Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 21, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

HEALTHCARE TRIVIA....Apparently the big new healthcare proposal in Tuesday's State of the Union address is going to be a tax increase aimed at (some) people who already have employer-provided health insurance combined with a tax deduction aimed at (some) people who have to buy individual health insurance. Yippee. The New York Times has the details here.

The amazing thing about this isn't whether it's a good idea or not. It's the fact that healthcare is supposed to be one of the big issues in this year's SOTU but this puny little proposal is all Bush has to offer. To call it laughable would be giving it too much credit.

The good news is that this will go nowhere in Congress. The bad news is that Bush will probably want to make up for the lameness of his healthcare plan with some brand new mega-hawkery about Iran. Otherwise, no headlines. I can hardly wait.

Kevin Drum 1:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (127)

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Comments

Why not a tax increase on Insurance companies? How about people making more than $1,000,000/year?

Oh, that's right - those folks voted for Republicans in 2006. Bush wants to punish people who voted against Republicans in 2006: the rest of us.

Posted by: RepubAnon on January 21, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

KEVIN, what is the current feeling you sense from the general populous of California about Arnold's UHC (Universal Health Care) plan - i.e. modifications that people feel are necessary, chance for passage etc.? Also, its another big football Sunday, what are your picks?

Posted by: bmaz on January 21, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently the big new healthcare proposal in Tuesday's State of the Union address is going to be a tax increase aimed at (some) people who already have employer-provided health insurance combined with a tax deduction aimed at (some) people who have to buy individual health insurance.

Very good plan. The problem with the current health care system is caused by too much health insurance.
First there is the problem of moral hazard. People are willing to act in unhealthy ways and eat unhealthy food because they know health insurance will always bail them out if they have medical problems. Less health insurance and more private health accounts will cause people to take responsibility for their own health care instead of having others bail them out for their own problems. They will act more healthy and therefore reduce what we spend on medical bills.

Second, health care plans typically cover many things people never use. This causes the problem of overconsumption because people are buying what they don't use. By shifting away from insurance and toward private health accounts, people can then have free choice to choose what actually afflicts them and therefore pay less on health and medical bills overall.

Al

Posted This

Posted by: cbklsff on January 21, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, it also helps if you know the right people.

Posted by: Al's crack dealer on January 21, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think a State of the Union speech will (or should) get booed, but I predict a lot of tepid applause and stony silence.

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on January 21, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

I don't want to know any details because I can be certain without knowing anything else that it is a terrible proposal. Has Bushco done one thing, ever, that didn't turn out to be a disaster? Ever? I don't want to act like it is reasonable or that I should consider the plan on its merits. Because it isn't. It is a political piece of crap.

Can't we just impeach him now?

Posted by: PTate in FR on January 21, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

cbklsff,

Very funny. It would be even funnier if I didn't know that many wingnuts believe exactly this.

At least I can stop feeling (vaguely) guilty for not watching on Tuesday.

Posted by: clio on January 21, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

In the Republican mind isn't taxing employer provided healthcare simply a way of penalizing those lucky enough to have it in an attempt to force them onto the private market?

Posted by: cld on January 21, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

PTate - as Atrios would say, simple answers for simple questions. NO, NO and YES WE SHOULD (Cheney too).

Posted by: bmaz on January 21, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

cbklsff already sussed out the devious Republicanism.

Posted by: cld on January 21, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

At least I can stop feeling (vaguely) guilty for not watching on Tuesday.

I'm not going to feel a BIT guilty about not watching Bush's fairy tale hour on Tuesday night. My time can be better spent elsewhere.

Posted by: pol on January 21, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Why is that conservatives think every human decision is predicated on it's tax consequences or that all human behavior can be shaped by offering a tax credit or tax deduction for it? Is this the way these morally constipated dweebs really think?

First, what the knuckle-dragging right-wing don't seem to get is that the people who need health care coverage most (i.e. the disabled, the unemployed, the elderly), are the ones who have little or no taxable income to begin with! Like a tax break means jackshit to them. Second, I'm sure that Bush's plan is not revenue-neutral and the asshole just plans to write another mountain of bad checks to "pay" for it.

Just like this abominable war in Iraq that Bush and McCain support so much, but aren't willing to raise taxes one penny to pay for.

Who was it that said that whoever discovered water, you can bet it wasn't a fish?

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 21, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

First, what the knuckle-dragging right-wing don't seem to get is that the people who need health care coverage most (i.e. the disabled, the unemployed, the elderly), are the ones who have little or no taxable income to begin with!

No one could have anticipated that.

Posted by: Condi on January 21, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

First there is the problem of moral hazard. People are willing to act in unhealthy ways and eat unhealthy food because they know health insurance will always bail them out if they have medical problems.

Yes, and that's why I am calling for the abolition of all seat belts and airbags. You know, once those got introduced, people started driving a lot more irresponsibly, right? [/sarcasm]

Idiot . . .

Posted by: chuck on January 21, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, let's tax the thing that prevents a lot of middle and lower class people from falling into being wards of the state. Let's make it less likely that they will carry or afford health care Then let's give this new tax revenue to the wealthy few who can afford to pay a higher proportion of their health care. Sounds about par for this administration.

Posted by: Neal on January 21, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Why is that conservatives think every human decision is predicated on it's tax consequences or that all human behavior can be shaped by offering a tax credit or tax deduction for it?

You're painting in overly broad brush strokes. There's no question about what the tax code does with respect to the health care crisis: it worsens it. Both liberal and conservative economists agree. Under the status quo, it makes sense to take your raises in the form of more and better (or merely more expensive) health insurance, because your tax bill doesn't increase.

This situation creates too much consumption of insurance for people who don't need quite so much (ie, lots of quite healthy 35 year olds with gold-plated policies who would be better off with cheaper insurance and pay increases) and consequently raises prices for everybody else. The problem with Bush's proposal is that it's too tepid. We shouldn't just impose a cap on the non-taxability of health insurance benefits, we should end non-taxability altogether.

The tax code creates massive distortions in the health insurance market (just like it does in the housing market). There's really not anything the slightest bit controversial about this.

Posted by: Jasper on January 21, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever. As long as he doesn't apply the tax to sawgrass farmers working on growing biofuels for Mars missions. He needs to show consistency in his SOTU proposals if the markets are going to take him seriously. Heh.

Posted by: biggerbox on January 21, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Could someone introduce me to these hordes of healthy 35-year-olds with 'too much' 'gold-plated' insurance? So I could maybe see one of them in an auto accident (as was my mother) breaking every bone on one side of their body and damaging several internal organs, so that, six months later when they get out of the hospital, walking with a cane and requiring ongoing physical therapy, I can ask them about how wasteful their insurance coverage was?

When I was a healthy 21-year-old who'd just months earlier bicycled across America, I got cancer requiring radiation and years of hospitalizations and chemotherapy, and yielding, years later, radiation induced heart damage and a secondary cancer.

I just get this concept of "people who don't need so much insurance" except as a statistical artifact. The point of insurance is that you, as an individual, don't know you won't need it.

Posted by: Paul on January 21, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Al,
the moral hazard in health insurance is not in the use of the insurance. People don't let themselves get sick just because they have insurance. Who wants to get sick?
Like all Bush proposals that sound vaguely compassionate (viz. No Child Left Behind), the devil is in the details. Right now there aren't a lot of details out there. But it sounds like people in high-cost areas will pay a tax because their health plans cost more than others. That of course means a tax on the Northeast and California.

