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Tilting at Windmills

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September 11, 2008

THE TAX INCREASE MCCAIN DOESN'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT.... Time's Joe Klein, in an effort to move away from "the sewage that Steve Schmidt is shoveling," turns to an aspect of the healthcare debate that hasn't generated nearly enough attention.

John McCain wants to tax your employer-provided health care benefits. He wants to replace those benefits with an insufficient tax credit -- $2500 for individuals and $5000 for families (the average cost per family for health insurance is $12000).

There is a positive, progressive tax aspect to this: wealthier people should have to pay for health insurance themselves, without tax breaks from the federal government.

But make no mistake: this plan will do little or nothing for those who do not have insurance now -- unless they are young and healthy -- and it may well hurt a fair number of workers, especially unionized workers, who get gold-plated benefits from their employers.

It will certainly do nothing for families with members who have pre-existing conditions or children with special needs -- because it makes no provision to regulate the insurers, forcing them to cover all comers at "community" rates that don't discriminate against the people who need health insurance most.

It is amazing to me that Obama campaign has let things go this far without pointing out that McCain -- who opposes the energy bill because it would increase taxes on oil companies -- is actually proposing a tax increase on health care benefits for American workers. But that is precisely what the Senator from Arizona is doing.

On the substance, Klein is exactly right. McCain's proposal would count the healthcare benefits Americans receive from their employers as taxable income, leaving tens of millions of middle-class families paying higher taxes and leaving millions more without insurance behind.

But on the politics, I'm not sure if Klein's observation is quite right. He finds it "amazing" the Obama campaign hasn't pointed this out yet. But here's the thing: the Obama campaign has pointed this out. Obama talks about it on the stump, and his team have been writing about it for quite a while.

It hasn't generated any real interest from political reporters, though, because a) it's substantive; b) it takes a few seconds to explain; c) there's no provocative video to accompany the story; and d) it makes McCain look bad.

Steve Benen 1:28 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (48)

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Can't have stories that make McCain look bad. Heavens. That would defile the narrative.

Posted by: Slothrop on September 11, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

A significant portion of the press is trying to throw this election. Whether it is from fear or complicity, I don't know. In the end, McCain's dishonor will rub off on the press just as Bush's dishonor did. Those members of the press who are stepping into the light will be the only ones left with their morals intact.

Posted by: Mary on September 11, 2008 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

This IS one of those things that will never get passed Congress, right?

Because, to be honest, I'm freaked out enough about the Constitution, global warming and endless war. If I have to add an additional tax burden to my anxiety list, I might not make it to election day.

Posted by: Buffalonian on September 11, 2008 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

"it takes a few seconds to explain"

This is the crux of the matter. (Of course most people would pick minutes rather than seconds as the appropriate metric.) And why does the media shy away from matters that require some explanation? Because the American public tends not to listen. Even when it impacts them.

Posted by: demisod on September 11, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Klein bungles his presentation on one or two counts:

John McCain wants to tax your employer-provided health care benefits. He wants to replace those benefits with an insufficient tax credit -- $2500 for individuals and $5000 for families (the average cost per family for health insurance is $12000).

If the tax credit "insufficient"? Klein throws out some numbers, but they aren't quite comparable. The proposed $5,000 tax credit offsets what? Taxes, not the cost of insurance.

It works like this: Today, a family of four gets medical insurance through an employer at a total cost of $12,000 a year (employee and employer contributions combined), tax free.

Under McCain's plan, the family would begin paying taxes on that benefit. Let's assume the family is in a high tax bracket, say 33%. The families taxes go up by $4,000. The tax credit is entirely sufficient to offset the increase.

There is a positive, progressive tax aspect to this: wealthier people should have to pay for health insurance themselves, without tax breaks from the federal government.

Really? Klein doesn't explain this. Will higher income families be excluded from receiving the tax credit? Klein doesn't say so in this passage. If all families are eligible to receive the credit, regardless of income, where's the progressivity?

If Mr. Klein hopes to discuss issues of substance, he needs to be quite a bit clearer on the elementary facts.


Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on September 11, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

I just posted on Joe's column in the thread below. Good to see I am keeping up.

