Most Americans, even conservative Americans whether or not they admit it, know that the big tax cut Christmas gift President Moron has promised will be delivered directly to the fat cats who support the GOP, while the gifts the GOP pretends to be giving most other Americans will metamorphose into gigantic lumps of coal either immediately or by 2027 when the crumbs tossed to the hoi polloi will vanish into the realm of Christmas past. The easy – and true – explanation is that the Republicans who preach fiscal responsibility were long ago purchased by the beneficiaries of a system that increases the growing inequality among Americans.
However, the extent to which some GOP pols are indulging in a little personal gift-giving on the side has been mostly ignored. As an article in The Intercept makes clear, some elected Republicans have used the tax cut baloney to enhance their or their families’ bottom lines – and one of the most notable examples is Missouri’s own always-on-the-take politician, Roy Blunt:
The tax plan before Congress, though sold as broad legislation to reduce rates and end favoritism in the tax code, contains targeted provisions designed to benefit special interest groups, many of which maintain close ties to senior Republican lawmakers.
Take the special tax cut for the alcohol industry hidden in the bill.
The tax cut legislation includes a provision that cuts taxes on beer, wine, and liquor produced or imported into the country, saving companies involved around $4.2 billion over 10 years. The provision mirrors language from the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, or S. 236, introduced by Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri and a member of the Senate GOP leadership team. (While the legislation does benefit craft, or small breweries, it extends the cuts to larger companies and the industry as a whole.)
Key GOP lawmakers maintain close ties to individuals connected to the booze industry.
Sen. Blunt’s son Andy Blunt is a registered lobbyist for MillerCoors, a brewing company that has worked to build support on Capitol Hill for the exact same targeted brewer tax cuts now included in the tax bill. …
For the record, Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain, whose wife’s fortune comes from Hensley Brewing and Sen. Ron Portman, who has close ties to a lobbying firm that represents the industry, are also implicated as per The Intercept. Might go a long way to explaining why McCain, who objected to the procedure used to concoct and attempt to force passage of the ill-fated Republican healthcare demolition effort, was far more obliging this time around. It seems that procedure can be damned as long as the sweeteners are liberally bestowed.
Meanwhile, back at the working folks’ ranch, the Community Oncology Alliance warned Congress that the tax cut bill will mandate a huge cut in Medicare spending:
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has warned that “pay-as-you-go” rules require a 4% sequester cut to Medicare to offset the deficit increases triggered in the current tax bill. This would double the ongoing 2% sequester cut to Medicare payments implemented when Congress was unable to solve the nation’s budget deficit in 2011.
Policymakers in Washington should note that blunt budget cutting gimmicks like the sequester cut backfire. They have terrible unintended consequences and do more harm than good for patients and taxpayers. According to the 2016 Community Oncology Practice Impact Report, in the five years since the last Medicare sequester went into effect, 91 cancer treatment clinics have closed and 130 independent community cancer practices, typically comprised of multiple treatment sites, have been forced to merge into hospitals.
Community oncology practices are where the majority of Americans with cancer are treated. Closing them creates problems with access to cancer care and consolidation into more expensive hospital systems, driving up costs for seniors with limited mobility and fixed incomes, as well as all taxpayers who fund Medicare. The actuarial firm Milliman found that the consolidation of independent community cancer practices with hospitals cost Medicare and taxpayers $2 billion in 2014 alone. In addition, Medicare beneficiaries responsible for the 20% copayment saw their bills rise by $500 million in that same year.
As a person suffering from chronic cancer, I owe my survival over the past few years to Medicare and my excellent Medicare supplement. Now, however, since the barbarians have stormed the gates of Washington and the looting has started, I can’t helping wondering how long it can last – which is another way of asking how long I can last. I also know that I’m not in the worst position among my fellow-suffers – who won’t have to worry about what is going to happen because there’s only one answer: treatment will definitely soon be put out of reach for them if this bill in finally enacted. It’ll be a grim December for lots of us.
But hey, we can be sure that it’ll be a jolly Christmas in the Blunt family home. Sen. Blunt will have contributed to a “major victory for hardworking Missourians,” by his own account. And he may not be entirely dishonest. Andy Blunt is a Missourian and I’m sure that it’s possible that he’s truly a hard-working lobbyist. And there are probably a few more like him.