Posted by: Ronn Zealot on January 21, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Why is Shrub even considering showing up for the SOTU address? He could have another RePub, Rich Little, simply stand in for himself. Little, possibly, might be funnier.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 21, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

This sounds like a pretty stupid proposal, but how likely is it to even get a hearing in the new Congress? I find myself much more sanguine about Bush's foolish SotU sound bites now than I used to.

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on January 21, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Insurance companies. No value added. With all the outsourcing and "efficiency experts" and consultants, we are still brought low by the greatest drag on the engine of free enterprise. How can the insertion of a profit-motivated entangling bureaucracy be a good thing when you need to stop the bleeding? No reform of our health care system is viable until we find a way to kill the vampires.
Taxing people for finding a way to stay alive seems to make a lot of sense in Bush World.

25 more dead soldiers today. Do the pundits actually care about real people and their pain? When do impeachment proceedings begin?

Posted by: Sparko on January 21, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

If health insurance hadn't been a tax-free income benefit from the beginning, and if individual health insurance had been deductible as a normal medical expense from the beginning, we wouldn't be in this employer-provided insurance mess in the first place.

Posted by: carlyle on January 21, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

From the article: But critics say it would, in effect, tax people with insurance to provide coverage to those without it.

Well, we can't have THAT now, can we? Wealth redistribution! What the devil do they think single-payer is?

Posted by: bartleby on January 21, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Also from the article:

"This is a classic case of robbing Peter to help Paul pay for coverage"

Almost any proposed Democratic health care plan involves robbing Peter to help Paul pay for coverage. Why is this all of a sudden a problem?

Posted by: bartleby on January 21, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

The only people with platinum plated insurance I know of are our president and vp and Reps. and Senators, gold plated does not exist.
Did they not say no tax increases, not even to pay for the war in Iraq? Sacrifices yes, but no tax increase, McCain just said so recently. That could be a sacrifice Bush and Cheney could have to make.
Taxcuts are the only domestic policy they have, the republican mantra, all problems can be solved by eliminating taxes. Even that is all s**t.

Posted by: Renate on January 21, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Any health care plan that doesnt evoke a cascade of propaganda from the insurance cartel must be considered at best useless.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on January 21, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Bartleby,
Where have you been the last 6 years? We have had wealth redistribution for years now, from bottom to the top, you should know it by now. If you don't you are just hopeless.

Posted by: renate on January 21, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

I just get this concept of "people who don't need so much insurance" except as a statistical artifact. The point of insurance is that you, as an individual, don't know you won't need it.

An insurance policy can be quite excellent in covering major medical situations without fitting the gold-plate standard. A policy with a maximum value of, say, $3,000,000, with a modest copay (say $1,000) and that pays 95% of all bills thereafter with relatively low out-of-pocket limit (say $3,000) could do an excellent job at dealing with the contingencies you outline without being truly "gold-plate". Gold-plate usually refers to a policy that pays for lots of preventative items (checkups, blood screenings, dental work, psychological counseling, etc.) or for non-critical prescriptions. While these items are nice to have, it's not like it's against the law to, um, pay for them out of pocket if you want them. As many critics have noted, we don't expect (and certainly don't want to pay for) our auto insurance to cover oil changes or inspections.

Anyway, if want you want is a gold-plated health insurance plan, then the current status quo is exactly what you should want to change, because our tax code makes such plans more expensive, and increasingly out of reach for more and more workers.

Posted by: Jasper on January 21, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

OT,

Is this a typical post by Sullivan circa 2007?

http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2007/01/questions_for_t.html

I just started reading some of his stuff again, but I think I'll just delete the link if that's what he thinks passes as intellectual analysis.

Posted by: B on January 21, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican answer to the health care crisis is to take health care coverage away from people. But, honestly, let's understand what this really is; an attack on government/union employees. Bush and his evil minions want to kill any remnants of the middle class.

Professor Hacker should give the Democratic response to this proposal, by highlighting the increase of economic insecurity that nasty proposals like this incur.

Jasper and Al, you should go on tour, informing people in the US that republicans believe that the answer to the health care crisis is to force people to burden the cost of health care emergencies themselves, so they won't do things like "eating unhealthy," or driving cars, or having children. That would be popular.

Posted by: father figure on January 21, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

We have had wealth redistribution for years now, from bottom to the top, you should know it by now. If you don't you are just hopeless.

Look up who's paying all the taxes in this country, and get back to us on that.

Posted by: rnc on January 21, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

I just read your last comment, Jasper, and I'm shocked. Quick; would forcing people to engage in fewer "preventative" activities be good for the health of the US population?

Posted by: Father Figure on January 21, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Today’s Washington Post has an article that says Iraqi prime Minister Maliki wanted no more American troops, but Bush insisted, read it here.

From the article:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had a surprise for President Bush when they sat down with their aides in the Four Seasons Hotel in Amman, Jordan. Firing up a PowerPoint presentation, Maliki and his national security adviser proposed that U.S. troops withdraw to the outskirts of Baghdad and let Iraqis take over security in the strife-torn capital. Maliki said he did not want any more U.S. troops at all, just more authority.

The president listened intently to the unexpected proposal at their Nov. 30 meeting, according to accounts from several administration officials. Bush seemed impressed that Maliki had taken the initiative, but it did not take him long to reject the idea.

For God’s sake, let’s impeach this asshole!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 21, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Hey RNC, are you talking about sales taxes, "user fees," and regressive tax penalties (like "driver responsibility fees")? Because I think the middle class is shouldering a pretty hefty amount of those costs...

Posted by: Father Figure on January 21, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Newsflash on Iran: Ahmadinejad's star is fading. Not only did 90% of his candidates lose in the latest election, but Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wants to appoint a more moderate team for international negotiations on the supervision of its nuclear facilities.

From the Sunday London Times:

The move would be a snub to the bellicose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose threats to destroy Israel have left Iran increasingly isolated and facing a serious economic downturn.

Tehran sources said the impetus for a policy switch was coming from Khamenei, who has ultimate power over Iran’s foreign policy, security and armed forces. (emphasis mine)

Now, this won't stop Bush from pushing for an armed confrontation with Iran, just like Saddam Hussein's actually not having any WMDs stopped Bush from trumpeting them as an urgent cassis belli. And it won't shut Wingnuttia up, because they just want to kill more Muslims.

But anyone sane - that is, anyone outside the Bush Admin and the American Axis - will wonder what the problem is, with Khamenei wanting to deal and Ahmadinejad losing favor.

Posted by: CaseyL on January 21, 2007 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Well, we have to buy our own coverage (FUVM Blue Cross of California! I hate you.) for the bargain price of $614 a month with $5,000 deductible...

Whee!

I think this year 80% can be used as tax-deduction. Will it go up to 100% by the time BCofC raises our premium again?

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on January 21, 2007 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Malaki was probably proposing "go away and stop watching so me and Sadr can kill all those damn Sunnis." Got shot down fast, and good thing, too.

