Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill tore into the GOP Senate tax plan during a conference call with reporters after sparring with a Republican colleague in a committee hearing Wednesday.
During the hearing, she sharply disagreed with Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah on whether Medicaid cuts are in the bill.
McCaskill later told reporters that Republicans are siphoning money from Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies and Medicaid in order to finance corporate tax cuts. “In order to make corporate tax cuts permanent, they take $364 billion out of Medicaid, and out of subsidies on the ACA exchanges,” said McCaskill.
The Republican Senate plan repeals the ACA mandate requiring people to buy insurance or pay a penalty. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects 13 million fewer people will have health care over the course of a decade if the mandate is done away with.
The drop in coverage would lead to a government savings of $338 billion because subsidies would also shrink. The revenue loss from unpaid penalties with the mandate’s repeal would total $43 billion over the same ten-year period.
Among other things, McCaskill is critical of how Republicans are handling their priority to lower corporate taxes. One of the biggest components of both the House and Senate measures is a 15% reduction in corporate taxes from 35%-to-20%.
Missouri’s Republican Senator Roy Blunt says the provision is vital to getting the U.S. on equal footing with the rest of the world. But McCaskill claims the GOP is leaving too many loopholes untouched.
“I had visions that they were actually going to remove the methods by which many corporations pay only 10% in taxes now. (But) what they’re doing is they’re leaving in all those goodies that minimize corporate taxes, and (they’re) lowering the corporate rate.”
McCaskill claims the failure to balance corporate tax cuts with a repeal of loopholes is contributing to a big deficit hole in the Republican plan. The House and Senate proposals would add between $1.5-and-$1.7 trillion to the deficit over 10 years.
Another feature in the tax plan of both Congressional chambers is a near doubling of the standard deduction. Since Missouri, by law, is required to match the federal deduction, the state stands to lose $900 million in tax collections.
Earlier Wednesday, Republican state Treasurer Eric Schmitt said any revenue loss would be offset by growth in the economy. Given that the state has a $9 billion general revenue budget, McCaskill found Schmitt’s claim far-fetched.
“Out of a $9 billion general revenue number, a one $1 billion growth?,” McCaskill said. “I’m trying to do the number in my head, but I’m pretty sure that is a growth level that is unrealistic.”
During her conference call, McCaskill wouldn’t say if she would vote for the GOP tax plan. She complained that Republicans were withholding the details of their proposal.
“I am sitting here today and still have not seen the text of the Republicans tax bill, and we’re in the middle of the finance mark-up of that tax bill,” McCaskill said. “It’s really, frankly, unbelievable. They clearly want to jam this on a party line vote, which is so disappointing.”
During an appearance on Fox News last Sunday, Missouri’s Republican Senator Blunt predicted a handful of the 10 Democratic Senators from states in which Donald Trump won the Presidential vote would embrace the Republican tax bill. He did not offer a thought on how McCaskill would vote. Trump won Missouri by 19 points.
Early polls show McCaskill and primary Republican challenger Josh Hawley, the state’s Attorney General, in a tight race in next year’s Senate race.