Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Ever since it became law in March 2010, the Affordable Care Act has been mocked from both sides of the aisle for its slow rollout and intangible benefits. But a key provision that kicked in early — allowing young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26 — has proven wildly popular and is paying big dividends:

Young adults, long the group most likely to be uninsured, are gaining health coverage faster than expected since the 2010 health law began allowing parents to cover them as dependents on family policies.

Three new surveys, including two released on Wednesday, show that adults under 26 made significant and unique gains in insurance coverage in 2010 and the first half of 2011. One of them, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimates that in the first quarter of 2011 there were 900,000 fewer uninsured adults in the 19-to-25 age bracket than in 2010.

This was despite deep hardship imposed by the recession, which has left young adults unemployed at nearly double the rate of older Americans, with incomes sliding far faster than the national average.

The Obama administration, intent on showcasing the benefits of a law that has been pilloried by Republicans, attributes the improvement to a provision of the Affordable Care Act that permits parents to cover dependents up to their 26th birthdays. Until that measure took effect one year ago this week, children typically had to roll off their parents’ family policies at 18 or 21 or when they left college.

Some twenty-somethings adopted a posture of “young invincibility,” forgoing health insurance they could afford while gambling that they would not incur steep medical expenses. But others, like Kylie R. Logsdon, who credits the provision for enabling her heart transplant in July, were living with chronic or life-threatening conditions and had no prospects for coverage.

“I honestly don’t know what we would have done,” said Ms. Logsdon, 23, of Gerlaw, Ill., who gained coverage under her father’s policy after losing her job as a legal secretary. “There was no way we could have afforded it. I might not be here right now.”

Last week, the Census Bureau reported that the share of young adults without health insurance dropped in 2010 by 2 percentage points, to 27.2 percent. That decline meant that 502,000 fewer 18- to 24-year-olds were uninsured. Most gained coverage through private policies, not government programs.

For every other age cohort, the proportion without insurance increased, as high unemployment and contractions in employer coverage continued to take their toll. For the first time in more than 10 years, 18- to 24-year-olds were not the least insured group, having been overtaken by those 25 to 34.

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, accentuated the silver lining in an otherwise grim Census poverty report by declaring: “The Affordable Care Act is working.”

Obama needs a steady trickle of reports like this one to slowly improve impressions of the healthcare law, which remains his signature domestic achievement, before he’s on the ballot again in November 2012.

A Week That Was Disastrous For Trump, Miraculous For Biden

Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes the year he was elected president, according to a blockbuster report published by the New York Times on Sunday.

The Times report also found that Trump is millions of dollars in debt, incurred through a series of failed business ventures — a fact that runs counter to Trump's self-made image as a successful businessman. Trump has also used his financial failings to avoid paying taxes, the report found.

The president has resisted revealing his financial information since the start of his first presidential campaign, despite promising otherwise. "I would certainly show tax returns if it was necessary," Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in 2015. Yet for five years, the president has failed to produce the documents.The president paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, and paid another $750 in 2017, according to the report. And in 2014, Trump paid zero dollars in taxes.

Conservatives including Trump often suggest that undocumented immigrants take advantages of government services without contributing their fair share. Throughout his first term, Trump has repeatedly cast blame on immigrants and suggested they post an economic burden to U.S. taxpayers.

"Our current immigration system costs America's taxpayers many billions of dollars a year," Trump claimed in 2017 during his first presidential address to Congress.

That claim does not hold up to scrutiny. In reality, undocumented immigrants pay billions of dollars in taxes every year. In 1996, the Internal Revenue Service created a program for non-citizens who work in the U.S. to report their income. Non-citizens who do not have a Social Security Number — including undocumented immigrants — are able to file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN. According to the IRS, 4.4 million people paid taxes using an ITIN in 2015, totaling $23.6 billion in tax revenue.

This raises the question: why would undocumented immigrants pay U.S. taxes if they are unauthorized to live in the country? Immigrants often choose to pay taxes in order to demonstrate "good moral character" when applying for legal residence or citizenship, according to the National Immigration Law Center. Undocumented immigrants who fail to pay their taxes risk deportation.

"Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, paid an estimated $328 billion in state, federal, and local taxes in 2014 alone," Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law practice at Cornell Law School, told the American Independent Foundation. "It is outrageous that the average undocumented immigrant in the United States pays more in federal income taxes than the President did in 2016."

This contrast is especially ironic given Trump's tendency to deride unauthorized immigrants as irresponsible lawbreakers. Trump has a tendency to respond to criticism with projection — when accused, he accuses others of the same thing.

"Yes, undocumented immigrants are helping fund the very system that detain and deport us," journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who is undocumented, tweeted in 2019.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.