Posted by: harry on January 21, 2007 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

rnc'
the average people pay most of the taxes, don't just stop at incometax, include the sales and property and all the other taxes like toll road fees and all sorts of fees. The wealthiest do not pay most taxes if you consider they have a much higher percentage of national wealth. In other words if you own 70 percent of the nations wealth and you pay 55 percent of total taxes you do not pay your fair share. the corporations do not pay their fair share. We the people will pay for the disaster called Iraq. Halliburton and Dick Cheney and the Carlyle group with the Bush family members are cashing in.
I do remember after Vietnam, inflation went through the roof and interest rates went up to more than 20%. There are more ways than taxes to make you and your children pay for this desaster.
In case you don't know the $$ has lost about 30% against the Euro just the last 2 or 3 years. We borrow and borrow because the wealthiest don't pay their fair share.
One more thing I like to point out, mortgage interest is only deductable if you itemize, and most people, about 70%, do not itemize. Big incomes still have plenty of loopholes. No one ever paid the maximum taxrates, in the yeatrs after Vietnam we had lots of millionares paying no federal taxes at all. I think todays billionares should pay especially the spoiled brat inheritance taxes. That does include Jenna and Barbara.

Posted by: Renate on January 21, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

If they are still milling about here, I have a question for Jasper and Al: when will you accept the fact that eliminating private health insurance companies and shifting to a nationalized system is the easiest and best method to rectify the health care system (due to the massive decrease is pointless and wasteful administrative costs)?

Posted by: Father Figure on January 21, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

The first step to reform health care in this country is to end the idea that it's a perk of a decent job. If Bush is proposing to breakout to people what their employer is paying for their healthcare and require some accountablity, I'd think Kevin should consider this a good baby step -- so why so negative?

Posted by: ex-minion on January 21, 2007 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

When do impeachment proceedings begin?
Posted by: Sparko on January 21, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Can't happen soon enough.
Won't happen at all.

Sacrifices yes, but no tax increase, McCain just said so recently.
Posted by: Renate on January 21, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting use of the word sacrifice.

Our nation has chosen to sacrifice our sons and daughters, and our future security and independence, on the altar of $2/gal gasoline.

And then we proclaim loudly to the world how we're a Christian Nation.

We will all burn in hell. Every last flag-waving, credit-slinging one of us.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 21, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Good leaders lead by example. Imagine Bush saying, "I pledge that my family will adopt a non-gold-plated health insurance plan, one that is affordable by the median, middle-class tax payer. Further, if any of us get sick, we won't dip into our multi-million dollar resources; instead, we'll be satisfied with the level of care that the majority of Americans receive." That would be compelling. I'd still think Bush is an idiot, but at least he'd be walking the walk.

Posted by: RSA on January 21, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

I'm glad to see Al is offering to give up his health insurance and die the first time he gets seriously ill. I'm sure this will make paying our insurance premiums more pleasant for the rest of us.

Posted by: Stuart on January 21, 2007 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

I saw this last night and it just about made me sick. I spent the last nine months recovering from an accident that sent me to the operating room three separate times. Fortunately, I signed up for the best health plan offered by my company, and my out-of-pocket costs were only in the low thousands instead of the possible tens of thousands of dollars.

That is the reason why people have insurance. This is a most offensive accusation from this President, a man who has never experienced the nightmare of wondering if you can afford to pay for health care even if you do have insurance. Gold-plated? No, it's a security blanket that helps you sleep better at night. And now Bush wants me to be taxed on it. Screw him.

Posted by: Tuna on January 21, 2007 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Any idea this president has is designed to benefit the wealthy and ignore the middle class, so the devil is in the details, as always.
We saw what little regard the administration had as the poor, the disabled and the elderly suffered in Katrina's wake.
We know they are fundamentally antagonistic toward social insurance and programs for the people.
We know they made Medicare's prescription drug benefit create a deadly situation where out of pocket costs soar for the person on a limited income who reaches "the doughnut hole" where benefits stop-- purposely created to keep the elderly from becoming "insensitive to costs."

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 21, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Am I the only one who nearly spit out her hot cocoa after seeing the words "tax increase"? A proposed tax increase will have to be the last straw that breaks any remaining (elite) Republican support for that man. I mean, how is he going to top this for pissing off the base - maybe burn a few Bibles in the Rose Garden?

I think this is going to be fun.

Posted by: Ciccina on January 21, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

About two years ago I was laid off from a firm where I worked for twenty years. They had a self-funded plan adminstered by CIGNA and my co-pay was $85/month for me and my wife.

I now work for a much smaller firm that has a plan that is not self-funded and pay for a plan comparable to my prior plan $399/month for me and my wife.

Essentially, Bush would want to tax me for losing my job and finding work with a smaller employer.

Posted by: Randy Paul on January 21, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Leave it to the conservatives to take a serious problem like national health insurance and try to solve it by taxing the poor schmucks who grovel from check to check!

Posted by: TruthProbe on January 21, 2007 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

I don't have employer-provided health insurance because I have no employer; I'm unemployed. And in being unemployed, I have very little income. And in having very little income, I end up not having to pay any income tax.

Therefore, a tax deduction is of absolutely no use to me.

But then, the people advising George on this already knew that, didn't they?

Posted by: Robert Earle on January 21, 2007 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Chin up, Robert Earle, maybe Drum's dream will come true and everyone else will pay for your every health need. Democrats: never having to lift a finger.

Posted by: RW on January 21, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

"The first step to reform health care in this country is to end the idea that it's a perk of a decent job."


What a mindless, unverified thing to say. "The first step to reform(ing?) health care in this country is to end the idea that middle class (if the Republicans allow such a thing to exist) people should have any disposable income whatsoever." Equally brilliant. Or, "the first step to reform(ing?) health care in this country is to end the idea that children of the middle class and the poor deserve to receive cancer treatment."


Face it; the Republican "plan" to fix health care is to make life worse by sloughing the risk of medical costs on to individuals. This will save money by giving people "choices;" people can "choose" to eat or see doctors. Some "plan."

Posted by: Father Figure on January 21, 2007 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

RW, you seem to fit the new Republican slogan. "Republicans: making life worse for most!" I know that's awfully close to something I heard on the Simpsons, but goodness, isn't it true?

Posted by: Father Figure on January 21, 2007 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Hey RW,

I was a good boy, and saved my money, so I'm perfectly capable of paying my own way. The point I was making is that giving a tax break to people with little or no income isn't giving them anything at all.

But then, like George, you knew that, didn't you. Jerk.

Posted by: Robert Earle on January 21, 2007 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Thinking about this idea, I'm not sure I understand it. Would the tax be based on what my organization tells me is the amount that my organization and I contribute to my insurance coverage? For example, my personal contribution might be zero, but I'd be taxed if my organization has a "gold-plated" policy for me? If this is the case, I see a couple of problems (beyond the obvious). First, I may not be able to control the type of insurance my organization carries. Second, I may have no real way to tell that the numbers my organization gives me are correct. I don't really like the idea of being taxed for something that's beyond my control, at a rate that's computed based on numbers I can't tell are correct.

