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
Things are looking up for Utah
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
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repealed, another 5 million people who currently buy health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
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
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
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
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
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.
361A Russell Senate
Salt Lake City
Wallace F. Bennett
125 South State,
Salt Lake City, UT
Office of Senator
Michael S. Lee
285 West Tabernacle,
St. George, UT 84770
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.
For more information please follow the URL below:
Follow the URL below to update your preferences or opt-out:
To unsubscribe from future mailings, send an email to mailto:xxx?Subject=Unsubscribe&body=Please%20remove%20me%20from%20further%20mailings
with "Unsubscribe" as the subject line.