The House of Representatives could vote on a bill next week that would expand ObamaCare’s premium tax credits to certain off-exchange health insurance plans. The bill is part of a modest package of health insurance reforms, including the expansion of health savings accounts (HSAs), recently advanced by the House Ways and Means Committee.
Currently, premium tax credits under ObamaCare are available to only consumers who purchase plans through a state health insurance exchange or the federal exchange. Plans are given metal tiers — bronze, silver, gold, and platinum — that designate the percentage of coverage under the plan. A silver plan, for example, covers 70 percent of costs while a platinum plan would cover 90 percent. The remaining amount would be paid by the consumer in the form of copayments and/or deductibles.
Certain individuals can purchase catastrophic plans through the exchanges. These plans are cheaper than bronze plans but cover less and have higher deductibles. Only people under the age of 30 or those who have a hardship exemption can purchase these plans. Under current law, premium tax credits can’t be used for these plans.
H.R. 6311 would expand the Affordable Care Act’s premium tax credits to catastrophic plans that are offered off of the exchanges and make them available to all consumers, including those who don’t purchase through the exchange. These plans, which are free of ObamaCare’s mandates, would be known as “copper” plans.
Now, allowing more consumers the ability to purchase catastrophic plans is a good idea. These plans make sense for people who have a low utilization of care and should be available to anyone who wants them. Democrats will complain, of course, that expanding these plans offer less coverage and undermine ObamaCare.
The concern with H.R. 6311 is that it expands ObamaCare’s premium tax credits to off-exchange plans. That’s a slippery slope. If this bill passes, especially under Republican control of the House, it will be used as a precedent for expanding premium tax credits for other off-exchange plans the next time Democrats are in power.
In 2016, roughly 22 million people were in the individual, or nongroup, health insurance market, which includes ObamaCare enrollees. About 12.7 million people selected plans through the ObamaCare exchanges that year, although enrollment declined noticeably in 2018. It’s worth noting that even though someone selected a plan doesn’t mean he or she enrolled. There’s also attrition — such as failure to pay premiums or being covered through a job — that would reduce actual enrollment numbers.
The Congressional Budget Office projects that the federal government will spend $624 billion between 2018 and 2028 on premium tax credits. If Democrats were to use H.R. 6311 as a precedent to expand premium tax credits, obviously, outlays for premium tax credits would rise.
Such a concern isn’t far-fetched. Although support for a completely government-run health insurance system is rising in the Democratic Party, it’s not a viable option in Congress. The so-called “public option” may have more support, but it too may struggle to get the votes necessary for passage. Expanding premium tax credits would be an easier sell for Democrats.
H.R. 6311 may be well-intentioned, but it’s a bad idea when ObamaCare is largely still the law of the land. Put simply, Republicans should not be looking to lay the groundwork for Democrats to increase government involvement in health insurance markets.
The 2018 midterm cycle is already shaping up to be a tough year for Republicans in the House, with many predicting a “blue wave” this fall and speculating that the GOP will lose its majority because of it. However, there is a simple fix for this: a change of party leadership. A choice is looming large in front of the GOP: Who will succeed Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as the top House Republican?
A national survey released in June commissioned by ForAmerica and conducted by McLaughlin and Associates shows a clear yearning for a new face in the GOP leadership -- a yearning which has no geographic or ideological bounds. According to the poll, voters residing in the East, West, Midwest, and South are all more likely to vote Republican if they know the next Speaker will not come from current GOP leadership (by 10, 6, 4, and 2 percent, respectively).
Even more significantly, the study reveals that the GOP would pick up +9 and +7 percentage points of “more likely” votes from self-identified Independents and self-identified Moderates, if voters knew that the next Speaker of the House would be from outside of current leadership. Individuals everywhere want to see that the promises being made to drain the swamp are followed through.
