the chained CPI would decrease Social Security benefits by about $130 per year (0.9 percent) for a typical 65-year-old.

“By the time that senior reaches 95, the annual benefit cut would be almost $1,400, a 9.2 percent reduction from currently scheduled benefits.”

REPEALING THE OBAMACARE MANDATE
Among the reasons AARP opposes this tax bill concerns people who are not quite old enough for Medicare, those between age 50 and 65:

” Eliminating the mandate would leave 13 million additional Americans without health coverage over the next decade, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.

“Repealing the mandate would also drive up premiums by roughly 10 percent in the health insurance marketplace; 64-year-olds could see their tabs jump by an average of $1,490 a year.”

THE MOST FRIGHTENING CUT OF ALL
The most insidious cut in the tax bill is the stealth move (by design?) to eventually eliminate Social Security, Medicare and other social programs that stupidly uninformed legislators and partisans refer to as “entitlements” instead of earned benefits. It goes like this:

Because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the tax bill will balloon the federal deficit by an unfathomable $1.4 trillion, the bill will become the Republicans' reason to enact their long-term, dearest wish – to kill these programs altogether.

Newsweek explains how Republicans intend to play out this goal:

”[Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) and] Other key Republicans have hinted that after the tax bill passes they’ll take on welfare and entitlement programs.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said that he wants Republicans to reduce spending on government programs in 2018, and last month President Donald Trump said that welfare reform will, 'take place right after taxes, very soon, very shortly after taxes.'

“Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Thursday that 'liberal programs' for the poor were wasting Americans’ money.

"'What's coming next is all too predictable: The deficit hawks will come flying back after this bill becomes law,' said Senator Ron Wyden, (D-Ore.) 'Republicans are already saying “entitlement reform” and “welfare reform” are next up on the docket.

“'But nobody should be fooled—that's just code for attacks on Medicaid, on Medicare, on Social Security, on anti-hunger programs.'”

Again, as California Representative Barbara Lee tweeted on Friday,

BarbaraLeeTweet

President Donald Trump wants this bill on his desk before Christmas. All the “in-the-know” people are saying it will sail through Congress and into law without a hitch.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't complain, shouldn't tell our senators and representatives to vote with the American people and not against them.

Do it. Find their contact information here. Polls show that only about 25 percent of Americans want this bill, so make a nuisance of yourself with your Congress people, and do it today.

Comments

I feel like my hands and feet are being bound.

Why don't I read of organizations (AARP anyone there?) putting together massive marches and boycotts, or full-page protests in newspapers, on the internet or something!? Or am I not knowing where to look.

We need to go over the top for this one, even if it means giving up a Christmas spirit. Or perhaps not lining the corporate pockets this year.

These Republicans are certifiably cruel now. They really do kick their dogs.

Thank you Ronni. I should be scared I guess but I am just angry. I am forwarding this to all my children and friends and others. My friends and I write and call and have are trying to get more people registered to vote and encouraging them to do so.

I posted on FB and set here and called every doggone Congressman from TX. Not terribly hopeful I'm afraid.

I am currently receiving financial assistance from the state I live in having been rejected for SSI. And, while it isn't very much it helps me to not to have to decide whether the pay my rent or eat.The tax bill and its various side bars are so vague that I don't know what will happen to that money. And, like Celia, I too am angry.
While I never expected to get rich off of Social Security, I did expect it to at least be fair.
I played the governments game of having a portion of my hard earned money taken out of my salary for over 50 years and this is the thanks I get.

"H.R. 1: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act," Did it make anyone feel that the bill made more sense with the Senate's changing the title by adding "Jobs" to it? What a farce!

"...and changing items in the bill – often hand-written in the margins - until about two minutes before the vote took place." I wouldn't bet my lunch money that changes will not have been, in the end, changed after the voting. Version control is difficult in a slap-dash process, even when all are of good will.

I immediately emailed my senator about the "travesty" that had taken place.

I agree with Simone, why hasn't some entity organized a massive protest march in Washington? The woman's march had little follow up, but this assault on our Democracy and the people Congress took an oath to protect should demand constant protest of the most dramatic sort. It's imperative that we, the people, let those legislators know that they will pay for this dastardly act at the polls.

Where is the Democratic party ? They should be shouting from the rooftops about all of the despicable elements of this horrific legislation.

They have structured this massive tax giveaway to the wealthiest so that the pain to be felt by the poor, elders and middle class won't be felt until after the 2018 elections. The entire Republican party is a party of the wealthy, by the wealthy and for the wealthy. Why any middle class citizen would vote Republican boggles the mind. They are devious, shameless and greedy.

