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Republican Obamacare repeal benefits wealthiest: study

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A Republican plan to repeal taxes set under Obamacare would benefit the wealthiest U.S. households at more than five times the rate for middle-income families, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

“The effects are really very dramatic. We found that a typical middle-income family would get a tax cut averaging about $300, while people in the top 0.1 percent would get a tax cut of about $207,000,” Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the nonprofit research group, said on Monday. (http://tpc.io/2n1Mdwi)

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The expected benefits equal 2.6 percent of a wealthy family’s after-tax income, but only 0.5 percent of the income of a middle-class household making $51,600 to $89,400 a year, including fringe benefits like employer-provided health insurance, the center estimated.

The proposed changes are part of a plan backed by Republican President Donald Trump to repeal and replace the law officially known as the Affordable Care Act, former Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature domestic legislation. All told, the tax portion would eliminate levies worth $600 billion in revenues over a decade.

If adopted, the plan could be the first in a series of tax cuts promised by Trump, who has vowed to lower taxes further through separate legislation to overhaul the U.S. tax code.

The Congressional Budget Office, which provides official cost estimates for legislation, is expected as soon as Monday to release a report on the costs of the Republican plan and is widely expected to find it will reduce the number of Americans with health insurance.

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House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the Republican healthcare plan’s top backer in Congress, and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s office had no immediate comment.

Trump defended the Republican plan on Monday, telling a group of Obamacare opponents that the replacement would offer more coverage choices at lower costs.

Obama raised taxes on the wealthy to fund healthcare benefits for middle- and low-income Americans under his healthcare law, which has extended coverage to 20 million previously uninsured people through subsidized private coverage and the Medicaid program for the poor.

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Democrats charge that Republicans would now help the rich at the expense of families who depend on Obamacare subsidies.

The repeal of just two ACA taxes — a 3.8 percent investment tax and a 0.9 percent Medicare payroll tax on people earning $200,000 or more a year — would return about $275 billion to taxpayers over 10 years, the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, or JCT, said in a report last week.

About 60 percent of that sum would go to those with incomes of $1 million a year or more, according to a Reuters analysis of JCT data released only to Congress.

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In addition to the investment and hospital taxes, the Tax Policy Center also included the effects of repealing Obamacare’s tax penalties for the uninsured and employers that offer no insurance, and excise taxes on healthcare providers and insurers.

The researchers found that 40 percent of benefits from the proposed tax changes would go to households earning more than $772,000 a year in 2022, when the cuts would be fully effective.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Fox & Friends host right-winger pushing white nationalist views: ‘Common sense is now a hate crime’

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A British writer popular with white nationalists appeared Thursday morning on "Fox & Friends" to argue that "common sense" ideas about identity had been turned into a "hate crime."

Anti-immigrant activist Douglas Murray -- author of "Neoconservatism: Why We Need It" and "The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam" -- spoke to Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt about his viral essay, "Vacuous liberal wokeness is now beyond parody."

"You say that 'liberal wokeness' turned beliefs that once seemed like into hate crimes," Earhardt said. "What used to be considered common sense that's now a hate crime, in your opinion?"

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Trump has shrunk the White House entirely around himself: ‘It is a government of one’

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President Donald Trump has cleared out all the constraints in his White House, which he's running much like the Trump Organization.

The president has chased away four national security advisers, three chiefs of staff, three directors of oval office operations and five communications directors -- an unprecedented amount of turnover for a modern president — and finds himself surrounded by compliant staffers and aides, reported Politico.

“It is a government of one in the same way in which the Trump Organization was a company of one,” said one former senior administration official.

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Benny Gantz says he should be PM in Israel unity government

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Benny Gantz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's main opponent in the country's general election, said Thursday he should be prime minister in a unity government.

Gantz spoke to journalists after Netanyahu called for them to join together in a unity government as results from Tuesday's vote showed neither with an obvious path to form a majority coalition.

Gantz's centrist Blue and White is nevertheless two seats ahead of Netanyahu's right-wing Likud, according to results published by Israeli media with 97 percent of the vote counted.

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