White House looking to up excise tax to appease CBO?

by: Chris Bowers

Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 18:00


Majority leader Steny Hoyer has suggested that the House vote on health reform could be pushed until Sunday, because it will take more time to placate the Congressional Budget Office:

Hoyer: we are going to do it as soon as we have "CBO numbers we have confidence in" "saturday and sunday are possibilities"

This would seem to confirm the rumors that the CBO score hasn't been released yet because it doesn't reduce the deficit enough.

Democrats will have to continue to change the bill until they can get an acceptable score, but time is running out.  Since they need three days from the release of the CBO score to the vote, and since Sunday is the last day they can vote, that mean tomorrow night is the absolute latest the score can be released.  So, they need to find ways to make the bill reduce the deficit more, and they need to do it in 24 hours.

It would seem that the White House is looking to increase the excise tax as a means of placating the CBO.  Ben Smith reports that AFL-CIO chair Richard Trumka has been summoned to the White House to discuss:

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is headed into a meeting with President Obama this afternoon after the White House and Congressional leaders have begun to discuss a higher-than-expected excise tax on some health care plans, in order to maintain their claim that health care legislation will reduce the deficit, a source involved in health care talks said.

It was actually the demand to reduce the excise tax that forced the current plan for the House to pass the Senate bill, and then fix that bill through a reconciliation "sidecar."  With the backing of labor, House Democrats of all stripes stood together very strongly on this, torpedoing attempts to just pass the Senate bill unchanged, or attempts to try a smaller bill (or series of smaller bills).

Demanding massive concessions on the excise tax was the actual "Progressive Block" in the negotiations, behind the scenes.  With further concessions being demanded on that front, it will take the blessing of Trumka to make the deal work.  And so, he has been summoned to the White House.

Of course, including a public option would solve the problems Democrats are currently facing with the CBO, but hey, that was never part of the plan.  Or really, even without a public option, you could still finance it by increasing tax rates on high-income households. But I guess a pound of flesh must always be taken from any left-wing group in order for any victory to be allowed.

Chris Bowers :: White House looking to up excise tax to appease CBO?

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sick (4.00 / 1)
this cant be good. im soo sick of this hcr bill. ig uess labor will swallow whatever wh wants to make history?

What history? (4.00 / 12)

 This bill's been watered down to the point where it's got something to alienate everybody.

 Brilliant politics by Obama.

 I hope Trumka tells him to shove his excise tax up his ass.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
Trumpka will cave just like Bernie and Dennis. (4.00 / 1)
Stagnant wages, job loss, bankruptcy and foreclosure wasn't enough.  Now they want to raise taxes even higher on the very people they put through the ringer.  Now lets add in restricting women's rights and all of the lies like not being able to be kicked out for pre-existing conditions, and why anybody would vote for this bill is beyond me.  I keep coming back to: if this is the best Obama and the Democrats can do with a mandate and a majority, they don't deserve office.  Bernie and Kucinich are left, but they aren't "the left".  It is time to drop them all on their asses.  No money, no votes.  

[ Parent ]
Good "excuse" for the PO (4.00 / 2)
Hell, just put in Medicare Buy-in for 64 year olds if they just need a tweek.  Even though I disagree with most here and actually think the excise tax is progressive, I find this frustrating.  

In theory (4.00 / 3)
an excise tax could be progressive...(a) if it wasn't implemented too quickly to screw those who negotiated better insurance packages in lieu of higher incomes,(b) it was targeted more at truly "luxury" health services, and (c)it was part of a comprehensive plan to shift the health insurance system away from an employer-provided model.

I don't see that.  What I see is lobbyists trying to shift the subsidy burden from the wealthy to the middle class.


[ Parent ]
Not progressive at all. (4.00 / 2)
Targeting health care benefits is not progressive in the least. What about people who get cars, big life insurance policies, stock options, extensive vacation days, and trips? These are all cadillac benefits. Why not tax them?  How about taxing all of those people who make over 250K a year and those folks who have benefitted from the Reagan/Bush tax cuts for the last 30 years?   This would be progressive.  Taxing some teacher who makes 50K but has good medical coverage is a joke.  I know.  How about taxing steak, but not hot dogs? Or taxing food, but not private jets.   This tax is just as stupid.  

[ Parent ]
They really are in love with that excise tax thingy.... (0.00 / 0)
To me, it seems that it "reduces cost" by attrition, but all these supposed economists think it's just grand and will work great without any pain.  What do they know that I don't?  It seems to me it just shifts costs to the sick.


REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


Pretty straight forward (4.00 / 4)
The excise tax is only anti-progressive in the context of existing union contracts.  But think of it in terms of new negotiations when the tax is well known.  Now both the union and the employer knows they get more compensation for the dollar by staying under the excise tax 'cap'.  So they will both go out of their way to find plans that try to avoid the cap, encouraging insurers to create such plans.

However, the rest of the legislation outlaws most of the dishonest ways to keep a plan cheap, forcing insurers to look elsewhere.  For example, there are several provisions to cut costs in Medicare, such as improved technology, comparative medicine, different ways of paying doctors, etc.  If some of them prove to work, insurers will want to implement them, to avoid the cap.

