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Lafayette Students and Recent Graduates Speak Out Against Congressman Cassidy’s Votes to Increase College Costs

Cassidy Refuses to Support Sen. Landrieu’s “Passport to the Middle Class” Initiative

Recent graduate Ryan King speaks about Sen. Landrieu’s “Passport to the Middle Class” initiative. 

LAFAYETTE – Today, college students and recent graduates condemned Congressman Bill Cassidy’s votes to cut more than $100 billion in Pell Grants and increase interest rates on student loans by $54 billion.

“I want to know why Congressman Cassidy is so strongly opposed to the idea of increasing aid for college students,” said Ryan King, a recent University of Louisiana at Lafayette graduate. “It is absolutely outrageous and short-sighted for Congressman Cassidy to support policies that saddle college graduates like me with so much debt.”

Cassidy’s votes add to the pain for Louisiana students and families, who are already struggling because Gov. Bobby Jindal has slashed higher education funding by nearly $700 million – more than any other state in the nation. State college tuitions and associated expenses have climbed almost 40 percent in the last six years.“I know people who ruled out college or were unable to attend because of the high costs,” said Brittany Long, a current senior at UL Lafayette. “Senator Landrieu is working hard to make it easier for people like me and my peers to do well in college, without worrying so much about whether or not our families can afford another semester.”

Sen. Mary Landrieu’s “Passport to the Middle Class” initiative would increase the maximum Pell Grant award for students on college financial aid and allow students to refinance federal loans at a lower rate, benefiting nearly 600,000 Louisianians.“Congressman Cassidy’s votes are really scary for me and my family because tuition and other expenses at UL Lafayette have increased a lot in the last few years,” said Kris Harrison, a current freshman at UL Lafayette. “I don’t ever want to be in a position where I have to discontinue or take time off from school because I just can’t afford it.”

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Labor Leaders Stress Need To Increase Job Opportunities in Louisiana by Re-Electing Sen. Mary Landrieu

Congressman Bill Cassidy’s Policies Hurt Louisiana’s Working Families

Lake Charles, LA – Today labor leaders in Southwest Louisiana called on Congressman Bill Cassidy to stop working against the needs of working families and impeding economic mobility in Louisiana, including his votes against equal pay for women and increased aid for higher education, as well as his opposition to raising the minimum wage.

“Congressman Cassidy supports a budget that would lead to 40,000 jobs lost in Louisiana and raise taxes on our middle class, while giving tax breaks to multi-millionaires and billionaires,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Senator Landrieu has already been instrumental in spurring job creation and helping our small businesses flourish and grow. Congressman Cassidy might very well turn back the progress that she has fought so hard to advance for all of us.”

Sen. Landrieu has co-sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would prevent wage discrimination and has advocated for raising the minimum wage.

“Senator Landrieu has fought for billions in loans and grants to small businesses to make sure that they thrive – creating and maintaining jobs for thousands of Louisianians,” said Julie Cherry, secretary-treasurer of the Louisiana AFL-CIO. “We need to re-elect Senator Landrieu so our state economy can continue to grow, and we can rest assured that our future will be bright.”

Sen. Landrieu has acted to ensure that Louisiana students can afford a college education by introducing her “Passport to the Middle Class” initiative, which would increase federal Pell Grants to students and lower interest rates on student loans. She also believes Louisiana seniors shouldn’t have to suffer uncertainty after retirement and would protect Medicare and Social Security for generations to come.

“Congressman Cassidy has acted against Louisiana’s working people at every level,” said Jeff Sanders, financial secretary for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 861. “He’s voted to cut grants for college students and investments in our workforce. He’s opposed the raising of the minimum wage. And he’s voted over and over again to transform Medicare into a voucher system.”

Congressman Cassidy has previously said he believes that increasing financial aid would be too burdensome for institutions of higher education and has supported budgets that would raise the retirement age to 70 for Social Security and Medicare, while increasing the cost of care for Louisiana seniors.

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Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, speaks on Sen. Mary Landrieu’s job creation efforts.

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Equal Pay Advocates Call on Congressman Cassidy to Explain Votes Against Working Families

Louisiana Families Are Hurt by the Second-Largest Wage Gap in the Nation

Shreveport, LA – On Women’s Equality Day, Shreveport-area supporters of equal pay called for Congressman Bill Cassidy to stop voting against legislation that would address Louisiana’s status as second-worst in the nation for pay equity, including the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and Paycheck Fairness Act.

“Our state cannot thrive if half our population is struggling when it comes to getting a fair paycheck,” said state Rep. Kenny Cox of Natchitoches. “We must fight for equal pay for equal work. We simply cannot afford to continue down the path of unfair wages and gender discrimination and allow things to get worse, as in they have in the past year. But, unfortunately, because of Congressman Cassidy and others like him, paycheck fairness has not passed into law and is going nowhere in Congress.”

In the Senate, Sen. Landrieu has co-sponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that allows women to fight for equal pay for equal work and co-sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would prevent wage discrimination.

“We need Senator Landrieu in the Senate to continue fighting for working women and families,” said Debbie Hollis, president of the Shreveport-Bossier chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). “Congressman Cassidy either doesn’t want to fix the problem or he just doesn’t care.”

About 61 percent of Louisiana women are the sole or primary wage earners in their families.  The current wage gap leaves almost $16,000 a year on the table for these Louisianians.

“We are advocating for all women in the workforce to not just be included, but to be treated fairly as well,” said Dr. Eileen Velez, a member of the Caddo Parish Democratic Executive Committee. “When young people first get out of school and join the workforce, men are usually offered more money than women. This is not only unfair, but hurts the chance for women to receive equal pay later on in life.”

An American Association of University Women (AAUW) study showed that the gender pay gaps began early and exist amongst men and women just out of college.

 

Dr. Eileen Velez, state Rep. Kenny Cox and Debbie Hollis called for equal pay for equal work on Women's Equality Day in Shreveport.

Dr. Eileen Velez, state Rep. Kenny Cox and Debbie Hollis called for equal pay for equal work on Women’s Equality Day in Shreveport.

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Monroe Students and Educators Speak Out Against Congressman Cassidy’s Votes to Increase College Costs

Monroe – Today, students and educators at the Monroe Federation of Teachers and School Employees office sounded the alarm against Congressman Bill Cassidy’s votes to cut more than $100 billion in Pell Grants and increase interest rates on student loans by $54 billion.

“Congressman Bill Cassidy wants to make it harder for my family and me to pay for school,” said Julie Jackson, a student at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM). “I don’t ever want to be in a position where I have to discontinue or take time off from my studies because I just can’t afford it.”

Cassidy’s votes come on the heels of drastic cuts of almost $700 million in Louisiana’s higher education budget. State college tuitions and associated expenses have climbed almost 40 percent in the last six years.

“Congressman Cassidy has a choice. He can either back proposals that hurt our state and our students’ ability to get a good education or actually support the future prospects of Louisianians back home by supporting Senator Landrieu’s ‘Passport to the Middle Class,’” said Dr. Joshua Stockley, a professor at ULM. “It is absolutely outrageous and short-sighted when politicians like Bill Cassidy favor policies that saddle college students with immense debt.”

Sen. Mary Landrieu’s “Passport to the Middle Class” initiative would increase the maximum Pell Grant award for students on college financial aid and allow students to refinance federal loans at a lower rate, benefiting nearly 600,000 Louisianians.

“I worry that Congressman Cassidy’s policies would make it harder for kids in our state to afford higher education, at a time when a young person’s future earnings are directly related to educational attainment,” said Sandy Lollie, a retired teacher and president of the Monroe Federation of Teachers. “Our children deserve a lot better.”

Julie Jackson, student at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM)

Julie Jackson, a student at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM), calls on Congressman Bill Cassidy to support legislation that would make college more affordable for Louisiana students and their families.

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Louisiana Women Call on Congressman Cassidy to Explain Votes Against Equal Pay

Louisiana Families Face Second-Largest Wage Gap in the Nation

Westwego — Today working women gathered at the United Steelworkers hall to demand an explanation from Congressman Bill Cassidy on his votes against equal pay for women. While in Congress, Cassidy voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, despite Louisiana women earning only 67 cents to the dollar in comparison to men in the state and experiencing the second-worst wage gap in the nation.

“Senator Landrieu proudly supported equal pay and paycheck fairness in the Senate, because she understands that Louisiana families feel the effects of egregious wage disparities and wage discrimination,” said New Orleans Councilwoman Susan Guidry. “We cannot have Congressman Cassidy smile and ask us for our money and votes back home when he wants to make it harder to earn those same dollars in Washington.”

In the Senate, Sen. Landrieu co-sponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that enables women to fight for equal pay for equal work and co-sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would prevent wage discrimination.

“Congressman Cassidy’s votes against equal pay affect the whole standard of living in our state,” said Rosalind Cook, professor at Newcomb College Institute of Tulane University. “Equal pay isn’t just a women’s issue; it affects the whole family when breadwinners are getting shortchanged.”

About 61 percent of Louisiana women are the sole or primary wage earners in their families.

“As a working woman, I cannot support Bill Cassidy because he stands against my family’s best interests,” said Charlotte Anderson, coordinator of the USW Local 13-447 “Women of Steel” group. “Wage disparities start early on; imagine over a lifetime how much money is left on the table for us.”

An American Association of University Women (AAUW) study showed that the gender pay gaps began early and exist among men and women just out of college.

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Charlotte Anderson, coordinator of USW Local 13-447 “Women of Steel” group, speaks on importance of equal pay legislation, which Congressman Bill Cassidy has opposed.

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New Orleans Councilwoman Susan Guidry speaks in support of Sen. Mary Landrieu and her hard work on equal pay issues.

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Seniors Celebrate Medicare “Birthday” At Congressman Cassidy’s District Office by Highlighting His Votes to Dramatically Harm the Program

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Cassidy’s Support of Washington Agenda Hurts Louisiana Seniors

Baton Rouge – Today, a group of Baton Rouge seniors and Medicare supporters gathered outside the Baton Rouge office of Congressman Bill Cassidy to celebrate the 49th anniversary of the signing of Medicare into law and highlight Congressman Cassidy’s support to end Medicare as we know it. Congressman Cassidy has voted to transform Medicare into a voucher system, raise the Medicare eligibility age to 70, and increase costs for seniors by thousands of dollars per year.

“It’s time Congressman Cassidy stops playing politics with seniors’ lives,” said state Rep. Ted James. “Medicare is a promise that our country makes to our older Americans. They contribute a lifetime of hard work, and we take care of their health costs. But the congressman has voted to change it into a voucher system and end the program as we know it.”

Independent media outlets have said the plans Congressman Cassidy support would essentially end Medicare and increase costs for seniors.

“We are here to call on him to stop putting Washington’s priorities over those of our seniors here in Louisiana and stop taking such bad votes,” said Bruce Blaney, a Baton Rouge health care advocate. “Congressman Bill Cassidy would rather increase costs on older Americans and people who are sick, just to provide tax breaks to multi-millionaires and billionaires.”

Along with gutting Medicare, the Wall Street Journal has reported that the budgets Congressman Cassidy has supported also contain hefty tax cuts for only the wealthiest Americans.

Today, July 30, marks the 49th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the historic Medicare law that created the program. The group of seniors in Baton Rouge celebrated the “birthday” of Medicare by presenting Congressman Cassidy’s office with a birthday cake, balloons and Medicare birthday cards.

State Rep. Ted James speaks out against Cassidy's plan to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 70.

State Rep. Ted James speaks out against Cassidy’s plan to raise the Medicare eligibility age to 70.

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State Rep. Ted James with Baton Rouge seniors at Congressman Cassidy’s office on 49th anniversary of Medicare.

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Baton Rouge seniors sign a “birthday” card for Medicare, which marked its 49th anniversary on July 30.

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Veterans Call on Congressman Bill Cassidy to Drop the Hypocrisy and Stop Playing Politics With Their Care

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Cassidy Voted Against Veterans Funding in State Senate and Tried to Distract from Republican Obstruction

Lafayette – Today local veterans called on Congressman Bill Cassidy to support their fellow servicemen and women and recognize the importance of veterans’ facilities in the state, specifically calling out his vote as a state senator against millions in funding for veterans.

“I have seen men and women demonstrate incredible courage on the battlefield for this country and deserve the very best care and consideration when they get back home,” said GySgt. Richard Warren, USMC (Ret.). “I am calling on Bill Cassidy to support retired veterans like me, not just pay lip service to doing so because he wants to be senator.”

In 2007, then-state Sen. Cassidy voted against the state budget, which included millions for veterans’ programs. The budget received broad, bipartisan support, but Cassidy rejected the spending plan and its funding for vital services for veterans. The Louisiana Democratic Party organized today’s news conference to contrast Cassidy’s words with his disastrous actions against veterans.

“Congressman Cassidy has a history of playing politics on crucial legislation,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk. “He was only one of two state senate votes against funding these housing programs. We are here today to show him that the stakes are too high for petty games.”

Cassidy’s record on veterans’ issues drew scrutiny earlier this year when he attempted to shift blame away from his GOP colleagues in the Senate, who blocked comprehensive veterans legislation from coming up for a vote in February. Politifact ruled Cassidy’s claims as “False” on their Truth-O-Meter.

