Rep. Tom Reed handed out four papers to those who attended his December 10 Town Hall Meetings. At the Barrington Town Hall Meeting he quickly went over the Congressional Priorities, spoke about the “Simple, Fair Tax Filing Postcard” and made quick references to the last two, the Circle Graph of the 2015 spending budget, and the chart comparing the congressional past, present, and predicted future Mandatory Spending budgets. He gave few details.
A click on a document will take you to a larger, printable, sharable pdf copy.
Rep. Reed’s priorities? They are the GOP conservative ideals written as shiny advertisements to entice voters to buy what they are selling: His catalog includes reforming the health care system (although it is never mentioned that there will be more out-of-pocket expenses.) and it reinforces they generation that poor people are lazy. His last priority sounds like a trade deal to me. Reed even threw a little Elizabeth Warren in there by saying he supports reducing college costs. Before you buy that, check out the GOP record on opposing PELL Grants and lowering college costs. We should pay attention to what Reed does, not listen to what he says.
What is missing from his priorities? Where does he stand on Immigration, the Military, money in government, civil rights, infrastructure and the environment? I’m not surprised that Green Energy, nor income equality made his priority list.
What are your priorities? He asks us to let him know our ideas and he listed his Washington phone number, ( (202) 225-3161.) Use it.
Next is the “Simple, Fair ‘Postcard’ Tax Filing” form. It is straight from the Paul Ryan playbook. It looks simple (14 lines) but who knows if it is fair. Forbes magazine looked at this form in June. commented on each line and called the form “misleading”.
- Line 1 is simple if you worked for one company, but not if you changed jobs during the year, or work part time for two or more employers.
- Line 2 would be simple unless you have investments from more than one source.
- Line 3 would be simple if you (and your spouse) have only 1 saving plan.
- Line 9 is not very simple for a divorced couple.
- Are Social Security benefits, IRAs and 401k’s, Unemployment comprehension all tax-free?
Give his office a call and have them explain it to you. (202) 225-3161.
Why did Rep. Reed include Social Security and Medicare in this budget? Aren’t they funded by salary deductions and the funds are placed in their own separate accounts? Give him a jingle at (202) 225-3161 and see how they explain it.
I question a chart when a message is overly simplified. What is Reed trying to say? Is Rep. Reed suggesting we should reduce spending on Mandatory items? I would think that mandatory items would be important items. What exactly are the mandatory items? What are Discretionary items? Call (202) 225-3161 to have his office staff explain this chart to you.
Rep. Reed passes these out at all Town Hall Meetings. If you plan to attend one of his meetings you may want to return to this page and prepare your questions/comments for these handouts.
Along with any simplified tax form will most likely come lower taxes for business and the wealthy and higher taxes with cuts in retirement and medical benefits for the rest of us. Reform should mean improvement, not an attack on the well-being of most Americans.
Reportedly, “The need to rebuild national infrastructure would be funded from $1 trillion that Trump and Reed say are “trapped overseas” by U.S. tax code.” What this means is a huge tax reduction and windfall for profitable businesses which have avoided taxes by keeping income in other countries. This isn’t reform, but welfare for the rich.
I have been telling Reed for years his charts are fictitious, but he won’t listen.
I’m going to try to get to more Town Halls, but he holds them in tiny towns and at such early hours for obvious reasons….
BRAVO to those that filled that room!
I shared your article with over 2,800 of my friends and gave them a ‘pep’ talk to call Reed.
Reed used to use a chart which showed public debt increasing indefinitely as if the recession would last forever. He used this to argue that retirement and medical benefits must be cut. Now he seems to be using the long expected impact of the baby boom on retirement and medical benefits as if this would last forever to make the same false argument. Most everything Reed says is misleading if not wrong.
More people will be on the outlook for “fake news” (the GOP politically correct term for Propaganda) coming straight from the government officials’ mouths. Trump’s forgotten campaign promises do not sit well with many Trumpsters as well as the the 65.7 million Clinton voters.
The following is the gist of what Tom Reed said at the Barrington Town Hall this past Saturday. I deliberately avoided including my own commentary so you can judge for yourself.
Questioner: Do you believe climate change manmade and that man contributes to it?
Reed: I stood on a resolution black and white that humans have contributed to climate change – yes. Now where will science come out in regards to is it 100% human-made. I’ve read scientific reports that say that. I don’t agree with that. We contribute to it – yes. Some people say that we are going to do it [protect the environment] 100%, zero contamination today or tomorrow. That is an unrealistic goal to have.