The net result is health care costs are reduced and the union negotiates a larger percentage of their compensation as take home pay, raising their standard of living relative to what it would have been, otherwise.


[ Parent ]
The net result is a market force that will being quality of coverage down (4.00 / 7)
with concomitant higher deductibles and co-pays.

Woot, savings!


[ Parent ]
Dream on (4.00 / 9)
After having witnessed a number of union contract negotiations in my former job, you cannot convince me that a reduction in health care costs will shift to higher wages. Not. Gonna. Happen.

[ Parent ]
The excise tax makes sense (4.00 / 4)
Because healthcare is not taxed, it creates a market distortion which drives up the cost of healthcare for people who don't get healthcare through work. Its not really an additional tax when you take into consideration that businesses pay no tax on this form of income. The people who get screwed are those who 1) Don't have jobs or 2) Have jobs that do not offer insurance.

It makes perfect financial sense because people have a tendency to shift income towards things which are not taxed (Think housing or dividends). Now think about housing bubble and securities bubble. When a tax system favors diverting money to one particular asset, that asset will become more costly or inflated in value. I suspect that a lot of the reason people are against the excise tax is simply because it hurts unions, which is myopic. When people have tax free income to slosh around, of course the price is going to go up.


[ Parent ]
Unions (4.00 / 2)
I suspect that a lot of the reason people are against the excise tax is simply because it hurts unions...

And just to repeat myself, it doesn't even hurt unions in the long run.  It only hurts unions in the short term based on previously negotiated contracts using the distorted market conditions that exist today, that you so clearly explain.

That isn't to say we shouldn't care about the short term impact on unions.  We should.  The union leaders themselves even more so.  But we should not lose sight on the fact this is only a short term issue that can be mitigated, not a long term issue.


[ Parent ]
re: tax (4.00 / 3)
and what happens when the unions negotiate contracts that avoid the excise tax threshold? where will the money for the ahip subsidies come from?

[ Parent ]
Sink this thing. (4.00 / 11)

 I no longer care about the Democratic Party. It stands for NOTHING. Absolutely nothing.

 Let this bill die. Let the Democrats get killed in November. No one will notice the difference.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


This lovely bill (4.00 / 2)
just gets better by the day doesn't it?  

I hope deliberations last another week, so Lieberman can add language saying the USA must fly the Israelli flag alongside the American one in the White House and Stupak can demand that any women seeking an abortion must undergo a 30 min session of waterboarding first.


[ Parent ]
I always saw myself as a Democrat (4.00 / 3)
because of FDR, Truman, and LBJ, because of people from Church to Magnuson to Jordan, MLK to Chavez...and a whole host of New Dealers that had mostly left the scene by the time I came of age.

I still like them, but I don't see myself as a Democrat, because I don't think the people above, if alive today, would see themselves as Democrats.

If Roosevelt were somehow back today, the current Dems would be his sworn enemies.


[ Parent ]
Obummer hates middle class dems (4.00 / 4)
!

If you look at demographics of pro and antimandate blogs the class issues are clear!

http://docudharma.com/diary/19...

My blog  


Obama loves the teabaggers. (3.00 / 4)

 Too bad they'll never love him back, no matter how much he caters to them. They're virtually the ONLY group he bends over backwards for.

 Biggest. Waste. Of. A. Presidency. Ever.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
Rolling Eyes... (0.00 / 0)
My god, over do it a bit drama queen?

[ Parent ]
well, we know that he doesn't love progressives (4.00 / 2)


[ Parent ]
tee hee (4.00 / 2)
Obummer is as good as Hopey McChange.  Another stitch is that Kucinich is going to give him cover?  Yeah, like the left is full of herded Kossacks.  

[ Parent ]
Can't push public option (4.00 / 11)
because that was one of the back room deals the Obama Administration cut with industry.  So now its a matter to screwing working class families even more just so that Dems can say that they get something passed.  

The handling by this Administrations of the No. 1 priority has been absolutely atrocious.  This Administration deserves just one term.  

RebelCapitalist - Financial Information for the Rest of Us.


One term is too much. (2.29 / 7)

 I'd impeach. He's killing the Democratic Party -- and ANY chance we have to get this country turned around.

 The Weimar Presidency is upon us.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
Don't knock the Weimar Republic. (4.00 / 1)
I think you intended to refer to the 3rd Reich.

[ Parent ]
I meant Weimar. (0.00 / 0)

 The feckless government that diddled around as everything collapsed around them, opening up the situation for the Nazis to exploit and take over.

  Though Sarah Palin is at least easier on the eyes than Hitler.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
Seriously... (2.67 / 3)
Take a breath, how much utter stupidity will you utter tonight?

[ Parent ]
The stupidity... (3.20 / 5)

 ...is coming out of this useless shell of an administration.

 EVERY adjustment they've made has been to the right.

 For a net gain of zero Republican votes.

 You couldn't invent a dumber administration.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
Let me name FAR stupider administrations for you: (4.00 / 1)
Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
U. S. Grant (due to the corruption)
James Buchanan
George W. Bush
Ronald Reagan

And those are just off the top of my head.


