Tuesday, December 29, 2009


There is a fascinating op-ed by columnist Bob Herbert of the NY Times that deserves attention. 

Mr. Herbert, it is safe to assume, is left of center.  HIs columns run from social trends to politics to urban affairs, but always with a liberal viewpoint.  It was with much surprise that I saw this article from him in the Headlines section of Hot Air (I don't really make a practice of reading the NY Times if I can avoid it - I get dizzy from the spin and my stomach just isn't up for it anymore).

The article discusses the true ramifications and sneaky hidden taxes that the democrats have set us up for. 

It is a surprisingly frank and critical piece, which gives me hope that there are some rational people out there who aren't blindly following the party line.  It really starts out with quite a bang:

There is a middle-class tax time bomb ticking in the Senate’s version of President Obama’s effort to reform health care.
He goes on to describe the "confiscatory 40 percent tax" on Cadillac health plans.

In fact, it’s a tax that in a few years will hammer millions of middle-class policyholders, forcing them to scale back their access to medical care.

Which is exactly what the tax is designed to do.

\He goes on to explain how the rising costs of health care are going to eventually lead to an increase in the number of families hit by this tax. 

Within three years of its implementation, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the tax would apply to nearly 20 percent of all workers with employer-provided health coverage in the country, affecting some 31 million people. Within six years, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax would reach a fifth of all households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually. Those families can hardly be considered very wealthy.

Finally, somebody on the left gets it!  Not only that, but he also sees the "dirty little secret" of the bill:

Proponents say the tax will raise nearly $150 billion over 10 years, but there’s a catch. It’s not expected to raise this money directly. The dirty little secret behind this onerous tax is that no one expects very many people to pay it. The idea is that rather than fork over 40 percent in taxes on the amount by which policies exceed the threshold, employers (and individuals who purchase health insurance on their own) will have little choice but to ratchet down the quality of their health plans.

According to Herbert. this means saying buh-bye to dental, vision, and mental health coverage.  I guess those things aren't a right.   The whole purpose of health care 'reform' was to bring down costs, wasn't it?  Well, it turns out that this bill is actually going to cost us a hell of a lot more than if we were to just allow the current system to 'skyrocket' like they keep squawking about. 

So on top of our regular premiums (which most liberals will happily concede are too high - thus the desperate need for health care 'reform'), we will have to pay a 40% tax.  Okay, we don't want to pay the tax, so we decide to get cheaper insurance, usually meaning less insurance.  Which means we pay less right?  Technically, yes, but not really, because now we will have higher deductibles, so in an effort to save on those costs, we will be less likely to go to the doctor.  Good for the system - keeps wait times down - but bad for us, because that also means there will be more people waiting until a condition really gets bad before getting treated.  This, of course, means more expensive treatments - a larger portion of which will be coming out of our own pockets.  Gee, whatever happened to more preventative care, anyway?  This bill is the exact opposite of that promise.  Seems to be par for the course, these days....

But I digress.  There are just so many points of attack on this bill that it is easy to get sidetracked.  Let's get to the dirty little secret that "requires a monumental suspension of disbelief":

According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, less than 18 percent of the revenue will come from the tax itself. The rest of the $150 billion, more than 82 percent of it, will come from the income taxes paid by workers who have been given pay raises by employers who will have voluntarily handed over the money they saved by offering their employees less valuable health insurance plans.

Can you believe it?

So...now the liberals are telling us that the greedy corporate fat-cat pillagers are going to take the savings they will be raking in from the cheaper insurance policies their employees will be federally mandated and taxed into settling for will be rolled over into raises for said employees. Which our betters in government will then tax heavily to subsidize someone else's health care - quite possibly a nice little union cadillac plan with dental, vision and mental health coverage.  What are the odds that the formerly evil demonspawn CEO's (now reformed into kindly, benevolent givers of 'trickle-up' economic stimulus, apparently) will so generously reward their workers for the savings pouring into their coffers?  Mr. Herbert asks Richard Trumka, president of theAFL-CIO:

I had to wait for him to stop laughing to get his answer. “If you believe that,” he said, “I have some oceanfront property in southwestern Pennsylvania that I will sell you at a great price.”

Bah, that's just one guy, the liberals sneer.

A survey of business executives by Mercer, a human resources consulting firm, found that only 16 percent of respondents said they would convert the savings from a reduction in health benefits into higher wages for employees. Yet proponents of the tax are holding steadfast to the belief that nearly all would do so.

Hope springs eternal, no?

Mr. Herbert seems to be of the opinion that the powers that be need to level with the American public on the realities of this bill.  In a rare cry for truth and transparency from the left, he finishes as strongly as he started:

The tax on health benefits is being sold to the public dishonestly as something that will affect only the rich, and it makes a mockery of President Obama’s repeated pledge that if you like the health coverage you have now, you can keep it.

Those who believe this is a good idea should at least have the courage to be straight about it with the American people.

So when do you think he will be denounced and ridiculed by the left for refusing to toe the party line?   I bet he was bouight by those mean old insurance companies....



Anonymous,  December 30, 2009 at 2:05 AM  

Excellent post!! I think going forward, this is how it has to be done. We need to find the liberals who can be "salvaged" (if that is an acceptable usage) ... such as the columnist you mentioned here. It is easier for them to explain the failures ahead as we continue to implement socialism ... than for we conservatives to do it.

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