If Republicans want to protect their most vulnerable incumbents and even pick up seats in the House this year, they will look closely at these numbers and rally behind an outside-of-leadership candidate for the party’s top slot in the House. In choosing that candidate, Republicans should look no further than Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
Someone outside of the current leadership, Rep. Jordan, is a true conservative who, if chosen to succeed Ryan, would restore regular order and promote conservative policies. Additionally, though, knowledge of his impending speakership would entirely change the momentum for the 2018 midterm election cycle. Jordan stated, “Here's the thing Washington always misses. Washington always wants a deal. America wants a solution. Americans sent us here to solve problems.”
This attitude is reflective of the results of the study -- America is looking for someone who will fight through gridlock to get things done and promote conservative policies. Former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and current Speaker Ryan have failed to do both of these in their leadership roles. Rep. Jordan is the member who will work with conservative members of the House and with President Trump to keep these promises and would be a sensational candidate for the new Speaker of the House.
Supporting Rep. Jordan for Speaker of the House would not only bolster Republicans’ chances in the midterms, but would also bring a lot of great change to D.C. In recent years, we have seen the government grow stagnant. However a House with Speaker Jordan at the gavel would actually pass good laws, stand on principle, cut spending, and shrink the size of government. These are things that Republicans run their campaigns on year after year, but more often than not fail to follow through on.
As David Bozell of ForAmerica notes, “The list of broken promises from Congress is a mile long and growing. The manufactured “government shutdown” crisis has become so routine, it is now a yawner for many. They can’t seem to cut one red penny from anywhere or anything. They can’t pass a budget. Most of them still don’t read any bills.”
With Rep. Jordan at the helm, the Republican party would change this reality. It would make good on its promises. It would restore the integrity of the party as advocates for principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and individual liberty. Jordan has received many awards for staying true to his beliefs and has shown that he is able to make hard decisions when needed based on principle and the best interest of Americans. These are critical traits for the next leader of the GOP to have and to hold above the allure of political expediency.
Because of this, Rep. Jordan’s potential bid for Speaker has united conservatives across the country. A staggering 114 conservative leaders signed a letter calling on Jordan to run for the position, citing his “unwavering commitment to our constitutional liberties and conservative principles of free market economics, budgetary discipline, traditional values and a strong national defense.” The letter also cites a similar study of voters that reinforces the overwhelming desire of Americans to drain the swamp and see a fresh face revamp the way things work in Washington.
Rep. Jordan stands for lowering taxes, defending liberty, and fighting for freedom. He is a strong leader who will redeem the Republican party from its current leadership and remind people what democracy is truly about. On top of all of this, voters are more likely to vote for Republican candidates if they knew a leadership change was coming. Change will indeed come, if and when the GOP takes the common sense action to coalesce around Rep. Jordan and support him to run for Speaker of the House. Doing so will help their election chances, help Congress work again, and most importantly help the American people by restoring transparency and principles to GOP leadership.
WASHINGTON, D.C.- FreedomWorks opposes Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s (R- Fla.) bill that would impose a disastrous carbon tax upon the U.S. economy.
Adam Brandon, FreedomWorks President, commented:
“America is already leading the industrialized world in terms of reducing carbon emissions and is doing so in spite of government. While environmentalists and the Obama administration were busy doing everything they could to stifle it, the shale revolution made clean-burning natural gas abundant and affordable, dramatically reducing US carbon emissions. Free markets create wealth and technological progress, passively solving the world's problems while politicians are busy cooking up the next Solyndra.”
“Let's also not forget that the federal government is by far the largest polluter in the country. Can Americans expect a monthly check for their share of the government's carbon tax penalties under Rep. Curbelo's bill, and if so, who will the money be borrowed from?"
Jason Pye, FreedomWorks Vice President of Legislative Affairs, and Sarah Anderson, Policy Analyst, in The Washington Examiner:
"Competing visions for criminal justice reform may prevent the Senate from taking any action on one of President Trump’s domestic policy initiatives. The lack of movement isn’t out of any significant opposition to the effort. Instead, the gridlock comes from whether to include modest sentencing reforms backed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
"Politics are playing a role in the discussion. Democrats with their eyes on the party’s presidential nomination view criminal justice reform as a campaign issue. Selfishly killing the FIRST STEP Act for little more than political gain risks infecting criminal justice reform with the same toxicity that has plagued immigration reform proponents, not to mention that it also denies much-needed relief to communities, families, and individuals who have been severely affected by crime."
