Just one month from now, Republicans will no longer hold the majority in the House. Whether the result of midterm history, the political climate, or a combination of factors, Republicans face two doors. One, stand pat on some important achievements such as tax reform, leave Washington as soon as possible, and get used to 2019. Two, continue passing meaningful legislation in the remainder of 2018, put down some new markers on behalf of taxpayers, and set the stage for progress in the next Congress.
Here is hoping they pick door number two. Behind it are opportunities to follow through on promises to curtail the harmful effects of ObamaCare, protect Americans from predatory tax collectors, and reform government in ways that incoming Democrats could very well support. Republicans can start by addressing unpopular and damaging ObamaCare taxes. Congress has already delayed the health insurance tax for 2017 and 2019, but if immediate action is not taken, the tax will come back in less than two years, hampering hardworking small business owners, seniors, and families. In 2020, the tax will total a whopping $16 billion, resulting in roughly $150 billion in higher taxes over the following decade.
The reintroduction of the tax will also cheat families out of their rightful savings created by tax reform under President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE. In 2020, families are expected to reap more than $2,000 in savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. However, if the health insurance tax takes effect then it will wipe out nearly a quarter of the tax cut, or $500 in savings for each family. It is imperative for this policy to remain out of play this cycle, as insurance companies will set their 2020 rates before the end of this year. If the tax is not delayed, its return will hit right before the 2020 election.
But the health insurance tax is not the only harmful fee set to hit the pockets of Americans. The flawed medical device tax is responsible for the loss of 22,000 jobs and has lowered innovative research spending by $34 million, making it dangerous for both the economy and the future of medical research. At the same time, the “branded prescription drug fee” that is essentially a $3 billion to $4 billion health excise tax may be responsible for part of the rise in drug prices and should be repealed.
This is a far better approach to the drug affordability issue than the misguided foreign price index the administration recently proposed. Repeal should also be on the agenda for the 40 percent tax on what the government calls “high cost” employer sponsored health plans. Dubbed the Cadillac tax, it too has been delayed but will come roaring back in 2022, punching tens of millions of families in their finances at a time when the 2017 tax reform law will be delivering some of its most significant benefits. The 10 percent sun tanning tax, which has burned thousands of small businesses across the nation, should be extinguished as well.
The historic regulatory reform efforts of the administration have saved American families and businesses more than $23 billion this year alone, and Congress should continue to build on these efforts. This includes giving states more flexibility to make their own decisions on health care, like implementing Medicaid block grants and allowing association health plans in state marketplaces. States will no longer be forced to operate under strict ObamaCare guidance and rules. Instead, they will be able to put forth solutions that expand choice and increase competition.
House Republicans can help to launch many other bills favoring taxpayers to the Senate and eventually to the president. The Online Sales Simplicity and Small Business Relief Act would shield Americans from the worst types of arbitrary and retroactive tax collection schemes on online purchases that have been unleashed from the Supreme Court decision in Wayfair. More ideas? The annual “no brainers list” published by the National Taxpayers Union provides no fewer than 10 bipartisan bills with enough momentum to get through the waning days of this Congress.
A standout is legislation that would introduce smart card technology to protect seniors from Medicare fraud. To be sure, this is an ambitious strategy for a Congress that could just as easily choose to run down the clock. But time waits for no one, especially for protecting taxpayers.
Pete Sepp is president of the National Taxpayers Union.