Before this is over, the mean-spirited Montana senator will be dubbed Mad Max.
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Higher Taxes, Higher Deficits
The Baucus bill provides for $350 billion in new taxes, all focused on health care, which, again, will raise health costs. This includes taxes on prescription drugs and “medical devices” including condoms, tampons, contact lenses, contact lens solution, hearing aids, home pregnancy tests, and blood glucose monitors to control diabetes. Last year when asking for our votes Democrats promised us they would not raise taxes “in any form” on people earning less than $250,000 per year. They were just going to rob from “the rich” to pay for merry making by the rest of us. They apparently do not know that condoms, tampons, contact lenses and hearing aids are used by people making less than $250,000 per hear, some of whom have diabetes. Or maybe they were lying. There is no honor among thieves.
In a letter to Baucus, Democrat Senators Amy Klobuchar, Evan Bayh, and Al Franken, including Republican Richard Lugar, write regarding the medical devices tax:
Recent independent estimates indicate that this tax could translate into an annual income tax surcharge of between 10% and 30% on medical device manufacturers. The amount of capital that these companies would have available to reinvest n product development and innovation would be threatened, dramatically reducing both the number of jobs in the industry and the types of devices available to patients….[W]e are concerned that this tax will stifle technological innovations that can improve patient outcomes and lower health costs.
Amen. So true. They can really think when they want to.
Workers who do not obtain the government mandated health insurance plan will have to pay a special tax of $750 to $950, or $1,500 to $3,800 per family, depending on income, another violation of the pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class. Employers not providing the government required health insurance will have to pay an additional tax of $400 per worker, as specified above.
Anyone, including Blue Dog Democrats, who took the Americans for Tax Reform Pledge not to raise taxes cannot vote for this bill without breaking faith with voters. For those Blue Dogs who refused to take the Pledge, now you can see what they had in mind.
CBO scores the Baucus bill as not increasing the deficit. But this is a fantasy, because the CBO fails to consider how the Baucus taxes will change behavior. The score assumes that most of the increased tax revenues, $215 billion, will come from the tax on high cost health plans. But employers will negotiate with their unions to avoid that tax, and it will not generate nearly that much. The rest of the tax revenues would come from working people and their employers, and they will fall short as well.
On the spending side, the government notoriously estimated in 1965 that Medicare would cost $12 billion in 1990. When 1990 came around, it actually cost $110 billion, 9 times as much.
Senator Baucus provides for almost $400 billion in Medicare cuts in his bill. This includes $123 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage. Almost one-fourth of seniors, about 10 million, have chosen the private insurance options in Medicare Advantage for their Medicare coverage because they get better benefits than through standard Medicare. (Note: I published an article over 20 years ago in The Yale Law and Policy Review proposing what has become Medicare Advantage). The insurance company Humana quite rightly wrote in a letter to its policyholders recently that because of these cuts, “millions of seniors and disabled individuals could lose many of the important benefits and services that make Medicare Advantage plans so valuable.”
That understates the case, because with over $100 billion in cuts for such plans, seniors will lose a lot of the benefits they enjoy from Medicare Advantage today. Reflecting the outright fascism that is always just below the surface with “liberal” Democrats, Baucus complained to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) about this Humana letter. CMS ordered Humana to cease and desist, lamely claiming in old Soviet style fashion that the letter was “misleading and confusing,” and opening a federal investigation threatening “compliance and enforcement actions.”
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, “Nearly half of Humana’s yearly revenue comes from Medicare Advantage” and “Humana could be fined or booted from Medicare Advantage altogether” just for exercising its free speech to tell the truth. But Baucus in a press release lauded this CMS action, saying:
It is wholly inappropriate for insurance companies to mislead seniors regarding any subject — particularly on a subject as important to them, and to the nation, as health care reform….The…bill we released last week strengthens Medicare and does not cut benefits covered under the Medicare program….
But besides the cuts to Medicare Advantage, the Baucus bill includes almost $200 billion in additional Medicare cuts involving, as CBO explained, “[p]ermanent reductions in the annual updates to Medicare’s payment rates” to doctors and hospitals for the services they provide to seniors. That will result in cutbacks by doctors and hospitals in the services they provide to seniors, the start of the health care rationing in the bill. The Baucus bill also creates a Medicare Commission of unelected bureaucrats with the power to adopt still more Medicare cuts in the future.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?