Levin Floor Statement on H.R. 3590
WASHINGTON, DC – Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in opposition to H.R. 3590, a bill that would increase the deficit by nearly $33 billion and undermine the Affordable Care Act:
(Remarks as prepared)
“Mr. Speaker, let’s call this bill what it is: purely a political exercise by Republicans, and yet another one of their attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act.
“The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates H.R. 3590 would increase the deficit by nearly $33 billion over the next ten years, and this bill does not include any offsets to address this cost. This bill seems to be counterproductive for Republicans, who always claim to be so concerned about the deficit.
“Earlier this year, the President requested $1.9 billion to address the growing threat of the Zika virus in this country. Republicans ignored this request, disregarded our nation’s top public health officials, and instead combined lower funding levels with poison pill policy riders.
“Nearly 12,000 Americans – including nearly 1,400 pregnant women – have confirmed cases of Zika in this country, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated it is running out of resources to fight the virus.
“How can we afford to provide for an enormous tax cut like the one before us today, but we cannot afford to spend just 1/15th of that amount to protect Americans from a devastating disease impacting families and children?
“House Republicans are imposing a double-standard by adding to the deficit with these unpaid-for tax cuts, while at the same time insisting that critical investments to address public health emergencies like combating Zika, attacking the opioid epidemic, and investing in poisoned children in Flint, Michigan must be fully offset.
“Let me be clear about an issue Republicans seem to forget: The ACA was fully paid-for. And since the ACA passed six years ago, the Majority has failed to offer any meaningful alternative to the ACA to reduce the ranks of the uninsured and provide affordable coverage to American families.
“According to the JCT data, approximately two-thirds of the tax benefit from H.R. 3590 will accrue to taxpayers earning $100,000 or more over the next ten years.
“In 2013, only 6.1 percent of all returns claimed the medical expense deduction, and only 11 percent of seniors did so. We know that the higher a household’s income, the more likely it is to itemize deductions. So low-income seniors would receive little or no benefit from this bill since much of their income comes from Social Security.
“Everybody knows this bill is not going to become law. This morning, the White House issued its Statement of Administration Policy, noting, “The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 3590. It would repeal a provision of the Affordable Care Act that limits a regressive, poorly targeted tax break for health care spending. This repeal would disproportionately benefit high-income Americans, while increasing national health care spending.”
“It continues, “H.R. 3590 would be a step in the wrong direction because it would increase health care spending and increase the Federal deficit, while doing little to improve the affordability of health care for middle-class families. If the President were presented with H.R. 3590, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”
“This exercise isn’t really about helping people. If it was, we would not be raising the national debt by $33 billion to benefit mostly higher-income Americans.
“For all of these reasons, I oppose this bill.”