The key is that Joe is just now waking up to the issues in this campaign. Obama and Clinton debated health care vigorously. Obama has a plan that he pushes on the stump contrasting it to the plan created for McCain and Bush by insurance companies and right wing think tanks.

I wonder if we could encourage other pundits to follow Joe and examine the candidate's positions on the issues? Maybe we could start a trend.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 11, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

How about a few 30-second commercials? That circumvents the media. And it's actually pretty easy to explain:

At a time when Americans need affordable healthcare more than ever, John McCain wants to make it more expensive--even for people who are still lucky enough to have jobs in his friend George Bush's economy. He wants to tax your employer-provided healthcare, and his measly tax credit won't offset your new taxes.

Posted by: sullijan on September 11, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not so sure that you couldn't explain it very succinctly and to the point. Have a commercial that says John McCain wants to raise your taxes by treating your employer health benefits as taxable income. End of story. Follow it up with his record against equal pay for women, and throw that ad right in the middle of ABC's The View, prime time for the stay at home mom crowd. I guarantee you, that'll resonate quicker than anything.

Posted by: TB on September 11, 2008 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

The Obama campaign should take it one step further, and say, "Gov. Palin promises to help families with special-needs children, but McCain's health plan will make it harder for those families to get health insurance. That's help these families don't need".

Go for the jugular. There's enough crap in McInsane's policies and his past that the Obama camp doesn't have to stretch the truth, but just tell it.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on September 11, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Mary wrote: "Those members of the press who are stepping into the light will be the only ones left with their morals intact."

Those members of the press who do what their ultra-rich corporate bosses want them to do and pimp the brazen, sickening, preposterous lies and BS of the Rove-Palin campaign will be left with their big, fat paychecks intact.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 11, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Quaker in a basement,

Question, is there any incentive for an employer to maintain a plan? Isn't McCain's real goal to eliminate employer based plans? How do below the median people afford that $12,000 price tag? Are employers going to pay them more? How does McCain's plan reduce the number of uninsured?

Just what problem does John McCain's plan solve anyway?

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 11, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Quaker,

I vaguely remember when McCain spoke about this that the tax credit was for those who purchased their own insurance, not to offset the taxes. Since this gets no coverage, I'm not rock solid sure on this, but that's what I remember hearing.

So if the average health insurance plan costs $12000 with the risk sharing inherent in employer-sponsored health insurance, how much would it cost if you're on your own and try to buy the same plan? More than $12000, and a lot more than $5000.

Posted by: PhilTBastid on September 11, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

This is the sort of thing that I know won't get passed in (Democratically dominated) Congress and in all honesty I'd support it because it would force the issue of universal healthcare into more people's minds. But this absolutely needs to be nailed to McCain. This is an issue that low information voters can actually comprehend (Obama's tax increases affect the top 1%, this tax increase affect you) and the 50+ baby boomer crowd (that benefit that's costing your employer $10,000 is now costing you $3,000. This could be something that push a lot of the fencesitting cynics (the both parties are equally bad crowd) into voting for Obama.

Posted by: anon on September 11, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if we could encourage other pundits to follow Joe and examine the candidate's positions on the issues? Maybe we could start a trend.

Hey, yeah, and maybe the trend will catch on sometime in 2009 after McCain is president and nothing is accomplished for another four years.

OR someone could take my advice from the thread down below, and get the many surrogates that Obama has at his disposal, maybe coordinate a message every day, hit every possible media outlet and ATTACK. Geez, waiting for the media to come around or hoping that the public can somehow see through all the muck is an exercise in futility.
They need to get out there, every waking second of every minute of every hour of every day and hammer this stuff home. They have less than sixty days, this really should be a slam dunk, so why are they blowing it?
WAKE UP!

But I suppose we could continue to sit around wondering why no one paid attention to some article written back whenever. Can't imagine why the message isn't getting through.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 11, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Ron,

First, let's make sure we're clear on a couple of things: I'm for Obama, not McCain; my earlier post was a criticism of Klein's presentation, not support for McCain's plan.

You ask if there's any incentive for an employer to maintain a plan. I don't see the connection. Whether an employer-provided benefit is regarded as taxable income for the employee has no impact, for better or worse, on the employer.

