Conservatives will try to oust IRS chief this month

BY SUSAN FERRECHIO

Rep. Tim Huelskamp will call for a post-election vote to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen when Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess, he told the Washington Examiner.

Huelskamp, R-Kan., said he has no plans to drop his effort to oust Koskinen, whose term does not expire until November 2017.

“We need to clean house, especially at the IRS,” Huelskamp said.

Huelskamp said Koskinen could pre-empt a vote by announcing he will retire when Republican President-elect Trump takes office in January. “But barring that, I anticipate that two weeks from now we will introduce that resolution,” Huelskamp said.

Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess on Nov. 29.

Republican leaders have tried to steer Huelskamp and other conservatives away from forcing a Koskinen impeachment vote. But they will likely hold little sway with Huelskamp, who lost the GOP primary and is not returning to Congress next year.

Conservatives say Koskinen has not been forthcoming with Congress about missing IRS emails associated with past targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. He has also been accused of mismanaging the IRS customer service and taxpayer privacy.

This year, GOP leaders held off an impeachment vote by agreeing to hold an impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, which featured Koskinen’s testimony under oath. But conservatives said Koskinen only reinforced their belief that he should be ousted from the IRS.

 

$221,692,000,000: Federal Taxes Set Record for Month…

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BY TERENCE P. JEFFREY

$221,692,000,000: Federal Taxes Set Record for October; $1,459 Per Worker; Feds Still Run Deficit of $44,192,000,000

(CNSNews.com) – Federal tax revenues set an all-time record of $221,692,000,000 for the month of October, according to the newly released Monthly Treasury Statement.

In constant 2016 dollars that is the most taxes the federal government has ever collected in October, which is the first month of the fiscal year.

The record $221,692,000,000 in taxes collected this October was up $6,718,330,000 from the $214,973,670,000 in constant 2016 dollars that the Treasury collected in October 2015.

Despite bringing in record tax revenue of $221,692,000,000 this October, the federal government ran a deficit of $44,192,000,000 during month. That is because federal spending in October was $265,884,000,000.

The record $221,692,000,000 in federal taxes for October equaled approximately $1,459 for every person who had either a full- or part-time job during the month. (According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the total number of people employed in the United States in October was 151,925,000.)

The $44,192,000,000 deficit the federal government ran while collecting record tax revenue for October equaled approximately $291 for each person with a full- or part-time job.

The second highest federal tax haul in any October came in 2014, when the U.S. Treasury brought in $216,934,990,000 in tax revenue in constant 2016 dollars. The third highest was October 2015, when the Treasury brought in $214,973,670,000; and the fourth highest was October 2001, when the Treasury brought in $214,249,290,000.

Americans paid $121,576,000,000 in individual income taxes in October, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement. That accounted for the largest share of the record $221,692,000,000 in taxes the Treasury collected during the month.

Americans also paid $79,361,000,000 in Social Security and other payroll taxes during Ocotber.

The income tax on corporations brought in $2,277,000,000 during October.

Excise taxes brought in $5,707,000,000.

The Treasury also collected $3,069,000,000 in estate and gift taxes.

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More Wikileaks. Peter Schweizer

Published on Nov 7, 2016

Joe Monroe

These are all facts. All backed up by her own emails and Podesta’s and Weiners laptop. The FBI is still investigating the Clinton Foundation. All of Hillary’s people get paid with special favors. Just donate money to the Clinton foundation and pay Bill Clinton millions, and Hillary will approve your weapons for ISIS. That’s called racketeering and treason. RICO carries a 50 year sentence, and the FBI is still investigating the foundation. And how did they “lose” 10 billion in Haiti? And why did they ride the Lolita Express with pedophile Epstein? And why did she get the questions to the debate beforehand? And how about that #spiritcooking And let’s not forget the pedo code words found in Podesta’s emails Here are the pe*ophile code words found in the Po*esta emails. “hotdog” = boy “pizza” = girl “cheese” = little girl “pasta” = little boy “ice cream” = male prostitute “walnut” = person of colour “map” = se*men “sauce” = orgy It’s all in the Wikileaks if you can handle the truth. It goes all the way to the top

Obamacare Victims Revolt: ‘We Don’t have that Kind of Money’

by KATHERINE RODRIGUEZ

Some users of Obamacare are finding the medical care they need to be too expensive to use due to high deductibles and high out-of-pocket costs.

Michelle Harris is one of those people. Harris, a 61-year-old retired waitress in northwest Montana, has arthritis in both shoulders but is doing everything she can to avoid seeing a doctor due to the $4,500 deductible and $338 a month in premiums under her Blue Cross Blue Shield plan.

