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Congressman Capuano's
E-UPDATE
An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
7th Congressional District of Massachusetts


12,456 subscribers

November 17, 2017

Tax “Reform”

Yesterday the House considered H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has analyzed this legislation, concluding that the top 1% of taxpayers will get almost half of the tax cuts. The taxes of 36 million middle income filers will go up. A key reason for this is because H.R. 1 terminates or limits many deductions that help people lower their tax obligations. Here is a list of just some of them:

  • Medical expenses, such as long-term care needs, can no longer be deducted;
  • Teachers who use their own money to buy classroom supplies can no longer deduct that cost;
  • State and local taxes can no longer be deducted;
  • Property tax deductions are capped at $10,000;
  • The mortgage interest deduction only applies to $500,000 of a homeowner’s mortgage;
  • The student loan interest deduction is eliminated;
  • The deduction for dependent care assistance, which is used for day care expenses and to help care for older parents, is terminated;
  • Graduate students who do research or teach a class and receive a tuition waiver as a result will have to treat that waiver as taxable income.

Corporations, however, will find a lot to like in H.R. 1. Their tax rate will go down by 15% in year one. This alone carries a $1.5 trillion bill over ten years. Ultimately, this legislation increases our nation’s debt by $1.7 trillion.

Under H.R. 1, the estate tax will only apply to estates larger than $22 million and will eventually be phased out. It also weakens the Johnson amendment which, under current law, prohibits churches and certain nonprofits from endorsing political candidates. Charitable deductions are tax-deductible but political contributions are not. Faith communities can and should exercise their First Amendment right to express their beliefs and opinions, but U.S. law has, until now, prevented donors from channeling money to candidates through religious or philanthropic organizations. The bill also gives new legal rights to a fetus by recognizing an unborn child as an individual. This is a step toward establishing personhood from the moment of conception.

The Senate is currently debating a different tax proposal, one that repeals the individual health insurance mandate. This is the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provision that requires individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a fee. It is the foundation of the ACA. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), if this provision prevails, it will result in premiums going up for everyone an average of 10% and 13 million people losing health care.

Congressional Republicans are hoping to resolve the differences between the House and Senate bills by Christmas. I spoke on the House floor about this bill, noting just some of its lowlights. I voted NO. H.R. 1 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

227

13

0

0

DEMOCRAT

0

192

0

2

TOTAL

227

205

0

2

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

9

0

0

Defense Authorization

On Tuesday the House considered the Conference Report on H.R. 2810, the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. The legislation authorizes almost $700 billion in funding for Department of Defense related programming. Although there are provisions in this Conference Report that I support, such as a cost of living adjustment for military personnel, I could not vote for this legislation. There has still been no agreement to lift the spending caps enacted through the Budget Control Act (BCA). This legislation authorizes almost $80 billion more in funding than what is allowed under the BCA. That money will come at the expense of other federal programs, from health care and education to transportation. I voted NO. The Conference Report for H.R. 2810 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

229

7

0

3

DEMOCRAT

127

63

0

4

TOTAL

356

70

7

9

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

4

4

0

0

Flood Insurance

On Tuesday the House also considered H.R. 2874, the 21st Century Flood Reform Act. This legislation extends the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for five years. Authorization for the program expires on December 8th. While the NFIP is in need of reform, this legislation takes the wrong approach and will raise premiums for many homeowners. Dwellings that were constructed before the first flood insurance maps were established must absorb a minimum annual increase of 6.5%. It also increases fees mandated under the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) and gives FEMA the authority to charge an annual fee for homeowners who pay their insurance in monthly installments. The NFIP is currently $20 billion in debt and H.R. 2874 does nothing to address this problem. This burdens policy holders who are paying $400 million a year in interest on this debt. There is no money dedicated to updating flood maps or improving the technology associated with creating the maps.

This legislation also denies flood insurance coverage on any property with claims that are more than 3 times the replacement value of the property, even though payouts under NFIP are capped regardless of replacement value or total damage cost. This new provision encompasses the life of the property – from when it was built to the present. It is easy to see how a home in a flood prone area could lose its flood insurance as a result of this arbitrary provision. This will hurt property values and in turn hurt neighborhoods. I voted NO. H.R. 2874 passed and the entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

222

14

0

3

DEMOCRAT

15

175

0

4

TOTAL

237

189

0

7

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

0

8

0

1

Behind the Curtain — More House and Trump Administration Actions You Don’t Want to Miss

Here are this week’s additions. If you need to catch up or share with friends, you can find the full list here.

  1. In October 2017 Vice President Pence and his wife Karen walked out of an Indianapolis Colts football game when some players took a knee during the national anthem. Pence’s action was clearly a publicity stunt and not an unplanned reaction. Well, that publicity stunt cost taxpayers about $250,000 in federal dollars. In November, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington announced that the stunt also cost the local police department more than $14,000, according to records the organization obtained. Regardless of how one feels about the anthem protests, the Vice President’s actions represent a clear disregard for taxpayer dollars.
  2. According to November 2017 media reports, the total amount of fines issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) dropped in FY 2017, which ended on September 30th. The SEC regulates Wall Street and the financial industry. This drop in fines is not because there are suddenly fewer violations that warrant scrutiny or that Wall Street has suddenly voluntarily strengthened its own oversight. Few would describe Wells Fargo as a good corporate citizen, for example. With penalties on institutions going down, it encourages risky activity because there is less concern that institutions will be held accountable.
  3. President Trump has nominated Brett J. Talley to serve as a federal district judge in Alabama, a position requiring Senate confirmation. Talley’s nomination should trouble anyone who cares about the integrity of the judiciary. In addition to the fact that he has never tried a case, Talley was also rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association in September. Talley did not disclose on a required Senate questionnaire that his wife is the Chief of Staff to the White House Counsel.
  4. H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as described above.
  5. H.R. 2874, the 21st Century Flood Reform Act, as described above.

What’s Up Next

A District Work period has been scheduled. The next House votes will take place on Tuesday November 28th.

Mike


Congressman Mike Capuano
7th District, Massachusetts
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Financial Services

P.S. I welcome your feedback on our e-Updates. Please let me and my staff know what you think of this service by e-mailing our office.


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Stetson Hall Room 124, 6 South Main Street, Randolph

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DC Office Phone:

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