ORLANDO – Tea Party elements of the Republican Party, who ran on platforms of limited government, may be facing the ultimate test of that Libertarian theory as the GOP majority in the U.S. House of Representatives moves to change the federal tax code to impact a controversial social issue, abortion.
It’s a move that doesn’t have much support from Peg Dunmire, chairman of the Florida Tea Party, who says the GOP should stay away from using tax policy for social engineering.
That’s true even if women want to use a new tax credit from the federal health care reform law for abortion or pregnancy services, Dunmire said.
“At the federal level, tax credits, I don‘t think, should be restricted,” Dunmire said. “I think that anything that is legitimately a health care expenditure should be eligible.”
The health care reform law approved by Congress in 2010 established a regulated market that helps people buy health insurance, with a government tax credit for those who can’t pay their premiums.
To appease opponents of abortion, the law requires people to pay a separately administered surcharge if they want that procedure covered in their health care plan.
House Republicans don’t believe the surcharge will be enough to prevent people from using the tax credit to pay for abortions, so they’re pushing new legislation that prohibits any tax credit money from being used for this purpose. The proposed legislation states, “no credit shall be allowed under the internal revenue laws … with respect to amounts paid or incurred for a health benefits plan (including premium assistance) that includes coverage of abortion.”
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion act would ban the use of any federal money for abortions, and redefine tax credits as federal money.
Dunmire said this proposal would do little more than further complicate an already overly complex federal tax system, creating yet another unnecessary layer of bureaucracy at a time when government should be shrinking.
“The issue that I have right now with the legislation that came about as a result of ObamaCare is there are things that were changed,” she said. “For example, for health savings accounts, it’s not as liberal in its application of what a health care expenditure is. I consider that micromanaging.”
Adding more restrictions on health care expenditures will make the system even worse, she said.
“Who are these legislators and senators to tell me what is a legitimate health care expenditure or not? So I am, on a freedom basis, opposed to this,” Dunmire said.
More importantly, Dunmire added, the government should stay out of the business of regulating the procedure as long as Roe vs Wade — the U.S. Supreme Court decision that knocked down most abortion restrictions — is still in place.
“Abortion is the law of the land,” she said. “Women are allowed to have abortions. Although I am personally morally opposed to abortions, I think the higher calling is to obey the law.”
Dunmire said it’s also self-defeating for Republicans to use the tax codes for social engineering, since they’ve frequently accused Democrats of doing the same thing in the past. A much better solution, she said, would be simplifying the tax code altogether.
“One of the issues that we have with government spending as kind of a general platform is that the web is extremely gnarled when it comes to federal expenditures,” she said. “It’s very, very difficult to even figure out where the restrictions are. It’s extremely complicated and I’m all for simplifying the tax code.
“With simplifying,” she added, “we will shine the light of the truth. Let’s just be simple about this. If we believe we want people to pay for some of their health care expenditures, let’s just universally give that as our public policy and tax credit, and stop trying to manage what expenditures are okay and which ones are not.”
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