In the distant TV past, from our youth, I seem to recall a TV show which I think was Forbidden Planet. The “hook” for this show, to me, was Robbie the Robot, who looked after the Robinson family, who were stranded in a strange new world. Robbie especially looked after the little boy, Will, and if he sensed any threat to the boy would cry out in his robotic voice “danger, Will Robinson!”. In scanning some of the issues that will be impacting us in the new tax bill, I could not help but hear Robbie’s voice. Where are you now when we need you!
The may or not be seen as political. But, for Boomers and our families, there are some danger signs in the discussions now holding forth in D.C. Indeed, I will be attending the annual meeting of C-TAC this week (the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (www.thectac.org) and I am sure the issue of health care costs at the end of life will be foremost. It is our generations (and our families) best interest to keep up on these discussions. I am not speaking of proposed tax cuts, rather, the fact that there seems to be some issues in the bill that would and could impact all of us. It seems that in the House version the deductions for medical expenses are proposed to be eliminated. How many of us have had health care costs as a necessity for care-giving issues or for our own health and wellness? As one newspaper account wrote on this issue that th bill “would eliminate the medical expense deduction, which is used by nearly nine million people with medical problems so severe that they spend more than 10% of their income on health care.”
Reports from other agencies also warned about the potential impact on Medicare and Medicaid. With 10,000 people turning 65 every day, and the first wave of Boomers now in our early 70s, this is not theoretical. If income from taxes is reduced some fear that it would be made up from cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
Indeed, according to the Congressional Budget Office, there is a danger that a law passed in 2010 may impact us. This law “requires spending cuts when Congress passes laws that increase the deficit. These tax bills would require a $25 billion cut to Medicare and many billions more to other programs.” We are seeing in the discussions the potential impact to the deficit if the bills pass.
Add to this whole mess the desire on the part of some to attach the ACA issues to the Senate bill and we have a recipe for real concern. All of us are probably in favor of some reform of the current tax structure. However, speaking to our concerns, I cannot help but hear Robbie’s voice warning us of “danger”.
Please, if you are a member of a congregation or organization, it is on all of our best interests to educate our membership on the implications of these bills. Our tradition speaks to need to have a system based on “tzedek”, justice. We may wonder if what is being discussed is just for all.
Rabbi Richard F Address