On behalf of FreedomWorks activists nationwide, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to vote YES on the resolution expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy, H.Con.Res. 119, introduced by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.).
Carbon taxes, like all government interventions in the economy, reward certain individuals and industries at the expense of everyone else. Independent studies into the potential impact of such a tax reveal that American families would have to pay higher electricity and fuel costs, and could lead to higher prices in other areas of the economy. This burden would be borne disproportionately by lower and middle income families, those who can least afford to do so.
The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) 2013 analysis states, “A carbon tax would increase the prices of fossil fuels in direct proportion to their carbon content. Higher fuel prices, in turn, would raise production costs and ultimately drive up prices for goods and services throughout the economy.”
Proponents of such a tax argue that it would be revenue neutral. This is incredibly unlikely. Perhaps in a vacuum, a carbon tax is revenue neutral. However, there are various other taxes that would have to be kept in place to make a carbon tax feasible. Some of these other taxes would have otherwise been phased out of law. In reality, a carbon tax would increase government revenue, and prevent the elimination of other harmful taxes on American families.
After all of the good accomplished for American businesses and consumers through tax cuts, it is important that Congress, in no uncertain terms, repudiates a carbon tax, and the effects it will have on the economy. Our elected leaders must keep their focus aimed squarely on reducing the economic burdens placed on American families by reducing unnecessary regulations and taxes, not by passing new ones.
FreedomWorks will count the vote on the resolution on our 2018 Congressional Scorecard. The scorecard is used to determine eligibility for the FreedomFighter Award, which recognizes Members of the House and Senate who consistently vote to support economic freedom and individual liberty.
On July 17th, the Environmental Protection Agency held a public hearing to discuss the EPA’s proposed rule change entitled: “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science”. The hearing featured the usual suspects in discussions of EPA reform: lawmakers, scientists, industry leaders, and activists. It remains to be seen what the impact of the hearing will be, but for now the discussion remains contentious on both sides. The debate over the EPA’s rule centers around what practices the EPA is allowed to use when developing new regulations. More specifically, the rule would change the EPA’s current practice of utilizing “secret science” to support more regulations on American businesses.
According to the Federal Register, the proposed regulation “provides that, for the science pivotal to its significant regulatory actions, EPA will ensure that the data and models underlying the science is publicly available in a manner sufficient for validation and analysis”. The EPA argues in favor of the proposed change, citing increased regulatory legitimacy and improved peer review as just two reasons for ensuring public access to relevant scientific data.
The policy change would not be an entirely unprecedented action on the part of the EPA. Susan Dudley, Director of George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center, outlines two initiatives under the Bush and Obama administrations that are strikingly similar to the EPA’s proposal. “In 2009, President Barack Obama issued a memorandum to agencies that encouraged “transparency in the preparation, identification, and use of scientific and technological information in policymaking” and affirmed that “scientific and technological information…should ordinarily be made available to the public.” The Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) 2002 information quality guidelines directed agencies to make publicly available any relevant peer-reviewed studies that provide support for or contradict estimated effects.”
Proponents argue the rule would ensure businesses and consumers have the opportunity to examine the veracity of scientific conclusions that could significantly impact their daily lives. On the other hand, opponents of the EPA’s proposal argue the rule is simply an attempt to delegitimize science used to justify environmental regulations for the purpose of supporting large businesses. Discussing the EPA’s rule proposal, the Natural Resources Defense Council released a letter from several scientists stating their position on the issue: “We are opposed to this proposal because it will hamstring the Agency’s use of scientific information, which can only harm EPA’s work quality and public credibility”.
From a free market perspective, one need not look any further than the arguments made on the left against the EPA’s proposal to understand why the new rule would be beneficial. In a 2015 article written in response to an unsuccessful Congressional effort to bring transparency to the EPA, Gretchen Goldman from the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote: “The Secret Science Reform Act is clearly not in the public interest. It’s intended to enable industry to challenge proposed rules with competing analyses, slow the process, and cast doubt”. While Goldman supposedly argues against the policy change for public interest reasons, her thinly veiled bias against American industry is clear.