Posted by: RSA on January 21, 2007 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor Ed Rendell has a progressive plan on health coverage by making it more affordable
--impose tougher regulations on the insurance industry to spare small businesses and individuals from sudden spikes in premiums.
--prohibit insurance rate-setting linked to health status, gender and number of claims filed.
--have 85% of every insurance dollar to provide health care ( limiting profit and advertising)
--state insurance commissioner would have the power to reject rate hikes.
--pressure to reduce costly hospital-acquired infections and avoidable medical errors.
--requirement for hospitals to have non-emergency treatment centers too.
--incentives, controls and mandates. At the workplace, the state would help small businesses provide health insurance to lower-wage employees at reduced rates.
--companies that refuse would be hit with an assessment to help fund the insurance program.
--Ban indoor smoking at workplaces, restaurants. bars, extend the sales tax to smokeless tobacco and cigars, raise the tax on cigarettes--the source of so many illnesses.
--seek to cover all Pennsylvanians, improve access to health care by making it more affordable.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 21, 2007 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

The most puzzling statement in the article is from an unnamed "White House official", which unfortunately went without comment or elaboration:

The vast majority of people with employer-provided coverage will benefit as well.
How does that happen for anyone with employer-provided coverage, let alone the "vast majority"? Except maybe if they were to forego employer-provided benefits and buy their own, thus qualifying for the tax break, with a net financial benefit? Which would be far from budget neutral.

I smell a rat.

Posted by: has407 on January 21, 2007 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

"...a progressive plan on health coverage ...impose...regulate...prohibit...limit...reject ...pressure...require...incentives, controls and mandates. ...companies that refuse would be hit with an assessment ...Ban ....extend the sales tax ....raise the tax on cigarettes."

Now why would anyone find the idea of government run health care unappealing?

Posted by: greenmegaman on January 21, 2007 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Now why would anyone find the idea of government run health care unappealing?

As a recipient of government healthcare (my husband is a retired military officer) I can honestly say...I have no fucking idea.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 21, 2007 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

****The point I was making is that giving a tax break to people with little or no income isn't giving them anything at all.****

You should read up on things like the earned income tax credit. Seriously. You may be eligible for a bigger refund due to the tax cut that you think will be a tax increase. I'd suggest consulting with an expert, instead of trolling around a web site that wants me to pay for everyone else's every need. BTW, if you want to say something, saying the opposite isn't usually the best way to get things done.

****Jerk****

And good luck to you on your job search.


*****I know that's awfully close to something I heard on the Simpsons****

What, Ellen was in repeats?

Posted by: RW on January 21, 2007 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

The first step to reform health care in this country is to end the idea that it's a perk of a decent job.

This makes sense to most people-- they do their job, work hard, and bring home a paycheck. Why should they have to worry about health insurance? It's like demanding that everyone have some sort of individual "transportation plan" negotiated with the various "road providers" when getting to and from work.

Once a job is secured, we don't want to worry about transportation issues being too much of a hassle. Same with health insurance.

Posted by: Constantine on January 21, 2007 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

a liberal is a conservative who's had to deal with a health insurance company.

Over and over again, the wingnuts appeal to economic theory and the moonbats speak from experience.

Posted by: pbg on January 21, 2007 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

a liberal is a conservative who's had to deal with a health insurance company.

we are on the same page. Last week in the first session of my graduate bioethics course I said "A liberal is a conservative who has needed a major medical procedure."

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 21, 2007 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

RW -

The EITC is a wonderful thing, but again, it depends on someone having "earned income". Being unemployed, one does not have "earned income".

Besides, EITC is a credit, not a deduction. The point of the discussion is a proposed deduction, and I will reiterate that giving a deduction to someone who is probaly already not paying taxes is giving them absolutely nothing.

Posted by: Robert Earle on January 21, 2007 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

"This makes sense to most people-- they do their job, work hard, and bring home a paycheck. Why should they have to worry about health insurance?"

Because, Constantine, folks like RW (Republicans) want to make life worse for most people. Seriously. They believe that we have it too good, and they are sick of it. The "innovators," or "wealth inheritors" (often thieves and scoundrels like Gates or Welch)believethey deserve an even bigger piece of the pie than they currently have. "Screw you, I've got mine!" is their other slogan.

"pay for everyone else's need"

RW, we (the Democrats) need Republicans like you to talk more. Every time people like you put pen to paper, your party gets a little less popular.

Posted by: Father Figure on January 21, 2007 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

greenmegaman--it appeals because we have 767,000 uninsured adults in our state, employers have continually rising costs of health insurance for staff, and staff have continually rising out of pocket costs, a lot of us think this is a good effort on full coverage. It is the insurance companies that we end up prohibiting...health providers that we pressure... to stop making us sicker catching staph infections at their hospitals. Have you had any recent classes on C dif and MRSA staph infections people routinely catch at hospitals? I can tell you don't work in health care.
And why shouldn't hospitals offer a type of care at a level not as intensive as emergency room services to address off hours and weekends when regular doctors' offices are closed-and people need medical services. This would clearly cut costs. Let's manage things. And I for one am sick and tired of breathing other peoples' secondary smoke, and welcome a ban. I never did smoke cigarettes.
greenmegaman--what are your solutions?

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 21, 2007 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

Aha! See here:

WASHINGTON_President Bush will propose a tax deduction of $7,500 for individuals and $15,000 for families regardless of whether they buy their own health insurance or receive medical coverage at work.

...But another senior administration official said the size of the deduction is higher than the cost of an average policy, which currently is estimated at $11,500.

Because of this, about 80 percent of people with employer-based plans will actually see their tax liability fall because their insurance policies cost less than the deduction, he said.

Of course they don't say what the cost of an average policy is for the privately (non-employer) insured. Or those for which private insurance is cost-prohibitive or unobtainable due to pre-existing conditions.

Moreover, to be budget neutral, the reduction in taxes must be offset by reduced outlays for supporting the currently uninsured/underinsured, who will presumably now run out and buy their own insurance. Which presumes an offsetting reduction in outlays for existing programs. So what is Bush proposing to cut?

Which also presumes a net benefit to the currently uninsured vs. existing government programs, otherwise they're not going shopping. And which presumes that those individuals have enough taxable income that they can go shopping.

Posted by: has407 on January 21, 2007 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

wants me to pay for everyone else's every need.M/em>

Do you drive on roads? If so, you are a beneficiary of tax dollars. (I've been to third world countries - I don't mind paying for infrastructure.) If you drive at all you are a beneficiary of subsidized fuel.

If your house catches fire, or someone breaks into your home, I assume you would call 9-1-1 and that is a taxpayer funded service.

When you generate your own electricity, build your own roads and forgo all other subsidized services, c'mon back and tell us how that's working out for ya.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 21, 2007 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Shit--if we could get out of the next two years without having to worry about Dubya wrecking our social security and health care programs...
the guy who claims to want to reduce taxes wants to raise taxes--sounds like his poppy George HW Bush these days.
I don't mind a quarter tax on peoples' packs of cigarettes but holy cow--imagine how those with comprehensive health plans (already with higher deductibles and out-of-pocket costs) instead of problem prone, ineffective managed care plans will be taxed for making the better choice.

In my state we hope to not pass on costs to employees. There goes Bush, all for big business.
Making ordinary citizens pay the price.

I agree that it will not pass thru Congress--not with Republicans looking towards 2008. Wonder if the dem congress will boo him roundly at the SOTU.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 21, 2007 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

"Wonder if the dem congress will boo him roundly at the SOTU."

Somebody on TV the other day said that usually you watch the President's party cheer and the opposition sit on their hands, This year the interesting thing will be to see which Republicans will be sitting on their hands as well.

Hee Hee

Posted by: Robert Earle on January 21, 2007 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

"This situation creates too much consumption of insurance for people who don't need quite so much (ie, lots of quite healthy 35 year olds with gold-plated policies who would be better off with cheaper insurance and pay increases) and consequently raises prices for everybody else."

