Democrats on Tuesday found a new way to argue that the GOP tax bill will hurt the middle class when Republicans announced their legislation would eliminate Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty.
Republicans said the penalty is hurting lower-income earners who cannot afford the rising price of insurance premiums and are then forced to pay what the Supreme Court has said is an Obamacare "tax."
But Democrats are spinning it as an attack on the middle class because of predictions that reducing the impact of the mandate by getting rid of the mandate penalty will lead to even higher premiums.
“Tens of millions of middle class families will pay higher taxes under the GOP tax scam, and now Republicans want to force them to pay higher health premiums too,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “Republicans’ addiction to repealing the Affordable Care Act and raising Americans’ health costs makes a terrible tax bill downright deadly.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Republicans “now want to gut the Affordable Care Act in their tax bill! Middle-class families will pay more for health coverage while the top 1 percent get tax cuts.”
Republicans announced Tuesday they would add the mandate repeal to the tax plan, a move that would add $338 billion in federal revenue. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that much would be saved if the mandate were fully repealed, because fewer people would buy insurance, and the government would not have to subsidize as many people under Obamacare.
That number is seen as a rough estimate of the budgetary effects of the GOP plan to zero out the Obamacare mandate penalty.
Republicans plan to use the money to bolster tax savings for the middle class, said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. But Democrats argued ending the mandate would cost lower income earners more money by causing a health insurance rate increase.
“It seems the Republicans in Congress can't go to lunch without hatching a plot against American families,” Sen Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, which is marking up the tax bill.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the move would lead to 13 million fewer people enrolled in Obamacare.
“They’re so determined to provide tax giveaways to the rich that they’re willing to raise premiums on millions of middle-class Americans and kick 13 million people off their health care,” Schumer said of the GOP plan.