Isn't McCain's real goal to eliminate employer based plans? I see no evidence of that here.

How do below the median people afford the $12,000 price tag? The ones who receive health care benefits from their employers are already paying that price. McCain's plan will simply treat that benefit as taxable income. As for those who aren't receiving employer-provided benefits, the tax credit offers little in the way of help.

How does McCain's plan reduce the number of uninsured? I suppose the McCain campaign's answer would have something to do with the magic of free markets, but I really have no idea.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on September 11, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

You forgot e) it runs counter to well established narratives -- Democrats raise taxes, Republicans cut them.

Posted by: Eric L on September 11, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Allan,

I agree. Every day Obama campaign needs to hit a different issue hard. I don't know what the fuck is going on in the Obama media shop, but it is pretty clear they are not doing as much as Bush, er McCain.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 11, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

This is why I worry about the Obama campaign. They really don't seem to get it about how to work the refs.

If the Republicans want the press to pick up a story, they do it by engaging in a full-court press. All of their surrogates echo the exact same lines every time they talk to the media. If the media ask about something else, the spokesperson still does what it takes to inject the talking point of the day. If they put a surrogate on the air, the desired story goes out.

So Obama mentions something on the stump, and his people have a white paper about it somewhere. Please.

If they want to advance the story, they need to do better.

Posted by: Joe Buck on September 11, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a simple message--If you have access to an emergency room, you're insured under the McCain plan. (look at what his healthcare advisor said)
There, now everyone can stop wasting time trying to come up with a more simple way of explaining the tax issues, because honestly, no one is ever going to get that message through the MSM. Hello.

Sure maybe in a town hall type discussion, but not as a simple message. John McCain doesn't believe there's a healthcare crisis--do you? There's a simple ad.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 11, 2008 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Who's this Obama guy you are talking about?

Never see him much on TeeVee anymore.

Wasn't he the black guy who used to be running for president back before Palin?

(she's hawt... and a moose-hunting maverick too!)

Posted by: Buford on September 11, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

The Honest Man

There once was a man who could tell no lies
His eyes grew fixed on a noble prize
Off he set on an epic quest
While The Other faced a similar test
Yet Honest Man believed HE was best
He smeared and lied because he knew
deep inside his heart was true
He wanted to lead
For that right he’d beg and plead
“Yesterday isn’t today
But tomorrow could be,
It doesn’t matter what I say
Can’t you people see, it’s me!?”
It was apparent, though, he had changed
Morals, priorities rearranged
We’re not certain The Other will end ahead
What’s certain is, The Honest Man is dead.

Posted by: jeffreyleonard on September 11, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

It's time for Obama/Biden and their surrogates to stop pretending that the media is neutral and force the topic onto the media. They should bring up, as much as possible, XYZ is a huge issue that matters greatly to the American people, Senator Obama has spoken at length about it, WHY IS THE MEDIA NOT PICKING IT UP?

The media fucks are in love with McCain so wooing them won't work, so how about a little pressure to force them to do their jobs.

After this election, the progressive left needs to stick together and boycott media and companies that lie to the American public.

Posted by: anon on September 11, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know what the fuck is going on in the Obama media shop, but it is pretty clear they are not doing as much as Bush, er McCain.

amen to that.

If the Republicans want the press to pick up a story, they do it by engaging in a full-court press. All of their surrogates echo the exact same lines every time they talk to the media. If the media ask about something else, the spokesperson still does what it takes to inject the talking point of the day. If they put a surrogate on the air, the desired story goes out.

YES. Why, oh why, are Democrats not capable of doing this? Sure, they can get into the details more after that, but they have to force the issue up front first. And Obama's rapid response completely sucks as well. Actually his rapid response doesn't really exist at all in any effective form.
Yesterday, I expected the main story to be McCain's sleazy and dishonorable ad regarding sex education. If Obama had any kind of effective response team, they would have been all over that asking why McCain criticizes a bill to protect children from pedophiles--and any surrogate or rep who was asked about a stupid lipsticked pig would have simply brushed it aside as nonsense(since McCain used it against Hillary himself) and gone right for the jugular on that ad and education policy.
The Obama campaign failed for the day, and there aren't many days left. Are they just coasting to the debates and hoping for the best? Good luck with that.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 11, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: Orwell on September 11, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks to you and Klein for pushing this out there. I was talking to my fence-sitting father-in-law about the election and told him this very fact and phrased it as someone did above:

John McCain wants to treat your employer's portion of your healthcare premium as taxable income.