Questioner: Is that the argument you use to support fracking?
Reed: I believe hydraulic fracturing can be done safely and responsibly and that is part of the energy policy I supported. Some people say that we can’t have any natural gas development, we can’t have any oil development – just don’t subscribe to that. Moving forward, I would hope we would all have the American innovative spirit of whatever the issue is that is causing risk that we work on solving that risk as we deal with the all of the above energy policy.
One piece of legislation I forgot to talk about at the last town hall was the 21st Century Cures Bill. We passed in the House and Senate what we call the 21st Century Cures Bill. It does include the moon shot. It is the highlight of success of what we’ve been able to achieve here over the last month. It is to fund and prioritize research and development of cures at the 21st century level. Alzheimer’s gets priority funding and investment. FDA gets a reform to get more treatment out to the public quicker and more effectively. It also has some funding for opioids which is a crisis across America. In Cures we’ve dedicated new reforms in making mental health treatment available, accessible and making sure we’re addressing that appropriately.
Obviously the other issue of the day is the election. We are going into a new administration. We have been participating in that process. We are with the transition team. We are working with the President –elect and their executive team. The priority there has been to build the new administration. What they have been focusing on is meeting people. You’re obviously hearing about the cabinet picks. There’s about 4,500 plus or minus additional positions we are going through the process filling.
Two areas that we are going to be heavily involved in immediately being on the committee that has jurisdiction that deals with policy on a day to day basis is two-fold. Tax reform – we are going to fix the American tax code. That is going to happen in 2017 in my opinion. That will be later in 2017, more like the fall-winter when that can be lined up. As we deal with tax reform, what I am guided by is that we’re going to simplify it, we’re going to make it fair and we’re going to make it competitive for the 21st century. On the individual side, having fewer deductions. There are seven rate brackets now and taking that down to three and having limited deductions. We intend to keep mortgage and charitable deductions going forward. We’re going to something on the business side. The money that is trapped overseas is going to be a major area of revenue looked at to invest into American infrastructure.
The other issue that is more immediate in the first 100 to 200 days of the next administration starting now is how we are going to deal with Obama Care – the repeal and replacement. So I’m very interested in your input on that. We are clearly going to have a repeal initiative which is going to be part and parcel in how we tie the replacement package to it. So you have a repeal. Does it happen immediately? Is it delayed in effectiveness as the replacement is digested by the American people and give them time to maneuver to make decisions.
One of the things we are heavily focused on in regards to the health care replacement package is how do we get to the cost not necessarily the insurance but how do we get to the cost of health care. How do we get health care costs to go down. There are two approaches as I see it. There is government control, government mandate, Obamacare model. I’m with the other approach which is using market pressure from individuals and doctors to bring those costs down. We also have to have a conversation about end of life, hospice care. A lot of our healthcare dollars in my opinion are sometimes not spent for the best quality care.
Questioner: What are you going to stand for? Are you going to vote no for voucherizing Medicare? We paid into it all our lives and now they’re going to say “here’s a voucher – go buy your own insurance.
Reed: So first we have to be sure we are on common ground here. If you are advocating for me to do nothing – that we are not going to agree on.
Questioner: What did I just say? I want you to vote against vouchers.
Second questioner: At a past meeting you made a solemn pledge to the people in the room that you would be there for us in terms of Medicare and Social Security. You promised and pledged to us that those would be there for us. In January you’re going to repeal the tax on investments and income over $250,000 a year taking billions of dollars from Medicare and give it to rich people.
Reed: I’m making that pledge again today. I appreciate your position. Obviously I disagree you’re your assessment of our actions. What I’m here to tell you is if you are funding something that is not sustainable you can’t find enough money. The money you are referring to that you would have to tax is hard-working American taxpayers dollars not just the one percent. That math just doesn’t add up. It’s upside down. For three dollars in expenses there is one dollar coming in.
Questioner: So then where are you going to get the money for vouchers? You are going to spend less money and people are going to have the insurance coverage they had under Medicare.
Reed: When you say voucher, you’re talking about the insurance side of the equation. If you can attack the cost of health care and start bringing it down. I hope there are things we can agree on like malpractice reform. Making sure we catch waste and abuse in Medicare. There are things we can deploy on the administrative side that could catch overbillings and fraud. Now you get into the bigger issues like reimbursement models. Now to the voucher – what the voucher is doing is on the insurance side of the equation. Hopefully as health costs come down, insurance premiums will come down too. We’re hoping that we will have a vibrant reform that people will be able to take their voucher and compete in the health insurance program that allows you to select your plan as an individual.