Huh? So you're saying if the insurance companies WEREN'T getting all that "extra" money from healthy 35 year olds they'd be able to lower prices for everyone else? That they're bringing in too much 'extra" revenue (and progit) now to
charge the rest of us lower rates?

That is just insane. Seriously.

Posted by: Chaboard on January 21, 2007 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Nationalize the healthcare insurance industry now!

Posted by: rcc on January 21, 2007 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

This sounds more like a lame attempt reclaim the Reagan succession and favor with the Reaganites; Reagan made a similar proposal in '83-86 (which was DOA), so it must be good.

Posted by: has407 on January 21, 2007 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

The Economic Policy Institute hails a new plan to provide health coverage for all--on sharedprosperity.org. I initially found it on prnewswire.com. They mentioned a keynote address by newly elected Senator Jim Webb.

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 21, 2007 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

The republicans are regressive people. They will do everything to move the nation back to the 19th century. They believe insurance companies have our best interest in mind, not their own profit, they are oh so kind. All the social progress made in the 20th century did come from Democrats fighting Republicans all the way. The Republicans have managed to destroy a great deal of the advances made, they did not suceede yet to destroy the SS system, they are still working on it. Under Democratic government the middle class has a chance to grow and shrinks under Republicans.

Why are they against good education for all, healthcare for all, good labor laws, public transportation, protecting the environment, support the families with daycare, housing and Headstart.All things to improve life for american citicens. All I can think of is GREED, just plain old GREED.

When the free market collapsed, that is when capitalism failed, that is the private sector failed it was the government that came to the rescue with the New Deal.The government provided jobs not the private sector. The government can do if we just want it to do.

Dear Republicans, please take some adult education courses, like college level history. Community college will do, it does not have to be Harvard. Harvard Did not do much for Bush either. Privat education proofed a failur for him.

Posted by: Renate on January 21, 2007 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

This Bush plan is a transparent scam, like all his other scams.

Even getting aside from the tax on middle class people with halfway decent insurance. Beyond funding the program (duh) this tax is designed to make health care a politically unpalatable problem to attack. It fosters anti-tax resentment. Plus it makes a nice wedge issue for dividing people by class. (Hey, it worked with the immigrants.)

This "plan" is basically to dump $7500 into peoples' laps to buy health insurance (and to dump it into their laps at tax time).

The health insurance companies will immediately respond by jacking up premiums by $7500 per year for everybody.

The same thing happened with the homeowner's deduction. That was intended to help first time buyers buy new houses. Home prices immediately shot up to compensate for it. There were three net results:

1. If you get the deduction, an additional hoop to jump through when filing your taxes every year
    BONUS: The additional paperwork fosters anti-tax resentment
2. If you get the deduction, delayed access to your own money, which would have been cash in your pocket before, and that now arrives much later with your tax refund
    BONUS: During the intervening months (and from then on, too, thanks to Uncle Sam) some developer somewhere gets to enjoy that money for you
3. A huge public subsidy enjoyed by the housing industry at our expense

Apparently the health insurance industry wants in on the same sweet deal. If the Bush plan were to go through, you can add a fourth item:

4. Even greater employer leverage over even more desperate U.S. workers

Every scam that has ever been put forth by Bush has had the same type of booby trap at its center: privatization of profits, socialization of costs.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on January 21, 2007 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

I think it would be fitting for the Democrats to have bushel baskets of rotten eggs and rotten tomatoes and pelt Bush with them during the SOTU address. The practice of pelting corrupt or incompetent politicians with rotting foodstuffs is one that has sadly not been used much recently in this country. The Democrats need to revive it. And, if ever an American politician deserved it, it is George W. Bush.

Posted by: Joe Bob Briggs on January 21, 2007 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

Interception!

Posted by: Nads on January 21, 2007 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

Of course this thing is a scam!! Millionthmonkey, if the Democrats on the talk shows don't ape your points next week, they should be placed in stockades and replaced with real fighters.

Posted by: Father Figure on January 21, 2007 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Raw Story quotes someone on Clinton's campaign staff:

"Climate change will be a major initiative as well as healthcare for all children [that will] gradually move to all Americans," a participant on the call told RAW STORY in a brief conversation Sunday night.

Haven't things moved gradually enough. At this point I'm sick to death of Health Care for Some.

Can't someone just stand up and say Cover Everyone. ?

Posted by: katiebird on January 21, 2007 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

(Hey, it worked with the immigrants.)

And, I should additionally note, the issue which proved most rhetorically effective against the illegal immigrant was public resentment of his health care costs- most specifically, his ER visits- as they are borne by the public.

Low income U.S. citizens can actually vote, but they usually vote for Democrats anyway, so they might as well be illegal immigrants as far as the Republicans and their "base" are concerned. That means they can be effectively vilified and blamed for everyone's problems, as if they were illegal immigrants.

(And since it will largely go to Democratic voters, you can bet this deduction would come with all sorts of cruel technicalities and hoops to jump through, just like money for Katrina relief. You'll probably need to hire a tax attorney to claim it.)

So right in the structure of this ridiculous proposal, you can see how their obvious strategy to foster class resentment is intended to work.

There are no breaks from this guy. Only Trojan horses with his friends and clients waiting inside.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on January 21, 2007 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

Coverage for children is a figleaf that politicians love to hide behind. I mean, who can be against it? It's like opposing Apple Pie and America, fer cryin' out loud.

But overall, kids are cheap. The bulk of kids are seen for well-child care and immunizations. On occasion a kid needs stitches. Overall, they represent very few healthcare dollars.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 21, 2007 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

MillionthMonkey: If I get around to posting about this (I'm procrastinating on deciding on a topic for a paper right now...I really should close the PA tabs) I will be using your points. (With appropriate credit assigned, of course, since I fail people for plagiarism and my definition includes uncited references to the intellectual property of others.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 21, 2007 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

privatization of profits, socialization of costs.

Don't blame that on GWB. That's the basis of US capitalism.

Posted by: Disputo on January 21, 2007 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

Check out Understanding Health Care, gain information & learn about yourself in aninteresting & fun manner.

Important to all of us

"...I have reason to know, as do many of you, that when the evidence on a controversial subject is fairly and calmly presented, the public recognizes it for what it is--an effort to illuminate rather than to agitate..." - Edward R. Murrow

Posted by: daCascadian on January 21, 2007 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

BGRS: Feel free to give me credit for all my bullshit since I'm too lazy to plagiarize when the points are this obvious and it's so easy to rap on them. I mean, duh. This is as predictable as Iraq was. Haven't we just seen this same approach backfire royally with housing and the homeowner's deduction? It exploded in our faces. And in a way that is conveniently unaddressed by this proposal for obvious reasons. It is intended to make the problem worse, to weaken the hand of the public, and to interfere with any attempt at an effective solution.

As well as divert a river of public money through the hands of a few moneyed interests.

This thing has the same structure as the homeowner deduction except that deduction was targeted toward people who own homes- middle class people in middle to high tax brackets- and everyone pays for it. This thing is targeted to pound individual taxpayers differently based on the quality of their health care coverage. Compared to the homeowner's deduction, this will stir up a lot of class resentment. And if there is any larger lesson to be learned from the whole illegal immigrant issue, it's that class resentment is a very effective political tool for those who wish to divide us and confuse us as to what our own interests really are.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on January 22, 2007 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

Bottomline, it is just very typical Bush, give a crump here and take chunk there.
In Texas he held up the chip program, he wanted taxcuts for business first, he held up the increase of the minimum wage, he wants taxcuts for businesses first.
When texas finnally had chips it had to be cut down because the taxcuts had left not enough funding.

