In an ad attacking New Mexico Senate candidate Rep. Martin Heinrich (D), the conservative group American Commitment calls the Affordable Care Act “a massive tax increase on the middle class” and absurdly claims the health care law “gives Washington bureaucrats control over our health care decisions.” The ad also alleges that Heinrich “refuses to stop another tax hike,” presumably on the basis of his support for ending wasteful tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.
Affordable Care Act Does Not Raise Taxes On Most Americans – And Includes Tax Credits For Millions
Affordable Care Act “Will Provide More Tax Relief Than Tax Burden” For Middle Class. According to the Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler: “The health law, if it works as the nonpartisan government analysts expect, will provide more tax relief than tax burden for middle-income Americans.” [WashingtonPost.com, 7/6/12]
FactCheck.org: “A Large Majority Of Americans Would Not See Any Direct Tax Increase From The Health Care Law.” According to FactCheck.org: “It’s certainly true that the health care law would raise taxes on some Americans, particularly those with higher incomes. The law includes a Medicare payroll tax of 0.9 percent on income over $200,000 for individuals or $250,000 for couples, and a 3.8 percent tax on investment income for those earning that much. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the biggest chunk of revenue — $210.2 billion — comes from those taxes. There are other taxes in the health care law — including an excise tax on the manufacturers of certain medical devices and on indoor tanning services. The health care law included $437.8 billion in tax revenue over 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation‘s calculations. Republicans tend to add in fees on individuals who don’t obtain health insurance (which the Supreme Court now agrees can be considered taxes) and businesses that don’t provide it to bump that up to about $500 billion. Some taxes, such as those on medical devices, may or may not be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, but a large majority of Americans would not see any direct tax increase from the health care law.” [FactCheck.org, 6/28/12]
- Individual Penalty Payments “Tiny” Compared To President Obama’s Previous Tax Cuts. According to FactCheck.org, the increased revenue from penalty payments by individuals who do not obtain health insurance represents “a tiny future increase compared with the tax cuts Obama has already delivered, including an estimated $120 billion in 2012 alone from the 2 percentage point cut in payroll taxes.” [FactCheck.org, 5/17/12]
Affordable Care Act Includes Tax Credits For Millions Of Americans. According to Families USA: “We found that an estimated 28.6 million Americans will be eligible for the tax credits in 2014, and that the total value of the tax credits that year will be $110.1 billion. The new tax credits will provide much-needed assistance to insured individuals and families who struggle harder each year to pay rising premiums, as well as to uninsured individuals and families who need help purchasing coverage that otherwise would be completely out of reach financially. Most of the families who will be eligible for the tax credits will be employed, many for small businesses, and will have incomes between two and four times poverty (between $44,100 and $88,200 for a family of four based on 2010 poverty guidelines).” [FamiliesUSA.org, September 2010]
Affordable Care Act Does Give “Washington Bureaucrats” Control Over Personal Health Care Decisions
The ad provides no citation for the claim that the Affordable Care Act “gives Washington bureaucrats control over our health care decisions.” Similar statements from conservatives typically refer to the law’s establishment of the Independent Payment Advisory Board.
ACA Establishes An Independent, Senate-Confirmed Board (IPAB) To Find Additional Savings. As explained by the Kaiser Family Foundation: “The 2010 health reform law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also referred to as the ACA) establishes a new Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) with authority to issue recommendations to reduce the growth in Medicare spending, and provides for the Board’s recommendations to be considered by Congress and implemented by the Administration on a fast-track basis. […]As authorized by the health reform law, IPAB is an independent board housed in the executive branch and composed of 15 full-time members appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. [Kaiser Family Foundation, April 2011]
IPAB Proposals Will Be Implemented Unless Congress Finds Alternative Savings Or Supermajority Overturns Them. According to the Washington Post: “Beginning with fiscal 2015, if Medicare is projected to grow too quickly, the IPAB will make binding recommendations to reduce spending. Those recommendations will be sent to Capitol Hill at the beginning of each year, and if Congress doesn’t like them, it must pass alternative cuts — of the same size — by August. A supermajority of the Senate can also vote to amend the IPAB [spending] recommendations. If Congress fails to act, the secretary of Health and Human Services is required to implement the cuts by default.” [Washington Post, 5/8/11]
IPAB Cannot “Ration” Care. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation: “The Board is prohibited from recommending changes that would reduce payments to certain providers before 2020, and is also prohibited from recommending changes in premiums, benefits, eligibility and taxes, or other changes that would result in rationing.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, April 2011]
PolitiFact: “The Board Has Nothing To Do With Individual Patients Or Their Health Care Decisions.” According to PolitiFact: “The letter of the law shows the board has nothing to do with individual patients or their health care decisions, but would suggest cost-savings proposals within a mandate that specifies it cannot ration care.” [PolitiFact.com, 2/29/12]
Rep. Heinrich Supports Middle-Class Tax Cuts, But Wants To End Costly Tax Breaks For The Rich
The ad provides no citation for the claim that Heinrich “refuses to stop another tax hike.” Presumably, the statement refers to the scheduled expiration of the Bush tax cuts at the end of the year.
Rep. Heinrich Has Supported Extension Of Bush Tax Cuts For Middle Class, Expiration Of “Budget- Busting Giveaway To Millionaires And Billionaires.” During the late 2010 debate over the expiring Bush tax cuts, Rep. Heinrich wrote a letter to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) which read in part: “In the coming weeks we have the opportunity to take a stand for the middle class – extending tax cuts for individuals who make less than $200,000 and families who make less than $250,000. Some are suggesting we pass another budget-busting giveaway to millionaires and billionaires. I cannot support such an unfair and fiscally irresponsible course of action.” In a statement on March 20, 2012, Rep. Heinrich said: “I’ll continue working to reduce the deficit but not on the backs of New Mexico seniors or the middle class. We must end the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, strengthen Medicare and Social Security, and accelerate our commitment to bring our troops home from Afghanistan.” [Heinrich Letter, 11/18/10; Heinrich Statement, 3/20/12]
- Over The Coming Decade, The Bush Tax Cuts Are The Primary Driver Of Federal Budget Deficits. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities prepared a chart showing the deficit impact of the Bush tax cuts (orange), the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the recession itself, and spending to rescue the economy:
[MAN 1:] Martin Heinrich says he always stands with New Mexico. [MAN 2:] But instead of focusing on creating jobs… [WOMAN 1:] … and cutting wasteful spending… [MAN 3:] …like we want him to… [WOMAN 2:] Heinrich voted for the president’s health care law, a massive tax increase on the middle class. [MAN 2:] That gives Washington bureaucrats control over our health care decisions. [MAN 1:] Now he refuses to stop another tax hike. [MAN 3:] That will cost us an average of $2,300 next year. I can’t afford that. [WOMAN 2:] That’s not where New Mexico stands. [MAN 3:] Heinrich to oppose more taxes on hardworking Americans. [American Commitment via YouTube.com, 7/6/12]