“It is outrageous that the Congressman would not only vote against proposals to help veterans, but then accuse other legislators of not helping veterans,” said state Rep. Jack Montoucet (D-Crowley). “Easing the transition to civilian life for veterans and military families just isn’t a partisan issue, and Congressman Cassidy should never make it one.”

“I am a passionate supporter of veterans’ causes,” said Carroll Baudoin, a Marine Corps veteran and activist in Lafayette. “Veterans need leaders in office who are committed, beyond just meetings and photo ops, but people who will actually put their money where their mouth is.”

Cassidy’s misleading claims extend beyond veterans’ issues. Yesterday his campaign launched a campaign ad that criticizes Sen. Mary Landrieu for Medicare savings that he has admitted to voting for himself.

State Rep. Jack Montoucet speaks on veterans' issues

State Rep. Jack Montoucet speaks on veterans’ issues

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Congressman Cassidy Stands Alone in Supporting Policies That Harm Seniors

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Rob Maness States His Support for Medicare and Social Security

BATON ROUGE, LA – Today, at an appearance at the Baton Rouge Press Club, U.S. Senate candidate Rob Maness outright rejected introducing cuts or raising the retirement ages for Social Security or Medicare, making Congressman Bill Cassidy the only candidate in the Senate race who supports ending guaranteed benefits for seniors.

Maness stated he “would never support cutting benefits to current recipients” and expressed his belief that “a retirement age of 70 is not workable.”

“Even Congressman Cassidy’s fellow Republican won’t go as far as to support policies that would hurt seniors and end Medicare as we know it,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party (LDP). “Congressman Cassidy stands alone as the only candidate in this race who wants to raise the Social Security and Medicare retirement ages and drastically increase costs for Louisiana seniors by ending the guaranteed benefits they have worked their lifetimes to receive. It’s unfair and just plain wrong.”

Maness spoke before the Baton Rouge Press Club as part of their regular Monday lunch meeting.

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Louisiana Democratic Party Advocates for Seniors’ Rights on Northshore

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COVINGTON — On Thursday, the Louisiana Democratic Party (LDP) held a news conference at the Covington Trailhead on protecting Social Security and Medicare in light of Congressman Bill Cassidy’s votes for drastic future cuts.

“We wanted to call attention to Congressman Bill Cassidy’s disturbing voting record of supporting cuts to Social Security and Medicare, hurting our seniors just to line the pockets of multi-millionaires and billionaires,” said LDP Executive Director Stephen Handwerk. “We are tired of our elected officials doing everything but representing the people of this state and won’t let them throw our seniors under the bus.”

“Seniors are the backbone of Covington and every great community, and they deserve the peace of mind that Social Security and Medicare provide, especially since they have paid into these programs their whole lives,” said Keith Villere, former mayor of Covington. “But Congressman Cassidy voted to raise the retirement age and drastically cut benefits, so it’s clear that he is not looking out for Louisiana seniors.”

“My fellow retired teachers and I cannot afford to have Congressman Cassidy in office. We are hurting too much,” said Della Perkins, a retired special education teacher in Orleans Parish. “After so many of us have endured the hardships of our state, I can’t believe that Congressman Cassidy wants to increase the burden so that he can make the rich richer.”

As a result of the negative impacts of Cassidy’s votes would have on Louisiana seniors, the Alliance for Retired Americans gave him a zero percent rating in their latest congressional legislative report.

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From left to right: St. Tammany Parish Councilman T.J. Smith, former Covington Mayor Keith Villere, LDP Executive Director Stephen Handwerk and Della Perkins

From left to right: St. Tammany Parish Councilman T.J. Smith, former Covington Mayor Keith Villere, LDP Executive Director Stephen Handwerk and Della Perkins

Despite Signing Pledge to Oppose Tax Increases, Congressman Bill Cassidy Has Supported Policies That Raise Taxes on Louisiana Families at Every Turn

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Cassidy Signed Americans for Tax Reform Pledge, But Continues to Back Policies That Increase Taxes on Middle-Class Louisianians

BATON ROUGE — Congressman Bill Cassidy’s signature on the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” in 2010 and again in 2014 is no protection for Louisiana’s middle-class families, who would bear the brunt of significant tax hikes under policies advocated by the congressman.

“Congressman Cassidy’s hypocritical signature on this pledge is just another example of how he’s misled Louisianians and will say anything to get elected,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “While the congressman claims he’s against raising taxes, the truth is he’s supported policies and pledges that would raise taxes for Louisiana’s middle-class families.”

Signers of the Americans for Tax Reform pledge promise to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses,” as well as “oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”

“Not only does Congressman Cassidy have a habit of supporting policies that would raise taxes on Louisiana families, but these policies stand in clear contradiction with the pledge he signed with the Americans for Tax Reform, showing he can’t be trusted,” said Handwerk.

Background

June 2013: Cassidy Signed Onto Ted Cruz’s Proposal To Replace The IRS With A Flat Tax, But Dodged The Question When Pressed

The Advocate: Cassidy Seems To Support A “Tear-It-Down-To-Build-It-Back-Up Approach” To Reforming The IRS. “So that begs the question of whether Cassidy supports a flat tax plan, like Cruz, or more fundamental IRS reforms. Cassidy seems to fall more under the tear-it-down-to-build-it-back-up approach. ‘If you strip them down and start over, you can strip out those portions which have pursued this political agenda and you can also strip it of its mandate to enforce Obamacare,’ Cassidy said in a sit-down interview.” [The Advocate, 6/9/13]

Cassidy Said His Support Of Abolishing The IRS Is “Not Predicated” On The Flat Tax And Would Make A Statement When He “Researched That More.” “Cassidy is more mum though on the flat tax issue though. ‘My statement is not predicated on that (flat tax) debate,’ Cassidy said. ‘I will make a statement on that when I’ve researched that more.’” [The Advocate, 6/9/13]

The Advocate Noted The “Awkward Aspect” Of The IRS Petition Being Funded By The Senate Conservatives Fund, Which Refused To Endorse Cassidy. In June 2013, The Advocate reported on Cassidy’s support of Senator Ted Cruz’s petition to abolish the IRS: “Then there’s the somewhat awkward aspect of Cruz’s petition being funded by the far-right Senate Conservatives Fund, which refuses to endorse Cassidy because the group does not consider him conservative enough. The group is considering backing retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness, of the New Orleans area, who also is planning to run against Landrieu.” [The Advocate, 6/9/13]

Ted Cruz Has Proposed Replacing The IRS With A Flat Tax

Ted Cruz Proposed A Flat Tax That Would Maintain Deductions For Charitable Contributions And A Home Mortgage. “We ought to abolish the IRS and instead move to a simple flat tax, where the average American can fill out our taxes on a postcard. Put down how much you earn. Put down a deduction for charitable contributions and home mortgage. And put down how much you owe.” [Washington Post,6/3/12]

Ezra Klein Noted That Cruz’s Flat Tax Would Still Require A Revenue Agency To Audit And Enforce. “And Cruz’s flat tax is actually a bit more complicated than most. It includes deductions for mortgages and charitable contributions. What if everyone says they gave a million dollars to charity and own a huge home? Who’s going to check all that out? Well, some well-meaning flat-tax collection agents, I guess.” [Washington Post, 6/3/12]

Tax Experts Generally Agree That Flat Taxes Are Far More Regressive Than The Current Tax System And A Transition Would Be Far From “Simple”

A Flat Tax Would Be “Much More Regressive” Than The Current System, Increasing The Burden On Lower And Middle Class While Lowering It On The Upper Class. “A flat tax would be much more regressive than the current income tax. For one thing, it’s unlikely to include the refundable tax credits (like the EITC and child credit) that augment the earnings of low earners. It’s not impossible to add refundable credits, but I’ve never seen them in a flat tax proposal. As a result, poor people will pay a larger share of their income than they do at present. Middle-income people will also pay more. Moreover, spending falls as a share of income as income rises. Low-income people spend all their income or more. High-income people spend only a tiny fraction. A VAT or flat tax inevitably exempts most of the income of high-income people from tax. If it is going to raise the same amount of revenue as the current system, it must raise somebody else’s taxes. That would be low- and middle-income people.” [Len Burman, Tax Policy Center, 10/24/11]

Bruce Bartlett: “Even If One Agreed With The Ultimate Goal Of… [Raising] Taxes For Most Americans While Massively Cutting Them For The Ultra-Wealthy, Getting From Here To There Is Practically Impossible.” Furthermore, even if one agreed with the ultimate goal of having a single-rate tax system on a consumption base that would raise taxes for most Americans while massively cutting them for the ultra-wealthy, getting from here to there is practically impossible. For example, homeowners would suffer a 15 percent reduction in the value of their homes from withdrawal of the mortgage interest deduction even if they themselves paid no more taxes in total than they do now.” [Bruce Bartlett, Fiscal Times, 4/19/13]

Bruce Bartlett: “The Simplicity Of The Flat Tax Was Purely Superficial; The Postcard Return Meant Little And Having A Single Tax Rate Contributes Little To Simplicity Because The Rate Structure Has Little To Do With Tax Complexity.”“In short, the simplicity of the flat tax was purely superficial; the postcard return meant little and having a single tax rate contributes little to simplicity because the rate structure has little to do with tax complexity, which mainly relates to the tax base. Even if it were allowed to operate as intended – a political impossibility – the transition from our current system to the flat tax would be massively complex.” [Bruce Bartlett, Fiscal Times, 4/19/13]

Studies Of 2012 Presidential Candidate Flat Tax Proposals Found That They Reduced Revenue And Redistributed Income Toward The Wealthy

A Nonpartisan Study Of A Flat Tax Proposal Introduced By Rick Perry During The 2012 Election Found It Would Cost Almost One Trillion In Lost Revenue By 2015. “Presidential candidate Rick Perry’s tax plan would cost $995 billion in foregone federal revenues in 2015, based on current law, according to an independent study released on Monday. The Perry plan would slash projected revenue by roughly 27 percent, said the Tax Policy Center, a non-partisan think tank run by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. The center’s study highlights how lucrative a 20 percent option flat tax would be for the wealthiest Americans.” [Reuters, 10/31/11]

A Tax Expert Said The Plan Was “Really Redistributing Income Greatly Toward The Top End.” “The after-tax income of the top 0.1 percent of taxpayers would go up 37 percent in 2015, under the plan, compared to current law, assuming the top-rate bracket will revert to 37.9 percent after 2012. But the after-tax income of the bottom 20 percent of taxpayers would rise by just 0.6 percent. The plan ‘is exactly what you would expect out of a tax like this,’ said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the center. He said, the plan is ‘really redistributing income greatly toward the top end.’” [Reuters, 10/31/11]

Value Added Tax Would Raise Prices, Increase Tax Evasion

The Value Added Tax Would Be Leveled On Top Of State Sales Taxes. “State Sales Taxes. Forty-six states levy a sales tax. A VAT at the federal level would be similar to state sales taxes. States would likely strongly resist any federal attempt to usurp their sales tax authority because they rely on sales tax revenue. A VAT at the federal level would likely force states to apply their sales taxes to a uniform set of goods and services. This would take from the states their ability to tailor their sales taxes to their desires and each state’s unique economy. States would also be forced to keep their rates within a narrow range. Because the VAT rate would likely begin relatively high, it would leave states little room to lower their sales tax rate to increase their competitiveness compared to other states. Further, a federal VAT would increase sales tax evasion, thus reducing state tax receipts, possibly significantly.” [Heritage Foundation, 12/21/10]

Heritage: “A VAT Would Undoubtedly Raise The Prices Of Everything That Consumers Buy.” “Some argue that a VAT would encourage saving because it would raise the prices of everything we buy. In this line of thinking, Americans would buy fewer goods and services and therefore save money that they formerly spent. A VAT would undoubtedly raise the prices of everything that consumers buy, but this would not increase the savings rate. The low savings rate is not the result of low prices, but of the current tax code that discourages savings by taxing returns of investment through taxes on capital gains, dividends, and interest. Adding a VAT would not change this. As long as the income tax continues to tax capital income and capital gains, the tax code will continue to discourage saving.” [Heritage Foundation,12/21/10]

Sen. Mary Landrieu Opposed A Value Added Tax In Congress

Sen. Mary Landrieu Voted To Express The Sense Of The Senate That A “Value Added Tax Is A Massive Tax Increase That Will Cripple Families On Fixed Income And Only Further Push Back America’s Economic Recovery.” [S. Amendment 3724, Vote #115, 4/15/10]

During The 2012 Election, Mitt Romney Proposed A Cap On Tax Deductions.

