Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Biden Proposes Increasing Medicare Tax for High Earners

Joe Biden understands that Republicans are going to attack him on the campaign trail for letting Social Security and Medicare go bust (even though they are actively trying to destroy them). He is already working to defeat that argument by proposing a fix for Medicare to keep it solvent for at least 25 more years. He wants to increase the Medicare payroll tax from 3.8% to 5% for people earning over $400,000 per year. The new rate would apply to both earned income and passive income (e.g., interest and dividends).

The plan also requires that pharmaceutical companies pay more into Medicare when they raise their prices faster than inflation. It also caps the cost of certain drugs at $2/month and expands Medicare's power to negotiate drug prices.

Biden clearly understands that saving Medicare and reducing costs of medicine is potentially a winner with seniors. He also knows that when the proposal is turned into a bill it will fail in the House and be filibustered in the Senate if it is also introduced there. Getting a law passed now isn't the goal. He knows which party will oppose all these nice goodies for seniors and will surely mention that a few times on the campaign trail. His message to the seniors will undoubtedly be: "Vote a straight Democratic ticket so we can do all these things for you." Republicans will rant that Biden is a socialist, but no doubt at least some seniors will be thinking "If socialism consists of saving Medicare and lowering my cost of medicine, maybe that isn't so bad." So this is not a serious legislative proposal for this session of Congress, but something to whack the Republicans with when they kill it.

Biden's budget for 2023 will be released today. It is expected to cut the federal deficit by $3 trillion over the next 10 years. It will have some higher taxes and also cut some wasteful spending, something Republicans are always demanding. Only Biden's idea of wasteful spending is giving money to Big Oil and Bog Pharma, which probably isn't every Republican's idea of wasteful spending.

Presidential budgets rarely pass Congress unscathed, especially when the opposition party controls one of the two chambers. Nevertheless, House Republicans can't just remove everything they don't like because the budget also has to pass the Senate. It will be a nasty battle between the upper and lower chambers. (V)

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