All of the races in 2018 are important, but the Democrats' best chance of flipping a red district blue lies in Washington's 8th congressional district, which runs from Auburn in the west to Wenatchee in the east. Part of the party's success in this race will lie in convincing people that the tax bill Trump just signed—the GOP's sole achievement after a year in charge of every branch of government—will make their lives worse.
Four-time loser Dino Rossi, the only Republican vying for the seat, must hope the extra cash in some peoples' wallets this year will blind them to the present and future impacts of this bill.
You can read about the bill's winners and losers in this breakdown from the New York Times. Nationally, the winners include Trump and his family, giant corporations, architects, engineers, lawyers, tax accountants, and any other professional service provider who can claim they're a corporation and take the corporate tax rate and/or bank on clients hiring them to exploit new loopholes/advantages in the bill. Losers include the 13 million people who will be kicked off their health insurance, old people, poor people, the middle class, people with houses worth over $750,000 (which includes thousands of homeowners in the 8th district), high tax states, Puerto Rico, and the I.R.S.
A number of people who live in the 8th fall into the "loser" category. Here's a closer look at the constituents who stand to be particularly damned:
Those Who Rely On the Affordable Care Act
According to a recent estimate from Kaiser, nearly 21,00 people in the 8th rely on the Affordable Care Act for their healthcare. Shortly after the bill passed in the Senate, Mitch McConnell said the tax bill "takes the heart out of Obamacare." He may be the vampiric leader of the undead horde, but he's not wrong. Removing the mandate = "skinny repeal." Premiums will spike, people will drop their insurance, companies will pull out of rural markets, and patients and hospitals will suffer. That's why the Washington State Hospital Association came out against skinny repeal when Republicans tried to pull that shit last summer.
Kara Klotz, spokesperson for the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, says, “In [the 8th] district, the younger, healthier people on the west side might decide not buy insurance, which will drive up prices on the older, riskier pool of people in the east. That’s what we saw when the individual mandate went away in the 1990s.” When the uninsured rate goes up, uncompensated care goes up, too, which will hurt the hospitals’ bottom line. “There will be consequences everywhere,” she said.
She added that the insurance commissioner’s office is looking for ways to implement an individual mandate in Washington state. Though the health insurance market for 2018 looks secure right now, she says that 2019 is a big question mark. “In six months the insurers will file their rates for 2019, and then we’ll really know what effect this is having. The legislature will have a limited time to find a solution, though.”
Many entrepreneurs fear the potential collapse of the ACA would also slow the growth of start-ups.
The east side of the district contains a large (but dwindling) number of small tree fruit growers and ranchers. As Tom Philpott explains in Mother Jones, in doubling the estate tax, large corporate farmers get to pass along their wealth tax free while small farmers get nothing. Plus, the bill's $1.4 trillion price tag paves the way for future cuts to the farm bill they want passed next year.
Ken Wright, president of the Northwest Farmers Union, said that "the budgetary figures do not appear to be on a sustainable path, which is a big concern for us family farmers who are constantly thinking of the future generations."
"With farm income trending down for many forms of agriculture, it is a bad time for Congress to be enacting anything that does not aid the family farmers and ranchers today," Wright added.
In a desperate attempt to assert his big boy status, Senator Marco Rubio told Senate leaders he wasn't voting for the bill unless lawmakers moderately increased the child tax credit for some families. Now, as the Washington Post reports, the bill "requires proof of a valid Social Security number to claim the tax credit, effectively ending it for close to 1 million children, most of them undocumented immigrants brought to America by their parents, according to Center on Budget and Policy Priorities."
Undocumented workers and people working on visas are the backbone (and the legs, and the arms, and the hands) of the east side's tree fruit industry. Some have brought their children with them. But in this bill, those children don't count.
Everybody Except for the Extremely Wealthy
As many have already said, this bill will certainly and rapidly increase economic inequality.
It's true that for the first few years a majority of people will see a tax cut. But remember when George W. Bush cut taxes and gave everybody $600 to boost the economy? People either saved the money or paid off their massive debts with it. The same thing is going to happen with the money from this new tax cut. Meanwhile, corporations will use the windfall to line the pockets of their investors instead of their employees. Don't take my word for it: take theirs. The economy will slow, the national debt will balloon, and Republicans will blame budget shortfalls on earned benefits like Medicare and food stamps instead of holy war and massive wealth transfers from the poor to the rich.
The only way to reverse this dumb policy is to elect one of the four leading Democratic candidates running for the seat in the 8th. Right now they're all pissed about the bill in slightly different ways.
In a statement, realtor Mona Das says she's worried about the decrease in federal funding to the state, pointing out the bill's effect on expanding renewable energy in the region:
In addition to increasing the deficit and allowing corporations to contribute even less to our communities, the GOP tax bill will directly impact our local economy. Because of our own upside-down local tax code, Washington is heavily reliant on federal dollars. This plan shows no indication of how those will be reinstated, making it difficult to plan for our future. How can we pay for new transit construction? How can we fully comply with McCleary?
There are also seriously short-sighted issues. By failing to extend the 2020 sunset of the renewable energy tax credit for businesses, the GOP is disincentizing clean options like wind and solar—options that also employ thousands of Washingtonians.
Jason Rittereiser, the former prosecutor who hails from Ellensburg, worries about growing income inequality and healthcare:
It will vastly increase income inequality in our country, explode the deficit and debt, and will do nothing to help our economy. To make matters worse, by repealing a core component of the Affordable Care Act, which will lead to an estimated 13 million Americans losing their health care coverage while premiums for millions of other skyrocket, right-wing Republicans are adding insult to injury by destroying the integrity of our health care system as well.
Businessman Brayden Olson struck a similar chord, saying that "the issue with this tax bill is much larger than any specific provision:"
In a time when we have reached the greatest wealth inequity since the Great Depression, our Congress is passing tax reform to further this inequity. At the height of the 1% movement, 388 people had the same wealth as the bottom 50% of the world. In 2015, that number had dwindled to just 62 people. For the sake of every other person in our country, we need a Congress committed to reducing this inequity, not growing it.
And longtime pediatrician Dr. Kim Schrier drew on her experience in healthcare to excoriate Congress for failing to fund CHIP while cutting corporate taxes:
I’m upset that Congress has time to pass tax breaks for the wealthy but claims it has no time to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for kids. We’re standing at the edge of a new world in which thousands of children in the 8th District will be forced to skip doctor’s appointments or miss out on vital medication – like inhalers for children with asthma, or medications to help children with ADHD achieve their full potential in school — due to cost. With this bill and this vote, our own congressman is flatly denying children essential coverage in favor of helping millionaires, while my opponent Dino Rossi remains silent.
She added that "a tax cut plan that slashes corporate taxes and where 83 percent of the benefit will go to the top one percent, while the middle class are offered only crumbs (and even those are temporary) is absolutely a huge step in the wrong direction for the people of the 8th Congressional District."
In another statement today, Dr. Kim Schrier claimed Rossi's campaign manager said the Republican couldn't comment on the tax bill today due to "no cell service."
“Seriously," she added.
A somewhat more definitive statement from @DinoRossiWA's campaign manager on the #TaxBill. "Highly likely" he would support it, but he's on family vacation. #wa08 #waelex pic.twitter.com/TdvApzCJKQ
— Jim Brunner (@Jim_Brunner) December 21, 2017
I wrote to Rossi for comment on the tax bill yesterday, but he did not respond. I will update this post if he ever responds to me (or to Dr. Schrier) about anything.