Tax Analysts Said That The Deduction Cap “Would Increase The Tax Burden On Many Middle-Class Taxpayers.” “The Romney campaign has characterized a limit on deductions as just one of the options Romney might pursue if he is elected. Tax analysts said it is difficult to evaluate the idea, since Romney has provided few details and has tossed out several dollar figures as a potential cap. But critics say such a cap could be problematic in two significant ways: It would increase the tax burden on many middle-class taxpayers and it would not make up for the roughly $5 trillion in federal revenue over 10 years that would be lost in Romney’s plan.” [Boston Globe, 10/4/12]

The American Enterprise Institute Estimated Any Charitable Deduction Cap Would Result In A Significant Decline In Charitable Giving. “Individual giving to charities would drop by more than 4 percent overall if the charitable deduction were capped at 28 percent for the nation’s highest earners, but secular giving would dip by more than 7 percent as a result. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) estimated the effects of capping the charitable deduction in a study released today, ‘Give til it hurts?: The Great Recession, tax policy, and the future of charity in America.’  The 4.35 percent dip in giving would equate to a decline of $9.4 billion in the first year, based on Giving USA’s estimate of $218 billion in individual giving in 2011. The top 1 percent of earners would reduce giving by 24 percent while taxpayers who itemize would reduce giving by 9.3 percent. Religious giving would see the smallest effect, a drop of 0.95 percent, but secular giving would dip by 7.02 percent.” [The NonProfit Times, 12/3/13]

The United Way Strongly Opposes Any Charitable Deduction Cap. “First, as the tax reform debate unfolds during the next two years, we want to ensure that revenue proposals do not inadvertently harm the people at the bottom of the income spectrum: the families and individuals who rely most on services provided by charities. We recognize that our nation continues to face daunting challenges, including an obvious need to reduce the deficit. However, new limitations on the deductibility of charitable donations are effectively a tax on charities and would lead to a significant reduction in services to the poor. Conversely, the additional revenue to the government would be insignificant compared to the impact on reducing the deficit. I urge you to refrain from limiting charitable giving incentives contained in the tax code as a source of revenue for deficit reduction, at the expense of the poor who need our help the most right now.” [United Way, 1/4/11]

Higher Education Groups Said They Were “Deeply Concerned” By A Charitable Contribution Cap And Said They Might Have To Raise Tuition. “Colleges have particular reason for concern. Compared to charities such as religious or social service organizations, education gets a hugely disproportionate share of contributions from the well-off. It’s wealthier taxpayers who itemize and benefit most from deductions — the higher your marginal tax rate, the bigger the ‘discount’ you get on your taxes for giving to charity. So incentives for the wealthy to donate less could particularly affect education. ‘We’re deeply concerned they’ll do something very quickly before the end of the year that they don’t really understand the consequences for giving,’ said Steven Bloom, director of federal relations at the American Council on Education, which has written to the White House and Congressional leaders on behalf of 16 higher education groups opposing caps. If colleges raise less from private donations, they might have to raise more from tuition, he said.” [Associated Press, 12/3/12]

The American Benefits Council Found Capping Health Plan Tax Exclusion Would Erode Retiree Health Coverage. “Retiree health coverage has decreased in recent years, but many retirees (and their surviving spouses) still receive health coverage through former employers. For example, in 2011, over 37% of large employers offered health coverage to pre-65 retirees (EBRI 2012). The coverage provided by those former employers is excluded from taxable income for the retiree. Because retirees are older and use more health care services than an average employee, the retiree group would be much more likely to incur higher taxes under any cap on the health plan exclusion. If, on the other hand, the employer combined the more expensive retiree group with its active work force in valuing the health plan benefits, then the active workers might experience a larger tax increase because the retirees were covered. Either way, the employer’s incentive to continue to maintain retiree health coverage of any kind would be reduced. And this is just one example of the complexity and potential unintended consequences that come with any proposal to cap the health plan exclusion.” [American Benefits Council, 4/17/14]

The American Benefits Council Found Capping Health Plan Tax Exclusion Would Result In “Substantial Middle-Class Tax Increase.” “Employees in more expensive health plans are not necessarily richer. A recent analysis of a proposal to cap the health plan exclusion at the 75th percentile of 2013 average health plan costs found that the taxpayers that would experience a tax increase were spread across all income levels (Clemans-Cope, Zuckerman, Resnick, 2013). Overall, 20% of taxpayers would see an average estimated tax increase of $633 in 2013 and $1,133 in 2023. Affected taxpayers in the middle income   quintile (those with 2012 income between $48,516 and $78,595) would see an average   tax increase of $914 in 2023.” [American Benefits Council, 4/17/14]

The Congressional Budget Office Studied A Proposal To Cap Health Care Tax Deductions And Found It Would Raise $500 Billion In Taxes And  Would Result In 6 Million Fewer People Insured By Their Employers By 2019. “The second alternative would eliminate the excise tax and instead impose a limit on the extent to which employer-paid health insurance premiums and contributions to FSAs, HRAs, and HSAs could be excluded from income and payroll taxation. Specifically, starting in 2015, any contributions that employers or workers made for health insurance and for health care costs (through FSAs, HRAs, and HSAs) that together exceeded $6,420 a year for individual coverage and $15,620 for family coverage would be included in employees’ taxable income for both income and payroll taxes. Those limits, which are based on the estimated 50th percentile for health insurance premiums paid by or through employers in 2015, would be indexed in subsequent years for inflation using the CPI-U. The same limits would apply to the deduction for health insurance available to self-employed people. Capping the tax exclusions at lower thresholds than the ones scheduled to take effect for the excise tax would reduce federal tax subsidies. For example, in 2019, the caps for individual and family coverage under that alternative would be $7,000 and $17,000, respectively, whereas the current-law thresholds for the excise tax would be $10,550 and $28,400, respectively, in that year. That alternative would decrease federal deficits by $537 billion between 2015 and 2023, JCT and CBO estimate. The reduction in the tax subsidy for employment-based health insurance would cause about 6 million fewer people to have employment-based coverage in 2019 than under current law. In that year, about 4 million more people would buy coverage through the exchanges, about half a million more people would enroll in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and an additional one and a half million people would be uninsured.” [CBO, 11/13/13]

April 2014: Congressman Cassidy Signed The Americans For Tax Reform Pledge. [ATR, accessed 7/2/14]

·         Congressman Cassidy Also Signed The Americans For Tax Reform Pledge In 2010. [ATR Pledge, ontheissues.org, accessed 7/2/14]

The ATR Pledge Commits The Official To Oppose “Any Effort To Raise The Federal Income Tax On Individuals Or Employers.” “Elected officials who have taken the Pledge to taxpayers commit to oppose and vote against any effort to raise the federal income tax on individuals or employers. The pledge does not stand in the way of any tax decreases or revenue neutral changes to the income tax.” [ATR, accessed 7/2/14]

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VIDEO: Congressman Bill Cassidy’s Plan to Cap Charitable Deductions Would Mean Tax Hikes for Louisiana’s Middle-Class Families

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Cassidy Continues to Fumble on Tax Policy

BATON ROUGE — Congressman Bill Cassidy is still fumbling on tax policy, and at a January 2014 town hall in Walker, La., he suggested capping popular deductions that middle-class families claim, including for charitable contributions, home mortgage interest and college tuition, which would mean a tax hike on many Louisiana families.

“Congressman Cassidy’s suggestion to cap popular tax deductions is just another example of how he wants to raise taxes on Louisiana’s middle-class families,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “His idea of ‘tax reform’ is not only wrong for Louisiana, but it will ultimately increase the cost of health care, a college education and home ownership.”

If Congressman Cassidy’s plan to cap deductions were enacted, higher education groups believe it would stifle giving and result in higher tuition rates for students. In addition, the cost of homeownership would rise if the home mortgage interest deduction were capped. Groups like the United Way oppose capping the charitable contribution deduction because of its potential negative impact on their fundraising efforts.

Cassidy’s proposals to raise taxes on middle-class families have also included a European-style Value Added Tax (VAT), which he backed at a 2010 town hall. A VAT would increase the prices of items that Louisianians purchase every day, like milk and butter. If implemented here, a VAT would be levied on top of any state or local sales taxes that Louisianians already pay. Louisiana’s average combined sales tax rate of 8.89 percent ranks third-worst in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation.

Additionally, last year Congressman Cassidy signed on to a pledge that would abolish the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and implement a flat tax, eventually raising taxes on middle-class Louisianians.

“Congressman Cassidy has shown when it comes to tax policy, he is willing to recite any talking point his party elders hand him,” said Handwerk. “The congressman would be wise to do some research, so he could learn how much his proposals would raise taxes on Louisiana’s middle-class families.”

Background

During The 2012 Election, Mitt Romney Proposed A Similar Cap On Deductions. “Pressed during Wednesday’s presidential debate to explain how he would pay for the huge income tax cut he has proposed, Mitt Romney said he would consider a cap on the amount of charitable donations, home mortgage interest, state and local tax payments, and other expenses taxpayers can claim on their returns. ‘Make up a number, $25,000, $50,000. Anybody can have deductions up to that amount,’ he said.” [Boston Globe, 10/4/12]

Tax Analysts Said That The Deduction Cap “Would Increase The Tax Burden On Many Middle-Class Taxpayers.” “The Romney campaign has characterized a limit on deductions as just one of the options Romney might pursue if he is elected. Tax analysts said it is difficult to evaluate the idea, since Romney has provided few details and has tossed out several dollar figures as a potential cap. But critics say such a cap could be problematic in two significant ways: It would increase the tax burden on many middle-class taxpayers and it would not make up for the roughly $5 trillion in federal revenue over 10 years that would be lost in Romney’s plan.” [Boston Globe, 10/4/12]

The American Enterprise Institute Estimated Any Charitable Deduction Cap Would Result In A Significant Decline In Charitable Giving. “Individual giving to charities would drop by more than 4 percent overall if the charitable deduction were capped at 28 percent for the nation’s highest earners, but secular giving would dip by more than 7 percent as a result. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) estimated the effects of capping the charitable deduction in a study released today, ‘Give til it hurts?: The Great Recession, tax policy, and the future of charity in America.’  The 4.35 percent dip in giving would equate to a decline of $9.4 billion in the first year, based on Giving USA’s estimate of $218 billion in individual giving in 2011. The top 1 percent of earners would reduce giving by 24 percent while taxpayers who itemize would reduce giving by 9.3 percent. Religious giving would see the smallest effect, a drop of 0.95 percent, but secular giving would dip by 7.02 percent.” [The NonProfit Times, 12/3/13]

The United Way Strongly Opposes Any Charitable Deduction Cap. “First, as the tax reform debate unfolds during the next two years, we want to ensure that revenue proposals do not inadvertently harm the people at the bottom of the income spectrum: the families and individuals who rely most on services provided by charities. We recognize that our nation continues to face daunting challenges, including an obvious need to reduce the deficit. However, new limitations on the deductibility of charitable donations are effectively a tax on charities and would lead to a significant reduction in services to the poor. Conversely, the additional revenue to the government would be insignificant compared to the impact on reducing the deficit. I urge you to refrain from limiting charitable giving incentives contained in the tax code as a source of revenue for deficit reduction, at the expense of the poor who need our help the most right now.” [United Way, 1/4/11]

Higher Education Groups Said They Were “Deeply Concerned” By A Charitable Contribution Cap And Said They Might Have To Raise Tuition. “Colleges have particular reason for concern. Compared to charities such as religious or social service organizations, education gets a hugely disproportionate share of contributions from the well-off. It’s wealthier taxpayers who itemize and benefit most from deductions — the higher your marginal tax rate, the bigger the ‘discount’ you get on your taxes for giving to charity. So incentives for the wealthy to donate less could particularly affect education. ‘We’re deeply concerned they’ll do something very quickly before the end of the year that they don’t really understand the consequences for giving,’ said Steven Bloom, director of federal relations at the American Council on Education, which has written to the White House and Congressional leaders on behalf of 16 higher education groups opposing caps. If colleges raise less from private donations, they might have to raise more from tuition, he said.” [Associated Press, 12/3/12]

The American Benefits Council Found Capping Health Plan Tax Exclusion Would Erode Retiree Health Coverage. “Retiree health coverage has decreased in recent years, but many retirees (and their surviving spouses) still receive health coverage through former employers. For example, in 2011, over 37% of large employers offered health coverage to pre-65 retirees (EBRI 2012). The coverage provided by those former employers is excluded from taxable income for the retiree. Because retirees are older and use more health care services than an average employee, the retiree group would be much more likely to incur higher taxes under any cap on the health plan exclusion. If, on the other hand, the employer combined the more expensive retiree group with its active work force in valuing the health plan benefits, then the active workers might experience a larger tax increase because the retirees were covered. Either way, the employer’s incentive to continue to maintain retiree health coverage of any kind would be reduced. And this is just one example of the complexity and potential unintended consequences that come with any proposal to cap the health plan exclusion.” [American Benefits Council, 4/17/14]

The American Benefits Council Found Capping Health Plan Tax Exclusion Would Result In “Substantial Middle-Class Tax Increase.” “Employees in more expensive health plans are not necessarily richer. A recent analysis of a proposal to cap the health plan exclusion at the 75th percentile of 2013 average health plan costs found that the taxpayers that would experience a tax increase were spread across all income levels (Clemans-Cope, Zuckerman, Resnick, 2013). Overall, 20% of taxpayers would see an average estimated tax increase of $633 in 2013 and $1,133 in 2023. Affected taxpayers in the middle income   quintile (those with 2012 income between $48,516 and $78,595) would see an average   tax increase of $914 in 2023.” [American Benefits Council, 4/17/14]