What cannot be forgotten is the type of rule the EPA’s proposal would apply to: “science pivotal to its significant regulatory actions”. According to Goldman, industries should not even have the opportunity to use competing scientific analyses to combat rules that would have a significant regulatory burden attached to them. Goldman concludes her article, arguing, “We can’t afford to give corporations more ammunition to undermine these critical science-based laws”. Similar to the NRDC’s response, Goldman plays her hand when she references how the EPA would be restricted. To the American business owner, consumer, and voter, restricting the actions of unelected EPA bureaucrats does not sound like the beginning of a doomsday situation. The Heritage Foundation argues: “The EPA should no longer enjoy free rein to impose major regulations based on studies that are unavailable for public scrutiny”.
To the American voter, transparency in government is a necessary requirement to keeping the government accountable. Opponents of the EPA’s policy, such as Goldman, argue the transparency required by the new rule would end up excluding the use of studies containing private or confidential information. However, simply reading the text of the proposed rule answers such a question. “Nothing in the proposed rule compels the disclosure of any confidential or private information in a manner that violates applicable legal and ethical protections. Other federal agencies have developed tools and methods to de-identify private information for a variety of disciplines”. In other words, EPA officials have already recognized and addressed the possible issues surrounding the use of confidential information.
Addressing the privacy issues in a prima facie manner not only defangs the EPA’s detractors on the issue of confidentiality, but also encourages the honesty of opponents. Instead of pointing to privacy concerns, opponents are forced to be honest about what they want the EPA to look like: a federal agency with the power to create crippling business regulations without the oversight of the American public.
On behalf of FreedomWorks activists nationwide, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to vote in the manner prescribed for each amendment below to the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, H.R. 6147. As is always the case, FreedomWorks reserves the right to key vote any amendment brought to the floor for a vote.
NO - Amendment #25 (Division A): Sponsored by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), this amendment would strike the proposed repeal of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Waters of the United States Rule. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has blocked the rule from taking effect because it lacks clarity. As the Heritage Foundation has explained, “[T]o the government, an area can be a ‘water of the United States’ even if it cannot possibly be used for transportation, etc., because it is too small and, even more surprising, despite the fact that it is not always wet (and in some instances rarely is). Learning that a patch of dry land is ‘water of the United States’ simply because it can hold water at some point, however ephemerally, is jarring to most people, and properly so.”
YES - Amendment #138 (Division A): Sponsored by Reps. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.), this amendment would prohibit the use of funding for the enforcement of the EPA’s Methane Rule. The EPA estimates the annual cost of the Methane Rule at $520 million.
YES - Amendment #149 (Division A): Sponsored by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), this amendment would prohibit the EPA from using funds to give formal notification under, or prepare, propose, implement, administer, or enforce any rule or recommendation pursuant to, section 115 of the Clean Air Act dealing with international air pollution.
YES - Amendment #163 (Division A): Sponsored by Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), this amendment would ensure that no funds would be available to the Environmental Justice Small Grants made by the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ). These funds have been misused to fund projects that should be left to state and local leadership, and that are unrelated to the organization’s mission. If enacted, the Hice amendment will save taxpayers $70 million over the next ten years.
YES - Amendment #168 (Division A): Sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), this amendment would reduce discretionary budget authority by 1 percent in 2019 for the Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, and related agencies.
YES - Amendment #25 (Division B): Sponsored by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), this amendment would prohibit the use of funds to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) from being used to administer ObamaCare’s Multi-State Plan (MSP) Program. Section 1334 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that OPM contract at least two national health insurance plans, one of which is statutorily required to be contracted with a nonprofit entity. The MSP Program was included in ObamaCare when the so-called “public option” proved politically untenable. The MSP Program could be used as a vehicle for a public option.
