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Dorgan: Tax cuts balloon the deficit and damages Medicare

Senator Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Last week we learned that parts of the Medicare program will run out of money three years earlier than previously expected in part because of the tax cut legislation that was recently enacted.

That bad news finally exposes the full truth about the damage done by the tax cut bill written by the Majority party in Congress and President Donald Trump. Not only have they borrowed trillions of dollars and ballooned the federal debt in order to cut taxes mostly for the wealthy, they've also

injured the Medicare program at the same time.

Borrowing money to pay for tax cuts at a time when we have a nearly $21 trillion federal debt is just plain nuts, and they know it.

When the economy is growing we're supposed to be paying down the debt, not increasing it. Yet, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the official scorekeeper for Congress, the deficits will now soar over the next 10 years, pushing up the federal debt to amounts far greater than any year since just after World War II.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., has been attacked for voting against the tax cut bill. Well, I'm glad she did. She had the courage to say no to legislation that massively adds to the federal debt and at the same time damages the Medicare program by many billions of dollars.

Congressman Kevin Cramer, by contrast, boasts about his vote for the tax cuts. But he forgets to point out that he and President Trump added to the federal debt by nearly $2 trillion with those cuts and also hurt the Medicare program at the same time.

They were warned, but they wouldn't listen.

The reason the tax cut bill also negatively affects the Medicare program was because of last minute provisions they added to the tax cut bill that eliminated the requirement for Americans to have health insurance coverage.

But when they eliminated the mandate that everyone be covered by health insurance, they knew were undermining critical provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that are important to the American people.

For example, the ACA prohibits insurance companies from denying health care coverage because of pre-existing conditions. It also keeps kids on their parent's insurance policies until age 26. It eliminates the lifetime limits on insurance benefits.

Those provisions and others will be gone if President Trump and Cramer get their wish.

The fact is, the so-called tax cut legislation was bad tax policy, terrible fiscal policy and even worse health care policy.

These are mistakes we can fix. But we need serious people willing to work on difficult problems to put our country back on the right track.

Borrowing money to provide tax cuts was not smart fiscal policy.

We need to start making hard decisions on things that matter most for our future.

Byron Dorgan was a Democratic legislator for North Dakota who served 12 years in the U.S. House and 18 years in the U.S. Senate. He retired in 2010.

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