The Congressional Budget Office Studied A Proposal To Cap Health Care Tax Deductions And Found It Would Raise $500 Billion In Taxes And  Would Result In 6 Million Fewer People Insured By Their Employers By 2019. “The second alternative would eliminate the excise tax and instead impose a limit on the extent to which employer-paid health insurance premiums and contributions to FSAs, HRAs, and HSAs could be excluded from income and payroll taxation. Specifically, starting in 2015, any contributions that employers or workers made for health insurance and for health care costs (through FSAs, HRAs, and HSAs) that together exceeded $6,420 a year for individual coverage and $15,620 for family coverage would be included in employees’ taxable income for both income and payroll taxes. Those limits, which are based on the estimated 50th percentile for health insurance premiums paid by or through employers in 2015, would be indexed in subsequent years for inflation using the CPI-U. The same limits would apply to the deduction for health insurance available to self-employed people. Capping the tax exclusions at lower thresholds than the ones scheduled to take effect for the excise tax would reduce federal tax subsidies. For example, in 2019, the caps for individual and family coverage under that alternative would be $7,000 and $17,000, respectively, whereas the current-law thresholds for the excise tax would be $10,550 and $28,400, respectively, in that year. That alternative would decrease federal deficits by $537 billion between 2015 and 2023, JCT and CBO estimate. The reduction in the tax subsidy for employment-based health insurance would cause about 6 million fewer people to have employment-based coverage in 2019 than under current law. In that year, about 4 million more people would buy coverage through the exchanges, about half a million more people would enroll in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and an additional one and a half million people would be uninsured.” [CBO, 11/13/13]

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VIDEO: Congressman Cassidy Gambles Again on What Kind of Tax System Is Best for Louisiana

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Cassidy Takes Another Shot in the Dark and Lands on VAT Proposal That Would Raise Taxes on Everyday Items for Louisianians

BATON ROUGE — Congressman Bill Cassidy has to date refused to answer definitively whether he backs a flat tax scheme — but at a 2010 town hall in Livingston Parish the congressman did endorse a Value Added Tax (VAT), a European-style plan that would make goods more expensive for Louisiana families.

“Congressman Cassidy has declined to clarify his position on a flat tax, but he wasn’t always so shy about his opinions on tax policy,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Just a few years ago, Congressman Cassidy publicly backed a Value Added Tax, which is like a sales tax on steroids. Congressman Cassidy wants us to embrace the tax policies of countries like Greece that would increase the tax burden on middle-class families, while slashing taxes for millionaires and billionaires.”

A Value Added Tax is used throughout the European Union and is required for membership in the EU. If implemented in the U.S., a VAT would be levied on top of any state or local sales taxes that Louisianians already pay. Louisiana’s average combined sales tax rate of 8.89 percent ranks third-worst in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation.

“Apparently, Congressman Cassidy thinks middle-class families in Louisiana don’t pay enough in taxes,” said Handwerk. “He wants to slap another tax on top of Louisiana’s already-high sales tax rate, making everyday items like milk, bread and toothpaste more expensive for Louisiana families.”

Background

June 2013: Cassidy Signed Onto Ted Cruz’s Proposal To Replace The IRS With A Flat Tax, But Dodged The Question When Pressed

The Advocate: Cassidy Seems To Support A “Tear-It-Down-To-Build-It-Back-Up Approach” To Reforming The IRS. “So that begs the question of whether Cassidy supports a flat tax plan, like Cruz, or more fundamental IRS reforms. Cassidy seems to fall more under the tear-it-down-to-build-it-back-up approach. ‘If you strip them down and start over, you can strip out those portions which have pursued this political agenda and you can also strip it of its mandate to enforce Obamacare,’ Cassidy said in a sit-down interview.” [The Advocate, 6/9/13]

Cassidy Said His Support Of Abolishing The IRS Is “Not Predicated” On The Flat Tax And Would Make A Statement When He “Researched That More.” “Cassidy is more mum though on the flat tax issue though. ‘My statement is not predicated on that (flat tax) debate,’ Cassidy said. ‘I will make a statement on that when I’ve researched that more.’” [The Advocate, 6/9/13]

The Advocate Noted The “Awkward Aspect” Of The IRS Petition Being Funded By The Senate Conservatives Fund, Which Refused To Endorse Cassidy. In June 2013, The Advocate reported on Cassidy’s support of Senator Ted Cruz’s petition to abolish the IRS: “Then there’s the somewhat awkward aspect of Cruz’s petition being funded by the far-right Senate Conservatives Fund, which refuses to endorse Cassidy because the group does not consider him conservative enough. The group is considering backing retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness, of the New Orleans area, who also is planning to run against Landrieu.” [The Advocate, 6/9/13]

Ted Cruz Has Proposed Replacing The IRS With A Flat Tax

Ted Cruz Proposed A Flat Tax That Would Maintain Deductions For Charitable Contributions And A Home Mortgage. “We ought to abolish the IRS and instead move to a simple flat tax, where the average American can fill out our taxes on a postcard. Put down how much you earn. Put down a deduction for charitable contributions and home mortgage. And put down how much you owe.” [Washington Post, 6/3/12]

Ezra Klein Noted That Cruz’s Flat Tax Would Still Require A Revenue Agency To Audit And Enforce. “And Cruz’s flat tax is actually a bit more complicated than most. It includes deductions for mortgages and charitable contributions. What if everyone says they gave a million dollars to charity and own a huge home? Who’s going to check all that out? Well, some well-meaning flat-tax collection agents, I guess.” [Washington Post, 6/3/12]

Tax Experts Generally Agree That Flat Taxes Are Far More Regressive Than The Current Tax System And A Transition Would Be Far From “Simple”

A Flat Tax Would Be “Much More Regressive” Than The Current System, Increasing The Burden On Lower And Middle Class While Lowering It On The Upper Class. “A flat tax would be much more regressive than the current income tax. For one thing, it’s unlikely to include the refundable tax credits (like the EITC and child credit) that augment the earnings of low earners. It’s not impossible to add refundable credits, but I’ve never seen them in a flat tax proposal. As a result, poor people will pay a larger share of their income than they do at present. Middle-income people will also pay more. Moreover, spending falls as a share of income as income rises. Low-income people spend all their income or more. High-income people spend only a tiny fraction. A VAT or flat tax inevitably exempts most of the income of high-income people from tax. If it is going to raise the same amount of revenue as the current system, it must raise somebody else’s taxes. That would be low- and middle-income people.” [Len Burman, Tax Policy Center, 10/24/11]

Bruce Bartlett: “Even If One Agreed With The Ultimate Goal Of… [Raising] Taxes For Most Americans While Massively Cutting Them For The Ultra-Wealthy, Getting From Here To There Is Practically Impossible.” Furthermore, even if one agreed with the ultimate goal of having a single-rate tax system on a consumption base that would raise taxes for most Americans while massively cutting them for the ultra-wealthy, getting from here to there is practically impossible. For example, homeowners would suffer a 15 percent reduction in the value of their homes from withdrawal of the mortgage interest deduction even if they themselves paid no more taxes in total than they do now.” [Bruce Bartlett, Fiscal Times, 4/19/13]

Bruce Bartlett: “The Simplicity Of The Flat Tax Was Purely Superficial; The Postcard Return Meant Little And Having A Single Tax Rate Contributes Little To Simplicity Because The Rate Structure Has Little To Do With Tax Complexity.”“In short, the simplicity of the flat tax was purely superficial; the postcard return meant little and having a single tax rate contributes little to simplicity because the rate structure has little to do with tax complexity, which mainly relates to the tax base. Even if it were allowed to operate as intended – a political impossibility – the transition from our current system to the flat tax would be massively complex.” [Bruce Bartlett, Fiscal Times, 4/19/13]

Studies Of 2012 Presidential Candidate Flat Tax Proposals Found That They Reduced Revenue And Redistributed Income Toward The Wealthy

A Nonpartisan Study Of A Flat Tax Proposal Introduced By Rick Perry During The 2012 Election Found It Would Cost Almost One Trillion In Lost Revenue By 2015. “Presidential candidate Rick Perry’s tax plan would cost $995 billion in foregone federal revenues in 2015, based on current law, according to an independent study released on Monday. The Perry plan would slash projected revenue by roughly 27 percent, said the Tax Policy Center, a non-partisan think tank run by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. The center’s study highlights how lucrative a 20 percent option flat tax would be for the wealthiest Americans.” [Reuters, 10/31/11]

A Tax Expert Said The Plan Was “Really Redistributing Income Greatly Toward The Top End.” “The after-tax income of the top 0.1 percent of taxpayers would go up 37 percent in 2015, under the plan, compared to current law, assuming the top-rate bracket will revert to 37.9 percent after 2012. But the after-tax income of the bottom 20 percent of taxpayers would rise by just 0.6 percent. The plan ‘is exactly what you would expect out of a tax like this,’ said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the center. He said, the plan is ‘really redistributing income greatly toward the top end.’” [Reuters, 10/31/11]

Value Added Tax Would Raise Prices, Increase Tax Evasion

The Value Added Tax Would Be Leveled On Top Of State Sales Taxes. “State Sales Taxes. Forty-six states levy a sales tax. A VAT at the federal level would be similar to state sales taxes. States would likely strongly resist any federal attempt to usurp their sales tax authority because they rely on sales tax revenue. A VAT at the federal level would likely force states to apply their sales taxes to a uniform set of goods and services. This would take from the states their ability to tailor their sales taxes to their desires and each state’s unique economy. States would also be forced to keep their rates within a narrow range. Because the VAT rate would likely begin relatively high, it would leave states little room to lower their sales tax rate to increase their competitiveness compared to other states. Further, a federal VAT would increase sales tax evasion, thus reducing state tax receipts, possibly significantly.” [Heritage Foundation, 12/21/10]

Heritage: “A VAT Would Undoubtedly Raise The Prices Of Everything That Consumers Buy.” “Some argue that a VAT would encourage saving because it would raise the prices of everything we buy. In this line of thinking, Americans would buy fewer goods and services and therefore save money that they formerly spent. A VAT would undoubtedly raise the prices of everything that consumers buy, but this would not increase the savings rate. The low savings rate is not the result of low prices, but of the current tax code that discourages savings by taxing returns of investment through taxes on capital gains, dividends, and interest. Adding a VAT would not change this. As long as the income tax continues to tax capital income and capital gains, the tax code will continue to discourage saving.” [Heritage Foundation,12/21/10]

Sen. Mary Landrieu Opposed A Value Added Tax In Congress

Sen. Mary Landrieu Voted To Express The Sense Of The Senate That A “Value Added Tax Is A Massive Tax Increase That Will Cripple Families On Fixed Income And Only Further Push Back America’s Economic Recovery.” [S. Amendment 3724, Vote #115, 4/15/10]

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Congressman Cassidy Dabbles In Flat Tax Fantasies Once Again

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Cassidy Plays Coy On Proposal That Would Raise Taxes on Middle-Class Families

BATON ROUGE — Congressman Bill Cassidy is back with a well-worn partisan hobby horse, taking to The Hayride this week with a nebulous plan to “abolish the Internal Revenue Service” — a proposal typically paired with a flat tax scheme that raises taxes on middle-class families, while cutting them for the well-off.

“Congressman Cassidy has time and again proven that he is nothing more than an empty shirt who follows the loudest and most extreme members of his party,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk. “Instead of coming up with real solutions to the problems facing our country, Congressman Cassidy is relying on the ill-conceived ideas his party leaders have shouted over and over again.”

Last year, Cassidy signed onto a petition by Sen. Ted Cruz that called for the abolishment of the IRS and offered to replace it with a flat tax. At that time, the Advocate asked Congressman Cassidy if he supported the flat tax, and he said, “I will make a statement on that after I’ve researched that more.”

“Cassidy has had a year to do his research and read up on the flat tax plan,” said Handwerk. “He owes it to Louisiana’s middle-class families to let them know where he stands on this foolhardy scheme to raise their tax burden, while slashing the tax rate for millionaires and billionaires.”

Experts from the Tax Policy Center have analyzed flat tax proposals and concluded the majority of taxpayers would pay a higher percentage of their annual income in taxes than they do now.