“It hurts, but we don’t have that kind of money,” Harris said to Bloomberg Politics. “So I deal with it.”

Some insurance plans under Obamacare are designed not to kick in until patients have spent thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs, which put many healthcare services out of reach for patients.

Even though the uninsured rate in America is at a record low, a study from the Commonwealth Fund found that four out of 10 adults in Obamacare plans aren’t confident that they can pay their medical bills if they got sick, Bloomberg Politics reported.

“A lot of people are still one catastrophic illness away from really feeling the financial impact of this,” said Jonathan Oberlander, a health policy professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. “They’re underinsured, and that means they’re not going to get all the services that they want or that they need.”

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the New York Times found that one in five people with insurance said they or someone in their household had difficulty paying medical bills compared to half for those without insurance, Bloomberg Politics reported.

Courtney Shove, a 38-year-old who lives in Memphis works at a small non-profit without health benefits and spends about $267 a month for a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan with a $2,500 deductible.

Next year, the cheapest plan for her will cost about $40 more with a $6,650 deductible.

“When I think about what’s going to come out of my pocket, I’m not happy about it at all,” she said. “I’ve never been without insurance, so I guess I’ll probably just get the cheapest plan and go from there.”

Morici: The Wheels Are Coming Off Obamacare

BY PETER MORICI

Obamacare is becoming a nightmare. Health insurance premiums will jump an average of 22 percent in 2017, and federal spending to assist moderate income families is spinning out of control.
For Democrats, the answers are simple—raise taxes on the wealthy to further subsidize a failing system—or force a single payer system—which can dictate prices to service providers and compel their participation—onto reluctant Americans.

For conservative Republicans, the issue is more vexing. Merely repealing the law is not enough, because that would hardly return America to a free market.

Even before the Affordable Care Act, federal and state governments were paying nearly half of the nation’s health care bills.

At one extreme, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates for doctors are tightly controlled and too low to sustain their practices. Many limit the number of patients they take from these programs, and the elderly and poor often face difficulty finding a primary care physician.

Well-off retirees can join concierge services, which charge high annual fees for access to primary care doctors, while the less affluent are left to scramble.

At the other extreme, the legislation establishing Medicare prescription coverage does not permit the government to negotiate prices. Pharmaceutical companies can set whatever prices they like knowing the elderly will simply send the bill to Uncle Sam.

Concierge services have generalized from the elderly to the entire adult care marketplace and created a two-tier system of access to physicians, while  reimbursements are setting drug prices arbitrarily high for everyone.

The basic premise of the ACA was to enroll nearly every working age American in large employer-sponsored insurance or policies sold on government run websites to create competition that would lower costs, but it has not worked out.

At HealthCare.gov, families often pay $500, $1000 or more a month for policies imposing high deductibles and co-pays and with quite limited provider networks. Many have lost access to family doctors, encountered limited out-of-state-coverage when they travel and are generally excluded from using higher cost providers where they live.

The latter can be life threatening. As of the end of 2015, for example, none of the policies offered access to New York included the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Problems are particularly acute in areas where the number of specialists are limited, and hospitals and group practices are monopolized enough to resist negotiating much on price with insurance companies.

Insurance companies are taking big losses, resulting in the large premium increases noted above—or leaving the website markets across the country. At least 650 of counties nationwide will have only one company offering policies next year.

Many folks won’t feel the full brunt of rate increases, as the federal government is obligated to subsidize premiums for low and middle income families, but the Congressional Budget Office estimates the ACA will cost $8.9 trillion over ten years.

We simply cannot go back to what existed before. Private plans lost in the upheaval cannot be easily reestablished. Simple electoral calculus requires that millions of Americans now receiving subsidies continue to receive assistance purchasing health insurance. However, Americans should not be coerced into buying substandard policies at a government store, and costs must be lowered.

The German system of private insurance, like Obamacare, requires virtually everyone to have coverage, but costs are more tightly controlled. For example, regulators price new drugs according to how much they improve treatment over existing medicines.

Such government interference in pricing is an anathema to conservative Republicans like Paul Ryan, but the incongruity of Medicare paying whatever prices drug companies choose to set is wholly unrealistic.

Japan, Germany and other northern European countries spend about 11 percent of GDP on health care whereas the United States spends 17 percent.

In the end, if the Republicans want to avoid a single payer system that subjects most Americans to a choice between moribund and arbitrary service akin to that offered by the Post Office and IRS, then they will have to explore with the new president regulating prices inside a private marketplace.

Effective leaders work with the world as they find it, not as they think it should be.

