Protests rage as Meehan, Costello vote for GOP tax plan

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Daily Local News

By Rick Kauffman

Published: November 16, 2017

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SPRINGFIELD >> House Republicans claimed a victory on tax reform by passing a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul Thursday, thanks in part to support from U.S. Reps. Pat Meehan, R-7 of Chadds Ford, and Ryan Costello, R-6 of West Goshen.

Thirteen Republicans strayed from the pack to join every Democratic House member in a losing battle to shut down the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Republicans touted it as a boon for business owners and middle class Americans, while Democrats and various committee groups have derided it as another veiled attempt to sell trickle-down economics.

Protesters gathered outside Meehan’s office Thursday to cry foul, but via written statement the congressman was pleased with the results.

“Middle class families deserve tax relief, and that’s what this bill delivers,” Meehan said. “We double the standard deduction. We lower rates for middle class families. And we preserve important deductions like mortgage interest, property taxes and charitable contributions.”

To middle class families in Pennsylvania, Meehan said, “Your tax bill will be lower and paying it will be simpler.”

Costello said in a statement that he “voted for the House bill because it reduces income tax rates for low-and-middle income families, as well as for businesses, which are the job creators in our country.

“Additionally, I fought very hard to ensure that the property tax deduction up to $10,000 remains because many in my District may continue to itemize,” Costello said.

Aside from the increased child tax credit, doubling the standard deduction, double taxation on foreign earns for multinationals and cutting the corporate tax rate by nearly half, concerns over the bill’s permanent elimination of the individual mandate that penalizes people for not having health insurance will cause 13 million people who currently enroll in Medicaid or private insurance to lose coverage.

The Congressional Budget Office has published a letter stating that unless Congress intervenes, H.R. 1 will result in an automatic federal funding cut of $136 billion in fiscal year 2018; $25 billion will come from Medicare.

Meehan protester Becky Barnard, 64, a retired financial analyst who lives in Lima Estates, she said all residents depend on a medical deduction. She stands to lose an $8,000 medical deduction.

“I’d have to go into my investments to pay for my tax liability,” Barnard said outside Meehan’s office Thursday, acknowledging that this wasn’t the plan she had in mind entering retirement. “It unexpectedly gives us less money.”

Barnard said there is a fund at Lima Estates that helps people who have outlived their financial resources, but the loss of the medical deduction will dry up the fund.

“People won’t be able to pay the monthly fee,” she said. “It’s not cheap to live at Lima Estates, but it’s nice.”

Ruth Ann Davidson, 61, of Ridley Township, said her son’s life absolutely depends on Medicaid availability. He is in long-term recovery from opioid addiction – twice overdosing on heroin, and twice resuscitated via Narcan by Ridley Township police. Thanks to Medicaid, she said, he is able to seek treatment.

“Getting on Medicaid was imperative to his recovery, because he couldn’t afford to see a psychiatrist,” Davidson said.

Her 32-year-old son had begun self-medicating his mental health issues.

“I’m scared to death that he’s going to lose his insurance,” Barnard said. “He could potentially overdose again and die, because both times he was lucky enough to have been found right away.”

Barnard said that in August she met with Meehan to discuss the obstacles facing her youngest child. She said the congressman failed to elaborate whether he was for or against the bill. Barnard claimed that when asked flat out, “Do you think health care is a human right?” Meehan responded, “No.”

“It outraged me and everyone else in the room,” Barnard said.

Costello acknowledged the loss of the medical expense deduction and the student loan interest deduction and said he is hopeful they will be retained.

“I am optimistic that the Senate will pass a tax bill which includes these provisions, and then ultimately I may have the opportunity to vote on a tax reform bill that would maintain the best elements of the House bill and include some elements of the Senate bill which are not included in the House bill,” Costello said.

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