Background

June 2013: Cassidy Signed Onto Ted Cruz’s Proposal To Replace The IRS With A Flat Tax, But Dodged The Question When Pressed

The Advocate: Cassidy Seems To Support A “Tear-It-Down-To-Build-It-Back-Up Approach” To Reforming The IRS. “So that begs the question of whether Cassidy supports a flat tax plan, like Cruz, or more fundamental IRS reforms. Cassidy seems to fall more under the tear-it-down-to-build-it-back-up approach. ‘If you strip them down and start over, you can strip out those portions which have pursued this political agenda and you can also strip it of its mandate to enforce Obamacare,’ Cassidy said in a sit-down interview.” [The Advocate, 6/9/13]

Cassidy Said His Support Of Abolishing The IRS Is “Not Predicated” On The Flat Tax And Would Make A Statement When He “Researched That More.” “Cassidy is more mum though on the flat tax issue though. ‘My statement is not predicated on that (flat tax) debate,’ Cassidy said. ‘I will make a statement on that when I’ve researched that more.’” [The Advocate, 6/9/13]

The Advocate Noted The “Awkward Aspect” Of The IRS Petition Being Funded By The Senate Conservatives Fund, Which Refused To Endorse Cassidy. In June 2013, The Advocate reported on Cassidy’s support of Senator Ted Cruz’s petition to abolish the IRS: “Then there’s the somewhat awkward aspect of Cruz’s petition being funded by the far-right Senate Conservatives Fund, which refuses to endorse Cassidy because the group does not consider him conservative enough. The group is considering backing retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness, of the New Orleans area, who also is planning to run against Landrieu.” [The Advocate, 6/9/13]

Ted Cruz Has Proposed Replacing The IRS With A Flat Tax

Ted Cruz Proposed A Flat Tax That Would Maintain Deductions For Charitable Contributions And A Home Mortgage. “We ought to abolish the IRS and instead move to a simple flat tax, where the average American can fill out our taxes on a postcard. Put down how much you earn. Put down a deduction for charitable contributions and home mortgage. And put down how much you owe.” [Washington Post, 6/3/12]

Ezra Klein Noted That Cruz’s Flat Tax Would Still Require A Revenue Agency To Audit And Enforce. “And Cruz’s flat tax is actually a bit more complicated than most. It includes deductions for mortgages and charitable contributions. What if everyone says they gave a million dollars to charity and own a huge home? Who’s going to check all that out? Well, some well-meaning flat-tax collection agents, I guess.” [Washington Post, 6/3/12]

Tax Experts Generally Agree That Flat Taxes Are Far More Regressive Than The Current Tax System And A Transition Would Be Far From “Simple”

A Flat Tax Would Be “Much More Regressive” Than The Current System, Increasing The Burden On Lower And Middle Class While Lowering It On The Upper Class. “A flat tax would be much more regressive than the current income tax. For one thing, it’s unlikely to include the refundable tax credits (like the EITC and child credit) that augment the earnings of low earners. It’s not impossible to add refundable credits, but I’ve never seen them in a flat tax proposal. As a result, poor people will pay a larger share of their income than they do at present. Middle-income people will also pay more. Moreover, spending falls as a share of income as income rises. Low-income people spend all their income or more. High-income people spend only a tiny fraction. A VAT or flat tax inevitably exempts most of the income of high-income people from tax. If it is going to raise the same amount of revenue as the current system, it must raise somebody else’s taxes. That would be low- and middle-income people.” [Len Burman, Tax Policy Center, 10/24/11]

Bruce Bartlett: “Even If One Agreed With The Ultimate Goal Of… [Raising] Taxes For Most Americans While Massively Cutting Them For The Ultra-Wealthy, Getting From Here To There Is Practically Impossible.” Furthermore, even if one agreed with the ultimate goal of having a single-rate tax system on a consumption base that would raise taxes for most Americans while massively cutting them for the ultra-wealthy, getting from here to there is practically impossible. For example, homeowners would suffer a 15 percent reduction in the value of their homes from withdrawal of the mortgage interest deduction even if they themselves paid no more taxes in total than they do now.” [Bruce Bartlett, Fiscal Times, 4/19/13]

Bruce Bartlett: “The Simplicity Of The Flat Tax Was Purely Superficial; The Postcard Return Meant Little And Having A Single Tax Rate Contributes Little To Simplicity Because The Rate Structure Has Little To Do With Tax Complexity.”“In short, the simplicity of the flat tax was purely superficial; the postcard return meant little and having a single tax rate contributes little to simplicity because the rate structure has little to do with tax complexity, which mainly relates to the tax base. Even if it were allowed to operate as intended – a political impossibility – the transition from our current system to the flat tax would be massively complex.” [Bruce Bartlett, Fiscal Times, 4/19/13]

Studies Of 2012 Presidential Candidate Flat Tax Proposals Found That They Reduced Revenue And Redistributed Income Toward The Wealthy

A Nonpartisan Study Of A Flat Tax Proposal Introduced By Rick Perry During The 2012 Election Found It Would Cost Almost One Trillion In Lost Revenue By 2015. “Presidential candidate Rick Perry’s tax plan would cost $995 billion in foregone federal revenues in 2015, based on current law, according to an independent study released on Monday. The Perry plan would slash projected revenue by roughly 27 percent, said the Tax Policy Center, a non-partisan think tank run by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. The center’s study highlights how lucrative a 20 percent option flat tax would be for the wealthiest Americans.” [Reuters, 10/31/11]

A Tax Expert Said The Plan Was “Really Redistributing Income Greatly Toward The Top End.” “The after-tax income of the top 0.1 percent of taxpayers would go up 37 percent in 2015, under the plan, compared to current law, assuming the top-rate bracket will revert to 37.9 percent after 2012. But the after-tax income of the bottom 20 percent of taxpayers would rise by just 0.6 percent. The plan ‘is exactly what you would expect out of a tax like this,’ said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the center. He said, the plan is ‘really redistributing income greatly toward the top end.’” [Reuters, 10/31/11]

Retirees Give Congressman Cassidy an “F,” Sen. Landrieu an “A” on Issues Affecting Seniors

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Cassidy Received a 0 Percent Score from the Alliance for Retired Americans for His Anti-Retiree Agenda

BATON ROUGE — Congressman Bill Cassidy’s record of voting against seniors is catching up with him, as the Alliance for Retired Americans recently gave him a score of ZERO for his votes in 2013, while Sen. Mary Landrieu earned a perfect 100 percent score for her support of issues affecting seniors and retirees.

“While Senator Mary Landrieu has spent her career fighting to protect our seniors and the issues they care deeply about, Congressman Cassidy has spent his career trying to strip them of the benefits they have earned over a lifetime of investing in Medicare and Social Security,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk. “Congressman Cassidy has voted time and again for anti-retiree budgets that would hurt and weaken programs like Social Security and Medicare, leaving our seniors out in the cold.”

The Alliance for Retired Americans analyzes the voting records of every member of Congress during each session and assigns them a score based on how committed they are to issues affecting retirees and elderly Americans. Cassidy has consistently voted for radical budgets that aim to end Medicare as we know it, raise the Social Security and Medicare retirement ages and charge seniors more for the benefits that they have come to rely on.

“There is no doubt that Congressman Cassidy has made the wrong choices for our seniors, the wrong choices for our middle-class families and the wrong choices for Louisiana,” said Handwerk. “But Louisianians know better and won’t make the wrong choice in this election, which is why they are supporting Mary Landrieu for Senate.”

The Alliance for Retired Americans Congressional Voting Record for 2013 can be found here.

alliance.retired.americans.scores

Background

Bill Cassidy Has Voted For Every Ryan Budget And Every Republican Study Committee Budget

2014: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2015 Ryan Budget. [H. Con. Res. 96, Vote #177, 4/10/14]

2013: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2014 Ryan Budget.  [H. Con. Res. 25, Vote #88, 3/21/13]

2012: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2013 Ryan Budget. [H. Con. Res. 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12]

2011: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2012 Ryan Budget. [H. Con. Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11]

2014: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2015 Republican Study Committee Budget. [H. Con. Res. 96, Vote #175, 4/10/14]

2013: Cassidy Voted For The FY 2014 RSC Budget.  [H.Con.Res.25, Vote #86, 3/20/13]

2012: Cassidy Voted For The FY 2013 RSC Budget. [H.Con.Res.112, Vote #149, 3/29/12]

2011: Cassidy Voted For The FY 2012 RSC Budget. [H.Con.Res.34, Vote #275, 4/15/11]

The Ryan Budget Ends Medicare As We Know In Order To Finance Massive Tax Cuts For The Wealthy

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Will Force Seniors To Pay More To Remain In Medicare. Under the Ryan budget proposal, more than 45 million seniors could be forced to choose between traditional Medicare and a voucher program starting in 2024. According to a previous Congressional Budget Office report, the proposal would force seniors who want to remain in traditional Medicare to pay $800 more per year than they would have under current law, raising premiums by 50 percent. Furthermore, seniors electing to stay in traditional Medicare and avoid buying private insurance will pay $1,200 more than seniors in private plans. Private plans would be permitted to tailor benefit packages to attract healthier beneficiaries and leave the sicker, more expensive patients for Medicare. Over time, Medicare would become less financially viable and would have to raise premiums, driving away more healthy beneficiaries and setting off a premium spiral that could unravel the program. [House Republican Budget Chairman’s Mark, 4/1/14; CBO,  9/13/14; Census, 2010; CAP, 4/1/14; DPCC, 3/13/13; CBPP, 3/15/13]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Raises Taxes On The Middle Class By $2,000, Giving Millionaires A Tax Cut Of Over $87,000 Each. The Ryan budget proposes to lower tax rates for high-income earners from 39.6% to 25%, which would require the middle class to pay more in taxes in order for the budget to balance as proposed. A Tax Policy Center analysis of a similar proposal found that the tax reductions for high-income earners would cost $5.7 trillion, making it mathematically impossible “to enact Rep. Ryan’s tax policies in a deficit-neutral tax reform without including big tax increases for low- and middle-income taxpayers.” Taxpayers with income exceeding $1 million would receive an average net tax decrease of over $87,000, according to a White House analysis.  In order to pay for these tax breaks, the Ryan budget would  raise taxes on middle-class families with children by an average of at least $2,000.  [House Republican Budget Chairman’s Mark, 4/1/14; New York Times Editorial, 4/01/14; TPC, 3/15/13; TPC, 8/1/12; CTJ, 4/2/14; WH, 4/1/14; WH, 4/8/14]

The Ryan Plan “Would End Traditional Medicare By Capping Spending And Offer Vouchers To Buy Private Insurance.” “The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that Obama pushed for doesn’t cut Medicare; it simply reduces projected future increases in costs by $700 billion over 10 years. […] Those same reductions in the future growth of Medicare are contained in the budget bills sponsored by Ryan and approved by the same House Republicans who now say they’ll campaign against the provision. Romney has endorsed the Ryan plan. The difference is the savings in the Republican bill don’t go to help seniors with their prescription drug costs. In fact, Ryan’s legislation increases the amount senior citizens will have to pay for drugs since it repeals the health-care legislation that provides the extra subsidy. Ryan’s budget bill also would end traditional Medicare by capping spending and offer vouchers to buy private insurance.” [Bloomberg, 8/13/12]

The Ryan Plan “Would Essentially End Medicare.” “Republicans will present this week a 2012 budget proposal that would cut more than $4 trillion from federal spending projected over the next decade and transform the Medicare health program for the elderly, a move that will dramatically reshape the budget debate in Washington. The budget has been prepared by Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and the new chairman of the House Budget Committee, and it represents the most complete attempt so far by Republicans to make good on their promises during the 2010 midterm elections to cut government spending and deficits. Though Rep. Ryan based the Medicare portion of his budget on a previous plan created in collaboration with a Democrat, Alice Rivlin, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and long-time budget expert, the current plan isn’t likely to get much Democratic support. Instead, it will set up a broad debate over spending and the role of government heading into the 2012 general election. The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]

The Ryan Budget Reopens The Medicare Part D Donut Hole And Repeals Important Benefits For Louisiana Seniors

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Reopens The Medicare Part D Donut Hole For 65,043 Louisiana Seniors. [White House, 4/9/14]

AARP: Health Care Reform “Protects And Strengthens Guaranteed Benefits In Medicare,” And “Closes The Dreaded Medicare Part D ‘Doughnut Hole,’ A Gap In Prescription Drug Coverage That Is Life-Threatening For Many.” [AARP, Press Release, 3/10/12]

More Than 380,000 Louisiana Seniors Have Taken Advantage Of Free Preventive Services In Medicare Under Health Care Reform. “With no deductibles or co-pays, cost is no longer a barrier for seniors and people with disabilities who want to stay healthy by detecting and treating health problems early. In 2012 alone, an estimated 34.1 million people benefited from Medicare’s coverage of preventive services with no cost-sharing.  In Louisiana, 381,407 individuals with traditional Medicare used one or more free preventive service in 2012.” [HHS, Louisiana, accessed 3/17/14]

Health Care Reform Has Already Saved More Than 60,000 Louisiana Seniors Almost $105 Million On Medicare Prescription Drug Costs. “In Louisiana, people with Medicare saved nearly $105 million on prescription drugs because of the Affordable Care Act.  In 2012 alone, 60,016 individuals in Louisiana saved over $42 million, or an average of $704 per beneficiary. In 2012, people with Medicare in the ‘donut hole’ received a 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs and 14 percent discount on generic drugs. And thanks to the health care law, coverage for both brand name and generic drugs will continue to increase over time until the coverage gap is closed.  Nationally, over 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved over $7 billion on drugs since the law’s enactment.” [HHS, Louisiana, accessed 3/17/14]

Cassidy Supports Turning Medicare Into A Voucher, Which Could Force More Than 650,000 Louisiana Seniors To Pay Thousands More

