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Frerichs objects to “anti-choice” tax bill language

Tuesday, Dec 5, 2017

* Lynn Sweet

House and Senate negotiators will be meeting to resolve differences in the Republican tax overhaul bills, and an outstanding item is whether a tax-free college savings account can be opened for a fetus.

Will this legislation about unborn children and 529 plans — named after a section of the IRS code — survive?

One needs a Social Security number to open up a college savings account. That’s ostensibly all that this is about, letting a fetus be eligible for a Social Security number.

It is really an anti-abortion related ploy in disguise.

* Press release…

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs today condemned Congressional Republicans for quietly inserting language into tax reform legislation that would allow a fetus to receive a social security number, a long-time goal of anti-choice advocates who believe such an action can help overturn Roe v. Wade.

Frerichs also called upon Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to lobby Illinois’ Congressional delegation to eliminate this attempt to grant personhood to a fetus under the crass disguise that it makes it easier for families to save for college. Rauner has said that he is speaking with unnamed federal officials regarding the tax plan.

“Congressional Republicans hope the barking of a false tax cut will hide their attempts to undermine a woman’s right to choose,” Frerichs said. “Abortion is a deeply personal decision and treating it as a slight-of-hand parlor game diminishes women and disrespects their right to self-determination.”

The House tax plan, written exclusively by Republicans behind closed doors, includes language that would allow a 529 college savings plan to be opened for a fetus at any stage of development inside a woman’s womb. IRS rules currently require a 529 beneficiary to have a social security number. Therefore, if the in utero language stays in the proposal, Republicans will have created a path to grant personhood to the unborn.

“The Republican proposal to assign a social security number to an unborn fetus addresses a problem that does not exist,” Frerichs said.

Currently, an individual can open a 529 college savings account without immediately naming a beneficiary by using their own social security number. Later, the account owner can transfer it to a family member using the newly named beneficiary’s social security number. This has been allowable since its inception in 1997.

Among Frerichs’ duties as treasurer is to manage and serve as the sole trustee of Illinois’ two award‑winning 529 college savings programs. The Bright Start and Bright Directions investments have more than 450,000 beneficiaries with a value exceeding $10 billion. Each is considered among the best in the country, according to an independent analysis by Morningstar.

Bright Start and Bright Directions are investment programs and should not be confused with College Illinois!, a pre-paid college tuition program also under the 529 umbrella that is managed by Gov. Rauner.

Standing with Frerichs today was Terry Cosgrove of Personal PAC and Paula Thornton Greear of Planned Parenthood. Each called upon Gov. Rauner to use his influence with Illinois’ Congressional Republicans to strip the personhood language from the bill.

“This insensitive maneuver is a needless attack on women that not only would threaten reproductive freedom, but also could call into question the legality of commonly used birth controls,” Cosgrove said.

“The only purpose for this language can be to advance a relentless agenda to undermine access to safe, legal abortion by furthering notions of “personhood” through the tax code and other legislative vehicles,” Thornton Greear said. “In fact, this benefit for pregnant, and even non-pregnant, people already exists; they are simply changing the language of a benefit to build a foundation toward their goal of banning abortion. And we aren’t having it.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

11 Comments
  1. - Gooner - Tuesday, Dec 5, 17 @ 1:11 pm:

    He understands his base, and the way to reach that base is by claiming the other side is on the verge of rolling back Roe.

    The reality?

    A lot of us who are pretty pro-choice would like the idea of contributing to a college fund for an expectant mother. It seems like a nice way to think about the future and is a heck of a lot better as a shower gift than more onesies.


  2. - Ahoy! - Tuesday, Dec 5, 17 @ 1:18 pm:

    The concept here is just plain goofy. Although, “I believe social security begins at conception” sounds like a good tag line.


  3. - Chi - Tuesday, Dec 5, 17 @ 1:20 pm:

    Gooner, did you even read the story? =Currently, an individual can open a 529 college savings account without immediately naming a beneficiary by using their own social security number. Later, the account owner can transfer it to a family member using the newly named beneficiary’s social security number. This has been allowable since its inception in 1997.=


  4. - City Zen - Tuesday, Dec 5, 17 @ 1:21 pm:

    Does this mean Lovie Smith can offer it a football scholarship?


  5. - A guy - Tuesday, Dec 5, 17 @ 1:30 pm:

    ==One needs a Social Security number to open up a college savings account. That’s ostensibly all that this is about, letting a fetus be eligible for a Social Security number.===

    Maybe we could justifiably refer to this living being as an “expected child” that we likely already know the gender of. I started accounts for grandchildren in the womb. Used my SS # until they had one shortly after birth. Add to it every birthday.

    I guess Frerichs longs for the days when you gave unborn children tickets to the Bozo Circus show.

    Over the top overreach here.


  6. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Dec 5, 17 @ 1:32 pm:

    Social security numbers for the unborn? Necessary and appropriate.

    Social security benefits for the disabled and retired? A luxury we can’t afford.


  7. - Gooner - Tuesday, Dec 5, 17 @ 1:42 pm:

    Chi,
    I did. Yes, it is possible.
    This is another way to do it.
    Some might want to donate directly to the child rather than going through another layer.

    It is a lot of outrage that plays well to certain voters over something that really doesn’t matter.


  8. - Ron - Tuesday, Dec 5, 17 @ 1:47 pm:

    - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Dec 5, 17 @ 1:32 pm:

    Social security numbers for the unborn? Necessary and appropriate.

    Social security benefits for the disabled and retired? A luxury we can’t afford.”

    Welcome to conservative America.


  9. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Dec 5, 17 @ 1:48 pm:

    “Currently, an individual can open a 529 college savings account without immediately naming a beneficiary by using their own social security number. Later, the account owner can transfer it to a family member using the newly named beneficiary’s social security number. This has been allowable since its inception in 1997.”

    No need to change. No need to issue Social Security numbers until you are born. What will be the proof needed at the Social Security office if this does become the tax law of the land??? Will a positive pregnancy stick test work??? Will these same unborn children be able to be listed as dependents on the “new” tax forms??? And what happens if there is a spontaneous abortion before birth? Will the unborn be able to be “prorated” as a dependent? The GOP is attempting a massive overreach with this legislation, and they need to be called out loud and often on it. Good work Treasurer Frerichs, keep ‘em honest.


  10. - WasAnon - Tuesday, Dec 5, 17 @ 1:52 pm:

    I’m pro-life, but with ploys like this, they do the cause no good.
    A cheesy distraction from the core fight.


  11. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Tuesday, Dec 5, 17 @ 4:05 pm:

    Yep, overreach on the issue of abortion to tie it to this program. But it’s easy to understand their position when one constantly hears phrases such as “reproductive freedom” Nice way to avoid using the word abortion. Once a baby is conceived the adults have already engaged in “reproductive freedom.” What the dems are advocating for is “termination of life” freedom. But I guess that’s not a soundbite they want.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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