On Saturday, November 4th, the League of Women Voters of Prince George’s County graced Collington with its presence and that of newly elected junior U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen. He is a member of the powerful Appropriations and Budget Committees. Many of us found his presentation very impressive.
After an open meeting of the League, Senator Van Hollen addressed a crowded auditorium. The Senator first shared the good news.
A bipartisan Congress authorized the formation of a commission to commemorate the life and work of Maryland born Frederick Douglass on the bicentennial anniversary of his birth. Douglass was a runaway slave who became an orator, abolitionist, author and advisor to President Lincoln. You can go to http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/blog/bs-md-trump-douglass-20171102-story.html to learn more about Douglass and the commission.
Another good news story for many there, was, of course, the prevention of the complete demolition of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This would have included 1 trillion dollars in cuts to medicaid (2/3 of which would have affected seniors and people with disabilities). The Senator praised the effectiveness of the two single-spaced pages of advocacy and provider groups who opposed repeal of the ACA. National organizations like AARP also played a very significant role.
However, the Senator reported that our biggest challenge ahead is now the proposed tax bill which he vehemently opposes. The bill offers big, big tax breaks to big corporations, to the tune of 2 trillion dollars.
The means to pay is to increase the taxes on many middle-class families. One proposed change is to eliminate deductions for state and local taxes. This is basically double taxation. Corporations, of course, will continue to deduct these taxes. This bill also authorizes increasing the national debt to $1.5 trillion, something Republicans talk about being against. Therefore Senator Van Hollen believes that if this bill passes, the Republicans will implement severe cuts to important programs in health, education, housing, etc.
(Perhaps of even greater concern to Collingtonians —and indeed Collington and all life care communities — is the proposal to eliminate the medical expense deduction. Given the importance of that deduction in our personal budgets, and those of future residents of all lifecare communities, this is going to have a big impact — if it goes through. The Washington Post reported on this issue here. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/they-spent-years-planning-to-live-with-alzheimers-disease-the-gop-tax-bill-threatens-those-plans/2017/11/04/83ac1ffa-c098-11e7-8444-a0d4f04b89eb_story.html?utm_term=.d5130d1643b8.)
Van Hollen reported that Republicans will try to strong arm this bill through this week without hearings or amendments. What can we do since our Senators are already against this tactic? Well, Senator Van Hollen suggests we contact organizations with national chapters who can represent us and also reach out to people in other states and encourage them to contact their own legislators.
Not bad ideas at all, considering what is at stake.