Cassidy Touted Paul Ryan’s Medicare Plan To Shift Retirees To Private Insurance And Raise The Eligibility Age. The Gonzales Weekly Citizen wrote about a Cassidy town hall: “An entitlement reformer in his own right, Cassidy didn’t share details of his own plan for Medicaid reform but instead touted Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan which would shift retirees to private insurance. The Ryan plan would gradually raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67 from 65 and turn it into a voucher-like program where future seniors would receive subsidies to purchase health care on the open market.” [Gonzales Weekly Citizen, 8/23/12]

Cassidy Believed Switching Medicare To A Voucher System Would Introduce Competition To Help Keep Costs Down. The Gonzales Weekly Citizen wrote about a Cassidy town hall: “Cassidy argued that switching to a voucher system would bring competition among health care providers and help keep costs down. He said Ryan’s plan with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., gives seniors a choice of options.” [Gonzales Weekly Citizen, 8/23/12]

2011: Louisiana Seniors Would Be Forced To Pay $6,800 More Per Year. According to a report by the Joint Economic Committee, the average Louisiana senior would be forced to pay $6,830 more in out of pocket expenses under the Ryan budget plan. [Joint Economic Committee, 5/20/11]

Potentially 654,375 Louisiana Seniors Would Be Forced Out Of Traditional Medicare And Into A Voucher Program. Under the Republican plan to end Medicare as we know it, all Louisiana seniors will receive a voucher instead of guaranteed benefits under traditional Medicare beginning in 2024. For the 654,375 Louisianans aged 45-54 at the time of the most recent Census, the value of their vouchers would be capped at growth levels that are lower than the projected increases in health care costs, forcing them to spend more out of pocket and diminishing their access to quality care. Private insurance plans will aggressively pursue the healthiest, least expensive enrollees, thereby allowing Medicare – currently the lifeline for 718,037 Louisiana seniors – to “wither on the vine.” [House Republican Budget, 3/12/13; CAP, 3/20/12; Census, accessed on 3/10/13; KFF, accessed on 3/10/13]

Kaiser Study Found That Switching Medicare To Premium Support Could Raise Premiums For 60 Percent Of Beneficiaries. “Nearly six in 10 Medicare beneficiaries nationally could face higher premiums for Medicare benefits, assuming current plan preferences, including more than half of beneficiaries enrolled in traditional Medicare and almost nine in 10 Medicare Advantage enrollees. Even if as many as one-quarter of all beneficiaries moved into a low-cost plan offered in their area, the new system would still result in more than a third of all beneficiaries facing higher premiums.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 9/30/12]

Bill Cassidy Voted For The Reckless “Cut, Cap, And Balance” Plan That Could Require A 25 Percent Cut To Medicare And Social Security

2011: Cassidy Voted For The “Cut, Cap, and Balance” Bill That Forced Hard Spending Caps To Balance The Budget As Soon As Possible. In July 2011, Cassidy voted for passage of the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” bill that would make an increase in the debt limit contingent upon the passage of a balanced-budget constitutional amendment. It also would set fiscal 2012 discretionary spending at $1.019 trillion and enforce statutory caps that limit spending as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) in fiscal 2012 through 2021. The bill passed 234-190. [HR 2560, Vote 606, 7/19/11]

Cut, Cap and Balance Will Force Deep Cuts to Social Security and Medicare. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “The measure does not cut Social Security or Medicare in 2012.  And it does not subject them to automatic cuts if its global spending caps are missed.  It is inconceivable, however, that policymakers would meet the bill’s severe annual spending caps through automatic across-the board cuts year after year; if they did, key government functions would be crippled. Policymakers would have little alternative but to institute deep cuts in specific programs. […] Reaching and maintaining a balanced budget in the decade ahead while barring any tax increases would necessitate deep cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.”  [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 7/16/11]

Cut, Cap and Balance “Would Require a 25 Percent Cut to Everything in the Federal Budget – From Social Security to Veterans’ Benefits to the Pentagon to Education.” According to the Center for American Progress, “Of that $4.4 trillion in 2016, about $520 billion will be interest payments on the debt—an area Congress can’t directly cut. That leaves about $3.9 trillion in noninterest spending, from which Congress would have to slash about $1 trillion in order to bring total spending down to 18 percent of GDP. This would require a 25 percent cut to everything in the federal budget—from Social Security to veterans’ benefits to the Pentagon to education. Congress could try to protect some programs from such severe reductions but then, of course, other areas would have to be slashed even more.” [Center for American Progress, 7/18/11]

AARP Opposed Cut, Cap and Balance Because It Did Not Shield Social Security and Medicare From “Arbitrary Reductions.” In a July 2011 letter to Senators, AARP CEO Addison Barry Rand wrote, “The Cut, Cap and Balance Act requires that a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution be transmitted to the states as a pre-condition of increasing the debt ceiling.  Social Security and Medicare, which are not excluded under the balanced budget amendment, would therefore be at risk for arbitrary reductions under the constitutional amendment, and as such, AARP is opposed.” [AARP Letter, 7/21/11]

Bill Cassidy Has Voted To Raise The Social Security And Medicare Eligibility Ages To 70

The FY 2015 RSC Budget Raised The Retirement Age For Social Security To 70. “This budget would slowly phase in an increase in the Social Security full-retirement age. The full retirement age would continue the current-law’s gradual increase of two months per year beginning in 2022 until the full retirement age reaches 70.” [Republican Study Committee FY 2015 Budget, accessed 4/9/14]

The FY 2014 RSC Budget Increased The Medicare Retirement Age To 70. “To address the increased demands on Medicare, this budget proposes raising the age of Medicare eligibility, beginning in 2024, by two months every year beginning with those born in 1959 until the eligibility age reaches 70, bringing Medicare eligibility in parity with Social Security.” [Republican Study Committee FY 2014 Budget, accessed 5/10/13]

Studies Show That Raising The Medicare Eligibility Age To 70 Would Lead To Higher Costs For All Seniors, In And Outside Of Medicare

Health Care Cost Institute: Raising Medicare To 70 Would Increase Per Capita Costs, Resulting In Increased Premiums Borne By The Government And Beneficiaries. “Changes in the eligibility age for Medicare would raise the average per capita cost for the Medicare population because younger and relatively healthier beneficiaries would no longer be eligible. If the eligibility age were changed from age 65 to age 70 for example, while total Medicare spending would decline overall, the per capita cost would increase 12 percent because the 65 to 69 year old participants are generally the lower cost members. The costs of that change would be borne by the federal government and beneficiaries through their subsidized premiums.” [Health Care Cost Institute Independent Report, June 2013]

Study Author: “You Are Spreading Claims Across A Smaller Number Of People…Premiums Are Set At About 25 Percent Of The Actual Costs So Those Seniors’ Costs Would Go Up Unless The Law Is Changed.” “‘Overall, it does save money, but one of the things often forgotten is that you increase costs for those who remain in the program because you are taking the lowest cost people out of that average cost calculation for the Medicare premium,’ Dale Yamamoto, an actuary who prepared the report and Health Care Cost Institute board member, said in an interview. ‘You would be taking a good chunk of people out of the Medicare program by raising the eligibility to 70. You are spreading claims across a smaller number of people…Premiums are set at about 25 percent of the actual costs so those seniors’ costs would go up unless the law is changed,’ Yamamoto said.” [Forbes, 5/15/13]

The Kaiser Family Foundation Found That Raising Medicare To 67 Would Increase Seniors’ Out-Of-Pocket Costs And Premiums, Even Before Repealing The Additional Protections Afforded By The ACA. “The study estimates that raising Medicare’s eligibility to 67 in 2014 would generate an estimated $5.7 billion in net savings to the federal government, but also result in an estimated net increase of $3.7 billion in out-of-pocket costs for 65- and 66-year-olds, and $4.5 billion in employer retiree health-care costs. In addition, the study projects that the change would raise premiums by about 3 percent both for those who remain on Medicare and for those who obtain coverage through health reform’s new insurance exchanges. The study assumes both full implementation of the health reform law and the higher eligibility age in 2014 in order to estimate the full effect of both the law and the policy proposal.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 7/18/11]

Strengthen Social Security Estimated That Raising Medicare To 67 Could Result In Out-Of-Pocket Costs Consuming 45 Percent Of Certain Seniors’ Social Security Checks. “Out-of-pocket health care costs would increase, on average, by $4,300 in 2014 for 960,000 people aged 65 and 66 who purchase coverage through a health insurance exchange and have incomes exceeding 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($43,560), making them ineligible for subsidies available to exchange participants with lower incomes. Under current law, these 65- and 66-year-old retirees’ average out-of-pocket costs would be $6,800 in 2014, out of a total Social Security benefit of $24,469.  If forced out of Medicare and onto the health insurance exchanges, their average out-of-pocket health care costs would grow to $11,100, out of a total Social Security benefit of $24,469. As a result, if the Medicare eligibility age is raised, out-of-pocket health care costs would go from consuming 28 percent to 45 percent of those 65- and 66-year-old retirees’ Social Security check.” [Strengthen Social Security, accessed 4/13/14]

The President Of AARP Said Raising The Medicare Age To 70 Was “Pure Folly And Very Dangerous.” “In a speech this week, A. Barry Rand, AARP’s CEO, denounced proposals to increase the eligibility age for Medicare, saying it would shift costs to employers, state governments and individuals. “This is pure folly and very dangerous,’ Rand said.” [CBS, 1/16/13]

Raising Social Security’s Retirement Age Would Reduce Lifetime Benefits While Unfairly Harming Seniors Who Work In Demanding Jobs

CBO: Raising Social Security To 70 Would Reduce Lifetime Benefits For Those Affected By 15 Percent. “After this option was fully phased in, scheduled lifetime benefits for people born in the 1980s and 2000s would be reduced by about 15 percent relative to current law. Payable benefits would decline by smaller percentages.” [CBO, July 2010]

Raising The Social Security Retirement Age To 70 Would Only Reduce Program Spending By 6 Percent. “The CBO said that raising the age to 68 would reduce Social Security spending by only 3 percent, or 0.2 percent of the GDP, in 2040. A retirement age of 70 would save 6 percent, or 0.4 percent of the GDP. The lawmakers stress that raising the full-retirement age should be only one of a series of Social Security changes.” [McClatchy, 7/9/10]

Economic Policy Institute: 45 Percent Of Seniors Reported Having Physically Demanding Jobs Or Working Under Hard Conditions. “Using narrow definitions of risk, some have argued that only a relatively small group, 10 percent of older persons, would be harmed by further increasing the full retirement age to age 69 or older. But such claims ignore many challenges facing older workers. For example, research shows that roughly 40 percent of retirees retire earlier than planned for job, health, or caregiving reasons; 20–30 percent of people in their 60s report that their health is poor; around 45 percent of older workers have physically demanding jobs or work under difficult conditions; and about 20 percent of older adults are caring for a frail relative.” [Economic Policy Institute, 5/30/12]

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Congressman Bill Cassidy Has Consistently Voted to Hurt Louisiana’s Middle-Class Families

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Sen. Mary Landrieu Shows Differences in Race Could Not Be Clearer

BATON ROUGE — Sen. Mary Landrieu yesterday displayed, once again, that the differences in the U.S. Senate race could not be clearer, after announcing she was able to secure more than $1 billion as part of the Senate bill that will fund the Department of Homeland Security next year. This is in direct contrast to Congressman Bill Cassidy, who has repeatedly supported budgets that cut funding for Louisiana’s students, seniors, businesses and middle-class families.

“Congressman Bill Cassidy has repeatedly used his time in Congress to support bills and budgets that make cuts to higher education and make it harder for Louisiana businesses and middle-class families to succeed,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk. “Throughout her career in the Senate, Mary Landrieu has fought for Louisiana’s families and businesses, and still today she is working to make their lives better by bringing thousands of jobs to the state and securing hundreds of millions of dollars for Louisiana.”

In addition to the more than billion dollars coming to the state, Landrieu’s work will specifically help create thousands of jobs for Louisianians. Landrieu has also introduced a Passport to the Middle Class initiative, which would increase both college access and affordability for young Louisianians and their families. Meanwhile, the radical budgets Cassidy has voted for would make cuts to education, workforce development and Louisiana businesses.

“Congressman Cassidy doesn’t know which way is up when it comes to Louisiana voters,” said Handwerk. “He has repeatedly voted for radical budgets that increase the tax burden on the middle class, eliminate jobs and cut funding for our students. Louisianians simply can’t trust Congressman Cassidy.”

