Health Care Leviathan Surfaces in Senate, Spouts Taxes

By November 16, 2009General, Health Care, Taxation

enate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to bring health care legislation to the Senate floor this week, but it’s unclear who, what, where, when, why. Ambiguity reigns. (New York Times, “Senate Begins Tackling Health Bill.”)

Amid the ambiguity, certainties emerge …

Another day, another tax increase to finance the trillion-dollar health-care overhaul.

The latest schemes are leaking out of the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid is scrambling to find enough money while not offending Big Labor. The Senate Finance bill imposes a 40% tax on expensive private health plans, many of which belong to union members as part of their negotiated contracts. So Mr. Reid wants to reduce this tax and is floating a new Medicare payroll tax surcharge as a substitute.

Just what an economy with 10.2% unemployment rate needs: Another tax on hiring.

Well, at least no one is talking about single payer anymore, right?

Not so. Blogger Bob McCarty attended the the 2009 Healthcare-Now.org National Strategy Conference over the weekend, finding it awash in single-payer advocates. He has several good reports at Bob McCarty Writes, including, “NOW President Announces Single-Payer Push.”

UPDATE (10:55 a.m.): Robert Samuelson cuts to the quick in his Washington Post column today, “Obamacare: Buy now, pay later,” eviscerating the Administration’s arguments for its version of health care reform.

There is an air of absurdity to what is mistakenly called “health-care reform.” Everyone knows that the United States faces massive governmental budget deficits as far as calculators can project, driven heavily by an aging population and uncontrolled health costs. As we recover slowly from a devastating recession, it’s widely agreed that, though deficits should not be cut abruptly (lest the economy resume its slump), a prudent society would embark on long-term policies to control health costs, reduce government spending and curb massive future deficits. The administration estimates these at $9 trillion from 2010 to 2019. The president and all his top economic advisers proclaim the same cautionary message.

So what do they do? Just the opposite. Their far-reaching overhaul of the health-care system — which Congress is halfway toward enacting — would almost certainly make matters worse.

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