The Republican health care plan is a massive tax cut for the rich.

The Republican Health Care Plan Isn’t Good for Much, Except Cutting Rich Folks’ Taxes

The Republican Health Care Plan Isn’t Good for Much, Except Cutting Rich Folks’ Taxes

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
March 7 2017 4:42 PM

The Republican Health Care Plan Isn’t Good for Much, Except Cutting Rich Folks’ Taxes

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Tax cuts for some!

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Pretty much everybody, from the wonky left to the wonky right, seems to agree that the Obamacare replacement that House Republicans rolled out on Monday is utterly useless as a piece of health policy—a worst-of-all-possible-worlds mashup of ideas that would destabilize the insurance markets and leave millions without coverage.

But there’s one thing that this legislation does beautifully: It would cut the sweet living heck out of rich people's taxes.

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As part of their crusade to free Americans from the tyranny of a market-based, subsidized health care program, Republicans are planning to eliminate most of the levies that were used to pay for the Affordable Care Act and delay the Cadillac tax on expensive health plans until 2025. The total cost of their plan: $594 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation's estimates (collected here by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget).

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Nearly half of that expense would be due to the termination of just two taxes that primarily target upper-income households. Republicans would nix the 3.8 percent surtax on capital gains for high earners, at a cost of $158 billion over a decade. About 90 percent of that windfall would go to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, according to the Tax Policy Center. Meanwhile, the GOP would also kill off the 0.9 percent Medicare surtax, which only applies to couples making at least $250,000 a year. That's worth $117 billion.

So how are Republicans planning to pay for their rump of a health care law, you ask? The Congressional Budget Office hasn't scored the bills yet, but there's the Cadillac tax, for starters. Aside from that, it mostly looks like cuts to Medicaid carry the burden. Because as St. Paul once wrote, the only true way to be fiscally responsible is to yank health coverage from the poor. God bless.

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