More politcal punishment

Well, as we wrote just last Sunday, the Republican plans for tax reform appear to be thinly disguised attempts to punish states that lean toward the Democratic Party.

The House version of GOP tax reform eliminates deductions for state and local taxes and caps the home mortgage interest deduction at $500,000 — absolute killer changes for places like Hawaii, New York, Connecticut, California and Massachusetts that have both state income taxes and high housing costs.

Then on Tuesday, Senate leaders announced they will include eliminating the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act in their version of tax reform. What this has to do with tax reform is unclear — but it is another kick at undermining President Barack Obama’s signature health care act.

Mind you, Tuesday’s announcement comes as a bipartisan effort led by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray appeared to be making headway toward a compromise to fix our health care system.

The GOP seems committed to killing the Affordable Care Act, and eliminating the mandate is a great way of destabilizing individual markets across the country. By allowing young, healthy individuals to opt out of having health insurance, the GOP will tilt the covered pool to sicker individuals who need more services. And the premiums will soar for the folks who have to buy those policies.

Oh, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says eliminating the individual mandate would result in 13 million more Americans without health insurance. When they need services, doctors and hospitals are going to be eating the cost of that health care.

Perhaps adding the elimination of the mandate will finish off the “tax reform” efforts. Maybe it will drive enough moderate Republicans to oppose these toxic plans.

This ham-handed effort to punish Democrats has apparently killed the bipartisan efforts of Alexander and Murray. That is more than a shame — it should be criminal.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.

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