The Laudable Pursuit: A Good Start for Utah Families

Senator Mike Lee
2017-11-17 19:54:44
November 17, 2017 "to elevate the condition of men--to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance, in the race of life." --Abraham Lincoln Chairman's Note: A Good Start for Utah Families Things are looking up for Utah families. This Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee released a revised version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This version included two key changes that make the bill much better for Utah families. First, the revised bill expanded the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 under current law to $2,000. This increase solved a potentially huge problem for working Utah families in tax reform. The original tax bill only increased the CTC to $1,650. It also eliminating the personal exemption, a tax provision that benefits many working families. This could have meant a tax hike for many Utah families, but by increasing the CTC to $2,000 the new bill avoided that mistake. According to the Tax Foundation, a family of four making $85,000 per year would get a $1,554 tax cut under the new Senate bill. And thanks to economic growth, the average middle-income Utah family would eventually see an extra $2,969 in after-tax income every year. The revised Senate bill also would repeal Obamacare's individual mandate, a provision that the Supreme Court ruled was a tax in 2012. By eliminating this tax penalty, millions of Americans families will no longer be punished for not purchasing expensive health insurance policies they do not want. Democrats claim that repealing the individual mandate would kick 13 million Americans off of their health insurance policies. But that claim could not be further from the truth, as a Washington Post fact check makes clear. It is true that five million Americans will choose not to enroll in Medicaid when they are not forced to do so by a government mandate. It also is true that an additional two million Americans will choose to decline employer-sponsored health care in return for higher wages. But these seven million people are all choosing to forego health care of their own accord. Nobody is depriving them of anything. If the individual mandate is repealed, another 5 million people who currently buy health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges will discontinue those policies. But many of those people would have gotten subsidies to cover the cost of Obamacare premiums. And those who do not qualify for premiums can buy unregulated health-care plans that better fit their needs. The corporate tax cut in the original version of the bill will be more good news for working families. Yes, some of that tax cut will go to the stockholders of corporate entities-but a lot of that money will go instead to new jobs and higher wages. Economists disagree on the precise breakdown, but the consensus is that lost wages make up between one-quarter and one-half of corporate tax revenue. According to the Tax Foundation, the Senate tax plan would lead to a 3.7 percent increase in economic growth, 925,000 more jobs, and 4.4% higher after-tax income. As good as this bill is- and it is good-it is not perfect. Many Utah families pay far more in Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes than they do in income taxes. As written, the current Senate bill would provide these families little relief. There is a solution to this shortcoming. If we make the Child Tax Credit refundable up to the amount that families pay in payroll taxes, then the credit would be far more beneficial to those families that most need extra cash in their pockets. The bill as written also reduces federal revenues by almost $1.5 trillion. By itself, this is not a problem: The federal government shouldn't be taking so much of our money! But if this tax cut is not followed by significant spending cuts, it will hand the next generation an unacceptable debt burden My colleagues have done a fantastic job on tax reform so far. If we can just make the Child Tax Credit refundable against payroll taxes-and if we can then pledge to address our nation's spending addiction-it will be a huge win for Utah families. Technological Innovation can be stifled by Government Regulation Click here to watch video Issue in Focus: The USA Liberty Act The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was signed into law in 1978 to curtail the relatively unbridled surveillance power the executive had possessed since President Franklin Roosevelt. The intent of the act was to limit the government's ability to spy on Americans abroad and all people at home. Despite their good intentions, the authors of the bill included one provision that accomplished just the opposite. Section 702 of FISA has allowed the government to collect vast amounts of information from the Internet and other technological platforms, effectively undermining the law's original intent of protecting civil liberties. Government agencies have exploited this provision to expand their spying powers. The tech trails and geotracking used by government agencies today would have seemed like the stuff of science fiction in 1978, while PRISM would have seemed like something out of 1984. We've made progress in rolling back some of these abuses-for example, by passing the USA Freedom Act in 2015-but we still have a way to go. That is why I am pleased that the USA Liberty Act passed out of the House Judiciary Committee last week. The USA Liberty Act would create a new framework of protections and transparency requirements to ensure that the government uses its surveillance powers without abusing citizens' constitutional rights to privacy and due process. This bill would define more strictly what information can and cannot be collected by the government, whether incidentally or intentionally. It would end the collection of information that is bundled incidentally with more important information about a person or topic of interest. It also would implement higher accountability thresholds for heads of government agencies responsible for protecting civil liberties, whistleblower protections for federal employees and contractors, and privacy and due process safeguards for American citizens. Today, Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT) and I introduced a companion bill to the USA Liberty Act that includes all these protections. Our Senate bill also includes an amendment originally introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that would close a "back-door" surveillance loophole by requiring domestic agencies such as the FBI to obtain a warrant before accessing any information about American citizens collected under Section 702. Fifty years after FISA's passage, we are still reconciling the need for public safety with constitutionally protected rights to privacy and due process. The USA Liberty Act would send a clear bipartisan message that our government must protect Americans' safety and constitutional rights-not one or the other. Washington, D.C. Office 361A Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C., 20510 Phone: 202.224.5444 Fax: 202.228.1168 Salt Lake City Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building 125 South State, Suite 4225 Salt Lake City, UT 84138 Phone: 801.524.5933 Fax: 801.524.5730 St. George Office of Senator Michael S. Lee 285 West Tabernacle, Suite 200 St. George, UT 84770 Phone: 435.628.5514 SaveSaveSave SaveSave SaveSaveSave Save Save Save Save Save Save SaveSave SaveSaveSave SaveSave Save This message was intended for: xxx You were added to the system October 2, 2015. 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November 17, 2017

"to elevate the condition of men--to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance, in the race of life." --Abraham Lincoln

Chairman's Note: A Good Start for Utah Families

Things are looking up for Utah families.
 
This Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee released a revised version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This version included two key changes that make the bill much better for Utah families.
 
First, the revised bill expanded the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 under current law to $2,000. This increase solved a potentially huge problem for working Utah families in tax reform. The original tax bill only increased the CTC to $1,650. It also eliminating the personal exemption, a tax provision that benefits many working families. This could have meant a tax hike for many Utah families, but by increasing the CTC to $2,000 the new bill avoided that mistake.
 
According to the Tax Foundation, a family of four making $85,000 per year would get a $1,554 tax cut under the new Senate bill. And thanks to economic growth, the average middle-income Utah family would eventually see an extra $2,969 in after-tax income every year.
 
The revised Senate bill also would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate, a provision that the Supreme Court ruled was a tax in 2012. By eliminating this tax penalty, millions of Americans families will no longer be punished for not purchasing expensive health insurance policies they do not want.
 
Democrats claim that repealing the individual mandate would kick 13 million Americans off of their health insurance policies. But that claim could not be further from the truth, as a Washington Post fact check makes clear.
 
It is true that five million Americans will choose not to enroll in Medicaid when they are not forced to do so by a government mandate. It also is true that an additional two million Americans will choose to decline employer-sponsored health care in return for higher wages. But these seven million people are all choosing to forego health care of their own accord. Nobody is depriving them of anything.
 
If the individual mandate is repealed, another 5 million people who currently buy health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges will discontinue those policies. But many of those people would have gotten subsidies to cover the cost of Obamacare premiums. And those who do not qualify for premiums can buy unregulated health-care plans that better fit their needs.
 
The corporate tax cut in the original version of the bill will be more good news for working families. Yes, some of that tax cut will go to the stockholders of corporate entities—but a lot of that money will go instead to new jobs and higher wages.
 
Economists disagree on the precise breakdown, but the consensus is that lost wages make up between one-quarter and one-half of corporate tax revenue. According to the Tax Foundation, the Senate tax plan would lead to a 3.7 percent increase in economic growth, 925,000 more jobs, and 4.4% higher after-tax income.
 
As good as this bill is— and it is good—it is not perfect.
 
Many Utah families pay far more in Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes than they do in income taxes. As written, the current Senate bill would provide these families little relief.
 
There is a solution to this shortcoming. If we make the Child Tax Credit refundable up to the amount that families pay in payroll taxes, then the credit would be far more beneficial to those families that most need extra cash in their pockets.
 
The bill as written also reduces federal revenues by almost $1.5 trillion. By itself, this is not a problem: The federal government shouldn’t be taking so much of our money! But if this tax cut is not followed by significant spending cuts, it will hand the next generation an unacceptable debt burden
 
My colleagues have done a fantastic job on tax reform so far. If we can just make the Child Tax Credit refundable against payroll taxes—and if we can then pledge to address our nation’s spending addiction—it will be a huge win for Utah families.

 

Technological Innovation can be stifled by Government Regulation

Click here to watch video

 

 

Issue in Focus: The USA Liberty Act

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was signed into law in 1978 to curtail the relatively unbridled surveillance power the executive had possessed since President Franklin Roosevelt. The intent of the act was to limit the government’s ability to spy on Americans abroad and all people at home.
 
Despite their good intentions, the authors of the bill included one provision that accomplished just the opposite. Section 702 of FISA has allowed the government to collect vast amounts of information from the Internet and other technological platforms, effectively undermining the law’s original intent of protecting civil liberties.
 
Government agencies have exploited this provision to expand their spying powers. The tech trails and geotracking used by government agencies today would have seemed like the stuff of science fiction in 1978, while PRISM would have seemed like something out of 1984.
 
We’ve made progress in rolling back some of these abuses—for example, by passing the USA Freedom Act in 2015—but we still have a way to go.
 
That is why I am pleased that the USA Liberty Act passed out of the House Judiciary Committee last week.
 
The USA Liberty Act would create a new framework of protections and transparency requirements to ensure that the government uses its surveillance powers without abusing citizens’ constitutional rights to privacy and due process.
 
This bill would define more strictly what information can and cannot be collected by the government, whether incidentally or intentionally. It would end the collection of information that is bundled incidentally with more important information about a person or topic of interest. It also would implement higher accountability thresholds for heads of government agencies responsible for protecting civil liberties, whistleblower protections for federal employees and contractors, and privacy and due process safeguards for American citizens.  
 
Today, Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT) and I introduced a companion bill to the USA Liberty Act that includes all these protections. Our Senate bill also includes an amendment originally introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that would close a “back-door” surveillance loophole by requiring domestic agencies such as the FBI to obtain a warrant before accessing any information about American citizens collected under Section 702.
 
Fifty years after FISA’s passage, we are still reconciling the need for public safety with constitutionally protected rights to privacy and due process. The USA Liberty Act would send a clear bipartisan message that our government must protect Americans’ safety and constitutional rights—not one or the other.

 

Washington, D.C. Office
361A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C., 20510
Phone: 202.224.5444
Fax: 202.228.1168

Salt Lake City
Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building
125 South State, Suite 4225
Salt Lake City, UT 84138
Phone: 801.524.5933
Fax: 801.524.5730

St. George
Office of Senator Michael S. Lee
285 West Tabernacle, Suite 200
St. George, UT 84770
Phone: 435.628.5514




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