[ Parent ]
Bush got his agenda through... (4.00 / 5)

 ...with a FAR smaller majority than Obama has in Congress.

 Ditto Reagan.

 Obama has squandered a congressional majority his predecessors could only dream of. All in a futile chase for votes from congresspeople who have vowed to destroy his administration.

 Can't get much dumber than that.

 

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
let's not... (0.00 / 0)
confuse effective with intelligence.

[ Parent ]
Jack, Jack (3.20 / 5)
He's not that dumb.  He's one of them.  He's an elitist.  We're the dumb ones.  We voted for him!

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
Geez, is there something in the water around here? (3.33 / 6)
Even if the excise tax applied to all healthcare plans it would only mean earnings used on healthcare are taxable like those used on food, gas, or housing. What's so unreasonable about that? There are potential equity issues with increasing taxes on mostly middle class people, but overall it's far, far outweighed by the subsidies for healthcare insurance. And this change is quite small.

Stop using reason and facts!!!! (4.00 / 2)
Nihilists don't need facts!!

Yeah, this looks like free-republic at times...

From what I understand, the tweak is when the tax takes effect, not the overall number or amount... it's not like they are doing this just for spite!

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
your agreement does not constitute "reason" (4.00 / 1)


[ Parent ]
Nor does your disagreement. (4.00 / 1)


[ Parent ]
"I know you are but what am I" (0.00 / 0)
Respond.

[ Parent ]
In what universe... (4.00 / 7)

 ...is raising taxes on the middle class more politically saleable than raising taxes on the wealthy?

 

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
A universe in which (0.00 / 0)
Essentially all the fencesitters on the vote are conservative. Liberals and moderates in Congress are virtually all behind this bill. But Congress is substantially more conservative than the country, and that's not enough to pass it.

[ Parent ]
universe (0.00 / 0)
I've never heard of a universe like that!

[ Parent ]
one in which you lose the voting public is apparent the one where you live (4.00 / 1)
you screw the middle class. THey will screw you.

[ Parent ]
The middle class is hardly screwed (4.00 / 1)
The subsidies far exceed the the excise tax, they get protection from recision, the ability to buy insurance if they've ever had a prior medical issue, and the efficiency gains from community rating. It's a slightly less good deal with the excise tax increase, but still quite good.

And, frankly, taxing health care benefits just like any other income is fairer. There are a lot of rebalancing issues that come up with a change to taxing health care benefits and the slow incremental approach this will create is a good situation in which to address them.


[ Parent ]
I am at a lost to discuss this with you (4.00 / 3)
a) Taxing health care benefits is about a far ring wing as you can go considering we are not talking 1) a rational market or 2) non captured consumers

b) You make a lot of hard substantiated claims that you can't back up about the relative impact on the middle class unless you are playing that let's pretend the subsidies 1) are not themselves a product of tax payer dollars 2) will be enough over time given cost (please don't insult me by claiming there will be cost reduction since that reduction relies on under insurance) etc

c) Rebalancing is a cute way of your agreeing that this will screw the middle class. Why don't just say downsizing or some other cute term that avoids the damage it does to the middle class.

d) I notice how you speak of slow and incremental when the policy is actually a radical far right idea from the Heritage foundation.


[ Parent ]
Why should healthcare be taxed different from other benefits? (4.00 / 1)
And, for that matter, how good an idea is it to have an big and expanding part of the economy tax-free?  Equal treatment for health care isn't a right-wing idea; it has support from Heritage to John Kerry.  It's just a simple and good idea.

[ Parent ]
If you got to ask that, you don't understand health care economics (0.00 / 0)
here's a reality check, health care consumers are not rational consumers. Some of that is information assymetry, but a lot of it is that you are asking people to discern what is the proper amount of health care to save their own lives.

And the right wing assumption of the excise tax is in the belief that if you expose people to the "real cost of health care"t hen they will act rationally. It ignores that the health care market is also a) tending towards monopoly and b) now a captured market due to mandates.

It was derived from the heritage foundataion under the theory that the problem with health care is that people used too much health care. That if you can reduce use, then you save money. The right wing frame is the assumption that we can discern individually what is just the right amount of health care usage. It actually, as I rememer, has its birth place out of economic libertarian thought.

I could care less whether John Kerry supports it. I could careless who supports it. It's ideological basis is unproven far right wing assumptions about markets as God rather than looking at the actual market involved in the health care industry and the underlying service as not being like that of buying a car or a widget.

I was in a great conversation with someone. I wish I could find their post. He was breaking the health care economic assumptions that go into the excise tax. As he puts it, most advocate do this neat trick of placing their assumptions as if they are facts into the economic models, and  then not bothering to tell anyone (if I remember the conversation with him correctly) that they have build the model of assumptions.

That to understand what they are doing requires understanding modeling that is beyond the lay person to get. I just know enough about this because I have been following this for quite some time.

I know the issues , although not an expert, regarding the difficulties of discerning over and under use of health care, of information cost (due to the fact people are not health care experts or statistical experts), etc involved in the health care market.