Peter Morici is an economist and business professor at the University of Maryland, and a national columnist. He tweets @pmorici1

Health Law Tax Penalty? I’ll Take It, Millions Say

BY ROBERT PEAR

WASHINGTON — The architects of the Affordable Care Act thought they had a blunt instrument to force people — even young and healthy ones — to buy insurance through the law’s online marketplaces: a tax penalty for those who remain uninsured.

It has not worked all that well, and that is at least partly to blame forsoaring premiums next year on some of the health law’s insurance exchanges.

The full weight of the penalty will not be felt until April, when those who have avoided buying insurance will face penalties of around $700 a person or more. But even then that might not be enough: For the young and healthy who are badly needed to make the exchanges work, it is sometimes cheaper to pay the Internal Revenue Service than an insurance company charging large premiums, with huge deductibles.

“In my experience, the penalty has not been large enough to motivate people to sign up for insurance,” said Christine Speidel, a tax lawyer at Vermont Legal Aid.

Some people do sign up, especially those with low incomes who receive the most generous subsidies, Ms. Speidel said. But others, she said, find that they cannot afford insurance, even with subsidies, so “they grudgingly take the penalty.”

The I.R.S. says that 8.1 million returns included penalty payments for people who went without insurance in 2014, the first year in which most people were required to have coverage. A preliminary report on the latest tax-filing season, tabulating data through April, said that 5.6 million returns included penalties averaging $442 a return for people uninsured in 2015.

With the health law’s fourth open-enrollment season beginning Tuesday, consumers are anxiously weighing their options.

William H. Weber, 51, a business consultant in Atlanta, said he paid $1,400 a month this year for a Humana health plan that covered him and his wife and two children. Premiums will increase 60 percent next year, Mr. Weber said, and he does not see alternative policies that would be less expensive. So he said he was seriously considering dropping insurance and paying the penalty.

“We may roll the dice next year, go without insurance and hope we have no major medical emergencies,” Mr. Weber said. “The penalty would be less than two months of premiums.” (He said that he did not qualify for a subsidy because his income was too high, but that his son, a 20-year-old barista in New York City, had a great plan with a subsidy.)

Iris I. Burnell, the manager of a Jackson Hewitt Tax Service office on Capitol Hill, said she met this week with a client in his late 50s who has several part-time jobs and wants to buy insurance on the exchanges. But, she said, “he’s finding that the costs are prohibitive on a monthly basis, so he has resigned himself to the fact that he will have to suffer the penalty.”

When Congress was writing the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and 2010, lawmakers tried to balance carrots and sticks: subsidies to induce people to buy insurance and tax penalties “to ensure compliance,” in the words of the Senate Finance Committee.

But the requirement for people to carry insurance is one of the most unpopular provisions of the health law, and the Obama administration has been cautious in enforcing it. The I.R.S. portrays the decision to go without insurance as a permissible option, not as a violation of federal law.

The law “requires you and each member of your family to have qualifying health care coverage (called minimum essential coverage), qualify for a coverage exemption, or make an individual shared responsibility payment when you file your federal income tax return,”the tax agency says on its website.

Some consumers who buy insurance on the exchanges still feel vulnerable. Deductibles are so high, they say, that the insurance seems useless. So some think that whether they send hundreds of dollars to the I.R.S. or thousands to an insurance company, they are essentially paying something for nothing.

Obama administration officials say that perception is wrong. Even people with high deductibles have protection against catastrophic costs, they say, and many insurance plans cover common health care services before consumers meet their deductibles. In addition, even when consumers pay most or all of a hospital bill, they often get the benefit of discounts negotiated by their insurers.

The health law authorized certain exemptions from the coverage requirement, and the Obama administration has expanded that list through rules and policy directives. More than 12 million taxpayers claimed one or more coverage exemptions last year because, for instance, they were homeless, had received a shut-off notice from a utility company or were experiencing other hardships.

“The penalty for violating the individual mandate has not been very effective,” said Joseph J. Thorndike, the director of the tax history project at Tax Analysts, a nonprofit publisher of tax information. “If it were effective, we would have higher enrollment, and the population buying policies in the insurance exchange would be healthier and younger.”

Americans have decades of experience with tax deductions and other tax breaks aimed at encouraging various types of behavior, as well as “sin taxes” intended to discourage other kinds of behavior, Mr. Thorndike said. But, he said: “It is highly unusual for the federal government to use tax penalties to encourage affirmative behavior. That’s a hard sell.”

The maximum penalty has been increasing gradually since 2014. Federal officials and insurance counselors who advise consumers have been speaking more explicitly about the penalties, so they could still prove effective.

Many health policy experts say the penalties would be more effective if they were tougher. That argument alarms consumer advocates.

“If you make the penalties tougher, you need to make financial assistance broader and deeper,” said Michael Miller, the policy director of Community Catalyst, a consumer group seeking health care for all.