Premiums for Affordable Care Act policies are set to rocket higher in many places in 2018. Many of the rates for next year won't be made public until November, but The New York Times found that Georgia has already approved increases of up to 57.5 percent, while the average rate in Florida will jump by about 45 percent and the average in New Mexico will climb by 30 percent. Minnesota, on the other hand, announced this week that a new state reinsurance program has helped stabilize rates and price changes for individual plans in the state will range from a decrease of 38 percent to an increase of 3 percent.
Confusion stemming from the White House and Congress, including uncertainty about whether the Trump administration will continue to make cost-sharing payments to insurers, is largely driving the increases. Keep in mind, though, that about 85 percent of people who buy insurance through Obamacare exchanges won’t feel the price hikes because their plans are subsidized — but the federal government will have to shell out more for those subsidies.
Passing a budget resolution for 2018 through the Senate will open a procedural door to a $1.5 trillion tax cut over 10 years. The resolution is expected to reach the Senate floor this week, although there are questions about whether Republicans have the 50 votes they need to pass it. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) said this weekend that she would vote for it and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is likely a “yes” as well, but Sen. Rand Paul (R-TN) is reportedly a likely “no” and John McCain (R-AZ) appears questionable. Now it looks like Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MI) won't be back in Washington this week to vote on the resolution due to health problems. The Hill says Cochran’s absence puts tax reform “on knife’s edge.”
Trump and the GOP still have work to do if they want to convince Americans that their tax plan won’t mostly help the rich. A CBS News Nation Tracker poll released Sunday finds that 58 percent say the tax reforms being discussed favor the wealthy, while 19 percent say it treats everyone equally and 18 percent say it favors the middle class.
The poll also found that 39 percent say that cutting the deficit should be a priority, even if it means taxes stay the same. About half as many people said cutting taxes should be prioritized even if the deficit rises.
The poll, conducted by YouGov, surveyed 2,371 U.S. adults between October 11 and 13. Its margin of error is 2.5 percent.
House tax writers (at least some of them) are worried that slashing the corporate tax rate found will push the deficit higher in a hurry – an analysis by the Tax Policy Center found that cutting the rate to the stated goal of 20 percent would cost $2 trillion over a decade. One way to soften the fiscal blow would be to phase in the reduction over three to five years. House Republicans say such an approach would reduce the size of the lost revenue by half.
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers isn't happy with the Republican tax plan, and it's not just because he has a different set of ideas as a Democrat. More fundamentally, he says Republicans are making false claims: “When you have -- and I hate to be in a position of using this word about our government -- when you have senior economic officials making claims that are made-up ... it’s very hard to have a dialogue, and compromise, and get to a good place.”
Summers is also worried about the effects of a tax cut for the rich during a time of considerable social turmoil: “There’s a lot of unhappiness and anger out there … It’s really hard to see why focusing a corporate tax cut on those at the very high-end is going to do much to assuage that anger.”