Obamacare – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – is simultaneously one of the most unpopular and popular pieces of legislation in recent history. This is, the idea of Obamacare is deeply unpopular with a portion of the American population; some because of genuine dislike for the individual mandate, some because of misinformation about what the law does, and some because the common nickname has the word “Obama” in it. However, most of its major provisions are highly popular, largely because people don’t realize those provisions are actually included in Obamacare. For example, Obamacare prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions, gives tax credits to small businesses to buy insurance, and allows dependents to stay on their parents’ coverage until age 26, among other benefits:
So if the actual provisions of Obamacare are so well-liked, and 20 million more people are insured because of it, then why have Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan and HHS Secretary-nominee Tom Price been so hell-bent on opposing and repealing it? Wouldn’t it hurt their own constituents, millions of whom approve of the actual substance of the law and rely on health insurance that Obamacare made possible? Yes, repealing the PPACA would most likely harm average Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike. But it all starts to make sense when we look at who stands to benefit from the repeal: perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the wealthiest 1% of Americans.
In a new article for the Washington Post, Matt O’Brien examines exactly how repealing Obamacare would impact the incomes of Americans from the poorest to the richest, factoring in tax credits and subsidies. The picture quickly becomes clear: the bottom 40% of households will suffer when their health insurance and/or tax credits are revoked, while the richest will benefit hugely from tax cuts. As O’Brien summarizes:
…undoing Obamacare would undo a lot of taxes at the top, and a lot of subsidies at the bottom. You can see that in the chart below from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. They crunched the numbers to figure out how much getting rid of Obamacare’s taxes and tax credits would help or hurt people at different rungs of the income ladder, and the results were about what you’d expect. The bottom 40 percent are a good deal worse off, the middle 55 percent are mostly unaffected, and the top 1 percent would do pretty, pretty well. In fact, they’d get an average tax cut of around $32,820.
Showing just how large the disparity really is between the impact of Obamacare repeal on different income levels, O’Brien continues:
It’s a reverse Robin Hood. It’s taking tax subsidies from the poor to give as tax cuts to the rich. The starkest way to think about that is that the bottom 60 percent would get negative 61.1 percent of the total benefits of getting rid of Obamacare, while the top 1 percent would get 117.5 percent. That’s right: the wealthiest would gain more than the country as a whole would, because the working class wouldn’t be gaining anything at all. They’d be losing tax credits, and the health insurance those bought them.
Although, as you can see below, it’s even more lopsided than it sounds. The 44.8 percent of the total benefits that the 99 to 99.9 percent would get makes them seem like plebes compared to the 72.7 percent that the top 0.1 percent would.
So far, Republicans have not offered a replacement plan that would offer the same level of availability and affordability, while retaining Obamacare’s most popular provisions, and without continuing to tax the wealthiest Americans to help pay for it. What they eventually decide to offer, and who it benefits most, will tell us much about Republicans’ real motives behind the push for Obamacare repeal.
Read Matt O’Brien’s complete Washington Post article here: Why do Republicans want to repeal Obamacare so much? Because it would be a big tax cut for the rich. – The Washington Post
Washington Post’s video on why Obamacare repeal will be difficult: //www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/abd2986c-a6c0-11e6-ba46-53db57f0e351
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