The Republicans worried chips would move to many children from MEDICAID to chips. They just are outrageous.

Posted by: renate on January 22, 2007 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

MillionsMonkey, you hit the nail on the head.
If the middleclass can't afford healthcare for their children of course they resent paying taxes for healthcare for poor children. Low cost insurance has to be available to all. That applies to all services, all people have to be served equally. Well, Bush is a devider. Impeach the bastard.

Posted by: Renate on January 22, 2007 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

arnie speaks:

http://news.independent.co.uk/people/profiles/article2175074.ece

Posted by: Billy on January 22, 2007 at 2:50 AM | PERMALINK

"The first step to reform health care in this country is to end the idea that it's a perk of a decent job. If Bush is proposing to breakout to people what their employer is paying for their healthcare and require some accountablity, I'd think Kevin should consider this a good baby step -- so why so negative?"

I agree. I think it's a great first step. People with employer-provided health care are absurdly spoiled--and they're so spoiled, they think they're entitled to more. Forcing them to acknowledge reality is a key first step to any reform.

Posted by: Cal on January 22, 2007 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

People with employer-provided health care are absurdly spoiled--and they're so spoiled, they think they're entitled to more.

Wow, what a turd of a position to have to promote and defend. Have fun selling that one, guys!

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on January 22, 2007 at 3:11 AM | PERMALINK

I suspect this is a health insurance proposal with a poison pill designed not to be passed, or if it is altered to be acceptable, to then be vetoed. And most likely this won't take long.

But, although it is unlikely and would be very scary and disruptive, it would be an interesting surprise if this gambit somehow ended up knocking off the tax-free health insurance deal that folks employed at large prosperous employers now enjoy.

Nothing would do more to speed the acceptance of a national health insurance scheme than the end of the present arrangements which benefit the well employed.

Posted by: jhh on January 22, 2007 at 5:56 AM | PERMALINK

There are lots of reasons some people's plans cost more than others. "Gold plating" is one, but the size of the plan, and the age and health of the participant are two others. Is this plan a sneaky attack on small business or older employees?

Until we have a risk adjustment calculation putting everybody on the same playing field Bush's plan sounds like an attack on Ford, GM and their employees. It also sounds like an attack on small companies who don't get rid of older employees.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 22, 2007 at 6:27 AM | PERMALINK

he is a puny little man and except for new ways to kill all of his ideas are smal

Posted by: klyde on January 22, 2007 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

So the Pres's plan accomplishes the dual mission of further bankrupting the gov't (tax credits for the uninsured) and preserving the throat-hold of the vampire insurance companies, even at the cost of breaking his Grover Norquist pledge (no tax increases ever). If Hillary, Barack, John Edwards, et al can't hit this one out of the park, we'll know the insurance companies have bought them too.

Posted by: helmling on January 22, 2007 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Do you drive on roads? If so, you are a beneficiary of tax dollars.

Roads are paid for (for the overwhelming part) by the gasoline taxes invoked to pay for just those entities. Thus someone driving is paying for the roads via the gasoline purchased to run the vehicle (primarily, btw, the OTR trucks pay a heavy portion since they get terrible mileage but do the most damage to the roads). That information should be discussed in the public schools, yet it's often a talking point by those on the left....what, are they not even discussing economics 099 in schools, at all?

When you generate your own electricity
I pay for the electricity I use & don't bitch to Ted Kennedy hoping for home-oil subsidies whenever it gets cold, like the northeastern libs do. What, I should either use candles or happily pay for your trip to the emergency room in case of sniffles?

Gosh, I'm so callous. I should just give you all my money and be done with the process.

build your own roads
See above. I pay for that, but you want me to pay for your pap smears. Here's a novel idea: pay for it your damn selfish self.

Is that your grand argument? Declare that unless someone is living the life of the caveman and creating their every use by hand/scratch, then they're in no position to complain about people (obviously, life's lottery winners) running to the gov't in order to get someone else to pay their way? Really?

Posted by: RW on January 22, 2007 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

The EITC is a wonderful thing, but again, it depends on someone having "earned income". Being unemployed, one does not have "earned income".

Wow, if you're so unemployable that you can go an entire year without one dollar in income (even unemployment bennies, which are taxable in some localities) then Bush's health policies are the least of your worries. Good luck, though. It's a tough world, but you seem to be doing okay what with the internet usage & all, so you obviously are a planner & are quite prepared. Kudos.

Posted by: RW on January 22, 2007 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Fuel and electricity are subsidized by the government. Profits are private, risk is spread out. Maybe you need to take a course in Reality 099?

By the way, you will pay my healthcare forevermore. I'm "on the dole" in your eyes because we are retired military personnel.

And calm the hell down. Nobody wants to take "all your money" we just think that what is being spent now could be spent in a lot more efficient fashion than it is and for what is being spent currently, everyone could be covered.

We are all paying anyway. EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act) mandates by federal statute that we have to treat all emergencies tht show up, regardless of ability to pay. Those costs get passed on to consumers. (Bill Frist and HCA aren't taking a bath. Neither is United Health Care or BC/BS.)

You calling another selfish is rich indeed!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 22, 2007 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Nobody talks about the REAL problem.

Why is health care in the USA radically more expensive than the rest of the industrialized world? (Including primitive countries like Finland, Sweden etc)

Answers might be found in the following:

Where's all that health care money flowing?
It's in the trillions... going somewhere. Who's getting rich? Follow the money.

Should 'professional' organizations (AMA, ABA etc. which basically monopolistic craft guilds) be granted control over the largest sectors of the economy?

Does an industry that generates profits from skimming a percentage of cash flow have any incentive to control costs? (answer: No)

Like so many other things in the great USA the working people are being ripped.

Posted by: Buford on January 22, 2007 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Here's a serious question--does the taxable income begin at $15,000 per year for the money you contribute, or for the total monthly cost that you and your employer contribute together. If it's the former, I can't imagine anybody pays that much. If it's the latter, though, it might hit a few people. My health care plan is good, but not "gold-plated," but it probably costs $10,000 a year between me and my employer, and we don't live in an area with a high cost of living.

Posted by: go vols on January 22, 2007 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Why is Shrub even considering showing up for the SOTU address? He could have another RePub, Rich Little, simply stand in for himself. Little, possibly, might be funnier.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 21, 2007 at 2:56 PM

Or even better, he could have Stephen Colbert give it!!

Posted by: Yelling on January 22, 2007 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Today's Krugman is on this topic.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 22, 2007 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Asshole conservatives like RW don't realize that saying the health issues of the poor, elderly and disabled are their own problem is like two guys in the middle of the ocean in a lifeboat and one says to the other, "Your end of the lifeboat has a leak in it".

We are all impacted by each other's health, like it or not.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 22, 2007 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, Schmendrick, Dropping the "D" from RDW fools no one.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 22, 2007 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Asshole conservatives

Redundancy alert! :)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 22, 2007 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

From Paul Krugman's column:

On the radio, Mr. Bush suggested that we should “treat health insurance more like home ownership.” He went on to say that “the current tax code encourages home ownership by allowing you to deduct the interest on your mortgage from your taxes. We can reform the tax code, so that it provides a similar incentive for you to buy health insurance.”
Wow. Those are the words of someone with no sense of what it’s like to be uninsured.

