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NORTHWEST NEWS

GOP Mailer to Oregon Voters Mimics US Census Form

The mailers are labeled "2019 Congressional District Census" and solicit donations to Trump's campaign. Voters are reminded that official U.S. Census Bureau surveys will never ask respondents for money.

Veterans Day: Honoring Those Who Serve and Continue to Serve

On this Veterans Day, the staff at The Skanner News honors all who have served and continue to serve in our nation's armed forces

FBI Reports Cybercrimes are Rising Because of Sophisticated Scams

Oregon man offers warning after he was scammed into giving away his family's life savings to criminals

Worker Who Yelled Racist Slurs at Black Customer Gets Jail

Audio and video showed a disturbing scene, said Deputy District Attorney Nicole Hermann

NEWS BRIEFS

Noose Found at Oregon Health & Science University

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DEQ Extends Air Quality Advisory Due to Stagnation

DEQ expects the air quality advisory to last until at least Tuesday, Nov. 12 ...

Forest Service Waives Fees in Honor of Veterans Day

The USDA Forest Service will waive fees at day-use recreation sites in Oregon and Washington on Monday, Nov. 11 in honor of Veterans...

Two Local Nonprofits Announced as Grant Recipients for Portland-Area Programs

Financial Beginnings Oregon and Portland Parks Foundation will receive a total of 0,000 plus leadership resources through Bank of...

State Seeks Volunteers to Rank Investments in Washington’s Outdoors

The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office is recruiting 50 volunteers to evaluate grant proposals for parks, boating...

College Football Picks: Auburn at center of all down stretch

Over the next three weeks, Auburn will be in the middle of the action even though the Tigers are outside the playoff race.No. 13 Auburn plays two top-five playoff contenders in No. 5 Georgia (No. 4 CFP) and No. 4 Alabama (No. 5 CFP) at home in November, and depending upon how the Tigers do their...

No. 11 Florida looks for different outcome against Missouri

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida linebacker David Reese insists things will be different against Missouri this week.He believes his team's preparation, focus, effort and intensity will change — along with the outcome. It's imperative if the Gators are going to make it to a New Year's...

OPINION

5 Ways Life Would be Better if it Were Always Daylight Saving Time

A Professor from the University of Washington says DST saves lives and energy and prevents crime ...

Importance of Educators of Color for Black and Brown Students

A new report examines the ways that school leaders of color’s experiences and perspectives influence how they build school culture ...

Atatiana Jefferson, Killed by Police Officer in Her Own Home

Atatiana Jefferson, a biology graduate who worked in the pharmaceutical industry and was contemplating becoming a doctor, lived a life of purpose that mattered ...

“Hell No!” That Is My Message to Those Who Would Divide Us 

Upon release from the South African jail, Nelson Mandela told UAW Local 600 members “It is you who have made the United States of America a superpower, a leader of the world" ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

College Football Picks: Auburn at center of all down stretch

Over the next three weeks, Auburn will be in the middle of the action even though the Tigers are outside the playoff race.No. 13 Auburn plays two top-five playoff contenders in No. 5 Georgia (No. 4 CFP) and No. 4 Alabama (No. 5 CFP) at home in November, and depending upon how the Tigers do their...

No. 11 Florida looks for different outcome against Missouri

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida linebacker David Reese insists things will be different against Missouri this week.He believes his team's preparation, focus, effort and intensity will change — along with the outcome. It's imperative if the Gators are going to make it to a New Year's...

Junkyard Dawgs: No. 5 Georgia's stellar D a team effort

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Kirby Smart has coached some stellar defenses.This might be one of his best.Never mind the lack of star power."They've got some of those same traits as the good defenses I've been able to be around," the Georgia coach said Monday. "But this group probably doesn't have that...

ENTERTAINMENT

Justices could return cable TV race bias suit to lower court

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court seems likely to overturn a lower court ruling in favor of an African-American media mogul and comedian who’s suing cable giant Comcast for racial discrimination.The justices appeared to be in broad agreement Wednesday that an appeals court applied...

Review: Driver brings 6,700 pages to life in ‘The Report’

Of all the statistics involving the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program — better known as the “Torture Report” — let’s focus on this for a second: It had 38,000 footnotes.This mammoth...

Review: ‘The Good Liar’ pairs Mirren and McKellen

For a blind date, we could hardly do better than Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen.They are brought swiftly together by a computer dating service in the opening minutes of “The Good Liar.” Both click “widowed.” When they cautiously sit down in a quiet London restaurant, and...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Astros can make history if Bregman wins MVP

Alex Bregman will try to give the Houston Astros an unprecedented sweep.If the All-Star slugger is selected the...

China tests Mars lander in international cooperation push

HUAILAI, China (AP) — China invited observers to a successful test Thursday of its Mars lander as the...

