Busy in Congress

We thought it might be an interesting summer in Congress, with Republicans still fighting Obamacare, sequestration cuts underway, and more deficit proposals on the table. But Congress has a lot more going on. Read on to see what legislative changes may (or may not) be effective soon.

 

The Marketplace Fairness Act is designed to level the selling ground for online retailers and traditional brick-and-mortar stores, in terms of sales taxes. The act requires that states simplify their sales tax laws, at which point they can require virtual companies selling in their states to collect and remit sales taxes on sold goods. The measure is supported by online giant Amazon — possibly because it has the resources to support the administrative expenses that may squelch much of its competition. Other online retailers oppose the legislation due to its enormous operational burden and because it will increase the cost of ordering online, making them much less competitive.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “What is the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013?” at MarketplaceFairness.org, retrieved July, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Marketplace Fairness Act: Should You Join the Fight to Defeat It?” at Forbes.com, June 22, 2013.]

 

The Senate’s recent passage of the immigration bill is projected to prevent between 33 percent and 50 percent more undocumented residents from entering the U.S. over the current law.  However, opponents of the bill point to research indicating that immigrants are more likely to start-up new businesses when they enter the U.S. Obviously, this trend would greatly contribute to our nation’s long-term growth — not to mention our current high unemployment numbers.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “CBO: Senate immigration bill would cut undocumented flow 33% – 50%,” at CNN.com, July 3, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Immigration and Entrepreneurship,” at The New York Times, July 1, 2013.]

 

Another lesser known bill is the Medicare Better Health Rewards program, introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). While employers now routinely offer rewards programs and discounted health insurance rates to employees who meet health and fitness goals, this proposal offers similar incentives to seniors in an effort to lower Medicare bills.

 

The program would be 100 percent voluntary and is designed to help Medicare beneficiaries get and stay healthy via planned, achievable goals (i.e., tobacco usage, body mass index, diabetes indicators, blood pressure, cholesterol, up-to-date vaccinations and screenings) and offer monetary incentives to do so. In other words, participating seniors who save Medicare money will be given an opportunity to share in the savings — up to $200 by the program’s second year and $400 by its third year. 

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Lowering Medicare Costs by Keeping Seniors Healthy,” at Senator Portman’s website, retrieved July 5, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “New bill would pay seniors for staying healthy,” at TheHill.com, June 26, 2013.]

 

While many of us are vacationing this summer, Congress is hard at work on a number of fronts. It’s a nice change. If you’d like to work on some of your financial goals this summer, please give us a call.

 

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