Corker criticizes investment tax cut in GOP health care bill

Sen. Bob Corker has drawn national media attention with criticism of the Senate Republican health care bill for cutting taxes on the wealthy while reducing benefits for the poor. But  the Tennessee Republican tells the Times Free Press that he thinks Republican leaders are agreeable to removing the $372 billion investment tax break.

“It’s been an issue for some time, and I just don’t think it’s sustainable to look at lowering taxes on the wealthy and at the same time placing a greater burden on low-income citizens that are on the exchange,” the former Chattanooga mayor said in an interview. “I feel it’s going to be resolved, and I think that will be a very good step forward.”

Both the House GOP-passed bill and the pending Senate measure would eliminate the current law’s 3.8 percent tax on net investments. But Corker wants to retain the tax to continue the subsidies for low-income people on the Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges.

…He said he has been raising the concerns with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas.

McConnell had hoped to push the bill through the upper chamber this week, but various provisions in his Better Care Reconciliation Act have raised concerns among some Senate GOP moderates and conservatives over various issues.

The Senate Republican bill addressed some issues better than the House measure, Corker said, “but it still doesn’t solve the problem low-income citizens across our state have. This bill, still places a bigger burden on them than they had before and a burden that they’re really not able to overcome.”

Corker said McConnell has been agreeable to addressing the issue.

Asked if his own support for the Senate BCRA measure is dependent on the investment tax provision remaining, Corker said, “I don’t want to put it that way. Because I know that leadership has heard me and know others have echoed when I’ve raised this issue the same concerns.”

UPDATE/NOTE: Excerpt from a Politico report on conservative groups attacking Republican senators over their position on the legislation:

“Bob Corker needs to find whatever shred of conservatism he has left in his soul,” Jason Pye, director of public policy and legislative affairs at FreedomWorks, said in an interview, singling out the Tennessee Republican, one of the senators who now favors keeping Obamacare’s tax on investments. “The past votes they took apparently don’t matter anymore. … They’ve spent seven years lying to conservatives.”

One Response to Corker criticizes investment tax cut in GOP health care bill

  • Michael Lottman says:

    If you read between the lines here (not everywhere), Corker is right. The latest Senate healthcare bill strips protections and benefits from low-income families and provides already well-off taxpayers with an undeserved and unneeded tax windfall of hundreds of billions of dollars. This is actually a pretty positive stand for him to take, even though stating the obvious. Presumably Corker can also see that the bill jeopardizes the 50-year-old regular Medicaid program which supports so many vital services for people who don’t qualify for anything else–along with gutting the expanded Medicaid program under current law, not that we ever had that anyway in Tennessee. (Corker has always avoided that issue.) Even Lamar! sees some flaws in the Senate bill, at least around the subsidy for marketplace consumers, and seems unlikely to support Trump’s latest brainstorm for cutting off “Obamacare” without anything to replace it. How’s that for solving a problem you don’t even understand? The thing with Lamar! is, you never know what he is going to do or whether he is going to wait for someone else to do it first. But there could be some hope that our senators understand how much harm the healthcare issue can do and are ready for some sort of compromise. Nor are they the only Republicans who may be ready to bail.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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