The Obamacare Repeal Is a Money-Grab for the Already Rich

Jan 25, 2017

Participants in the 32nd annual Kingdom Day Parade in Los Angeles on Jan. 16, 2017.
Photo: Ronen Tivony—Sipa USA/AP

By Rep. Raúl Grijalva,

Grijalva is a U.S. Representative for Arizona.

For six years now, Republicans have tied their political fortunes in Washington to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Despite the fact that millions of Americans would lose medical coverage—the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates 18 million people within a yearand despite the fact that it would throw our entire health insurance system into disarray, the GOP has focused like a laser on unraveling this achievement that is vital to the health of our nation. Now, as they inch closer to making their misguided goal a reality, we’re beginning to see the real motives behind the push for repeal—and they have nothing to do with the quality or cost of health care. This is about tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the poor, plain and simple.

The ACA relies in part on taxes paid by Americans earning over $200,000 per year to provide coverage to the most vulnerable among us. The law financed sweeping provisions like the expansion of Medicaid and tax subsidies for common expenses like insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles. The ACA covered these costs by expanding payroll taxes on high-income earners, and by creating a 3.8% tax on investment income. So for Republicans who are doggedly chasing repeal, this is less about the 20 million Americans who stand to lose coverage, and much more about their tried-and-true tactic of giving reckless tax cuts to the rich.

And as far as those tax cuts go, the richer you are, the better off you’ll be. The top 1% of earners would see an average tax cut of $33,000, according to the Tax Policy Center at the Brookings Institute; the top .1% would have an average windfall of $197,000; and the richest 400 households in America—families with incomes averaging $318 million a yearwill receive a $7 million tax cut, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, amounting to a 2% increase in their annual incomes. The tax cuts for those 400 families alone will create an annual revenue loss of $2.8 billion for the federal government. All told, repealing the ACA will provide the wealthiest among us with a tax cut totaling $346 billion over ten years, according to the CBO.

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Rep. Raul Grijalva is an Advisory Board member of Progressive Democrats of America