|Town Hall, Saturday January 13th, 2018|
Photo by Riley G. Bender
By Riley G. Bender: Purple Walrus Press.
Michigan Representative Debbie Dingell led a town hall on Saturday to discuss the recent GOP Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The event was hosted by Taylor, MI Mayor Rick Sollars in the Taylor City Hall. The Trump era tax bill is over 500 pages long and complex (to say the least), with debate around the potential future impacts remaining heated. Among Congresswoman Dingell’s town hall panel were State Representatives Erika Geiss, Darrin Camilleri, Cara Clemente, Ronnie Peterson, Adam Zemke and Yousef Rabhi. Also present on the panel were Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood; Stephanie Leiser, a tax policy lecturer from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; and Maggie Randolph, Senior Research Analyst from the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation.
Representative Dingell began the discussion by emphasizing the need to place politically charged discussion aside in order to discuss the potential impacts, positive and negative, of the bill on Michigan residents. This sentiment was echoed by Senator Hopgood, who added that the majority of the bill’s impact on the average citizen would not necessarily manifest as a large increase, but that there would be “other implications” including public programs that offer assistance to the community.
Representatives Clemente and Rabhi emphasized the importance of sharing information regarding the tax bill in order to spread awareness and ready the community to make any changes necessary. Perhaps one of the more practical pieces of information shared by the panel prior to the commencement of questions came from Ms. Leiser, in the form of a tax calculator which compares the current tax status quo from 2017 to the changes coming in the 2018 tax year due to the new bill (accessible here).
Lastly, Ms. Randolph highlighted the bill’s removal of the Individual Mandate for health insurance effective January 1, 2019, which previously required all citizens without health insurance to pay a penalty. According to Randolph, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the removal of the Individual Mandate penalty could result in a decrease in individuals with health insurance policies by thirteen million over the next ten years. They predict that this will result in a premium increase of ten percent per year for plans on the marketplace on top of any current trends.
Much of the initial dialogue as well as responses to questions from the audience were taken by Ms. Leiser and Ms. Randolph. While the town hall’s primary focus was toward the new GOP tax bill as a whole, the majority questions from the audience quickly focused the lens of discussion toward the healthcare aspect. The tone was occasionally passionate, but remained respectful and welcoming for members across the community.
Saturday’s town hall was slated as the first of many to come. Details for future events will be available soon.