Senate to begin debating President Obama’s bill

The Senate is expected to begin debating President Obama’s American Jobs Act this week.  The legislation includes several proposals that relate to priority issues in The Arc’s legislative agenda.  These include reductions to the payroll taxes paid by employers and employees.  Since payroll taxes fund the Social Security Trust Funds,to ensure solvency, these payroll tax reductions will have to be offset by additional revenues directed to the Trust Funds.  The legislation also proposes a tax credit of up to $4,000 for businesses that hire people who have been unemployed for at least 6 months – a group that includes many people with disabilities.  Other components are funding for infrastructure development, teaching, and public safety.  The Senate leadership has proposed that the $447 billion bill be paid for with a 5.6 percent surtax on income above $1 million.  It could be difficult to find the 60 votes needed to pass the bill in the Senate and no action on this plan is scheduled for the House of Representatives.

President Obama’s plan for deficit reduction and what it means for Medicaid

On September 19th, President Obama outlined a set of proposals to reduce the nation’s debt by more than $4 trillion and fund the American Jobs Act. The plan cuts $2 in spending for every dollar in new revenues.  These cuts are in addition to the $1 trillion in spending that has already been cut from the budget under the Budget Control Act. As stated by the President, his proposals include “structural reforms to reduce the cost of health care in programs like Medicare and Medicaid,” as well as cuts to many other parts of the Federal budget. The plan has been sent to the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction for their consideration as they seek to develop a proposal to reduce the nation’s deficit by at least $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.
To help pay for the plan, the President proposed $320 billion in health savings over the next decade with approximately $248 billion in cuts to Medicare and $73 billion in Medicaid cuts. The proposed Medicaid changes include phasing down but not eliminating the use of Medicaid provider taxes, limiting federal reimbursement for certain durable medical equipment, simplifying the federal Medicaid payment formulas for states and other changes. The Arc will be analyzing the proposals to assess the impact on people with intellectual and or developmental disabilities and their families. The Arc remains concerned that Medicaid program cannot bear deep cuts that will likely result in cost shifting to low income Americans and to the states.

President Proposes American Jobs Act

On September 8th, President Obama addressed a Joint Session of Congress and proposed the American Jobs Act to “to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working.”  The legislation includes several proposals that relate to priority issues in The Arc’s legislative agenda.  These include reductions to the payroll taxes paid by employers and employees.  Payroll taxes fund the Social Security Trust Funds; to ensure solvency, any payroll tax reduction must be offset by additional revenues directed to the Trust Funds.  The legislation also proposes a tax credit of up to $4,000 for businesses that hire people who have been unemployed for at least 6 months – a group that includes many people with disabilities.

Finally, the President stated that on September 19th, he will release a deficit plan to cover the costs of the American Jobs Act and to stabilize the nation’s debt in the long run. The President stated that the plan will be balanced and will include “modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid.”