To  buy the arguments of the excise tax requires a) one to believe that one will save money by people using the right amount of health care (what happens if they don't is that there will be under use and as bob herbert points out more deaths) and b) that if cost savings is not your goal you are gaining revenue through a regressive tax structure.

The later of which makes your claims of being fair ironic since a progressive tax structure is the way one would want to accomplish fairness. Your pointing out that some so called liberal, given the right of center push of the democratic party, supports this is unimpressive.

The problem here is that I know too much about these topics. I am not an expert. There is a lot I can learn. But I know enough to know when I am reading bullshit on the subject. When people are treating their assumptions as fact, and ignoring the ideological bent of those assumptions, I have a problem with that.

I am not saying that I know what will necessarily be the outcomes. I ams saying you are engaged in a grand experiment based sole on ideological belief. Even the evidence for the tax has been refuted recently when the research was independently examined.  


[ Parent ]
Once again (0.00 / 0)
You are confusing the rationality of health care usage with the purchasing of health insurance.  There is a huge difference between choosing a health insurance policy while everyone is healthy versus making a personal choice on how much a heart operation is worth.

You are absolutely correct that free market principles fail when making health care decisions.  But this is something different.


[ Parent ]
There is no difference when it comes to the plans that will be offered (0.00 / 0)
due to increased cost and avoidability of the plans offerred.  

[ Parent ]
I'm sorry (4.00 / 1)
Coupled with your semicoherent argument, this sounds like BS.

To  buy the arguments of the excise tax requires a) one to believe that one will save money by people using the right amount of health care (what happens if they don't is that there will be under use and as bob herbert points out more deaths) and b) that if cost savings is not your goal you are gaining revenue through a regressive tax structure.

I don't think under use is a problem today for people who have insurance. Underuse is a problem for people who don't have insurance because they are priced out due to people who are overusing. Doctors and hospitals can charge high fees because there is a demand for their services. A demand that may be artificially high.

Also, there is no definitive "right" amount of healthcare for each individual, but that doesn't mean more is better for each individual when looking at the system as a whole. Resources are limited, one person consuming too much can mean that another person gets starved out, instead of the best solution which is the two having equal amounts of healthcare.

Cost savings is the goal, by lowering the amount that people who overspend for overcare(hint hint people who have cadillac healthcare plans), we can take those resources and give it to people who underspend (people with no jobs and thus healthcare).

And I don't see how this is a regressive tax. It kicks in after a very reasonable amount of deductions.

Remember, part of the goal of healthcare reform is to divert healthcare resources from those who have it to those who don't. Those who have it are those who have very generous health insurance, those who don't are those who don't have no health insurance. How is that regressive?


[ Parent ]
i am simply tired of arguing with people who can find what I post (4.00 / 1)
here in about 10 minutes of googling, but choose not to by claiming  I am wrong. This is a pointless exchange. The bill is going to be what it is going to be regardless of whether I post info or not. Congrats.

[ Parent ]
There are no "subsidies for the middle class." (4.00 / 1)
Where'd you get that? A few more of the poor will get Medicaid. The middle class will be forced to buy insurance they can't afford or pay a fine. Those that get any meaningful level of subsidy to help them buy the insurance they're mandated to buy hardly qualify as middle class. The amounts provided to actual middle class families forced to buy bare-bones policies from unregulated private insurance companies are so meager as to be worthless.

By the time a middle class family reaches the annual caps defined in the Senate bill (that will be made worse by the reconciliation bill), there are no subsidies left.


[ Parent ]
Subsidies benefit people up to about 60K income (4.00 / 1)
That's pretty middle class to me.

[ Parent ]
$60k income is not middle class... (0.00 / 0)
...for a family of four. For two people, $60k is barely middle class anywhere in America in 2010. That family of four will be forced to pay between $5,000 and $6,000 annually for health insurance premiums alone.

That working father and mother will be forced to pay between 8% and 10% of their annual income to a private health insurance company. They may have some sense of security with a major medical policy in hand, but they won't be able to afford out-of-pocket costs for preventive care.

You do the rest of the math, but since you seem to be out-of-touch with reality, let me bring you up-to-date:

20 years ago, $60 still sort-of middle class. 10 years ago, a family of four with only $60,000 a year was a family that could still make ends meet, barely. Today, $60k doesn't quite pays the bills anymore. The insurance mandate pretty much puts that family into poverty.


[ Parent ]
It's very middle class (0.00 / 0)
Above the median everywhere. What circles do you travel in?

[ Parent ]
I live in the circle of facts. (4.00 / 1)
http://www.acf.hhs.gov/program...

If you're really an economist I don't know what to think. But I can tell you I know a single mom who lives in high-rent Cupertino CA making $90,000 with three kids and she is definitely working class, not middle class. And she has no insurance so she is going to get hammered with the mandate, no subsidy, so probably owe a $2400 penalty.


[ Parent ]
I think this person is just trying to sell the bill (4.00 / 2)
When I mentioned the median in NYC is 55 (which does not match cost of living here) his response was to spin that as a positive. I don't know of any real economist who does not know that 55k in NYC is barely a living wage for cost here.