Background

Sen. Mary Landrieu Used Her Position As Chair of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee To Secure Vital Funding For Louisiana

6/24/14: Senator Landrieu Announced She Included $757 Million For Cyber Security Programs In the Senate Homeland Appropriations Bill. “The Chair of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today announced that she has included $757 million for cybersecurity programs as part of the Senate bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for FY2015. This significant level of funding will help grow Louisiana’s I-20 Tech Corridor, create cybersecurity jobs and help keep the nation safe from ever-increasing cyber threats. The funding also includes $15.8 million for cybersecurity education programs like the one the Cyber Innovation Center (CIC) in Bossier City, La., which has been operating as an integral part in the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to develop a future skilled workforce.” [KNOE, 6/24/14]

6/24/14: Senator Landrieu Announced She Secured $100 Million For FEMA To Update Its Flood Maps As Part Of The Senate Homeland Appropiations Bill. “Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., pushed a spending bill through her Appropriations Subcommittee Tuesday that increases funding to update and correct flawed flood insurance maps and to build six more Coast Guard vessels under a contract with Bollinger Shipyards. The bill’s $100 million allotment to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for flood maps is $16 million more than proposed by President Barack Obama, and $5 million more than proposed in a House spending bill.  Flood insurance fees add another $121 million for flood insurance maps.” [Times-Picayune, 6/24/14]

6/24/14: Senator Landrieu Announced She Included $318 Million For Fast Response Cutters Constructed In Louisiana In The Senate Homeland Appropriations Bill. “The 2015 spending bill approved by Landrieu’s subcommittee includes $318 million for six Fast Response Cutters (FRCs), which are built at Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport. Landrieu said the funding would keep 3,000 people working at the shipyard. ‘We must replace the Coast Guard’s aging fleet for it to keep carrying out its vital role in protecting our nation,’ Landrieu said. ‘Today’s funding will provide the Coast Guard with these exceptional boats, allow the Coast Guard to carry out critical lifesaving, law enforcement and homeland security missions and support 3,000 jobs in Southeast Louisiana.’ The president had proposed two fast response cutters for the 2015 fiscal year, and the House homeland security bill funds four new ships. Landrieu said there are significant savings — about $5 million per ship — from maximizing the production line to six ships per year, rather than two. “ [Times-Picayune, 6/24/14]

Bill Cassidy Has Voted For Every Ryan Budget And Every Republican Study Committee Budget

Bill Cassidy Voted For The Ryan Budget For FY 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012. [H. Con. Res. 96, Vote #177, 4/10/14; H. Con. Res. 25, Vote #88, 3/21/13; H. Con. Res. 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12; H. Con. Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11]

Bill Cassidy Voted For The Republican Study Committee Budget For FY 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012. [H. Con. Res. 96, Vote #175, 4/10/14; H.Con.Res.25, Vote #86, 3/20/13; H.Con.Res.112, Vote #149, 3/29/12; H.Con.Res.34, Vote #275, 4/15/11]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Raised Taxes On The Middle Class While Cutting Jobs

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Raises Taxes On The Middle Class By $2,000, Giving Millionaires A Tax Cut Of Over $87,000 Each. The Ryan budget proposes to lower tax rates for high-income earners from 39.6% to 25%, which would require the middle-class to pay more in taxes in order for the budget to balance as proposed. A Tax Policy Center analysis of a similar proposal found that the tax reductions for high-income earners would cost $5.7 trillion, making it mathematically impossible “to enact Rep. Ryan’s tax policies in a deficit-neutral tax reform without including big tax increases for low- and middle-income taxpayers.” Taxpayers with income exceeding $1 million would receive an average net tax decrease of over $87,000, according to a White House analysis. In order to pay for these tax breaks, the Ryan budget would raise taxes on middle-class families with children by an average of at least $2,000.  [House Republican Budget Chairman’s Mark, 4/1/14; New York Times Editorial, 4/01/14; TPC, 3/15/13; TPC, 8/1/12; CTJ, 4/2/14; WH,4/1/14; WH, 4/8/14]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Supported By Bill Cassidy Would Hit Louisiana With A $1.1 Billion Middle Class Tax Hike, While Cutting Taxes For Millionaires By $579.8 Million. Instead of asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share, the Republican budget would drastically lower their top tax rate from 39.6% to 25%. Even if the Republican plan asked millionaires to give up all of their tax breaks, except for those Chairman Ryan has consistently made clear he would preserve, they would still receive an average net tax cut of $200,000 while middle-class families would see a tax hike. [DPCC Calculations Based on TPC, 8/1/12; CTJ, 4/2/14; IRS]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Supported By Bill Cassidy Could Result In The Loss Of 42,573 Jobs In Louisiana. The Republican budget would pull hundreds of billions of dollars out of the economy by slashing job-creating investments in things like infrastructure and scientific research, killing demand, depressing economic activity, and hurting job creation. The drag caused by these extreme cuts could cost 42,573 jobs in Louisiana in 2016. [DPCC Calculations based on EPI, 4/1/14]

The Republican Budgets Supported By Cassidy Would Cut Pell Grants and Reduce Education Funding For Needy Louisianians

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Would Cut Pell Grants Funding For Louisiana Students By $43.2 Million. [White House, 4/9/14]

The FY 2015 RSC Budget Would Cut Pell Grants Funding For Louisiana Students By $79.2 Million. [DSCC, DPCC, and Third Way analysis, April 2014]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Would Cut Pell Grants Entirely For 9,030 Louisiana Students. [White House, 4/9/14]

The FY 2015 RSC Budget Would Cut Pell Grants Entirely For 16,555 Louisiana Students. [DSCC, DPCC, and Third Way analysis, April 2014]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Cuts To Title I Funding, Leaving It Unable To Support The Equivalent Of 130 Schools And 70,740 Disadvantaged Students In Louisiana, Potentially Resulting In 590 Fewer Teachers And Aides With Jobs. [White House, 4/9/14]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Would Lead To 360 Fewer Special Education Teachers, Aides, And Other Staff In Louisiana Supported By Federal Funding. [White House, 4/9/14]

The Ryan Budget Would Cut Job Training And Search Assistance

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Would Lead To 31,900 Fewer Louisianians Receiving Job Search Assistance And 13,500 Fewer Louisianians Receiving Training And Employment Services. [White House, 4/9/14]

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Congressman Bill Cassidy Continues to Duck Reporters and Ignore Requests for Comment on Student Loan Issues

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Cassidy Declines to Say Whether He Supports Sen. Mary Landrieu’s ‘Passport to the Middle Class’ Proposal, Which Would Help Make College More Affordable for Louisiana Families

BATON ROUGE — As more than 600,000 Louisianians wait for action on student loan legislation that Senate Republicans are blocking, Congressman Bill Cassidy has refused for the past week to weigh in on whether he supports Sen. Mary Landrieu’s Passport to the Middle Class initiative.

“Congressman Cassidy is focused on pointing fingers and playing political games, instead of giving Louisiana voters substantive answers on issues that matter to middle-class families, like college affordability,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk. “Cassidy’s refusal to respond is a real problem for the three-term congressman, who thinks he can ask Louisiana voters for a promotion, while leaving them in the dark on his stance on making college more affordable.”

Sen. Mary Landrieu’s Passport to the Middle Class legislation will make higher education more affordable for families by nearly doubling the amount awarded through Pell Grants and allowing students with both private and federal student loans to refinance their loans at current rates.

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Bill Cassidy Flunks Last Week’s Reading Assignment, Gets It Wrong on Veterans Health Care

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Cassidy’s Attempt to Shift Blame Away from the GOP for Stalled Veterans Legislation Backfires When National Media Calls Him Out

BATON ROUGE — Congressman Bill Cassidy perhaps needs to catch up on his reading, after the Huffington Post called out the congressman last week for an erroneous press statement on comprehensive veterans legislation, which was blocked by Senate Republicans four months ago, but is now finally moving forward.

“Congressman Cassidy should do some research before he issues press statements on important issues like veterans health care — which was held up for months by Cassidy’s GOP colleagues in the Senate,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk. “There’s no excuse for Cassidy’s ignorance of the facts that Senate Republicans blocked comprehensive veterans legislation in February. Thanks to Senator Mary Landrieu’s leadership in working across the aisle, the bill that passed the Senate yesterday will fund new veterans clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles. At the end of the day, Cassidy would rather tow the party line and take political shots, rather than standing up for Louisiana’s veterans, seniors and middle-class families.”

Last week Cassidy’s office issued a statement on the bipartisan agreement on comprehensive veterans legislation that “only after news broke that our veterans are dying… did Harry Reid and Senate Democrats take action.” The Huffington Post noted that Senate Democrats had brought up comprehensive veterans legislation, including funding for new facilities in Lafayette and Lake Charles, in February. However, Senate Republicans blocked the bill at that time.

When the Huffington Post called out Cassidy for his error, his “office did not return a request for additional comment.”

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Open Letter to Bill Cassidy: Since You Brought Up the Topic of Reading…

Open Letter to Bill Cassidy

Since You Brought Up the Topic of Reading… Have You Read the Budgets You Keep Voting For — The Ones That Harm Louisiana Seniors and Middle-Class Families?

Dear Congressman Bill Cassidy,

Since you first went to Washington, you have voted for budget plans that have dire implications for Medicare, Social Security and education. However, it’s unclear if you actually understand the impact of your actions on Louisiana seniors, students and middle-class families. Louisiana voters might even wonder if you’ve ever taken the time to read the budgets you backed in 2011, 2012, 2013 and again in 2014.

There was that one time you said you needed to look into the effects of how the budget you voted for would impact the National Flood Insurance Program. Here’s a hint: It argued that the provisions in Biggert-Waters did not go far enough in cutting NFIP subsidies, which help to keep flood insurance affordable for nearly half a million Louisiana families.

Then there was that other time you dismissed questions about your budget votes as “monkey dust.” News flash: These are just a few of the devastating impacts of the budgets you’ve endorsed:

  • Essentially end Medicare and transform it into a voucher system
  • Force seniors to pay more out of pocket to stay in Medicare
  • Raise the retirement age for Social Security to 70
  • Raise the retirement age for Medicare to 70
  • Raise taxes on the middle class by an average of $2,000, to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires
  • Slash job search assistance and training programs for Louisiana workers
  • Slash funding for Pell Grants for thousands of Louisiana students

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you actually did read the budgets you voted for. That raises the question — why? Don’t you care about how these budgets will hurt Louisiana’s seniors, students and middle-class families?

Congressman Cassidy, I hope you review this research as you travel the state on the campaign trail. Consider this your reading assignment for the week from the voters of Louisiana.

Sincerely,

Stephen Handwerk
Executive Director, Louisiana Democratic Party

 

BACKGROUND

Bill Cassidy Voted For The Ryan Budget For FY 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012. [H. Con. Res. 96, Vote #177, 4/10/14; H. Con. Res. 25, Vote #88, 3/21/13; H. Con. Res. 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12; H. Con. Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11]

  • The Ryan Plan “Would Essentially End Medicare.” “Republicans will present this week a 2012 budget proposal that would cut more than $4 trillion from federal spending projected over the next decade and transform the Medicare health program for the elderly, a move that will dramatically reshape the budget debate in Washington. The budget has been prepared by Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and the new chairman of the House Budget Committee, and it represents the most complete attempt so far by Republicans to make good on their promises during the 2010 midterm elections to cut government spending and deficits. Though Rep. Ryan based the Medicare portion of his budget on a previous plan created in collaboration with a Democrat, Alice Rivlin, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and long-time budget expert, the current plan isn’t likely to get much Democratic support. Instead, it will set up a broad debate over spending and the role of government heading into the 2012 general election. The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]
  • The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Will Force Seniors To Pay More To Remain In Medicare. Under the Ryan budget proposal, more than 45 million seniors could be forced to choose between traditional Medicare and a voucher program starting in 2024. According to a previous Congressional Budget Office report, the proposal would force seniors who want to remain in traditional Medicare to pay $800 more per year than they would have under current law, raising premiums by 50 percent. Furthermore, seniors electing to stay in traditional Medicare and avoid buying private insurance will pay $1,200 more than seniors in private plans.  Private plans would be permitted to tailor benefit packages to attract healthier beneficiaries and leave the sicker, more expensive patients for Medicare. Over time, Medicare would become less financially viable and would have to raise premiums, driving away more healthy beneficiaries and setting off a premium spiral that could unravel the program. [House Republican Budget Chairman’s Mark, 4/1/14; CBO,  9/13/14; Census, 2010; CAP, 4/1/14; DPCC, 3/13/13; CBPP, 3/15/13]
  • The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Raises Taxes On The Middle Class By $2,000, Giving Millionaires A Tax Cut Of Over $87,000 Each. The Ryan budget proposes to lower tax rates for high-income earners from 39.6% to 25%, which would require the middle-class to pay more in taxes in order for the budget to balance as proposed. A Tax Policy Center analysis of a similar proposal found that the tax reductions for high-income earners would cost $5.7 trillion, making it mathematically impossible “to enact Rep. Ryan’s tax policies in a deficit-neutral tax reform without including big tax increases for low- and middle-income taxpayers.” Taxpayers with income exceeding $1 million would receive an average net tax decrease of over $87,000, according to a White House analysis. In order to pay for these tax breaks, the Ryan budget would  raise taxes on middle class families with children by an average of at least $2,000. [House Republican Budget Chairman’s Mark, 4/1/14; New York Times Editorial, 4/01/14; TPC, 3/15/13; TPC, 8/1/12; CTJ, 4/2/14; WH,4/1/14; WH, 4/8/14]
  • The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Would Lead To 31,900 Fewer Louisianians Receiving Job Search Assistance And 13,500 Fewer Louisianians Receiving Training And Employment Services. [White House, 4/9/14]
  • The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Would Cut Pell Grants Funding For Louisiana Students By $43.2 Million. [White House, 4/9/14]
  • The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Would Cut Pell Grants Entirely For 9,030 Louisiana Students. [White House, 4/9/14]

Bill Cassidy Voted For The Republican Study Committee Budget For FY 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012. [H. Con. Res. 96, Vote #175, 4/10/14; H.Con.Res.25, Vote #86, 3/20/13; H.Con.Res.112, Vote #149, 3/29/12; H.Con.Res.34, Vote #275, 4/15/11]

  • The FY 2015 RSC Budget Raised The Retirement Age For Social Security To 70. “This budget would slowly phase in an increase in the Social Security full-retirement age. The full retirement age would continue the current-law’s gradual increase of two months per year beginning in 2022 until the full retirement age reaches 70.” [The FY 2015 RSC Budget, accessed 4/9/14]
  • The FY 2014 RSC Budget Increased The Medicare Retirement Age To 70. “To address the increased demands on Medicare, this budget proposes raising the age of Medicare eligibility, beginning in 2024, by two months every year beginning with those born in 1959 until the eligibility age reaches 70, bringing Medicare eligibility in parity with Social Security.” [Republican Study Committee FY 2014 Budget, accessed 5/10/13]

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Has Bill Cassidy Read Any of the Budgets He’s Voted For?

