(Bloomberg) — Senator Tom Cotton has what he calls a "modest proposal" for the tax legislation that House Republicans are poised to release on Wednesday: eliminate the Obamacare individual mandate. The idea has been resisted by GOP leaders, who worry that mixing health care and taxes could imperil prospects for the upcoming bill.
“Why repeal popular tax deductions when $300B available from mandate repeal?!” the first-term Arkansas Republican argued in a series of tweets Sunday.
A December 2016 estimate by the Congressional Budget Office found that ending the mandate’s tax penalty for most Americans who fail to buy insurance would raise $416 billion over a decade, while causing 15 million to lose their insurance. The savings are mostly because fewer people would use the federal subsidies to buy coverage. An earlier estimate placed the deficit-reduction figure around $300 billion.
The proposal partially mirrors the so-called "skinny" Affordable Care Act repeal measure that failed to pass the Senate in July amid opposition from Republican Senators John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. The GOP has the same margin for error -- it cannot lose more than three votes -- to pass a tax bill. Including a repeal of the mandate could endanger those same three votes. Cotton, however, said that ending the mandate should be an “easy vote as part of tax-cut package.”