Tax Reform Efforts Must Not Lead to Spending Cuts that Harm Older Adults and Caregivers

Statement by W. Mark Clark, President & CEO
Tax Reform Efforts Must Not Lead to Spending Cuts that Harm Older Adults and Caregivers

Tax reform proposals being considered by Congress would dramatically increase the long-term federal deficit and debt, and would pave the way for massive spending cuts to health care, social insurance, and social safety-net programs that serve millions of vulnerable older adults and caregivers nationwide.

Pima Council on Aging is the Area Agency on Aging serving Pima County since 1967. Among our roles as the Area Agency on Aging is an imperative to advocate for the rights, needs, and best interests of older adults and their families.

Pima Council on Aging is deeply concerned about any tax reform proposals that fails to recognize the fiscal realities of the aging of our nation, and would undermine the critical programs and supports necessary to ensure the safety and security of Pima County’s older adults, caregivers, and their families. Nationally, 10,000 Baby Boomers are hitting retirement age every day, and here in Pima County the population of those 60 and older grew at a rate of 17.5% in just five years – far outpacing the overall County growth of just 3% for the same period. Given the tremendous demographic shift happening now, and expected to continue into the next few decades, we strongly believe that cuts to programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are short-sighted and would endanger and harm older adults.

According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, current proposals under consideration in the House and the Senate would increase the national deficit by $1.5 trillion and allow lawmakers, in the near future, to slash spending for federal non-defense discretionary programs, including critical aging and disability programs, by $800 billion; reduce Medicare by $473 billion; and slash Medicaid by more than $1 trillion, all over ten years.

In addition to driving up the deficit, PCOA is also concerned that these tax reform proposals would disproportionately disadvantage middle and-low-income seniors—nearly half of whom have annual income of $25,000 or less.

Instead, PCOA urges lawmakers to participate in a bipartisan, transparent, thoughtful and balanced approach to the federal budgeting process that realistically addresses the health and long-term care needs of the country’s growing older adult population.

“We join our national partners in the aging network in our strong concern about the current Congressional efforts at tax reform. While such reform is a laudable goal, the legislation passed by the House of Representative and under consideration by the Senate will have the effect of imperiling the health and economic future of many Americans, especially low income older adults and those who care for them. The legislation as passed and proposed will drive up the federal deficit which will certainly lead to calls for cuts to federal spending on health care, social insurance and vital social services. In fact, the tax cuts are proposed to be paid for by such spending cuts. Each of us should reach out to our Members of Congress and Senators to let them know how we feel about these major legislative changes,” Mr. Clark said in a statement.