[ Parent ]
the median income for the middle class in New York City is (0.00 / 0)
roughly 55k. That's the median. Your definition of middle class is screwed up. That media nationally I believe is not far off from that number but I dont' feel like looking it up. Over a Fire Dog Lake, someone actually bothered to break down the average costs of a middle class family and what this would mean. It would mean less savings at best, and which means what? Less economic stability.  At worse, it would place continued downward economic decline on the middle class which is already facing hyperinflationary costs for educaton, a lack of sustainable jobs, a smaller safety net, costs of housing, cost of transportation, cost of taxes because of the skewed way our tax code works, and many other economic factors. When placed together, this continues a decline that already sees Americans following behind some European countries.  The very real concern is that the next generation will be the first to see American in total economic decline. Meanwhile the very real threat that rising health care costs represent will not be addressed because we refused to use systemic approaches that are not based on market as god, but instead on concepts that have actually worked exceptionally well abroad. We spend 17 plus percent of GDP. The EU, with 499 mil peop, I believe spends about 10 percent. This tax will not address that issue for the reasons I stated and it is coming at a time when the middle class is in dire straights in America.

[ Parent ]
Exactly: 60K is middle class (0.00 / 0)
55K is the median in a relatively well-off and expensive city, New York. It's lower elsewhere. 60K is above the median anywhere except luxury suburbs.  

[ Parent ]
You are on crack. (4.00 / 2)
American wages have not kept up with costs. Wages are stagnant. And this will not help them on that issue. Lord, never mind. It occurs to me whatever I say yu will simply spin it over this crappy aspect of the bill.

[ Parent ]
Subsidies benefit people up to about 60K income (0.00 / 0)
That's pretty middle class to me.

[ Parent ]
Um, no. (0.00 / 0)
$60k is not middle class for a family of four. For two people, $60k is barely middle class anywhere in America in 2010. That family of four will be forced to pay between $5,000 and $6,000 annually for health insurance premiums alone.

That working father and mother will be forced to pay between 8% and 10% of their annual income to a private health insurance company. They may have some sense of security with a major medical policy in hand, but they won't be able to afford out-of-pocket costs for preventive care.

You do the rest of the math, but since you seem to be out-of-touch with reality, let me bring you up-to-date:

20 years ago, $60k was still sort-of middle class. 10 years ago, a family of four with only $60,000 a year was a family that could still make ends meet, barely. Today, $60k doesn't quite pays the bills anymore. The insurance mandate pretty much puts that family into poverty.


[ Parent ]
You really need to do some research on the middle class (0.00 / 0)
economic squeeze going on in this country.  I would find your post stunning but-for I have seen similar ignorant comments from peo like Nate Silver. Beyond my interest in health care, the middle class is a BIG ISSUE me. We are destroying our middle class. As a moderate (a true one rather than those that claim the title in DC), I am besides myself regarding what DC is doing to screw the middle class over based on ideological belief masquerading as moderate.

[ Parent ]
So, then... (4.00 / 2)

 Let's say I'm a conservative "Democrat". I insist that the bill raise taxes on the middle class while sparing the wealthy.

 Then I go back to my constituents in my conservative district and ask for their vote.

 Should I order the confetti now?  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
It's hardly news they're rather dim (0.00 / 0)
But they are in Congress, they have votes, and they are the deciding votes as to whether we'll get anything substantive from the most progressive-friendly Congress of the past 30 years and of the foreseeable future.

[ Parent ]
Your point is sound. But... (4.00 / 8)
That's not how it's going to play in the corporate videodrome.

The problem is political, not policy details. People are going to see "middle-class tax increase" at a time when they already see they're not getting anything for it. Add in the mandate, which is the biggest possible piñata to offer up, and we have a real political loser. Add in the fact that the Senate parliamentarian just today removed the insurance rate control facility in the bill and we get unlimited rate hikes with no regulation.

It's a trifecta and it's political suicide for the Dems.

Next, they're going to start slashing the subsidies themselves, either now or in the next budget omnibus.

This was all quite predictable.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
The bill has huge benefits (0.00 / 0)
Everybody knows somebody who's going to feel they owe their life to this bill, because they'll be able to get insurance and treatment only if this bill passes. Or they'll be saved from bankruptcy. Or they'll be able to start a business. The bill will be a big winner if it gets passed.

[ Parent ]
"Or they'll be saved from bankruptcy" (4.00 / 5)
I missed the part of this bill that says the for-profit insurance companies have to fire their extensive staff of nurses and doctors who review every EOB and deny as many services as "not necessary" as possible

also the part that caps deductibles and co-pays


[ Parent ]
The most interesting thing is how the asssumptions by (4.00 / 3)
those pushing the right wing ideas like the excise tax are treated as if they are fact rather than wild assumptions that are a grand experiment on the level of trickle down economics like those set forth by Reagan. It is also interesting that Reagan came up with the idea for the excise tax on health care, admittedly in a different form.

[ Parent ]
The bill limits them to spending 15% of premiums on that (4.00 / 1)
And all other overhead - much less than they spend at present. If this bill passes there will be a lot less of that crap. You are the one fighting to allow that to continue, by blocking a bill that caps it. If, and only if, you "win", then the hordes of claim deniers will continue to do their job for 20 years until the next reform opportunity.

