The Senate Finance Committee wrapped up its grueling work on the health care reform bill late Thursday evening after turning back a tax-related amendment.
The amendment, proposed by Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, would have prevented anybody from having to pay a tax or fee if they earned less than $200,000 a year as an individual or $250,000 as a family. It would have applied to penalties for not buying health insurance, as well as withdrawals from health savings accounts not used for health care and limitations on medical expense deductions. The proposal was labeled a killer amendment by committee chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and was defeated by a 12-11 margin.
Crapo claimed that many people would see their taxes increase under the legislation, including those at income levels that Obama had insisted would not be hit by tax increases during his administration. However, Baucus argued that the bill would result in a net $40 billion tax cut for Americans as a whole by 2017.
The committee is still awaiting an estimate of the cost of the bill by the Congressional Budget Office, and a vote is expected next week.
Earlier this week, the committee also rejected two amendments from Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., that would have added a public option to the plan. They still hope to get the public option passed when the Finance Committee bill is combined with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee bill, which does include a public option, or when it is reconciled with the House legislation.
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