Ohio Republican lawmakers won’t completely back away from no-tax pledge

Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 5:31 PM
Updated: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 @ 5:31 PM

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Ohio congressional Republicans say they will not completely back away from an anti-tax pledge they signed, but some are willing to raise tax revenue through capping or eliminating scores of deductions and credits that are available to wealthier taxpayers.

As President Barack Obama and Congress lurch toward an end-of-the-year deadline that could lead to more than $500 billion in higher taxes and federal budget cuts in 2013, a growing number of Republicans are grudgingly conceding that any compromise budget plan will include more tax revenue for the government.

By doing so, however, they risk breaking a pledge authored by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and signed by Sen. Rob Portman and all 13 House Republicans from the state — including Reps. Mike Turner, R-Centerville, Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, Jim Jordan, R-Urbana. By signing the pledge, each lawmaker promised to “oppose any and all tax increases,’’ as well as opposing scrapping of tax deductions “unless matched dollar-for-dollar by further reducing tax rates.’’

But Republicans also wary of the alternative. By not compromising on a budget plan, the Republicans would be partly blamed for huge tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to go into effect on January 1.

Portman, House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., say they oppose raising individual income tax rates.

But Portman and Boehner have indicated they would support an overhaul of the tax code that would result in fewer deductions to the wealthy. In exchange, however, they insist that Democrats agree to spending restraints in the rapidly growing entitlement programs of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Boehner yesterday said to “show we’re serious about reaching a bipartisan agreement, we have offered to accept some new revenues, provided the revenue comes from tax reform and is accompanied by significant spending cuts.’’

“Without spending cuts and entitlement reform, it is impossible to address our country’s debt crisis,’’ Boehner said. “We put revenue on the table. Now, it’s important for President Obama and congressional Democrats to tell the American people what spending cuts they’re willing to make.’’

Democrats, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, have been resistant to tweaking Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, with Brown signing a letter this week to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reiterating opposition to changing the program.

Others don’t leave much wiggle room.

Turner “does not support raising taxes in the middle of a recession, or for increased spending as the president has proposed,” said Tom Crosson, a Turner spokesman.

“Mr. Turner joined the House in passing legislation in August which would avert the cliff and not raise taxes on a single American,’’ Crossan said. “It’s unfortunate that the President has yet to articulate a plan which would provide a workable solution to this issue.”

With backing of Trump, key Senators reach deal to fund health subsidy payments

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 2:37 PM

Key Senators say they have reached a deal – backed by the President – which would fund payments to health insurance companies for two years, while also giving states more flexibility in how they deal with the underlying requirements of the Obama health law.

“Yes, we have been involved,” President Donald Trump told reporters when asked about the negotiations. “This is a short-term deal,” as the President again said he hopes to get Congress to approve a set of longer-term reforms which revolve around block grants to the states.

The plan, worked out by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), was discussed by Senators at their Tuesday lunch meetings in the U.S. Capitol; no legislative text was immediately available.

The deal would reverse a decision made last Thursday night by President Trump, who moved to stop payments to insurance companies known as “Cost Sharing Reduction” payments.

Republicans have claimed for several years – and federal courts have backed them up – that the payments were never directly approved by the Congress, and thus should never have been made by the federal government.

Mr. Trump authorized the payments from the start of his administration in January, but regularly threatened to end them – following through on that late last week.

Former Buckeye star could shake up race for Congress in Ohio

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 12:20 PM


            Anthony Gonzalez is running for Congress, and some of his friends from the NFL are helping.(Kiichiro Sato, Associated Press)
Anthony Gonzalez is running for Congress, and some of his friends from the NFL are helping.(Kiichiro Sato, Associated Press)

The 2018 races for governor and the U.S. Senate always figured to be expensive, but another big-money Ohio contest has emerged and promises to draw interest both from inside and outside the state.