YES - Amendment #69 (Division B): Sponsored by Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.), this amendment would prohibit the District of Columbia from using funds from being used to seize property to enforce the individual mandate. The Council of the District of Columbia recently passed legislation that would require residents to have qualified health insurance. If a resident fails to purchase such a health insurance plan, the new law allows the D.C. government to place a levy on his or her property, the property may be seized and sold.
FreedomWorks will count the votes on these amendments to the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, H.R. 6147, on our 2018 Congressional Scorecard and reserves the right to score other amendments. The scorecard is used to determine eligibility for the FreedomFighter Award, which recognizes Members of the House and Senate who consistently vote to support economic freedom and individual liberty.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - FreedomWorks is disappointed in Rep. Mike Coffman’s (R-Colo.) decision to join forces with the far-left on Title II regulation of the internet. A repeal of the Restoring internet Freedom Order will reinstate a harmful, heavy-handed regulatory framework for the internet that will stifle innovation and reduce consumer choice.
FreedomWorks Director of Policy, Patrick Hedger, commented:
“There is nothing conservative about this discharge petition that would pave the way to undoing the Restoring Internet Freedom Order. Far-left Democrats are pushing this measure to put a government stranglehold on the internet. The Congressional Review Act was passed with the intention of undoing harmful regulations, not putting them back in place.
“The only way to create regulatory certainty for businesses, investors, and consumers is to pass legislation. Leaving this issue in the hands of unelected bureaucrats for decades to come is not a viable solution-- Congress must reaffirm the light-touch regulatory framework that was established in 1996. It is disappointing to see someone who labels himself as a Republican sign on to this course of action. The Internet is too important to gamble away in the hopes of winning some votes from radical progressives.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. - FreedomWorks is proud to announce the FreedomFighter Award winners for 2017. The FreedomFighter award recognizes exceptional Members of Congress who have proven to be dedicated supporters of economic freedom and personal liberty.
Eligibility for the award is based on votes on FreedomWorks’ Congressional Scorecard. In 2017, FreedomWorks scored key votes for legislation across several issues areas, including resolutions of disapproval for onerous Obama-era regulations, amendments to appropriations bills that sought to eliminate wasteful spending, and a tax reform bill that has provided real tax relief for Americans and unleashed incredible economic growth.
FreedomWorks President, Adam Brandon, commented:
“The recipients of the FreedomFighter Award showed a commitment in 2017 to pro-growth economic policies and constitutionally limited government. We’re proud to recognize these senators and representatives. Our work is still cut out for us. Now that we have reduced some regulations and passed a historic tax reform bill, we must continue to pressure Congress to reduce spending to ensure that the prosperity we are seeing now is lasts into the future.”
FreedomWorks Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Jason Pye, commented:
“The winners of the 2017 FreedomFighter Award deserve applause. These members take tough votes, often going against the leadership of their own party, because they want to do what is right by taxpayers. But consistency is key. America is staring down massive budget deficits as a result of the fiscal profligacy of this Congress. We have to continue working to put our country on a sustainable path, repeal ObamaCare, promote free trade, and continue to rollback the regulatory state.”
2017 Freedom Fighter Award Recipients
House (31): Reps. Dave Brat (R-Va.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Luke Messer (R-Ind.), Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Andy Harris (R-Md.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Tom Garrett (R-Va.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), Gary Palmer (R-Ala.), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Todd Rokita (R-Ind.)
Senate (11): Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), John Kennedy (R-La.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)
Today, Tuesday, July 17, FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon and FreedomWorks Vice President of Legislative Affairs Jason Pye will present the awards in 441 Cannon House Office Building from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM, and 2456 Rayburn House Office Building from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In the wake of the Internal Revenue Service’s decision to eliminate the requirement for tax-exempt organizations to file personally-identifiable information about their donors, FreedomWorks President, Adam Brandon, commented:
“We applaud the Treasury Department for eliminating the requirement that nonprofit groups disclosure sensitive information to the IRS. This is a long overdue step to ensuring that Americans will not be targeted by their government for exercising their right to free speech. We call on Congress to codify this action into law to prevent a future administration from rolling this back.”