Obamacare repeal will hand a nauseating tax cut to the rich.

Obamacare Repeal Will Hand a Nauseating Tax Cut to the Rich

Obamacare Repeal Will Hand a Nauseating Tax Cut to the Rich

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 12 2017 4:47 PM

Obamacare Repeal Will Hand a Nauseating Tax Cut to the Rich

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Obamacare is a complicated law with lots of interlocking parts that make it tricky to understand. But one of the core, very simple things it did was raise taxes on the wealthy in order to fund subsidized health care for more Americans. Couples earning more than $250,000 saw a 0.9 percent increase in their top Medicare tax rate, as well as a new, 3.8 percent Mediare surtax on investment income.

If Republicans have their way and successfully repeal the Affordable Care Act, those two taxes will be toast—which will mean a substantial break for some of the country's wealthiest families. The liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that millionaires would see 80 percent of the benefits from those tax reductions. Based on the most recent IRS data, the think tank roughly projects that the 400 highest income households—which earned an average of more than $300 million each in 2014—would see a $2.8 billion annual tax cut, worth about $7 million on average per filer. To put that in some perspective, that's a smidge more than Obamacare is set to spend on insurance premium tax credits in the 20 smallest states and the District of Columbia.

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Republicans cutting benefits for the working class and poor in order to fund tax cuts for the wealthy is a dog bites man story if there ever was one. But by repealing Obamacare's sources of funding, the GOP is putting itself in a little bit of a bind. After all, any viable Republican replacement plan—should one actually ever come into existence, as promised—is going to presumably require some funding. Once Congress has dumped the Affordable Care Act's taxes into the dustbin of fiscal history, however, a lot of Republicans may be nervous about raising taxes to fund their own proposal. What happens at that point? Your guess is good as mine.

Jordan Weissmann is Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.