Yesterday I wrote that the mandates in the House health reform plan - requiring everyone now without insurance to pay to purchase insurance - will work but only if they increase the subsidies so people can truly afford the insurance. Under the plan as presented a middle-aged couple like my wife and I would have to cough up about $10,000 a year if we make over 400% of the poverty level, and we can't afford that. Even AT 400% of the poverty level the subsidies limiting costs to 11% of income are inadequate, requiring about $4765 to be coughed up yearly.
... a mandate without meaningful subsidies is political dynamite that Republicans will use to try to destroy the plan - and Democrats - for decades. If you don't think they will call the mandate a "big government ordering you to pay a huge tax" and do everything they can to destroy Democrats who vote for this, then you don't know Republicans.
And this risks more than just the health care reform,
The plan doesn't appear to take effect until 2013, giving Republicans a lot of time to campaign on "stopping this massive tax" and spread lots of lies about it after it passes. So we could lose both Democratic control of Congress AND health care reform.
I think that progressives need to get ahead of this now. Yes, they introduced a plan that doesn't raise the deficit. Great, and it blunts conservative opposition. Now lets get to work and make them put meaningful subsidies in this plan.
I think our opening position should be that people should have their health insurance fully subsidized up to $100K on income. This is a political decision - if you are getting your insurance covered you are supporting this plan and Democrats everywhere and forever after. Above that it should slowly creep up to uncovered at maybe $150K. (At $150K you are largely in a job that covers you anyway.)
How do we pay for it? Well, it would add costs equal to what about ten minutes of the bailouts for the big financial corporations cost, or what the Iraq war cost, or what we spend on military in a year or two. It's about priorities.
Maybe we could pay for it by taxing bonuses over $1 million, or double-taxing companies patriotically based in the Cayman Islands.