He was aghast and asked me, "Why isn't every Democrat talking about this every day?" I said, I'm telling you now.

Posted by: Trevor J on September 11, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

The media fucks are in love with McCain so wooing them won't work, so how about a little pressure to force them to do their jobs.

Bingo. Any person who speaks on Obama's behalf needs to shame the media and embarrass them for dwelling on ridiculous non-issues. If it exposes certain "journalists" who actually don't know anything about real issues, then so be it. Then you launch into the talking points of the day, comparing the Obama plan to McCain. If the "journalist" tries to divert you, you tell them that they're doing a disservice to the American public.
SHAME them and HAMMER your message home. The media is not our friend and never will be.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 11, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Let's take this health insurance/care discussion a litter further. As the number of people able to afford 'adequate' healthcare declines, what of the providers? The physicians, nurses, orderlies, janitors, administrators, etc. who are paid wages for providing these health/medical/administrative services? What almost everyone fails to notice is that there is a direct relationship between the money available for healthcare/medical/administrative services and people employed in these occupations. I just read that the number of medical students interested in following the path to primary health provider(I forgot the actual term, but it relates to the general practice physician) is declining. More specialists and fewer first tier providers. The point I am making is that there is no separation between fees available for healthcare and insurance-provided funds to pay for these services. If my employer doesn't subsidize my healthcare insurance, if I have an employer, or the government doesn't subsidize it with single-payer plans or there is insufficient capacity in Emergency Rooms or municipal funded hospitals, clinics, etc. how do the people in the larger healthcare industry survive? It is the same with other industries that lack sufficient revenue to support jobs, such as the auto industry: Where does the money come from to purchase goods and services whose purchase then provides the money to pay the employees who purchase the goods and services...
Until we recognize that there is only a WE, not a you and I, there is no viable solution to this current quagmire into which we have stumbled.

I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation
peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on September 11, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

I had quite a brouhaha with a conservative friend about this question last weekend. Didn't believe it because it wasn't on McCain's web site page on Health Care. But it was visible if you searched the site for health care -- "What People Are Saying" included a Wall Street Journal news article about the proposal, citing the change in tax treatment of employer-provided benefits -- he still didn't believe it ("WSJ reporters go back and forth from the New York Times all the time").

Still didn't believe it as a necessary offset to paying $2,500 tax credits to basicallt every adult person in the USA, which he numbered at 180 million people. When I said that would add $450 billion to the deficit, without any offset, he said "where did you get that number?". I said I multiplied, but I suppose basic arithmetic has a liberal bias.

Posted by: Kevin Mc on September 11, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Some of my quick thoughts on McSame's plan - and I'm not even an accountant:
1) McCain's making employer sponsored plans taxable will also increase most employees SS & Medicare taxes, so add another 7+% taxes to that add'l taxable income
2) I pay my share of my employer's plan (roughly $6,000/yr) with pre-tax dollars, i.e. they deduct it from my pay before federal taxes are calculated. I assume this tax break would go away, further increasing my taxable income
3) as pointed out, it does nothing to help the uninsured. How do you pay for coverage now with $$ you don't have, with just the promise that you'll get a credit next April that may or may not be a full reimbursement of your cost?
4) lower income taxpayers who don't have a $5000 or more tax bill (or $2500 for individuals) get shafted the most? Tax credits do not equal refunds if your taxes owed are less than the credit.
5) indiviual coverage is ALWAYS more than group coverage. Doesn't McCain even understand basic economies of scale?
HMMMM.......how to get the press to actually make these points??

Posted by: liberal repub (now dem) on September 11, 2008 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Want to know where Klein's presentation (and just about every opinion offered in this thread) really breaks down?

