This Friday, the Democratic Club will conduct an open forum discussion on hot topics like the GOP tax reform measures as well as the proposed ballot initiative to expand Medicaid in Idaho. The GOP led federal tax reform effort has the potential of significantly changing our tax policy and who benefits from it. The revisions threaten to increase our national debt to 14.7 trillion dollars. Is it worth it? In addition, while Republicans dicker over tax cuts, Idaho’s struggling working-class is excluded from the healthcare safety net. If you are a low wage worker, you make too much for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for assistance under Obamacare. There is something wrong with this picture. Attorney Bill Douglas and Club President Shem Hanks will moderate what is likely to be a lively conversation. Come join the discussion at the Iron Horse Bar and Grill.
Last week, the GOP led Senate passed a federal budget resolution for fiscal year 2018. The House will likely rush it to a vote with little or no revision. This could happen this week. This effort to quickly pass this legislation is important because their proposed tax reform strategy hinges on it. By tying their “reforms” to the budget, they can pass their tax cuts using a procedural vote known as reconciliation. This procedure allows the passing of legislation with a simple majority of 50 votes. If successful, their tax reform measures will become law whether Democrats support it or not. Ironically, Democrats used the same tactic in passing the Affordable Healthcare Act. Republicans, at the time, were livid that such a tactic had been used. So where is their outrage now?
Given their current political power, it is important for concerned citizens to remain vigilant and to hold the GOP accountable for any political tricks they employ to tilt the tax code further in favor of those who are already benefiting the most (i.e. the 1 Percent). It is also important to recall the negative impact to our economy and federal budget the last time the GOP used tax cuts to buy votes.
Health advocates in Idaho are taking steps to bypass the legislature and present a ballot initiative directly to the voters. The initiative is to expand Medicaid in Idaho. This measure, if successful, will narrow the gap of the uninsured by allowing more people to qualify for this assistance. Reclaim Idaho is heading up this initiative. As it stands, Reclaim Idaho has delivered their proposed initiative to the Secretary of State for vetting and approval. If approved, volunteers must collect 48,000 valid signatures from registered Idaho voters. To make matters more difficult, signature gatherers must also comply with Senate Bill 1108. Among other hurdles, SB 1108 stipulates that signatures be gathered from at least 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts. So how important is expanding Medicaid? Is it worth the effort? If so, what are you willing to do to make it a reality?