Ha ha, even Bush says this is exactly like the homeowner deduction, and it will backfire in the exact same way that the homeowner's deduction, as I described above. Insurance companies will immediately raise premiums for everybody to account for the deduction that the uninsured are getting, and the whole thing will quickly turn into corporate welfare for the health insurance industry. What a shock.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on January 22, 2007 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

RW -

"Wow, if you're so unemployable that you can go an entire year without one dollar in income ... then Bush's health policies are the least of your worries."

I understand that Republicans often have trouble looking beyond themselves, but I was only using myself as an example.

Tomorrow night, your buddy George is going to make his pitch for this lousy plan, and - just like five years ago, when he said 'everyone gets the $300 tax cut - I am pointing out that - just like five years ago - that it simply not the case.

When you earn so little money that you end up not paying any taxes, then a big deduction - or in the case of five years ago, a chance in the tax rates - means nothing to you. And if I remember correctly from five years ago, something like 25% to 33% of wage earners fall into this category.

Low income workers, the people MOST in need of help from spiralling health costs, WILL GET NO BENEFIT from George's silly plan. That's the point, not whether I will or won't.

Posted by: Robert Earle on January 22, 2007 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly the plan is disconnected from reality. It isn't going to fool a single person any where. What I find most obnoxious about it is President's apparent belief that it might work. I know the President was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and has never had to make a real world health care insurance decision, but that is why most administration's hire advisors with at least some real world experience.

I guess no one advising the President has enough understanding of the way the system actually works to tell him that the solution he is proposing has nothing to do with the problem that needs a solution.

As a result of the profound ignorance of everybody in the process the President is going to make a damn fool of himself by proposing a solution to a non-existent problem. That couldn't happen to a more deserving baffoon.

When are these morons going to realize that giving a tax break to a low income person is about like giving a lollipop to a drowning child. Nice but utterly irrelevant to the situation at hand.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 22, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK
This "plan" is basically to dump $7500 into peoples' laps to buy health insurance

Er, no, its not. A $7,500 deduction does not drop $7,500 into anyone's pocket, unless they are taxed at a 100% marginal rate. A $7,500 deduction with no income limit on availability will give the taxpayer eligible for it between $0 (if you have no taxable income before the deduction) to $2,625 (if you have at least $357,200 in taxable income before the deduction) in reduced federal tax liability.

This doesn't help insure the uninsured, particularly the low-income uninusred, much if at all; if you can't afford the insurance now, you aren't likely to be able to afford it because you'll get some fraction of it back long after you've paid for it.

What it does is tax workers with good health insurance (thereby, compared to the status quo, discouraging workers with a choice from choosing and employers from offering excellent insurance) to fund a deduction which will go largely to the better off that already pay for insurance out of their own taxable income rather than getting it through work.

Consider that if a person with $15,000 in taxable income before this deduction spent $7,500 on their own health insurance in a year, this plan would reduce their federal income tax liability by $1,141.25.

But, as noted above, if someone making $357,200 or more paid at least $7,500 for their own insurance, their tax liability would be reduced by $2,625. In a progressive tax scheme, simple deductions do the most to make things more affordable not to the people for whom they are least afforable, but instead to those to whom they are already most affordable.

If this plan wanted to make insurance more affordable but still fund itself with the tax it would either use a direct subsidy, or if it had to be through tax policy alone, a refundable credit that started out with 100% credit for insurance expenses up to some cap at no income, and reduced the percentage eligible for the credit with rising income.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 22, 2007 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Roads are paid for (for the overwhelming part) by the gasoline taxes invoked to pay for just those entities."

This is incorrect.

Highways have been paid for mostly by gas taxes for the past few decades, however the initial construction of the system was funded primarily with federal income tax money. Non-highway roads are funded mostly with property taxes.

Posted by: jefff on January 22, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

BTW I think this plan is very connected to reality, George Bush's reality.

Imagine that you are a rich and ridiculously politically connected incompetent fool. You spend quite a bit of time unemployed with periodic very high paying figurehead jobs, bailouts from daddies friends whenever you wander into some area where your incompetence makes a difference, and constant income rolling in from your inheritance or the payout from your last failure. This plan is tailor made for people like you! With enough money to buy expensive full coverage medical, but regular unemployment so you aren't being covered at a job much of the time you get subsidized at least as much as you are taxed.

Posted by: jefff on January 22, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

"When you earn so little money that you end up not paying any taxes..."

Income taxes of course, you still get to pay social security, medicare, sales, property, etc. And the deduction doesn't reduce those a penny.

But if you are a waste of an inheritance like George Bush its always saving you whatever the top marginal rate is.

Posted by: jefff on January 22, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative Deflator:
We are all impacted by each other's health, like it or not.

You would think that conservatives would understand that everyone has a stake in diagnosing and healing a poor person with SARS or drug resistant TB. That they would get it that prenatal care could prevent birth defects that would require thousands in Medicaid payments to handle in the future. That it's cheaper to catch and treat health problems early--before they require amputations, transplants, bypasses, etc.--thus reducing the amounts hospitals have to pay to treat the uninsured, and also keeping people in the work force.

I guess it's beyond them.

Posted by: cowalker on January 22, 2007 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Jefff

I think you are right. This plan is perfect for the members of the Paris Hilton set like GWB. Nobody else. How many of them are there, anyway?

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 22, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

The rationale for this plan is that many people have too much health insurance and that is what drives up cost? Is that it?

I don't get it. What is he trying to do, pit the haves (employer provided health insurance) against the have nots?

Last year his big idea was that people are going to the Doctor too much. That was wacky, too, because other than Munchausen by proxy victims I don't know anyone who likes to go to the Dr.

I honestly have no idea what the big idea will be next year.

Posted by: Tripp on January 22, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, you will pay my healthcare forevermore. I'm "on the dole" in your eyes because we are retired military personnel.

Thus like any working person, you earned your bennies upon retirement. The only complaints you'll get from me is that you weren't paid enough during your working days and the death benefit was so low that it was criminal during those days (what, $12K?).

Nobody wants to take "all your money" we just think that what is being spent now could be spent in a lot more efficient fashion than it is and for what is being spent currently, everyone could be covered.
That you quoted "all" was the dead giveaway.
You'll let me keep some, of course, but I should pay for, say, the local crack whore because you say everyone should be covered. Uh-huh.

Run on it.

You calling another selfish is rich indeed!
I know, I should shut up and volunteer to pay for everyone's health care. What, Oliver Willis should be left to care for his own devices while folks like me are in the gym? Yeah, I must be crazy. So, where do I send my son's autism rehabilitation bills so that you're going to pay for it? They're piling up & lord knows, you're all for sharing the burden. What's the addy so you can show me how the selfless really are (since you're wanting everyone else to pay, you can set the example)?

All this time, I've been paying it myself.....who knew it was cool to expect someone else to do it & then claim that they're selfish if they don't?

We are all impacted by each other's health, like it or not.
I'm impacted by others' driving whenever I'm on the interstate. When do we pay for each other's auto insurance?

By the way, Schmendrick, Dropping the "D" from RDW fools no one.
My name is Ricky West and I have no idea who "Schmendrick" is. Apparently, you were very fooled. If you have any questions, send Kevin Drum an e-mail & ask.

