Liberals are lashing out at President Obama for backing a measure in the Senate health care bill that would tax expensive policies as a means of raising money and containing costs. The liberal blog Firedoglake has posted a video depicting Obama’s dramatic reversal on the idea, which is fiercely opposed by unions because it would affect many of the plans of their members. The video was made by somebody claiming to be a disillusioned former Obama supporter, and it contains a clip from the campaign in which Obama uses the same line of attack against the so-called “Cadillac tax” that is being used by unions:
John McCain calls these plans “Cadillac plans.” Now in some cases, it may be that a corporate CEO is getting too good a deal. But what if you’re a line worker making a good American car like the Cadillac? What if you’re one of the steelworkers who are working right here in Newport News, and you’ve given up wage increases in exchange for a better health care?
Well, Senator McCain believes you should pay higher taxes too. The bottom line: the better your health care plan – the harder you’ve fought for your good benefits – the higher the taxes you’ll pay.
The reality is actually even worse for Obama. McCain’s plan was part of a larger effort to even out the tax treatment of health insurance, so that individuals purchasing coverage on their own could enjoy the same tax advantages as if they were obtaining it through their employers. That would have given everybody the opportunity to choose the type of insurance they want (as opposed to the policies dictated by their employers), take policies with them from job to job, and give them an incentive to bargain for the best deals, thus driving down health care costs. Yet while McCain’s proposal was part of a broader plan to reform the health care system and even out the tax code, the tax Obama supports isn’t offset by tax relief for individuals purchasing insurance on their own, or part of a larger move away from employer-based insurance model. What’s odd is that administration officials who have argued in favor of the excise tax have pitched it as a way to control health care costs, with the theory being that if the tax encourages employers to drop benefit-rich health care plans, it would result in more bargaining, and discourage unnecessary medical spending. Yet McCain’s plan would have done all of those things, on a much larger scale. I may disagree with liberals on what type of health care bill would be ideal, but one thing I’d agree with liberals about is that Obama’s campaign position is philisophically irreconcilable with his current stance.
Here’s the video — you can skip to the 1 minute mark if you want to avoid the narration and get right to Obama’s remarks.