Democrats unveil legislation to tighten safety net, raise taxes, expand access to health care

While the big news on Capitol Hill today is the Senate’s successful attempt to cut a deal to fund the government, Democrats in the House are also working on legislation that they hope will finally pass into law.

The bill is called the Sustainable Growth Rate Working Group Act, and it would shore up some badly needed safety net programs. There’s nothing terribly controversial about it, but it has held up progress on other legislation — including immigration reform — because it also involves raising taxes.

As described by the CBC, here’s what this bill would do:

Clothing and restaurant meals, and most other things not classified as exempt food items, would not be subject to sales tax, which would encourage more purchases of food and food services. Currently, many businesses prefer to keep all of their products — even those not deemed exempt — as tax-exempt. Businesses and manufacturing organizations typically oppose using sales tax, claiming that it fails to collect revenue for the government and relies too heavily on discriminatory consumers, respectively.

The bill would not only affect clothing but also professional services like law, accounting, and health care.

Boosting some health care reimbursements would help reduce the nation’s drug prices, ensuring that low-income patients — and most families — have access to coverage.

Hospitals and nursing homes that treat Medicaid patients would no longer have to report to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) how much Medicaid patients cost each day. Currently, CMS must keep track of each patient and how they spend their time. Hiring as many nurses as possible is one of the best ways to increase health care spending, and a significant part of the problem in America is that there are not enough nurses to serve the long-term care population.

Women on domestic violence, child abuse, and other forms of violence would get better protections from the Violence Against Women Act, which expires at the end of September, in exchange for private prisons and other firms that would not be able to continue operating without a business license or enforcement programs if the bill is passed. In the case of private prisons, the bill would terminate their contracts with the federal government and increase funding to help the Bureau of Prisons put a legal end to what has come to be known as the “private prisons business.”

Higher earners would have to pay a new tax on top of the income tax, known as the progressive income tax. This is roughly the same bill that President Donald Trump proposed in December of last year. We’re just glad that it has finally come back to life.

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