Anthony Gonzalez, a former football standout for Ohio State University and the Indianapolis Colts, has raised more money than any other candidate — incumbent or otherwise — in his bid for Congress.

Gonzalez is running for the northeast Ohio seat being vacated by Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, who is running for governor.

Gonzalez, 33, joins State Rep. Tom Patton, R-Strongsville, and State Rep. Christina Hagan, R-Marlboro Twp., in a race that may prove expensive to fill.

RELATED: Competition lacking in Ohio congressional races Gonzalez raised $626,774 last quarter — including $526,774 in contributions. Among those contributing: Peyton Manning ($5,400), Gonzalez’s fellow Buckeye star A.J. Hawk ($1,000), former teammates Austin Collie from the Colts ($1,500)and LeCharles Bentley ($1,000) from the Buckeyes and Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslem ($2,700 from him and $2,700 from his wife Dee).

Gonzalez also drew contributions from outside the sports world, including from various members of the Boich family, which runs coal companies and are active donors to Republican candidates.

Meanwhile, Patton raised $278,351 last quarter while Hagan pulled in $34,615. On the Democratic side, Aaron Godfrey raised $1,953.

RELATED: Fight over sex trafficking begins in Congress The filings from the Federal Election Commission provide an early glimpse at which congressional races — at least from a money standpoint — will be competitive next year.

By far the most expensive race is for the U.S. Senate. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is seeking a third term and leads all candidates in fundraising with $2.6 million raised in the quarter and $8.3 million in the bank.

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who hopes to reverse the outcome of his 2012 losing contest against Brown, raised a little more than $1 million during the quarter and has about $4.1 million in the bank.

Republican Mike Gibbons will report bringing in $421,000 last quarter, according to a spokesman, bringing his total amount to $1.1 million since he entered the race at the end of May. Another Republican, Don Elijah Eckart, a Galloway theologian, contributed $250 of his own money last quarter, according to the filings.

RELATED: John Kasich wants Congress to work together on health care The other races for Congress show a huge money gap between incumbents and challengers.

In southwest Ohio, Citizens for Turner — the campaign committee for Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton — reported raising $142,401 between July 1 and Sept. 30. The committee has raised $444,437 to date this year.

No other candidate reported raising or spending $5,000 in that district during the quarter though Democrat Robert Klepinger has taken out petitions for the 10th congressional district, which includes all or parts of Montgomery, Greene and Fayette counties. Turner has $491,641 in the bank for his campaign.

In the adjacent 8th Congressional District, Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, raised $86,183 last quarter and has $171,602 in the bank. Republican Edward Meer has also pulled petitions for the district but has yet to file a campaign finance report.

Davidson is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which was founded by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana. Jordan has $1.39 million in the bank for his re-election bid after raising $115,586 in the quarter. Democrats Andrew Mackey and Janet Garrett also filed campaign finance reports; they raised $229 and $6,646 to date, respectively.

RELATED: Brown has twice what Mandel has for Senate run In the Cincinnati area, Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, raised $125,270 during the quarter and has $1.15 million in the bank. He faces Democrat Laura Ann Weaver, who reported raising $9,810 in the quarter, and has $8,233 in the bank.

All told, Ohio incumbent House members raised $2.75 million this quarter — more than three times the amount raised by their challengers.

And if that isn’t advantage enough, those running for re-election to Congress have $19 million in the bank, including cash from prior election cycles.

Challengers, meanwhile, reported having less than $1 million on hand for their races.

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ONLINE VOTERS GUIDE

Learn more about these candidates and hundreds of others running for office around the region in our interactive online voters guide at vote.springfieldnewssun.com

ONLINE VOTERS GUIDE

Learn more about these candidates and hundreds of others running for office around the region in our interactive online voters guide at vote.journal-news.com

Trump move to end health insurer payments may cost feds billions more

Published: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 8:41 PM

Even as President Donald Trump urged Senators on Monday to find a bipartisan deal on short-term fixes to the Obama health law, the consensus among health insurance experts is that Mr. Trump’s decision last week to no longer make payments to insurance companies to cover the health-related costs of some Americans might actually cost the federal government billions more in the years ahead.

