End the Gridlock

By Beacon Staff

The federal income tax credit for qualifying children under the age of 17 may be worth as much as $1,000. Credits help taxpayers reduce the amount of income taxes paid.

The tax code has plenty of credits like earned income, childcare, education, retirement savings and first-time homebuyer.

Integral in the Affordable Care Act are transferable tax credits to help pay for private health insurance. Starting next month, Montanans earning between one and four times the federal poverty level qualify for sizeable healthcare tax credits to purchase private insurance on the open marketplace.

Tax credits are as American as apple pie. Simpler taxes are not always cheaper taxes.

The 2009 Montana Legislature used the simpler taxes rhetoric and uncapped the amount of property tax that people living in their homes would have paid.

The 2013 Legislature used the simpler tax rhetoric and tried to average out income tax rate brackets by lowering tax rates for high earners and raising tax rates for low earners.

Simple or hard taxes matter, but less tax always matters more than simpler taxes.

Former President Bill Clinton called on Republicans to improve – not repeal – Obamacare. Fixing Obamacare is good news for voters looking for moderate leaders who can solve problems.

Rep. Steve Daines recently told a Missoula gathering his intent is to keep “defunding, delaying and repealing Obamacare, so that none of its provisions go into effect.”

Defunding Obamacare stops healthcare money for Montana Medicaid expansion for 70,000 locals. That’s $1 billion in healthcare not available to Montanans. The IRS ruled that for below poverty wage earners in states like Montana -who’s Legislature haven’t yet expanded Medicaid, there is no individual mandate’s fine or tax.

Delaying Obamacare indefinitely postpones next month’s sizeable and transferable federal income tax credits, which lower out-of-pocket costs to purchase private insurance on the open market.

Repealing Obamacare targets everything, including abolishing consumer protections like qualifying with preexisting conditions, retaining young adults on parental plans, free cancer screening, or laws that guarantee that women don’t pay more than men for insurance.

Republican U.S. House candidate and former state Sen. Corey Stapleton favored separate insurance rates for men and women. Last year Stapleton said in statewide newspapers, “The goons keep getting up and saying the same thing, and it’s all lies.”

Clinton called on Republicans to work toward solutions and help make healthcare laws better. Improvements like public-option, single-payer healthcare or expanded tax credits for businesses and people are clearly warranted.

The current GOP-controlled House appears to have little appetite or political ability to govern on complex issues like healthcare or immigration reform.

Food stamp, Farm Bill and general funding to keep the U.S. government open expire soon. The debt ceiling returned, and Middle East tensions again flared. But the House appears driven to defund Medicaid out of Obamacare, repeal tax credits for healthcare, and reinstate laws that charge women more for insurance than men.

In business, productivity is measured by output over cost. The 113th Congress is gridlocked with historically little output but big cost. Members may even have to work more than 125 days in session this year.

Montanans are moderate and routinely cooperate, collaborate, or compromise at the community level to work it out and get things done. Congress won’t work together and its single-digit job performance approval numbers reflect it.

Clinton, who worked grand compromises during his terms, said, “We all get paid to show up for work and we need all hands on deck here.”

The gridlock in Congress should end.

The state Legislature should forge a Montana-made solution to accept the $1 billion dollars of federal Medicaid money for local healthcare. Congress should improve healthcare laws that tend to the sick and fully fund food nutrition programs with a unified Farm Bill.