[ Parent ]
This is solved by simple Enron accounting methods... (4.00 / 3)
... which are tacitly approved by this administration. Just ask Treasury, the Fed, congress and DOD for starters.

Simply declare a bunch of non-healthcare related expenses to be "healthcare related expenses" and the problem is solved. They're already doing that and not a word out of the WH.

This is no accident.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Even if it were true, who is going to enforce it? (4.00 / 3)
Certainly not the likes of Geithner and Bernanke.   Certainly not Holder, impeachment is off the table Pelosi, or Mr. looking forward Obama.  After watching all the lies and flagrant disregard for people and the law for the last how many years, how can you believe what they say just because they say it?   Past and current actions are a much more accurate predictor of what they are going to do then anything they can say.   Close your ears and open your eyes.  

[ Parent ]
You're vastly overstating the bennies of this bill. (4.00 / 7)
HC costs will continue to soar. There will be no meaningful, much less effective, regulation. Why? Because this government will NEVER do anything to impede corporate profits, even when those profits do real damage to the economy and society at large.

So the bennies are not huge. The real bennies, in fact, depend on subsidies which will almost certainly be eviscerated very soon by the deficit terrorists in congress and the White House.

Obama will come out next year (or this year) and say something along these lines: "Well, we really, really super wanted to help out the poor, working and lower middle classes, but we can't afford it anymore because of this huge deficit. And since I'm not willing to cut the War Budget even one dollar (in fact, I'm raising it 8% in the next budget), we'll have to screw you little people."

The media will back him. The GOP will scream "Commie!," and that will be that.

No regulation. No accountability. No quality controls. No real subsidies. Only loopholes you could sail a Reagan-Class aircraft carrier through.

You may be an economist, but you're certainly no realist.  

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Re regulation (4.00 / 3)
It is not even about the government wanting to do anything. As the California attempts to regulate health care illustrates, the problem is that the health care industry is so flushed with money that they were able to out gun the government of CA. Add this to the fact that the regs are apparently still going to be enforced by the states, and it makes the regs virtually meaningless in terms of actual administration of the law.  

[ Parent ]
What FEW benefits this bill offers (4.00 / 2)
won't be felt until after 2014. In the meantime, Republicans will campaign on "you're being forced to buy health insurance by the government" and "if you don't, the IRS will come after you," and "what you are forced to buy will be taxed."

And since Democrats are completely incapable of arguing or defending a position, they will be slaughtered at the polls THIS YEAR because NO ONE will experience any benefits.


[ Parent ]
Come Again? (4.00 / 1)
Doesn't it cover something like 15% of the population, and that's only if you include Sander's health clinics, which are only going to offer "band-aid" medical services. Unless I just misunderstand that portion of the bill.

I'll tell you who everybody knows: everybody knows somebody who is going to pay more in taxes to support health insurance companies when the government could do it cheaper.


[ Parent ]
This is wrong. (4.00 / 1)
Without Dennis, with the bill set to pass, what's the point of arguing about it anymore? We'll just see what happens. But the excise tax raises over a trillion dollars in the second decade. Much of that goes to the general fund where it is used to pay for tax cuts for the rich, Wall Street balouts, and unnecessary wars. That's not progressive.

[ Parent ]
rate reg auth nixed (4.00 / 2)
huffpo reports ins rate reg auth nixed from hcr bill-
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

...by the parliamentarian. (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
when does the parliamentarian's term end? (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
He's just doing his job. (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
I'm going to have to re-evaluate Obama (4.00 / 7)
he may be playing 11 dimensional chess only against progressives (although to be fair, I think all you need is a strong two-dimensional chess game to beat progressives who signal at every moment they will cave if pushed, often they cave even without being pushed - witness their voluntarily giving up Medicare for All in return for...nothing!).  

So the WH loves the excise tax.  The House won't accept the one the WH loves.  The WH appears to relent.  Gets even Dennis Kucinich to cave (apparently it's okay for Obama to twist arms so long as they belong to liberals).  And then, voila, an announcement that there's a scoring problem and the WH will be asking labor and progressives to accept the very thing the WH wanted all along.  Only now, they've got momentum and a tight deadline and public commitments from progressives to vote for the POS bill.  

Brilliant!  Evil, but brilliant.  I really doubt it's Obama, because I don't believe he has these kinds of political skills (I do believe this is exactly what he wants), but Rahm really is very good.  


You're way overthinking this... (0.00 / 0)
....not everything is a conspiracy.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
What conspiracy? (4.00 / 5)
The actions of the Obama administration in this have all be admitted, documented, reported, and are part of the historic record. 11-dimensional chess has always been code for 'giving Obama the benefit of the doubt,' not an accusation of conspiracy. The Obama administration has done little to conceal its contempt of progressives.

[ Parent ]
This is what they call anything that points out that (4.00 / 1)
there was deliberation behind what we are seeing. We are supposed to pretend that there is no such intent. That the administration and the Democrats, including the progressives in Congress, are just helpless victims who have no power. Having heard the shtick over and over again, one just learns to accept that one of the basic responses is "you are engaged in a conspiracy" to point out that "yes this is exactly the policy the Democrats wnat o have happen."  