Questioner: How much power do I have as an individual against an insurance company?
Reed: The insurance product is negotiated by millions of people across America.
Another Questioner: Nobody is going to insure someone who has severe health issues.
Questioner: Conservatives believe the government shouldn’t be involved in anything. You want to voucher Medicare and privatize Social Security. You wanted to do the same thing to the Post Office by forcing it to shut down by requiring that billions of dollars of payments to its pension program be paid up front.
Reed: We have to keep the insurance market in check. There are two ways to do that. Is there going to be a government agency that says this is what insurance premiums will be or are we going to try to make sure the oversight is there to empower individuals shop for various insurance policies that are out there.
Questioner: At this point, you in favor of voting for a voucher for Medicare. Is that correct?
Reed: I am in favor of changing the status quo and to stabilize Medicare. So if we are talking about “premium support” that is going to bring competition, I am in favor of that. If we are talking about getting health care costs under control by using market pressure, I am in favor of that. It’s not an A or B alternative. You got to do both.
Reed: The insurance reforms of Obamacare that I think will continue and go forward because it has broad bi-partisan support are the preexisting conditions, allowing parents to carry their children until age 26 and lifetime caps. But that’s going to add to the cost.
Questioner: What’s the timing on the repeal of Obamacare?
Reed: This is the debate that is being had right now. My opinion is that you will have a repeal vote sometime around March but repeal will be delayed in its effective date. At the same time as the repeal vote is going on the replacement package will be put on the table. Some people are in favor of doing it all at once and make it immediate in March. Some people say there should be a two-year delay. That seems to be reasonable.
Questioner: What you’re saying is that we could see a repeal as early as March but the effective date may coincide more closely to a replacement but we have to trust you.
Reed: The replacement will be part of the repeal package but the effectiveness will be delayed out.
Questioner: Are you willing to accept the insurance mandate?
Reed: I’m very hesitant to support mandating people to buy insurance. If we get the cost under control we won’t need to require a mandate.
Questioner: I he that you have an incredible amount of push-back from this. Right now with Medicare there is a 6% percent overhead, you have a low cost system that most Americans like. You’re going to put this in the hands of private industry that has 25% overhead. I don’t get the math.
Reed: I’m about trying to solve this problem. You’re like this is not a problem and to leave it alone. I don’t subscribe to that.
I know I wasn’t going to offer an opinion but let me just say this. Tom Reed is all about towing the GOP line. He gets flippant when questioned about what he sees needs to be done. He often accused questioners of being in favor of the “status quo” when it was obvious from my perspective that is not what people want. More than once he responded to criticism with “well what do you want me to do!”
Please stay engaged and let Reed know what is on your mind.
What also isn’t said is the manual for figuring out exactly what to write on each line of the “taxpayer postcard” has to be a tome. There can’t be any time saving simplification if the preparer needs a higher education to fill it out. What a nightmare for the IRS to check these cards for error. And, I’ll bet Reed also wants to cut funding for the IRS at the same time during any change over to the new “better” way?
What is mandatory is mandatory because the government already owes it back to Americans as far as SS and Medicare. What foolishness, trying to get us to believe we and future generations don’t have title to that money.Tom Reed and other GOP members refuse to address real solutions to adequate future funding simply because they want to gift it to Wall St. Merry Christmas!
Steve, thanks for your excellent report. The number of times Reed offered a false dichotomy, begged the question, dismissed the questioner, or otherwise danced around the issues is astonishing. I am left flabbergasted.
Ask yourself which is more important: the time it takes to fill out the form or the amount you owe? Why would anyone believe that fewer tax brackets are better? It is a ruse to reduce what high income taxpayers owe.
The failure in the charts above is that a time series of expenditures MUST show revenue. The charts lie in that there is no comparison to show percentages of revenue. That is called a “balance sheet.” Sheesh.
Maureen, You are correct. I never thought of the fact that a budget isn’t just how the money is spent. Reed is only telling us what he wants them to know. He is doing the thinking for us. All that is missing is the “Trust Me” to go along with his fake smile.
“One of the striking features of the new presidential administration appears to be the difference between fact and perception. On most levels, it seems that optics matter more than words. It also seems that facts are an afterthought to the positions floated. Further, it looks like many positions shift regularly depending upon how the outcome is likely to play with the American public.”–Dr. Brian C. Mitchell Director of Edvance Foundation, former college & university president
Good for you, we should all do that.
Was lifting the sequester level spending ever approached?