Iraq’s protests raise question: Where does the oil money go?

BAGHDAD (AP) — Waves of violent protests have engulfed Baghdad and Iraq’s southern provinces, with...

Astros can make history if Bregman wins MVP

Alex Bregman will try to give the Houston Astros an unprecedented sweep.If the All-Star slugger is selected the...

China tests Mars lander in international cooperation push

HUAILAI, China (AP) — China invited observers to a successful test Thursday of its Mars lander as the...

Iraq’s protests raise question: Where does the oil money go?

BAGHDAD (AP) — Waves of violent protests have engulfed Baghdad and Iraq’s southern provinces, with...

McMenamins
Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Raising taxes on millionaires may be a non-starter for Republicans, but they seem to have no problem hiking Medicare premiums for retirees making a lot less.

The House is expected to vote Tuesday on a year-end economic package that includes a provision raising premiums for "high-income" Medicare beneficiaries, now defined as those making $85,000 and above for individuals, or $170,000 for families.

Some would pay as much as several hundred dollars a month additional for Medicare outpatient and prescription coverage. Millions who don't consider themselves wealthy would also end up paying more.

Just the top 5 percent of Medicare recipients currently pay higher premiums, a change that took effect a few years ago. The new GOP proposal would expand that over time to include the highest-earning one-fourth of seniors.

On Monday the White House was mum on the Republican Medicare proposal, while AARP said it's tantamount to a new tax. In the Democratic-led Senate, there's not much enthusiasm.

The plan is modeled on a proposal that President Barack Obama submitted earlier this year to congressional debt negotiators, when he was seeking a "big deal" to cut federal deficits. Continuing pressure to curb spending means the proposal eventually could become the law of the land, even if there's no consensus now.

"This is an idea that seems to have some traction," said Tricia Neuman, a Medicare expert for the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

It's also creating a lot of confusion about who is wealthy and who is not.

For example, when Obama talks about raising taxes on the rich, he means individuals making more than $200,000 a year and families above $250,000.

But his health care law fixed the level for paying "high-income" Medicare premiums at the current $85,000 and above for an individual, $170,000 for families.

And the new Republican plan would drop the thresholds to $80,000 for an individual and $160,000 for families.

"If we're considering raising taxes on those with incomes above $250,000, then it seems to me very awkward to raise Medicare premiums on those with much lower incomes," said John Rother, head of the National Coalition on Health Care, an advocacy group.

Baby boomers just signing up for Medicare are more likely to be affected than long-term retirees, since incomes tend to be higher for the newly retired.

AARP calls the proposed premium increases a tax hike. "Most of the time, when you have a payment due to the government because of your income, we call it a tax," said lobbyist David Certner. "It's a form of a tax." High-earning workers already pay more in Medicare payroll taxes, he pointed out.

No way it's a tax, say Republicans. Taxpayers subsidize three-quarters of the cost of Medicare's outpatient and prescription coverage for the typical retiree. Reducing a subsidy for those who can afford to pay more is not the same thing as raising taxes, they contend.

"The proposal doesn't raise taxes," said Michelle Dimarob, spokeswoman for House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich. "The provision simply adjusts the subsidy they receive."

To back their argument, Republicans are circulating a letter from anti-tax activist Grover Norquist in support of the broader bill containing the Medicare provision.

The premium hikes are to help pay for legislation that would prevent the Jan. 1 expiration of payroll tax cuts for workers and extra benefits for the long-term unemployed, while also staving off a steep cut in Medicare payments to doctors. With time running short, lawmakers of both parties are still far apart on key aspects of the package.

Tax or not, higher Medicare premiums mean less money in the pockets of those who have to pay. Currently the high-income premiums start at 35 percent of the cost of Medicare's outpatient and drug coverage for individuals making $85,000 year, and rise to 80 percent of the cost at the very top income brackets.

Next year, a typical Medicare recipient will pay $131 a month for outpatient and drug coverage combined, according to Kaiser. Those paying the high-income premiums will pay from $183 to $417. That means beneficiaries at the highest income levels would pay nearly $300 a month more.

The House GOP plan would increase the high-income premium by 15 percent in 2017 and lower the thresholds at which the higher fees kick in.

Most significantly, it freezes those income thresholds indefinitely, until one-fourth of Medicare recipients are paying "high-income" premiums. It's unclear how long that would take, but currently only about 2 million out of 47 million Medicare beneficiaries pay higher premiums. Eventually that number would easily surpass 10 million.

The GOP proposal would reduce taxpayer spending on Medicare by $31 billion over 10 years; Obama's version saved about $20 billion.

"There's a lot of interest in asking higher-income people on Medicare to contribute more," said Neuman.

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