[ Parent ]
Can they grandfather it? (0.00 / 0)
So that existing labor/employment agreements are exempt for the remainder of their contract period? That way existing compensation structures wouldn't be adversely affected, while new contracts to replace them will be done with full information of the changed tax structure.

Unfortunately, while this will mitigate the adverse impact of the excise tax, it probably won't help (could even hurt) the CBO score....

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans


They already are.... (4.00 / 1)
...that's why it doesn't start until 2018.  The change doesn't affect this date.

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!


[ Parent ]
What are the other options? (0.00 / 0)
Let's assume for the moment that a public option can't be passed without Stupak and that a bill can't be passed without a good CBO score.  (Not necessarily true assumptions, but let's just say so for the moment to force us to explore other options.)  

What other ways are there to massage the numbers and get a good score?

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


I hear that grayson fella down in florida has an idea (4.00 / 3)
but lieberm...obama doesn't like it

[ Parent ]
Restore the Reagan-era tax brackets (4.00 / 7)

  Not only is it sound policy, it's the easiest possible messaging. What Republican is going to attack Reagan?

  That Democrats aren't even TRYING to do this confirms that the party has pretty much ceased to exist.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn


[ Parent ]
This stinker will probably pass (4.00 / 3)
and Dems will get destroyed over it in Nov. And they will probably deserve it. I'm just spent. I can't deal with another second of watching this ridiculous slo-mo act of political suicide one more second.

Except the Bill is now about even between support and non-support. (4.00 / 2)
This bill won't affect November for shit unless it fails.   The jobs and economy will be what affects the party in November.

[ Parent ]
I think you're wrong. (0.00 / 0)
This bill won't affect anything either way.   Most people have already made up their minds what they feel about this administration and this congress.  This bill can sink or float.   A lot of former Dems will be sitting on their hands come Nov.

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
Yes and No. (4.00 / 4)
The success or failure of this shit bill will not be the issue. It's the fact that it's a shit bill that preys on the middle and lower classes that is the problem. Personally, I think most Dems would probably be relieved if this stinker failed. If not this year, then certainly in 2012. But I guarantee this Bait & Switch deal will cause electoral pain in 2012 if things keep going this way. The elites are complete fools if they think this crap bill is going to help them in either election cycle.

But you're also right about the economy. Fact is, real healthcare reform would have been a real boon to the economy. Fact is, all we get are these crappy "jobs bills" that aren't. Fact is, all we're getting for our taxes and votes is a ginormous one-finger salute from DC.

If anyone still doubts Obama wants to have a GOP dominated congress, let those silly doubts go away right now. There's not enough stupidity in this universe to account for what we're getting from these people.

Seriously. No regulation. Only the unfettered profit motive of officially sanctioned monopolies. This will end badly.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
88% support and 3% opposition (4.00 / 3)
Among liberals. Similar among Democrats. Democrats and liberal will (appropriately) be pleased if it passes and crushed if it fails.

[ Parent ]
And when the policy chickens come home to roost over the (4.00 / 4)
conservative ideology being peddled here as fact, then the cost to the party will be greater than anything that Obama (which is what this is really about) will gain in the short term by having passed a conservative bill.

Telling us that there are a  lot of people willing to over look what he and the leadership is doing is not a surprise. Most people are affected by identity, partisanship, and personality based politics much more than substantively what's going on. The real test is when you ask them about specific policies, and this shit fails that test. The real problem comes in application where all the conservative assumptions based in the exise tax will have to be tested just like Reagaonomics has been tested and proven false. Then the next group of Democrats (whom you do not discuss) will have to clean up this generations mess.  


[ Parent ]
Could you link to the source? (0.00 / 0)
Because I remember numbers like that when the PO was still in play.

Once the PO got trashed, I have yet to see such numbers. Ah, but you're just citing "among liberals," which is an ID open to debate depending on the poll itself, wording and whatnot.

I guarantee you that "liberals" or "progressives" or "Democrats" will be furious when they see how this is turning out. That's my larger point.

No one likes being cheated. No one likes to be preyed upon. That's what this still badly evolving bill is going to do.

I do tend to think that in the short term, a large number of Dems or "liberals" will be disappointed if this bill fails. But by 2012, once they've figured out how badly they're being screwed, they will be furious. But I also think that even by November a lot of those people will be pretty mad.

Of course, we can argue about these things for quite some time. My bias is that I can't break away from the macro picture and how that plays down the road a ways. Perhaps it's not correct to say that passing this dog is necessarily bad in the short term. But it's certainly correct to see how this will affect people over a longer period.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
The source is Public Policy Polling (0.00 / 0)
Which Greg Sargent cited:

http://publicpolicypolling.blo...


[ Parent ]
Thanks. Interesting. (4.00 / 1)
So 88% of the 18% in this poll who ID'd as "liberal" support this bill. That's huge, isn't it?

More importantly is this one:

Do you approve or disapprove of the job
Democrats in Congress are doing?  If you
approve, press 1.  If you disapprove, press 2.
If you're not sure, press 3.