At issue is the “Cost Sharing Reduction” payments that had been made by the Obama and Trump Administrations – that money helps subsidize insurance costs of some consumers in the Obamacare exchanges.

Those payments were never expressly approved by the Congress, leading many Republicans to charge that the spending had been illegal, and spurring the President to block the payments.

And that’s where the subject gets a bit complicated.

“The Congressional Budget Office estimated that not funding CSR would lead to a net increase of $194 billion in more spending over the next decade,” said health care researcher David Anderson of Duke University.

But wait – how would halting an expected $10 billion in payments in 2018, a move that would save Uncle Sam money – how would that lead to such a big cost for the feds over the next decade?

“While the federal government would save money by not making CSR payments, it would face increased costs for tax credits that subsidize premiums for marketplace enrollees with incomes 100-400% of the poverty level,” wrote officials of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which focuses on health care policy matters.

In other words, different subsidies doled out under the Obama health law would go up as insurance companies raise premiums to deal with the loss of the CSR federal payments – those are known as “Advance Premium Tax Credits,” which can go to families of four with a yearly income of up to $97,000.

“The biggest effect from the termination of cost-sharing subsidy payments is that premiums are going up to offset the loss,” said Larry Levitt of Kaiser, who labeled the impact of the Trump CSR decision, “confusing and complicated.”

One example of that started to appear on Monday in in Pennsylvania, as state officials said health coverage “rates will increase by an average 30.6 percent in the individual market ,” instead of by 7.6 percent.

One recent story from the Miami Herald found that the Trump move on CSR payments would mean a big increase for Florida in the amount of federal dollars spent to subsidize those who get their health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges in that state.

Some experts argue that Mr. Trump’s decision will have the biggest negative impact on insurance rates in states that are normally in the Republican column – especially if those states did not move to expand the Medicaid program during the Obama Administration.

In recent months, a bipartisan group of Senators had been working to figure out a way to tinker with the Obama health law, and make sure the CSR payments were made by Congress, led by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who told reporters on Monday evening that he had already spoken with the President about his CSR decision.

Some GOP Senators have grumbled in recent weeks about the talks between Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), worried that it will contain little in the way of concessions by Democrats on the operations of the Obama health law.

That’s a concern for Republicans in the House as well, and could lead to a stalemate in Congress on any short-term effort to deal with the Obama health law.

“At this time, in my opinion, doing nothing is an acceptable outcome for liberal policy preferences while doing nothing moves policy further away from stated conservative policy preferences,” said Anderson of Duke University.

“I want to get healthcare that’s much more affordable and much better healthcare, and that’s what we’re doing,” the President said on Monday when asked about the CSR payments decision.

What that exactly means for the President is still not clear.

VIDEO: Trump and McConnell take questions after White House meeting

Published: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 3:05 PM

With a lot of work still needed in Congress on key items of President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda, Mr. Trump met for lunch on Monday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, giving off no signs of any ill will despite some sparring in the past, as both men vowed to push ahead on plans for major tax cuts and reform, emphasizing the need to get that done by the end of 2017.

“We’re fighting for the same thing – we’re fight for lower taxes, big tax cuts – the biggest tax cuts in the history of our nation,” the President said at a hastily assembled meeting with reporters in the White House Rose Garden.

“I want to underscore what the President said – we have the same agenda,” McConnell said, standing next to the President the entire time, as reporters verbally jostled to get his attention during a somewhat raucous Q&A that had not been on the original schedule for Mr. Trump.

“My relationship with this gentleman is outstanding,” Mr. Trump said of McConnell, not mentioning some of his tough statements and tough tweets about the Senate GOP leader in the past.

Here is the full Trump news conference, with McConnell:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBI4qDnpW3U&w=640&h=390]