Latest from Lamar

Senator Lamar Alexander
2017-12-23 14:17:28
Latest from Lamar, Notes from the Senate Desk

This week, Congress and President Trump delivered a well-deserved Christmas present—a new law that will reduce taxes for most Tennessee families and grow the economy.

I wrote in The Tennessean  this week that the tax reform bill that Congress sent to the president will help create more good-paying jobs for Tennessee families and let Tennesseans keep more of the money they earn in their pockets. 

This new law, which is the first major tax reform passed in 31 years, nearly doubles the standard deduction—which means twice as much of your income is not taxed at all. Doubling the standard deduction will also make it easier for Tennesseans to file their taxes because most Americans will not have to go through the arduous process of itemizing every deduction.

The law doubles the child tax credit, which means parents can receive a tax credit worth up to $2,000 per child—and you can receive as much as $1,400 of the child tax credit as a refund. 

A family of four making a little over $70,000 a year will save more than $2,000 on their taxes, and a single mother making $41,000 a year will see a $1,300 or 73 percent reduction in her taxes.  For those who say only the wealthy will get a tax break, people making $100,000 or more pay 78 percent of federal taxes today, and after this bill is signed into law, they will pay slightly more.

This law also repeals the individual mandate, which has been a particularly cruel tax to lower-income Tennesseans—most of the people in our state who pay the individual mandate penalty make less than $50,000 a year.

One of the most exciting things we can expect from the law is new business investment— which means more jobs and new facilities in Tennessee. Not only will this mean better jobs for you or your neighbor, it means a healthier economy for your neighborhood, your town, and our state.

For example, just this month I talked about the tax reform legislation with Fred Smith, the CEO of FedEx – one of Tennessee’s largest employers. Mr. Smith said that if the tax bill passed, FedEx will buy more airplanes which will create thousands of jobs in the United States -- and many of them will be right here in Tennessee.

This law will also help us compete against other countries for jobs and new businesses. The United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world - 35% - which has driven 4,700 American companies overseas to take advantage of lower tax rates in other countries over about the past 12 years. This new law lowers the corporate tax rate to 21 percent-- about the worldwide average— and gives businesses the opportunity to bring money back to the U.S. from overseas and deduct their capital investments in the first year.  This means businesses will have more reasons to move their headquarters to Tennessee or expand their facilities here at home instead of overseas, which will help create jobs and put more money in the pockets of Tennesseans. 

About six weeks ago, President Trump met with Republican senators, and he said that he had signed more legislation in the first 100 days of his presidency than any other president since President Harry Truman. That means the Senate is the most productive since President Truman because the president cannot sign legislation into law if the Senate doesn’t pass it.

It doesn’t always make the news when Congress passes a law that helps the American people—but I expect many Tennessee families will begin seeing the benefits of this new law in their paychecks early next year. And in the coming years, we’ll see more businesses expand, invest and  create new jobs. And that is a Christmas present Tennesseans deserve.  



During this time of year, we thank of all of our troops spending the holidays away from their families and loved ones. We cannot thank them and their families enough for all the sacrifices they are making for our country. I hope all of our troops—and especially all of troops from Tennessee—have a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

Looking forward to passing legislation next year to lower Tennesseans’ health insurance premiums by about 20 percent

I am confident that after the first of the year members of the Senate and the House will be eager to pass  legislation I worked on with Sen. Murray, along with legislation from Senators Collins and Nelson, that would reduce health insurance premiums by about 20 percent for the 9 million Americans who have no government subsidies to help them buy insurance in the individual market, according to independent analysts Avalere and Oliver-Wyman. 


Alexander-Murray funds cost-sharing reduction payments for two years that help low-income Americans pay for co-pays and deductibles. It would give states more flexibility in creating policies at a lower cost and allow anyone to buy a “catastrophic” healthcare plan with lower premiums. The Collins-Nelson bill is based upon the experience of Maine and Alaska in using invisible risk pools and reinsurance funds to create a pool of money to pay for the healthcare needs of the very sick—thereby reducing premiums by as much as 20 percent for everyone.


The White House said earlier this week that President Trump wants this important legislation passed in January, and the president called me on Thursday to reiterate his support.


Urging the extension of critical Medicare payments for rural Tennessee hospitals
This week, I — along with my colleague Senator Corker -- a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch requesting the committee extend Medicare payments that are critical to small, rural hospitals in Tennessee. Tennessee hospitals would lose over $5.4 million in reimbursements over the next five years if the Senate Finance Committee’s proposed changes to these payments become law, according to the Tennessee Hospital Association (THA). It is important that Medicare funding is included in the final health care extenders packages because these payments are critical to small, rural hospitals in Tennessee. Read our letter  


Senate confirms Tennessean Jeff Smith to the TVA Board of Directors

This week, the Senate also four of President Trump’s nominees to serve on the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors, including East Tennessean Jeff Smith. Mr. Smith is an outstanding choice to serve on the board of the nation’s largest public utility. I appreciate the president selecting such well-qualified nominees, and I look forward to working with them in the coming years. 

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