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Cassidy Has Voted to Increase Social Security Retirement Age to 70, End Traditional Medicare, Raise Flood Insurance Rates, Raise Taxes on Middle Class to Pay for Tax Breaks for Millionaires

BATON ROUGE — Congressman Bill Cassidy has voted for radical budgets that hurt middle-class families and seniors, but his noncommittal responses about the spending plans raise the question of whether Cassidy has actually read any of the budgets he has voted for.

“Congressman Cassidy has voted over and over again for budgets that increase the Social Security retirement age to 70, end guaranteed Medicare, slash the flood insurance program and raise taxes on the middle class to pay for tax breaks for millionaires,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk. “When asked about the Ryan budget’s impact on flood insurance, Cassidy said he’d look into it. That was two months after he voted for the Ryan budget. That certainly begs the question whether Cassidy even bothered to read the budget he was voting on and understand its impact on critical issues for Louisiana families, issues like flood insurance.”

The 2013 Ryan budget argued that the provisions in Biggert-Waters did not go far enough in cutting National Flood Insurance Program subsidies, which help to keep flood insurance affordable for hundreds of thousands of Louisiana families.

Other highlights of Cassidy-backed budgets include:

  • Ending traditional Medicare and offering vouchers;
  • Forcing seniors to pay more to stay in Medicare;
  • Raising the retirement age for Social Security to 70;
  • Raising the retirement age for Medicare to 70;
  • Raising taxes on the middle class by an average of $2,000, to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires;
  • Slashing funding for Pell Grants for thousands of Louisiana students;
  • Slashing job search assistance and training programs for Louisiana workers.

“Perhaps Cassidy should go back and read some of the budgets he’s endorsed, so he can answer a question when it’s asked,” said Handwerk. “He’s had plenty of time by now to look into the budgets’ harmful effects on middle-class families and seniors here in Louisiana.”

BACKGROUND

May 2013: When Confronted About The 2013 Ryan Budget’s Proposal To Further Cut Flood Insurance, Cassidy Said He Would Have To Look Into It. “At the same time, though, that involves the Ryan plan making even-deeper cuts to the NFIP. The House report on the Ryan budget praises the Biggert-Waters Act for removing some flood insurance subsidies, but the budget plan argues the NFIP legislation did not go far enough. ‘However, these reforms are not enough to protect taxpayers from NFIP’s financial exposure,’ the House report states.  …All of Louisiana’s Republican House members voted for the Ryan plan, including Landrieu’s 2014 re-election opponent, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge. Cassidy said he would have to look into the effects of the House budget on the NFIP, but he blamed overall federal spending and FEMA’s mapping issues for causing the problems.” [The Advocate, 5/26/13]

Bill Cassidy Voted For The Ryan Budget For FY 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012. [H. Con. Res. 96, Vote #177, 4/10/14; H. Con. Res. 25, Vote #88, 3/21/13; H. Con. Res. 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12; H. Con. Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11]

Bill Cassidy Voted For The Republican Study Committee Budget For FY 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012. [H. Con. Res. 96, Vote #175, 4/10/14; H.Con.Res.25, Vote #86, 3/20/13; H.Con.Res.112, Vote #149, 3/29/12; H.Con.Res.34, Vote #275, 4/15/11]

The Ryan Plan “Would End Traditional Medicare By Capping Spending And Offer Vouchers To Buy Private Insurance.” “The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that Obama pushed for doesn’t cut Medicare; it simply reduces projected future increases in costs by $700 billion over 10 years. […] Those same reductions in the future growth of Medicare are contained in the budget bills sponsored by Ryan and approved by the same House Republicans who now say they’ll campaign against the provision. Romney has endorsed the Ryan plan. The difference is the savings in the Republican bill don’t go to help seniors with their prescription drug costs. In fact, Ryan’s legislation increases the amount senior citizens will have to pay for drugs since it repeals the health-care legislation that provides the extra subsidy. Ryan’s budget bill also would end traditional Medicare by capping spending and offer vouchers to buy private insurance.” [Bloomberg, 8/13/12]

  • The Ryan Plan “Would Essentially End Medicare.” “Republicans will present this week a 2012 budget proposal that would cut more than $4 trillion from federal spending projected over the next decade and transform the Medicare health program for the elderly, a move that will dramatically reshape the budget debate in Washington. The budget has been prepared by Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and the new chairman of the House Budget Committee, and it represents the most complete attempt so far by Republicans to make good on their promises during the 2010 midterm elections to cut government spending and deficits. Though Rep. Ryan based the Medicare portion of his budget on a previous plan created in collaboration with a Democrat, Alice Rivlin, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and long-time budget expert, the current plan isn’t likely to get much Democratic support. Instead, it will set up a broad debate over spending and the role of government heading into the 2012 general election. The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Will Force Seniors To Pay More To Remain In Medicare. Under the Ryan budget proposal, more than 45 million seniors could be forced to choose between traditional Medicare and a voucher program starting in 2024.  According to a previous Congressional Budget Office report, the proposal would force seniors who want to remain in traditional Medicare to pay $800 more per year than they would have under current law, raising premiums by 50 percent.  Furthermore, seniors electing to stay in traditional Medicare and avoid buying private insurance will pay $1,200 more than seniors in private plans.  Private plans would be permitted to tailor benefit packages to attract healthier beneficiaries and leave the sicker, more expensive patients for Medicare. Over time, Medicare would become less financially viable and would have to raise premiums, driving away more healthy beneficiaries and setting off a premium spiral that could unravel the program. [House Republican Budget Chairman’s Mark, 4/1/14; CBO,  9/13/14; Census, 2010; CAP, 4/1/14; DPCC, 3/13/13; CBPP, 3/15/13]

The FY 2015 RSC Budget Raised The Retirement Age For Social Security To 70. “This budget would slowly phase in an increase in the Social Security full-retirement age. The full retirement age would continue the current-law’s gradual increase of two months per year beginning in 2022 until the full retirement age reaches 70.” [The FY 2015 RSC Budget, accessed 4/9/14]

The FY 2014 RSC Budget Increased The Medicare Retirement Age To 70. “To address the increased demands on Medicare, this budget proposes raising the age of Medicare eligibility, beginning in 2024, by two months every year beginning with those born in 1959 until the eligibility age reaches 70, bringing Medicare eligibility in parity with Social Security.” [Republican Study Committee FY 2014 Budget, accessed 5/10/13]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Raises Taxes On The Middle Class By $2,000, Giving Millionaires A Tax Cut Of Over $87,000 Each.  The Ryan budget proposes to lower tax rates for high-income earners from 39.6% to 25%, which would require the middle class to pay more in taxes in order for the budget to balance as proposed.  A Tax Policy Center analysis of a similar proposal found that the tax reductions for high-income earners would cost $5.7 trillion, making it mathematically impossible “to enact Rep. Ryan’s tax policies in a deficit-neutral tax reform without including big tax increases for low- and middle-income taxpayers.” Taxpayers with income exceeding $1 million would receive an average net tax decrease of over $87,000, according to a White House analysis. In order to pay for these tax breaks, the Ryan budget would  raise taxes on middle-class families with children by an average of at least $2,000. [House Republican Budget Chairman’s Mark, 4/1/14; New York Times Editorial, 4/01/14; TPC, 3/15/13; TPC, 8/1/12; CTJ, 4/2/14; WH, 4/1/14; WH, 4/8/14]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Supported By Bill Cassidy Would Hit Louisiana With A $1.1 Billion Middle-Class Tax Hike, While Cutting Taxes For Millionaires By $579.8 Million. Instead of asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share, the Republican budget would drastically lower their top tax rate from 39.6% to 25%. Even if the Republican plan asked millionaires to give up all of their tax breaks, except for those Chairman Ryan has consistently made clear he would preserve, they would still receive an average net tax cut of $200,000 while middle-class families would see a tax hike. [DPCC Calculations Based on TPC, 8/1/12; CTJ, 4/2/14; IRS]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Would Cut Pell Grants Funding For Louisiana Students By $43.2 Million.  [White House, 4/9/14]

The FY 2015 RSC Budget Would Cut Pell Grants Funding For Louisiana Students By $79.2 Million. [DSCC, DPCC, and Third Way analysis, April 2014]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Would Cut Pell Grants Entirely For 9,030 Louisiana Students. [White House, 4/9/14]

The FY 2015 RSC Budget Would Cut Pell Grants Entirely For 16,555 Louisiana Students. [DSCC, DPCC, and Third Way analysis, April 2014]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Would Lead To 31,900 Fewer Louisianians Receiving Job Search Assistance And 13,500 Fewer Louisianians Receiving Training And Employment Services. [White House, 4/9/14]

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Bill Cassidy Won’t Answer Questions on College Affordability, Medicare, Social Security, Flat Tax

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Louisiana Voters Left With More Questions Than Answers As Cassidy Ducks Reporters’ Questions

BATON ROUGE — Congressman Bill Cassidy has been ducking reporters’ questions on major issues throughout his time on the campaign trail, and this week he’s declining to say whether he supports Sen. Mary Landrieu’s Passport to the Middle Class proposal, which would help make college more affordable for Louisiana families.

“Senator Landrieu’s work in the Senate has been and always is focused on making the American Dream affordable for middle-class families,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “The Passport to the Middle Class plan would help more young Louisianians attend college, but apparently Bill Cassidy can’t be bothered to say whether he thinks that’s a good idea or not. He really should take the time to care, considering Louisiana is ranked 49th in the nation for college attainment.”

The Passport to the Middle Class proposal would not only increase the maximum Pell Grant award amount, but it would also allow students to refinance at the current loan rate, saving borrowers thousands of dollars over the life of their loans.

Cassidy’s penchant for refusing to respond is becoming a problem for the three-term congressman. Cassidy has also failed to explain his votes to increase the retirement age to 70 for Social Security and Medicare. Last year after publicly endorsing a flat-tax plan to “abolish the IRS,” Cassidy clammed up, saying he would respond after he “researched that more.”

“The voters of Louisiana deserve answers from someone who is running to represent them,” said Handwerk. “Louisiana voters just can’t trust Cassidy because he refuses to answer simple questions about some of the biggest issues facing Louisiana families.”

BACKGROUND

When Contacted By The Daily Advertiser, Cassidy Did Not Respond Whether He Supported Landrieu’s Passport To The Middle Class. “Senator race contenders Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, and Rob Maness, a Tea Party challenger from Madisonville, did not return The Advertiser’s calls and emails concerning the initiative.” [The Daily Advertiser, 6/4/14]

Louisiana Ranked 49th For Higher Education Attainment. With 27.9% of the state’s 2.4 million adults aged 25 to 64 holding a two- or four-year degree, Louisiana is ranked 49th in the nation for its share of residents having completed some form of higher education. [Baton Rouge Business Report, 6/14/13]

2014: Cassidy Voted For The FY 2015 Republican Study Committee Budget. [H.Con.Res. 96, Vote #175, 4/10/14]

The FY 2015 RSC Budget Raised The Retirement Age For Social Security To 70. “This budget would slowly phase in an increase in the Social Security full-retirement age. The full retirement age would continue the current-law’s gradual increase of two months per year beginning in 2022 until the full retirement age reaches 70.” [The FY 2015 RSC Budget, accessed 4/9/14]

2013: Cassidy Voted For The FY 2014 Republican Study Committee Budget.  [H.Con.Res. 25, Vote #86, 3/20/13]

The FY 2014 RSC Budget Increased The Medicare Retirement Age To 70. “To address the increased demands on Medicare, this budget proposes raising the age of Medicare eligibility, beginning in 2024, by two months every year beginning with those born in 1959 until the eligibility age reaches 70, bringing Medicare eligibility in parity with Social Security.” [Republican Study Committee FY 2014 Budget, accessed 5/10/13]

June 2013: Cassidy Told The Advocate That He Would Make A Statement On The Flat Tax  “When I’ve Researched That More.” “Cassidy is more mum though on the flat tax issue though. ‘My statement is not predicated on that (flat tax) debate,’ Cassidy said. ‘I will make a statement on that when I’ve researched that more.’”  [The Advocate, 6/9/13]

 

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