I am furious, depressed and wishing I were younger so that I could mount a protest. I will, of course, continue to call and write my Congress people, but I fear they have already sold their souls to the rich and that's all they hear.

Horrified.

We are so f****ed. All being most of this country.
I hope all those who voted in this bunch are happy now. Jobs will coming flooding back and abortion will be illegal any day now. Yeah right.
Maybe, just maybe, this will turn off at least a few of the Trump supporters. But I’m not holding my breath.

I totally agree with Darlene that We, the People, don't count with "our" representatives in Congress anymore. They've largely been bought by Big Money. WA State's two (female) senators and my Progressive representative have battled the Rethuglicans across the board and will continue to do so. But here's the thing: they have no real power, and D.C. is ALL about power (and getting re-elected). I will keep on writing them, of course, but I understand that despite their best efforts, there's just not much they can do to stop the party of Ayn Rand under current circumstances. For now we're living in tRumpistan!

I may not be around to see it, but tRumpistan won't last forever. Sooner or later the pendulum will swing back even if it takes a revolution on some level. Although I've never been a vengeful person, I sincerely hope that when it does, Karma will exact just revenge for the tremendous harm, misery and untimely deaths the 'Thug's "tax reform" and its fallout are likely to cause. 'Thugs: what a hateful, despicable, deplorable bunch they are.

Further thought...

Seniors are an economic force as we do spend money.

We seniors should start a massive cut in discretionary spending. We have all the stuff we need right? And we can do our best to stop spoiling the grands. We can blame it on needing to saving $$ for the upcoming cuts in benefits.

No tours, travel, new cars, Starbucks, entertainment and other non-essentials. Go frugal. Cut donations to charity. It’s now obvious we don’t owe this culture anything.

Maybe we ought to mention to the kids we’re thinking about moving in or nearby so they can be there to help out if we need it. Scare the crap out of them.

After all we better get ready to hunker down. Right?

All of the above plus won't Big Pharma be delighted with all the $$$$$ they'll make on all the anti-depressants they'll be selling on "the cheap" to elders & very low income crowd.
I just can't believe that Rubio, & Ryan & many others don't have relatives & loved ones that this dumb bill will affect! Unless they've some how managed to get them included on their congressional "entitlements" that surely cover all sorts of medical issues. I think I need a drink! (: Dee

The tRump supporters don't have a clue as to how this will affect themselves and their family members. If they did, they would rise up with all the guns and start shooting politicians.

Here we are, in our late sixties and early seventies, wondering how on earth we are going to survive. When does this bill go into effect? In other words, how much longer do we have to live? I guess I won't get that cat that I wanted to adopt. I won't have money to feed myself, let alone a poor homeless cat. Still, perhaps my quality of life would be a little better if I did adopt a cat, knowing that I was helping it for a little longer than it would survive in a shelter.

If there is a God, I pray that he/she will strike all of these heartless idiots in the Senate and the House by lightning the moment this bill is passed. I thought we had a national regard for the abused, the disabled, the elderly. Instead Congress has shown its true colors. They call themselves Christian, but Jesus would have fed the multitudes and healed the sick, the disabled, the orphans... This government is a farce.

What can we do next? Should we set fire to ourselves in front of the Capitol Building, like the monks from Viet Nam did back in the time before the Viet Nam war? Should we march in the streets? Should we refuse to pay our taxes? We must take some action, but it should be organized or it will look like we're a bunch of nutcases.

Please respond with some effective action we can take to fight this situation.

Fantastic post, Teresa.

Actually I think Bob has the answer. Boycotts are time-honored methods of making small voices into big ones. I remember going without grapes for years, and finally farmworkers achieved some level of workplace benefits. Obviously the boycott would have to be damn near universal to have an effect. And, more important, everyone would have to know it was happening. But I, for one, could go the rest of the year and much longer without buying any goods or services except the most basic food needs. Christmas, which the Thugs desperately want to "save," would be the best time for a spending boycott. Maybe children and grandchildren would have to reduce their gift expectations, but surely they would do that much for us who have done so much for them,

I was discussing this legislation with my younger sister, and pointed out the obvious, which is that I probably will not survive long since I am facing a 9K copay on my cancer drug alone when I go on Medicare in a couple of months (this is not hyperbole). She suggested that when the time comes to expire, maybe I could plant myself near an entrance to the Senate chamber. I know the timing would be difficult, but I am intrigued by the idea. Could be my last act as a public educator.

