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GOP tax plan targets women, people with disabilities, and 13 million people who will lose health care

Wmc Features Protest Tax Bill Rj Sangosti The Denver Post Via Getty Images
Demonstrators protest against the GOP tax bill outside U.S. Senator Cory Gardner's Denver office. Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images.

The Republican tax plan, which will have devastating consequences for many Americans, got a step closer to becoming law on Tuesday afternoon when it passed through the Senate Budget Committee with the vote split along party lines. 

“The politicians who support this tax plan have made clear that they do not prioritize the health and well-being of their constituents, particularly women and other vulnerable populations,” said Amy Friedrich-Karnik, senior federal policy adviser at the Center for Reproductive Rights. 

The House version of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” which is estimated to cost $1.5 trillion over ten years, was passed in mid-November. Under the Senate version, 87 million middle and working class families would see their taxes increase by 2027, while the top 0.1 percent of earners would see an average tax cut of $208,060. It will also mean cuts in essential services to women, low-income families, and other vulnerable Americans.

“Women and families will be paying for these tax cuts for years,” said Amy K. Matsui, senior counsel and director of government relations for the National Women’s Law Center. “Women will see the everyday impacts of this bill in a number of different ways. The repeal of the individual mandate will cause millions of people to lose their health insurance, and the loss of health coverage will hurt lower-income households the hardest — and women raising families on their own are already overrepresented in the lowest income quintiles. People are used to being able to claim tax deductions for different kinds of work-related expenses, like moving expenses, the costs of uniforms or union dues, etc., and they will lose those deductions under the Senate bill. The paid leave tax credit will really not have the impact as advertised and won’t incentivize companies — especially since it would expire in two years. And the child tax credit increase would only give token help to the lowest income families. So millions of families will see their taxes increase.”

According to analysis by the National Women’s Law Center, the top 20 percent of households would receive 75 percent of the benefits of the tax reforms, while the tax plan would get rid of many of the benefits that moderate-income individuals and families rely on.

The plan would also repeal the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, resulting in the number of uninsured increasing by 13 million over ten years. “Low-income women and families already have to make difficult choices, but when they will lose programs and services, those choices will get even harder,” said Matsui. “Right now, it’s hard enough for working people to do things like take time off to see a doctor. The loss in health insurance coverage that will be caused by this bill could make people push off everything but the most urgent or serious medical needs, and wait until there is a crisis before going to see a doctor. And that impacts not only someone’s health, and their ability to go to work, but their family’s economic security.” 

The bill makes provisions for an “unborn child” to be a recipient of a 529 college savings plan, even though the current tax code already allows expectant parents to create the same plan and switch the beneficiary when their child is born, according to the Center for American Progress report Another Attack on the Right to Abortion — in a Tax Bill? “This would be the first time that the term ‘unborn child’ is used in the tax code,” said Friedrich-Karnik. “It is clear that this not an effort to address a real problem but rather an attempt to insert anti-abortion language into statute. It is all part of an overall attempt to undermine our constitutional rights and access to abortion care.”

“It is remarkable to insert ideological language in a bill that is supposed to be about helping families,” said Matsui. But, she continued, “it’s also remarkable that the Republicans are pushing forward with this bill considering how unpopular it is. It almost doesn’t seem to matter how much opposition there is, they just want a political win.”

The plan would also end the medical expense deduction, which allows people to deduct medical expenses that exceed ten percent of their income. This would have a particularly devastating impact on people with disabilities. Other harmful components of the tax plan include weakening or eliminating tax credits for pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs for “orphan” or rare medical conditions and cuts to Medicare, Meals on Wheels, and other vital programs.

“The disabled community, which I am part of, is disproportionately poor,” said Rebecca Cokley, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “We've been fighting for our rights all year, and this constitutes another battle and an assault against the disabled community. It's death by a million paper cuts. Women with disabilities will be disproportionately impacted; we are more likely to be disabled than men. If we have seen anything from the disabled community though, it’s that we never go down without a fight. The idea that my children, who are disabled, will have a lower quality of life than I did or their grandparents — that's not the American Dream.”

There has been public outrage over the proposed tax plan, with nationwide protests — including one that disrupted the Senate subcommittee hearing on the bill — and even the New York Times editorial board urging the Senate to reject the proposal. “I wish we could continue this drumbeat and not just at the 11th hour, not just when there is a bad bill, but all the time,” said Samantha Vargas Poppe, associate director of the Policy Analysis Center at UnidosUS, previously known as the National Council of La Raza. The GOP tax plan sends the message that “the needs of working families, communities of color, and women-led households are not as important as the richest Americans and the donor class. People should take this as a wake-up call and fight for a more just system. Under this tax plan, millions more people will have a harder time making ends meet, fall into poverty, and go hungry, and this will have an effect on the next generation as well.”

At press time, the Joint Committee on Taxation, the nonpartisan Congressional committee, was putting together its score on how much the GOP tax plan would add to the U.S. debt; it could be released by Wednesday night.

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