GOP tax plan would be devastating for Maine seniors

Leaders of groups representing and caring for seniors gathered in Bangor on Tuesday to plead with Sen. Susan Collins not to support a proposed Republican tax plan and health care repeal bill that is likely headed towards a vote in the Senate this week.

“Do we really think we’re better off taking away health care to pay for tax cuts for America’s wealthiest and large corporations?” asked Don Berry, a retired electrician from Sumner and president of the Maine Alliance for Retired Americans.

Berry was joined by economists and small business owners who spelled out the specific effects of the legislation, which Collins has said she is leaning toward supporting.

“This bill increases taxes on Mainers, increases health premiums for older Mainers by over $3,000 in rural areas, and triggers devastating cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security as early as next year,” said Garrett Martin, executive director of the Maine Center for Economic Policy.

“Many folks are familiar with the negative impacts that cuts will have on Medicare and Social Security, but there are many other programs that seniors rely on that will be cut due to this tax package,” explained Christopher Linder, Chief Executive Officer of MaineStream Finance. He cited Meals on Wheels and the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program as two examples.

Also on Tuesday, a group of religious leaders associated with the Maine Council of Churches gathered in Portland to speak against the bill, which they called “unjust, immoral, and harmful.”

“People of faith, please join us to stand against the immoral tax bill now before the U.S. Senate, which gives massive tax cuts to the very wealthiest Americans and powerful corporations, funded by raising taxes on middle class families and slashing funding for Medicare, Medicaid, and education. In addition, tagged onto the tax bill is the repeal of the individual mandate, which healthcare experts warn would seriously destabilize the Affordable Care Act, resulting in the loss of healthcare for million,” said the faith leaders in a public statement.

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