Calling her an “extreme politician,” American Crossroads suggests Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) voted to raise taxes on the middle-class, citing her support for health care reform. But the Affordable Care Act does not raise taxes on most Americans and actually reduces the overall burden on the middle class. The law also reduces future Medicare spending without cutting seniors’ current benefits. Meanwhile, the rising debt in recent years has been fueled by the recession and Bush policies, such as tax breaks for the wealthy that Baldwin opposed.
Health Care Law Does Not Raise Taxes On Most Americans – And Includes Tax Credits For Millions
The ad’s claim that Baldwin “voted to raise taxes” is accompanied by onscreen text that reads “VOTED FOR MIDDLE CLASS TAXES,” citing Vote #167 on March 21, 2010, in which the House approved the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act — a companion to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
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 Savings Do Not ‘Cut’ Medicare Benefits
PolitiFact: Affordable Care Act Does Not Cut Medicare’s Budget, It Attempts To Reduce Future Costs. According to PolitiFact, “Neither Obama nor his health care law literally cut a dollar amount from the Medicare program’s budget. Rather, the health care law instituted a number of changes to try to bring down future health care costs in the program.” [PolitiFact, 8/15/12]
Medicare Spending Reductions “Aimed At Insurance Companies And Hospitals, Not Beneficiaries.” According to PolitiFact: “What kind of spending reductions are we talking about? They were mainly aimed at insurance companies and hospitals, not beneficiaries. The law makes significant reductions to Medicare Advantage, a subset of Medicare plans run by private insurers. Medicare Advantage was started under President George W. Bush, and the idea was that competition among the private insurers would reduce costs. But in recent years the plans have actually cost more than traditional Medicare. So the health care law scales back the payments to private insurers. Hospitals, too, will be paid less if they have too many re-admissions, or if they fail to meet other new benchmarks for patient care. Obama and fellow Democrats say the intention is to protect beneficiaries’ coverage while forcing health care providers to become more efficient.” [PolitiFact, 8/15/12]
- CBO’s July Estimate Updates Medicare Cost Savings To $716 Billion. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, repeal would have the following effects on Medicare spending: “Spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013–2022 period. Federal spending for Medicaid and CHIP would increase by about $25 billion from repealing the noncoverage provisions of the ACA, and direct spending for other programs would decrease by about $30 billion, CBO estimates. Within Medicare, net increases in spending for the services covered by Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) would total $517 billion and $247 billion, respectively. Those increases would be partially offset by a $48 billion reduction in net spending for Part D.” [CBO.gov, 8/13/12]
GOP Plan Kept Most Of The Savings In The Affordable Care Act. According to the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler: “First of all, under the health care bill, Medicare spending continues to go up year after year. The health care bill tries to identify ways to save money, and so the $500 billion figure comes from the difference over 10 years between anticipated Medicare spending (what is known as ‘the baseline’) and the changes the law makes to reduce spending. […] The savings actually are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries. These spending reductions presumably would be a good thing, since virtually everyone agrees that Medicare spending is out of control. In the House Republican budget, lawmakers repealed the Obama health care law but retained all but $10 billion of the nearly $500 billion in Medicare savings, suggesting the actual policies enacted to achieve these spending reductions were not that objectionable to GOP lawmakers.” [WashingtonPost.com, 6/15/11, emphasis added]
Bush Policies And Recession Caused Debt To Skyrocket
Prior To President Obama’s Inauguration, President Bush Had Already Created A Projected $1.2 Trillion Deficit For Fiscal Year 2009. From the Washington Times: “The Congressional Budget Office announced a projected fiscal 2009 deficit of $1.2 trillion even if Congress doesn’t enact any new programs. […] About the only person who was silent on the deficit projection was Mr. Bush, who took office facing a surplus but who saw spending balloon and the country notch the highest deficits on record.” [Washington Times, 1/8/09]
NYT: President Bush’s Policy Changes Created Much More Debt Than President Obama’s. The New York Times published the following chart comparing the fiscal impact of policies enacted under the Bush and Obama administrations:
[New York Times, 7/24/11]
Recession Added Hundreds Of Billions In Deficits By Increasing Spending On Safety Net While Shrinking Tax Revenue. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) explains: “When unemployment rises and incomes stagnate in a recession, the federal budget responds automatically: tax collections shrink, and spending goes up for programs like unemployment insurance, Social Security, and Food Stamps.” According to CBPP: “The recession battered the budget, driving down tax revenues and swelling outlays for unemployment insurance, food stamps, and other safety-net programs. Using CBO’s August 2008 projections as a benchmark, we calculate that the changed economic outlook alone accounts for over $400 billion of the deficit each year in 2009 through 2011 and slightly smaller amounts in subsequent years. Those effects persist; even in 2018, the deterioration in the economy since the summer of 2008 will account for over $300 billion in added deficits, much of it in the form of additional debt-service costs.” [CBPP.org, 11/18/10; CBPP.org, 5/10/11, citations removed]
Over The Coming Decade, The Bush Tax Cuts Are The Primary Cause 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:
CBPP: Bush Tax Cuts And Wars Are Driving The Debt. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
The complementary chart, below, shows that the Bush-era tax cuts and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — including their associated interest costs — account for almost half of the projected public debt in 2019 (measured as a share of the economy) if we continue current policies.
[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 5/20/11]
- Rep. Baldwin Opposed The 2001 Bush Tax Cuts. Rep. Baldwin voted “nay” on the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. [H.R. 1836, Vote #149, 5/26/01]
- Rep. Baldwin Opposed The 2003 Bush Tax Cuts. Rep. Rep. Baldwin voted “nay” on the Jobs and Growth Reconciliation Tax Act of 2003. [H.R. 2, Vote #225, 5/23/03]
[TAMMY BALDWIN CLIP:] You’re damn right we’re making a difference.[NARRATOR:] But are extreme politicians like Tammy Baldwin really making a difference? So far, Tammy’s voted to raise taxes, to cut $700 billion from Medicare spending, for trillions in new debt, and Washington is more broken than ever. Tommy Thompson governs the Wisconsin way — bringing people together, leading on commonsense solutions like protecting Medicare. Tommy Thompson: the difference Wisconsin deserves. American Crossroads is responsible for the content of this advertising. [American Crossroads via YouTube, 10/30/12]