Approve..........................................................31%
Disapprove...................................................... 56%
Not Sure.......................................................... 12%

I know I'm nitpicking, but the 88% number is cherry picking.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Have the Democrats PASSED HCR? (0.00 / 0)
Or are they taking a really, really long time?

[ Parent ]
Dems Will Be Pleased Until... (4.00 / 7)
They finally realise that health insurance and health care are not the same thing.

And anyone who thinks that the health insurance industry will not fight like hell to get around the coverage regulations is a fool.


[ Parent ]
Apparently for them Enron and Wall Street and other examples (4.00 / 3)
of companies getting around weak regulations to do what they want never happened. This is the thing about neoliberals. Like communists and conservatives, they believe that the ideology can not fail. It is only that they didnt quite do it right.  

[ Parent ]
That might be because (0.00 / 0)
the number of people self  identifying liberal democrat has shrunk in the last few months rather dramatically.  It just  means kneejerk  dem now.  

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Yeah, you're wrong (0.00 / 0)
Passing this bill is going to make a bad November for Democrats ever so much worse. Kiss the House good bye; and watch the Senate return to a 50-50 Republican super-duper-veto-proof majority.

[ Parent ]
That's just nuts (4.00 / 1)
Republicans are going to demagogue this issue to death and Dems are going to sit there as usual with their typical deer-in-the-headlights stare.

[ Parent ]
The Top 400 Are Laughing At You (4.00 / 8)
Last year or the year before the top 400 income earners in the US earned an average of $344 million dollars and paid an effective tax of 16.7%. Yet no one in Congress has the balls to point out that in the 1950s and 1960s when we had a stable, growing economy last the rates were 60-90%. Yet Pence got CNN face time today to rant that raising taxes would kill jobs. Gee, you think so? Seems overpaying Wall Street has killed far more jobs.

Since the Tea Baggers have the media's notice, I wish they at least would point out these rather glaring facts. There is plenty of money taxing the super wealthy above some income level (dollars over $5 million in a year?) and estates that would make only the deadbeats truly pay their fair share for the first time in three decades. Last I checked, only corporate CEOs, Wall Street hoods, and trust fund babies make over $5 million in a year. Maybe 10-20,000 people out of 300 million plus?

And that doesn't even touch on the CDS transaction tax someone in Congress mentioned awhile ago; a 1-5% tax on the face value of these contracts would generate vast revenues while helping to discourage their use.

This country is totally messed up. We need to throw out as many Blue Dogs as we can this fall while protecting real Democrats like Grayson, among others. This is beyond unfair. It's obscene.


Your idea is 100% right (0.00 / 0)
But it will take 6 years to effect it.

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
This is good news (0.00 / 0)
Sure it will cost more to acquire insurance, especially folks earnin' less than 100K per year. But heck, as long we give Obama a win...that's all that matters right folks.

the administration just keeps pushing, don't they? (4.00 / 1)
Ditch the PO, appease Stupak, etc. etc.

And still they're not satisfied.

With a lot of arm twisting, they could pass the bill as it is; approval ratings for this legislation have momentarily jumped. But they just keep picking fights and alienating more groups whose support is needed not only for this endeavor but for other Democratic legislation as well.

They're going to push it until they end up with no bill. And the sick thing is, that just might be the best outcome we were ever going to get out of this.


I really like that last paragraph (4.00 / 2)
Of course, including a public option would solve the problems Democrats are currently facing with the CBO, but hey, that was never part of the plan.  Or really, even without a public option, you could still finance it by increasing tax rates on high-income households. But I guess a pound of flesh must always be taken from any left-wing group in order for any victory to be allowed.

The conventional wisdom is that health care reform is an almost impossible, Herculean task to accomplish. The CW points to the current debacle, to Clinton in the 90s, the 70s, etc. etc.

I think a lot of that pain the Dems bring on themselves, simply because they don't want to face up to the obvious primacy of a state-run or state-managed system, because of its ideological implications, and its impact on pay to play politics.

If they just faced the issue in a straighforward, head-on manner...I don't want to say that it would be an easy exercise, but it wouldn't be the grueling nightmare they've made it to be.

On so many issues, Washington and the establishment seem addicted to the current system, and will do anything to weasel out of real reform. Like alcoholics avoiding rehab...


With all progressives on board the bill can't get any better (0.00 / 0)
(but it can't get much worse because it already sucks so bad.) There will probably be some tweaking of the start date of the excise tax to make sure it's deficit reducing in each of the first 5 years. Indexing the tax to CPI instead of CPI+1 wouldn't increase short term revenues much, but long term it would mean something like half, rather than a third, of people would be hit with the tax by 2029.

Everybody needs to call Kucinich and Sanders (4.00 / 1)
and ask for their money back.   These two being coerced in really underscores  how corrupt and hopeless the Democratic Party truly is.  

There is a purpose for a party (0.00 / 0)
Eventually, when a bill is important to the leader of the party, he will call in the favors.   In terms of Obama, that is what he did.  At that point, if you are a part of the Democratic party, if you have taken their money, you will go along.  Or you most likely will have a very short tenure as a Democratic politician.  That is the purpose of the party.  

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
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