You are quite wrong.

I understand that Republicans often have trouble looking beyond themselves, but I was only using myself as an example.
But, of course. So, it was my fault for answering the first person narrative with a first person response.

Duly noted.


Income taxes of course, you still get to pay social security, medicare, sales, property, etc. And the deduction doesn't reduce those a penny.
See "earned income tax credit". You get the payroll taxes back (in the general sense, which was the genesis of the plan. Yeah, the anal retentive will argue on the penny vs. penny concept, but the debate & start of the EITC was to remove the working poor from being hit with payroll taxes. So, in essence, they're getting social security credits for money that they're not actually sending to social security - it gets sent back. Good setup, eh?). The working poor, in effect, pay zero payroll taxes...something that is constantly neglected to be mentioned (gee, wonder why?).

Posted by: RW on January 22, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

RW:
The word all you wingers like to focus on is 'earn'. Makes you feel all warm and righteous. Heyy, I worked hard. Therefore all the money I got from it I should get to keep.
I've worked hard on projects--for months, in some cases--only to have the client delay payment forever--or at least until they declare bankruptcy and I can whistle for it in court.
If the righteousness of one's 'earning' is based on the nobility of harfd work, then you're on mighty shakey ground--because in my case, the average winger response is 'tough. You take your chances."
That's why the biggest piece of welfare in the modern world is the limited liability corporation. Oh, you did $25,000 worth of work for a corporation? Sorry, you get nothing--or $400. And you can't go after the person who hired you for the money you EARNED--because they're only liable for the shares they owned in the company. Can you say "Look, this guy was paying himself a salary of $75,000 a year instead of paying me! Can't I get some of that?" Of course not.
Tell me why I didn't earn the money that's in the entrepreneur/whheler-dealer/scumbag's pocket. Tell me how a corporation that uses a factory run by the Red Army in China that punishes any upward pressure on wages by shooting those people in the head, is righteously 'earning' that money, and deserves to keep all of it.
The limited liability corporation is a way of escaping obligation, but it's good for increasing overall wealth by making it less risky to invest. That's why we have it.
Likewise, subsidies for poor people make it easier for people to live, and healthy, well paid people do better work, are more creative, and more stable in the face of misfortune. It increases the general wealth--which is why we have them.
You wingers like to flit from Marxist labor theory of value to Randian 'I got mine' whenever it suits you. It's dishonest as well as stupid.

Posted by: pbg on January 22, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

pbg,
Sorry that you failed to achieve success in the competitive capitalistic society in America & instead were apparently burned.


The word all you wingers like to focus on is 'earn'.
Er, yeah.
Sadly, that's a concept that so many lefties find abhorrent, as evidenced by your screed. Hey, if you like Marx so much they're practicing many of those ideals 90 miles south of Miami. I hear they're not as interested in "earn" down there, either, so you'll fit in.

Posted by: RW on January 22, 2007 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush plan actually contains a perverse--or intended--incentive for individuals to under consume insurance.

According to the NYT "The cap would also be used to establish the amount of the new deduction for people who lack coverage. In this example, a family buying insurance on its own could take a $15,000 deduction — even if the insurance cost less."

Posted by: Stuart Elliott on January 22, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

When do we pay for each other's auto insurance?
You don't understand the principal of insurance. The drivers with no accident pay for the drivers with accident. If you have no accident you don't get your money back, or do you?
The thing is you don't know if you will be unfortunate and have an expensive accident just as you don't know if you will need expensive medical care.

Common sense tells me it is better to pay your premium and hope you will stay healthy and never have an accident.

Posted by: Renate on January 22, 2007 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

RW
pbg is actually telling you what you call "earned" is really stealing or robbing, it is not earned if you cheat someone of their "earned" wages or salaries.
Our corporations, employers don't want to pay fair wages, don't want to pay taxes but expect people to pay taxes and get killed for them, see Halliburtan and Exxonmobile. Its time to wake up and smell the coffee.

I don't think you are in the millionare bracket, so do you know what is good for you?

Posted by: Renate on January 22, 2007 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

You don't understand the principal of insurance.

'tis often better to think things through: if one doesn't wish to drive, they aren't required to pay one penny for automobile insurance (no so with national health care). If you do, you get to decide what type of policy and how YOU wish to have YOUR policy covered (not so with national health care). You are not required to pay for someone else's premium or company....it's up to you to choose which policy, company and amount to cover (not so with national health care).

So, other than having the entire context screwed up, you were close. :)

Interestingly enough, 'choice' is only a virtue when it pertains to ending a pregnancy.

Posted by: RW on January 22, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think you are in the millionare bracket, so do you know what is good for you?

I'm not one of the folks running to a computer & whining about my plight in life or demanding that others pay my way, so apparently I know enough to get by.

pbg is actually telling you what you call "earned" is really stealing or robbing

Sorry, I'm not fluent in moonbat & don't care to learn the lingo. You folks have a nice day, it's getting too b@tsh!t crazy.

Posted by: RW on January 22, 2007 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

RW,
I wish you well and hope you will never be in any situation needing help from another individual.

You do believe in individualism, so why would you deny a woman the same right, and what does it have to do with the subject of the topic here?

Posted by: Renate on January 22, 2007 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

'tis often better to think things through

You might want to take your own advice.

if one doesn't wish to drive, they aren't required to pay one penny for automobile insurance (no so with national health care).

Duh.

All health insurance is like this. Not just nationalized.

If one doesn't wish to have health insurance, and one shows up at an ER, guess who ends up paying for it?

This isn't an issue with cars because driving a car is a luxury, whereas health insurance is not. If you get sick we WILL have to at least give you ER access, which is expensive.

Now what was that about thinking things through?

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on January 22, 2007 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

RW:
How do you know I didn't succeed?
I've gotten cheated many times.
That doesn't mean I haven't prevailed.
Or do you not know my secret identity?

Posted by: pbg on January 22, 2007 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK
blah blah: rw
Welcome to another right winger genius full of moonbat soundbites and cheap sarcasm. The EITC is not as big a deal as you like to claim. If you check it out:

Currently for tax year 2006, for a family with two dependent children, the credit is equal to 40 percent of the first $10,750 earned, plateaus at a maximum credit of $4,400, begins to phase-out when earnings increase beyond approximately $15,000, and reaches zero when earnings pass approximately $35,000.
So if you make 10,750 you can gain a munificent sum of 4400 and total 15 150 which is not enough to be able to afford health insurance. In the meantime, corporations can use EITC as a government subsidy: instead of paying a living wage, let the government do it.

In your rather silly comparison with auto insurance, you'll find everyone who has auto insurance buys uninsured motorist protection which is, in effect, buying each other's car insurance. Others without cars don't buy auto insurance, but guess what, everyone has a body. That is what health insurance is: body insurance to keep the body healthy and pay the expenses when it gets sick. With the current system, you already pay for the "local crack whore" who gets very expensive emergency care when needed. It's the most expensive, least efficient way to provide coverage and leads to higher taxes. Try to think things through.

Naturally, according to your party, any help for a country's people is Marxism, but any corporate subsidy is merely giving them what they deserve. It has always proven the case, that the more some rightist clown brags about being utterly economically self sufficient, the more likely it is that the person is not.

Posted by: Mike on January 23, 2007 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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