If employer-provided health benefits are treated as taxable income, they may also become subject to payroll taxes--that's another 15% tax increase that's ignored.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on September 11, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

OOOOPS! That should be a 'little' further.
st john

Posted by: st john on September 11, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of taxes... has anyone seen any analysis of the Obama tax plan that would provide $4K tax benefit to the non-wealthy?

The only one I've seen so far showed that if you roll back the Bush tax cuts and substitute the $4,000 tax reduction, most taxpayer income groups would wind up paying more taxes. But this analysis was offered by a poster to an obscure blog, so not sure of it's veracity. I can post the table if it's relevant.

However, wouldn't it be useful to have such an analysis before having to defend the Obama tax plan in future ads, speeches, debates, etc.?

Posted by: pencarrow on September 11, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK
1) McCain's making employer sponsored plans taxable will also increase most employees SS & Medicare taxes, so add another 7+% taxes to that add'l taxable income

Good for you, Kevin. Don't forget to add another 7+% paid--maybe--by your employer.

4) lower income taxpayers who don't have a $5000 or more tax bill (or $2500 for individuals) get shafted the most? Tax credits do not equal refunds if your taxes owed are less than the credit.
As it stands, Mr. McCain's proposal is (according to the New York Times) for a refundable tax credit. In other words, you get the benefit of the full credit, even if it results in a refund.

Would that feature make it through to implementation? I have no idea, but current news reports say that's part of the plan.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on September 11, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

You guys want to help Obama, make Joe's column a talking point. If you have your own blog(s) post something. (I am talking to you blue girl.) If you comment on other blogs, comment about the McCain health insurance tax increase. Spread this story like a fire across the web and we will get media attention in short order. Tomorrow we pick up another genuine issue and push it. Spread the story.

A friend of mine emailed me about the over coverage of Palin and reminded me that every day we talk about Palin is a day we lose. We don't have any more days to lose. If the Obama campaign isn't going to adopt a forward leaning media strategy it is up to us. It is our country after all.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 11, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Obama needs to pound on healthcare. He needs an ad with just one line: McCain wants to tax your healthcare benefits.

Run this in the Midwest and Florida for a week and see what happens. Politically, I don't think he could get this passed, but Americans should know what he would do if he could.

Posted by: klem on September 11, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Under McCain's plan, the family would begin paying taxes on that benefit. Let's assume the family is in a high tax bracket, say 33%. The families taxes go up by $4,000. The tax credit is entirely sufficient to offset the increase.

This is true. McCain's credit can make up for the taxable health care "income" - for now. However, McCain's plan ties the health care tax credit to inflation, and we know that health care costs rise at a much higher rate. Therefore, in a couple of years, families will be paying more in income tax than they will get back in credits. Klein does misrepresent this considerably.

What Klein does not botch is the fact that the McCain plan will make it harder for people with preexisting conditions to get coverage. His plan will do nothing to control costs, and, by taxing both the employer and the employee for health care benefits, he is incentivizing employers to limit coverage or not provide it at all. Yet he says Obama's plans hurt small business?

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on September 11, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

McCain's "plan" is offered cynically, and it doesn't make a lot of sense to critique it in much detail. I very much doubt that whoever concocted it thought long and hard about how it would actually work. I think the "plan" was suggested simply to get the issue off the table. The media treats it as a his plan/her plan issue, which means both sides get equal media credits. The only issue McCain wants on the table is national security.

Given that, I don't think Quaker's example works as outlined. I can't imagine that an individual would be given a credit if his employer continues to provide insurance. But I believe the fact that individuals would be getting credits would entice many employers to drop their plans. I know I would if I ran a company and health insurance costs were getting me down.

But as I said, I doubt very much that the "plan" has been fleshed out, that these pesky details have been thought through. The "plan" was not offered in good faith, but to defuse the issue. It just doesn't serve anyone as outlined. If you want to get health insurance off the backs of employers, there's a far better way. If you want to provide real health insurance security to the American people, there's a far better way. This "plan" accomplishes nothing, except to shake things up and leave employers and individuals as frustrated as they are now.

Ironically, the better way for both individuals and corporations is national health insurance. But we'll never do that because it helps people, and Republicans can't stand that, even if it helps business as well.


