Under the guise of “tax reform” legislation, the Senate voted Saturday to pass a massive suite of tax cuts for corporations and the 1 percent. Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) took a leading role in developing the House version of this tax bill, which eliminates deductions for medical expenses, state and local sales and income taxes, and medical expenses.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the bill would boost government deficits by $1.5 trillion over the coming decade. To pay for these deficits, Paulsen and his Republican colleagues in the House proposed cutting a combined $1.8 trillion from Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and student loan assistance.
These budget cuts would be especially hard on seniors, many of whom rely on Medicare to pay for their healthcare needs.
In opposition to Paulsen’s vote, about four dozen seniors with the Minneapolis Regional Retiree Council gathered at his office to protest and deliver a letter requesting that he protect Medicare.
Edina resident Lucy Olson said that the small tax deductions the bill offers for the middle class wouldn’t be sufficient to offset the elimination of medical expense deductions for seniors. Olson also expressed concern that cutting Medicaid and Social Security would also hurt seniors. “So what happens when money runs out?” she asked. “You put the seniors out in the street. It’s a very cruel proposal. I’m very sad about that.”
Another Edina resident, veteran Mel Schultz, criticized what he perceived to be Paulsen’s hypocrisy in saluting West Lutheran High School’s Veteran’s Day celebration. “How could he do it?” Schultz asked. “How could he say one thing and do something else? [The bill’s] going to hurt a lot of veterans, a lot of elderly people, and he just praised veterans earlier this week.”
A Paulsen staffer on hand at the office listened to the group’s complaints and claimed that Paulsen has recently held “more than 100” town halls. But as City Pages’ Susan Du reported, “He declined to name one, stated no schedule is publicly available, and refused to explain how constituents should learn one is upcoming in the future.” Paulsen’s critics charge that he hasn’t held a true town hall event since 2011.
On Monday, the House will vote on whether to go to conference to begin discussing how to reconcile the two versions of the tax bill. The Senate is expected to make its decision to go to conference sometime later this week. President Donald Trump has said that he wants to sign off on a tax bill before Christmas.
Featured image via YouTube video.