Costello, Meehan say their vote on tax bill will protect Medicare, Social Security from cuts

Submitted photoU.S. Reps. Ryan Costello (left) and Pat Meehan leave the U.S. Capitol Thursday after casting votes on a bill that averts automatic cuts to Medicare and Social Security and keeps the government open through mid-January.
Submitted photoU.S. Reps. Ryan Costello (left) and Pat Meehan leave the U.S. Capitol Thursday after casting votes on a bill that averts automatic cuts to Medicare and Social Security and keeps the government open through mid-January.

Chadds Ford >> A day after delivering historic tax cuts for individuals and businesses, two Congressman representing Chester County helped the U.S. House of Representatives pass legislation preventing tax relief from triggering automatic spending cuts to Medicare, Social Security and other federal programs.

U.S. Reps. Ryan Costello (R-West Goshen) and Patrick Meehan (R-Chadds Ford) backed a legislative package Thursday that would fund the federal government through Jan. 19 and protect Medicare and other domestic programs from mandatory budget caps.

The House voted 231-188 to approve the stopgap spending measure and it cleared the Senate by a 66-32 margin.

Costello and Meehan added their votes also would provide $2.85 million for the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, which makes health insurance coverage affordable for children in low-income households.

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The broad tax-overhaul plan would touch virtually all Americans and every corner of the economy, mingling sharply lower rates for corporations and reduced personal taxes for many with fewer deductions for home-buyers and families with steep medical bills.

The measure, which would be the most extensive rewrite of the nation’s tax code in three decades, is the product of a party that faces increasing pressure to produce a marquee legislative victory of some sort before next year’s elections. GOP leaders touted the plan as a sparkplug for the economy and a boon to the middle class and christened it the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.\

The funding is expected to help Pennsylvania, which insures approximately 177,000 children, and other states continue offering coverage for the next several months.

Thursday’s vote by Costello, Meehan and their House Republican colleagues to prevent mandatory cuts comes after blistering attacks from Democrats and other critics who argued that trimming taxes would have to be offset by slashing Medicare, Social Security and a host of other programs in the years to come.

“There was a staggering amount of misinformation about the effects of allowing families to keep more of their hard-earned pay and putting American businesses on a more level playing field with the rest of the world,” Costello said. “There’s no way those purported cuts would come about. We were determined to protect Medicare and Social Security and that’s exactly what we did by our vote today. The vote also makes clear that I’m working to create more opportunities for the men and women in my district to find and keep a job and ensuring that we follow through on our commitments to seniors on Medicare and Social Security and families who count on CHIP.”

Costello said Medicare will be protected because a provision added to the stopgap spending bill waived mandatory spending cuts if the tax cuts add to the deficit. A 2010 law requires any legislation that would add debt must be paid for by cutting an equal amount of federal spending, which could have included Medicare and other domestic programs.

Some economic forecasts projected the tax cuts could add $1 trillion in debt over the next 10 years. However, supporters of the tax cuts countered that economic growth would produce enough revenue to pay for reducing tax rates. The vote on Thursday takes mandatory cuts to Medicare, Social Security and other programs off the table even if the deficit climbs due to the tax cuts.Thursday’s vote by Costello, Meehan and their House Republican colleagues to prevent mandatory cuts comes after blistering attacks from Democrats and other critics who argued that trimming taxes would have to be offset by slashing Medicare, Social Security and a host of other programs in the years to come.

Costello and Meehan support long-term funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program to provide greater certainty to families. Both lawmakers supported legislation the House passed on Nov. 3 that would have paid for the program for the next five years.

“Despite the fearmongering of Washington Democrats seeking only to play politics, we were never going to allow arcane Senate procedural rules put our seniors at risk,” Meehan said. “While I’m pleased we averted a shutdown and kept the CHIP program funded through March, we must do better. We need to work in a bipartisan way to extend CHIP for a full five years and give Pennsylvania families certainty that they’ll be able to access needed care.”

Medicare will be protected because a provision added to the stopgap spending bill waived mandatory spending cuts if the tax cuts add to the deficit. A 2010 law requires any legislation that would add debt must be paid for by cutting an equal amount of federal spending, which could have included Medicare and other domestic programs.

Some economic forecasts projected the tax cuts could add $1 trillion in debt over the next 10 years. However, supporters of the tax cuts countered that economic growth would produce enough revenue to pay for reducing tax rates. The vote on Thursday takes mandatory cuts to Medicare, Social Security and other programs off the table even if the deficit climbs due to the tax cuts.

The House Ways and Means Committee released an analysis of the Tax Cuts and American Jobs Act, which Costello and Meehan supported, showing just how much relief taxpayers in southeastern Pennsylvania can expect.

In Costello’s district, the figures showed a family four earning about $120,000 would save $4,000 on their federal income taxes. That same family in Meehan’s district would see their taxes drop by about $4,800, according to the House Ways and Means Committee analysis.

By passing a stopgap spending package on Thursday, Congress will keep the federal government open through the holidays.

In addition to funding basic government operations, the legislation includes $2.1 billion for the Veteran’s Choice Program, which makes it easier for veterans to receive a wide range of medical care that may not be provided by Veterans Affairs Medical Centers or clinics.