Mark Totten: AG Bill Schuette helped give half million Michiganders a $4700 tax hike in Halbig case


Photo by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog

A federal court’s decision in the Halbig v. Burwell lawsuit earlier this month threatens the Affordable Care Act subisidies of nearly a half million Michiganders. The ruling contends that the law is written to exclude subsidies from residents in states that rely on the federal health insurance exchange. This, of course, wouldn’t be an issue if Michigan Republicans not stopped our state from setting up its own exchange.

In an op-ed in The Detroit News today, Democratic candidate for Attorney General Mark Totten calls the result a tax hike on a half million Michiganders and lays the blame for it largely on Republican AG and tea party darling Bill Schuette:

This week, a federal court accepted Attorney General Bill Schuette’s argument that hundreds of thousands of Michigan families are ineligible for federal tax credits to purchase health insurance. If the ruling stands, Bill Schuette will have denied working Michigan families tax credits averaging $4,700.

The scope of families harmed if Schuette gets his way is staggering. Nearly 500,000 Michigan families are eligible for these credits, and several hundred thousand have already claimed them. The average value of these credits is $4,700 per family. For the average family in our state, that represents nearly two months of take-home pay. […]

Schuette has shown he won’t give a second thought to sacrificing people to score a few partisan points and curry favor with his national funders.

As if his effort to raise taxes on Michigan families wasn’t enough, Schuette led the successful fight against Gov. Rick Snyder’s effort to create a Michigan exchange. In response, the editorial page of this paper chastised Schuette for “letting his political stripes outshine his role as the state’s top legal adviser.” Having fought to ensure Michigan used the federal exchange, Schuette is now fighting to raise taxes on Michigan families because they use the very exchange he pushed.

Totten has been talking about this as a tax hike on Michigan residents since at least February when he issued this statement:

On Feb. 6, Schuette asked a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. to deny a half-million Michigan families nearly $5,000 in annual federal tax relief to help them buy health insurance — even though families in other states would continue to receive these federal dollars. If Schuette wins, Michigan families would pay $2.5 billion more each year in federal taxes than other states — money that could be spent in localstores and helping Michigan’s economic recovery. […]

‘Schuette’s attempt to please the far right of his party by saddling a half-million working families with nearly $5,000 more a year in taxes is outrageous and wrong. Clearly the health law has problems, but we don’t fix it by raising taxes on Michigan families. Governor Snyder should immediately make clear that Schuette does not speak for the state.’

Schuette’s move has even some in his own party unhappy. At a panel discussion on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during the annual Michigan Association of Health Plans in Traverse City this week, several GOP lawmakers expressed their disdain publicly. “The Affordable Care Act is here,” said Michigan House Rep. Mike Callton of Nashville. “I don’t understand the logic of actually taking the benefit of it away.”

Indeed. Especially since we’re paying for it with our tax dollars one way or the other.

When you consider that Schuette worked hard to be sure Michigan didn’t create its own exchange along with the fact that he signed onto the Halbig suit, it starts to look an awful lot like LOLGOP’s pondering about a Republican conspiracy to kneecap the Affordable Care Act through this lawsuit are accurate. It may not have been Gov. Snyder’s doing directly but his silence as his AG proceeded with this lawsuit on behalf of the people of Michigan implicates him and suggests, as I said in February, that he was letting Schuette do his dirty work for him in order to keep his hands clean and appear moderate.

If you’re one of the 500,000 people in Michigan that have benefited from the federal health insurance subisidies provided through the ACA like so many of the people in the stories told here at Eclectablog by Amy Lynn Smith, make sure you let your friends and neighbors and coworkers and babysitters and anyone else who will listen how you feel about having to pay nearly $5,000 more per year for basic health insurance thanks to our ideologue tea party Attorney General Bill Schuette.

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