In looking up something about the movie Soylent Green, I learned that it was set in the year 2022. Yep -- timing should be just about right.

And now they're going to sell off national parks.

You're scaring me, Cathy.... And I was considering Fahrenheit 451 a couple of weeks ago as a possibility, or was it a probability; where books are banned and there was a scene in particular that bothered me of young people outdoors in the night striking trees with fire for the hell of it, laughing and having a grand old dystopian moment.

That used to seem surreal. My guess is that dRump truly sees lavish gold handrails set amidst the Escalante Staircase where he can place another TTower for those golfing the artificial greens below.

And I wish I could give some answers to Teresa's well-written post. I will continue looking for them, but we have a time problem with this bill. In calls to reps today, I learned zero about what solutions or suggestions THEY might have. Indivisible listed gatherings, but they seemed meh.

In addition to bravery and courage (like making human chains so they can't get into their buildings), we need to pay attention and get a jump ahead of them.

I literally felt sick to my stomach as I viewed some of the final activity leading up to and when Congress voted to pass this travesty of a bill. How any thinking person can believe this Administration has the best interests of this nation, the middle class, and all those of lesser or no income boggles the mind.

$$$ -- the only language that speaks to this Administration, but then most of them, if not all, will reap $$$ from this legislation and most certainly this Prez will. Would that their supporters were the only ones to receive the devastating consequences of this legislative debacle.

All the rest who will be most adversely affected are likely unable to protest beyond voting -- physical and health limited, aged so less able, young uninformed. The rest of the knowledgeable population of all ages needs to register their outrage at this rape since they, too, will ultimately be adversely affected.

I totally agree, Teresa, terrific post! This government is worse than a farce. I'm 80+--maybe I need to plan a "die in" right in front of Congress.

I'd like to suggest that, if you possibly can, please go ahead and adopt that rescue kitty! We have 3 senior rescues, and we'll manage somehow. I can't imagine not having them in my life. Alternatively (or even additionally) if you're physically able and can give a couple of hours a week, shelters can always use help.

Simone -- I scared myself when I recently watched a Youtube compilation of some of the scenes from Soylent Green, then saw the date of 2022 as the setting (it was released in 1973). I have also been reminded of Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Metropolis and some other dark stories that have been made into films that are entirely too close for comfort to today's realities.

Something that does give me comfort at these times are my cats, taken in as rescue kittens twelve years ago. So I add my voice to those of others here in supporting those efforts, even in these uncertain times.

Okay, my stomach is roiling too. What I don't quite understand, is that seniors are a pretty powerful voting block and any actual cuts to Medicare or SS would spur a voting backlash like never seen before. Or. Am. I. Kidding. Myself?

If this administration doesn't get more people voting, then there are about half the registered voters who just don't care. That sort of populace is very easy to manipulate.

Also, how is it that Billy Bush loses his job for giggling at someone more powerful bragging about kissing and groping pretty women, and that braggart gets elected President?

Lauren, with graphics, your last paragraph would make a great billboard around the country. Without words might be more effective and understood.

Anyone can say anything; it's the actions that burn into the mind.


Absolutely! The so-called bomb shelters of the '50s wouldn't have worked then (everyone has to come out sometime and radioactivity doesn't abide by human timelines). However, I NEVER even imagined that we could face the possibility of nuclear destruction again in my lifetime.

I am rapidly progressing from merely despising The Orange Apparition/Deplorable-in-Chief to a state of near-hate, and hate is not a term I have ever used loosely. tRump inspires hate, and I do hate what he is doing to our nation and the world. He brings out the absolute worst in everyone--and most of his sycophants are bad actors to start with.
I have to push hard against hate and not allow him to bring out the worst in me. I cannot understand how his supporters seem totally unable to see him for what he is, but cult followers never do (see Hitler in Germany, Jim Jones in Guyana, on a much smaller scale the late Charles Manson in California, and assorted others).

My members of Congress have fought the Rethugs every step of the way and will continue to do so. We stand on the same ground when it comes to the outlaw regime now in power in "the other Washington".

I have been working all my life, never asking for anything that I wasn't entitled. I should be a millionaire with all the money that passed through these hands, but life costs, and its hard to keep up with it. We all, who have been employees, demand to be paid for the contributions we have put in, it is our right. we are not begging, we deserve better respect as elders, I have been retired for over a year now, my Income has been cut in half. This bill is a slap in the face. We are treated less than an Refugee, at least they get 4,000 a month.

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