Last week, governors from the states of New Jersey, New York and California announced a plan to fight the Republicans’ devastating tax plan that’s working its way through Congress by filing a legal challenge if the measure becomes law. Noticeably absent from this effort was Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.
Despite being a Republican governor from a blue-leaning state, which gives him significant influence in his political party, Rauner has abstained from flexing his political muscle on national policies that have real-life consequences for Illinoisans. He was silent, as well, when the GOP-led Congress was attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act this year, though 11 governors, including five Republicans, urged Congress to reject efforts to dismantle the ACA.
He remained silent all while knowing that nearly 1.2 million Illinois residents would have lost insurance coverage.
The GOP tax bill is just plain bad for Illinois, and we need our state’s highest elected leader to stand up and protect Illinois families and individuals from its devastating impacts. This tax bill repeals the ACA’s requirement that all Americans have health insurance, which will cause 13 million Americans to lose health care coverage and force insurance premiums to skyrocket.
According to a study by the Center for American Progress, specifically, 525,000 people in Illinois will lose health insurance coverage and more than 916,000 Illinois families will see a tax increase. About 900,000 Illinoisans, or 7.1 percent of state residents, lacked health insurance in 2015. That’s down from 1.2 million uninsured in 2014 and far fewer than the 1.6 million who were without insurance in 2013, before key provisions of the ACA kicked in.
A repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate would wreak havoc and create instability in the insurance marketplace, resulting in Illinois losing the coverage gains it has witnessed over the last few years.
Rauner said in a recent interview that “we need to reduce the tax burden on our working families.” In fact, this tax bill does the opposite: it saddles lower and middle-income taxpayers with a big burden to shoulder.
According to an evaluation by the Joint Committee on Taxation, by 2027, taxes will increase for Americans making $75,000 a year or less, and those making between $20,000 and $30,000 will see their taxes go up by 25.4 percent. What’s more, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the plan will actually increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion between 2018 and 2027.
Has Rauner learned nothing from the recent fiscal crisis in Illinois? For years, lawmakers have attempted to address these deficits by slashing critical programs that Illinois residents depend on, like Medicaid and Medicare.
Politics aside, the GOP tax plan is just bad for Americans and bad for Illinoisans. Gov. Rauner should use his bully pulpit to urge congressional members of the Illinois delegation to vote against this destructive bill and go back to the drawing board for Illinois families.
Ramon Gardenhire is vice president of policy and advocacy for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. He wrote this essay on behalf, as well, of the Protect Our Care Illinois coalition.
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