Posted by: hark on September 11, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Ron gets it. The blogs definitely help to push stories. I just pray that Obama gets his act together and starts coordinating with his surrogates.
Hey, where's Al Gore? I'm tired of hearing from these people only at the conventions! Geez, even Ed Koch is ready to do battle for Obama. It doesn't take more than a handful of phone calls, faxes, and emails every day. I don't see the coordination and unified effort. At all.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 11, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

The case against McCain is even stronger than the one Klein makes. McCain's health care plans will force people to pay more out of pocket for their health care expenses.

This is an easy argument for Obama to make. There is no need for him to go into the tax code when forced to limit his argument to short sound bites.

Obama needs to argue that for those who have no insurance, McCain's plan won't help you. For those who do have insurance, McCain's plans will make you have to pay for more of your health care expenses.

As for blogs pushing the story--I already attended to that before reading here at Liberal Values:

http://liberalvaluesblog.com/?p=4387

Posted by: Ron Chusid on September 11, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

I can't imagine that an individual would be given a credit if his employer continues to provide insurance.

Well, don't imagine. Click through the link Steve provided to this NYT story. The proposal is for a tax credit to offset an increase in taxes on employer-provided health benefits.

Klein wonders why other journalists won't wade into this issue? His own difficulty in understanding and explaining the simplest facts should be instructive.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on September 11, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

You forgot e) they've all got good coverage.

Posted by: CalGal on September 11, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to be true that McCain's plan also will remove the employer's tax benefits for providing health insurance to its employees. If so, the author of the following article predicts that employers would drop the health insurance benefit in 3 to 4 years:

http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/mccain-health-plan-millions-lose-coverage-health-costs-worsen-and-insurance-and-drug-indu

The following quote is from:
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/04/03/mccain_camp_working_out_healthcare_details/

"The crux of McCain's healthcare plan is to end a tax break for employers who provide health insurance premiums now utilized by many workers. That would be replaced with a tax credit worth as much as $5,000 per family for the purchase of health insurance."

Here is an article with some additional information about McCain's health insurance plan:

http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=a88ab4f7-d570-47ad-ab80-a7e817ddab6b


Posted by: bamaky on September 11, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

I share your frustration, but my target is more Obama than the media. I support him, but I am dumbfounded that he is so consistently bad at articulating economic policy. He needs some of Clinton's (Bill's, not Hillary's) old advisers. The Clinton years gave us low unemployment, a balanced budget, economic growth, low inflation, and free trade, and yet suddenly the only economic message we get from Democrats is a bunch of destructive populism that plays into Republican stereotypes of our policies.

Posted by: Richard on September 11, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

One issue that would also need to be addressed is the problem of preexisting conditions. If you try to buy new health care coverage and you have a preexisting condition it all but impossible to buy insurance with reasonable coverage. With group policies, as long as you were previously coveraged and did not have a coverage gap of more than 63 days, a group policy must covere you under federal law.

My wife was considering voting for McCain. But because I have a health problem, I could never obtain coverage except under a group plan. Thanks, John McCain!

Posted by: Allan Hughes on September 11, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

He needs some of Clinton's (Bill's, not Hillary's) old advisers.

I think that was more Bill than his advisors. Bill Clinton had an uncanny ability to speak about wonkish subjects and make it sound fascinating. More than any politician in my memory, he had the ability to make geekdom cool.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on September 11, 2008 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

What would McCain's plan do to school districts and non-profit hospitals? A big chunk of their budget is employees and benefits. If that is all taxable income someone has to be squeezed. It seems like we should find the answer to this.

Posted by: exlitigator on September 11, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

What would McCain's plan do to school districts and non-profit hospitals?

Unless this new form of taxable income is exempted from payroll tax, these institutions would see their payroll costs rise by just under 8 percent for all employees affected.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on September 11, 2008 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

I am very much Obama's man, but I have to say, on this one I have qualms. As someone who has had to pay for his family's medical insurance for years, it has always seemed the height of unfairness to have my payments taxed while people who enjoy employer paid benefits get them tax free.

But, I think a better solution would be to make all health insurance payments deductible than none.

Posted by: frank logan on September 11, 2008 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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