Morning Action: The Truth About Medicare

MEDICARE.  Some people are blaming the sequester for the decrease in cancer patients’ access to Medicare treatment.  Heritage untangles the spin:

But policymakers and taxpayers alike may want to take a closer look: Immediately ahead, for fiscal year 2013, the total effect of sequestration will be $3 billion. That is the same amount Obamacare is supposed to reduce Medicare spending this year.

But if Medicare patients can’t access vitally needed care because of $6 billion in total reduced Medicare payments, they’d better prepare for next year. That’s when Obamacare cuts an estimated $41 billion out of Medicare—in addition to the Medicare sequestration cuts of $9 billion that year.

The total effect of sequestration on Medicare benefit spending is $100 billion from 2013 to 2023. Those cuts pale in comparison to the $716 billion in Medicare payment reductions required by Obamacare over the same time period.

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Should Congress Raise Investment Taxes Again? No.

Will congressional Republicans cave on investment tax rates again like they did in the fiscal cliff deal?  That’s the million dollar question.  And the debate is quietly taking place right now in Congress.  But as Dr. Seuss once said: “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”  So should Congress raise taxes again?  No.

Raising investment taxes (again) as part of comprehensive tax reform is the wrong approach.  Not only does it result in double taxation, but it will also stymie growth and job creation, which won’t do anything to help low and middle income Americans. 

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In the wee hours on Saturday morning during vote-a-rama, the Senate voted on the Portman amendment #154 to the Senate Democrat Budget, and it was agreed to by a vote of 51-48.  The amendment would require the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to include macroeconomic feedback scoring of tax legislation.  As Congress considers a massive overhaul of the tax code, this is small, but significant victory.

According to Politico, “the vote was a symbolic victory for the think tanks and lawmakers on the right who have been fighting for years to force CBO and JCT to officially endorse the idea that people spend more and invest more when they owe the government less.”

It’s more than that though; it was a victory for taxpayers.

The premise of dynamic scoring is straightforward, as the Heritage Foundation’s Bill Beach explained in 2011 during testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee:

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Call It Like It Is: Internet Sales Tax

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) makes the case against the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act and suggests that it should be called the “Online Tax Collection Act.”

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Loan Guarantees = Waste, Waste, and More Waste

Like a small, recalcitrant child, you always have to keep a watchful eye on the federal government.  You never know what kind of crazy idea they’ve got in their back pocket.  In a fresh burst of overly enthusiastic stupidity, the U.S. Energy Department is currently reviewing nine applications for companies seeking $4.8 billion in clean-energy loan guarantees.

We ALL know how this story ends.  And it ain’t pretty.  But you know the federal government’s favorite motto:  If at first you don’t waste enough taxpayer money, waste, waste again! 

The last time the Department of Energy issued a loan or loan guarantee was September 2011, when its authority under a stimulus-financed program expired. 

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