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If You’ve Lost Bob Herbert…

Wednesday, December 30, 2009, 03:51 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Syndicated liberal columnist Bob Herbert teed off in yesterday’s New York Times about some of the “less than honest” (from the headline) components of the so-called health care reform bill that is a step closer to becoming law. Among his beefs:

The bill that passed the Senate with such fanfare on Christmas Eve would impose a confiscatory 40 percent excise tax on so-called Cadillac health plans, which are popularly viewed as over-the-top plans held only by the very wealthy. In fact, it’s a tax that in a few years will hammer millions of middle-class policyholders, forcing them to scale back their access to medical care.

Which is exactly what the tax is designed to do.

Ouch. That hurt. But wait, there’s more.

Proponents say the tax will raise nearly $150 billion over 10 years, but there’s a catch. It’s not expected to raise this money directly. The dirty little secret behind this onerous tax is that no one expects very many people to pay it. The idea is that rather than fork over 40 percent in taxes on the amount by which policies exceed the threshold, employers (and individuals who purchase health insurance on their own) will have little choice but to ratchet down the quality of their health plans.

These lower-value plans would have higher out-of-pocket costs, thus increasing the very things that are so maddening to so many policyholders right now: higher and higher co-payments, soaring deductibles and so forth. Some of the benefits of higher-end policies can be expected in many cases to go by the boards: dental and vision care, for example, and expensive mental health coverage.

Translation: this plan fixes the problem of health care being unaffordable by making it less affordable. Where do I sign up?

According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, less than 18 percent of the revenue will come from the tax itself. The rest of the $150 billion, more than 82 percent of it, will come from the income taxes paid by workers who have been given pay raises by employers who will have voluntarily handed over the money they saved by offering their employees less valuable health insurance plans.

Can you believe it?

Yeah, he’s on a roll now.

The tax on health benefits is being sold to the public dishonestly as something that will affect only the rich, and it makes a mockery of President Obama’s repeated pledge that if you like the health coverage you have now, you can keep it.

Herbert stops just short of connecting the dots by pointing out it is Obama himself who has sold his plan dishonestly and therefore made a mockery of his own pledge. Outside the beltway, we call someone who does that a “politician.”

So to recap, one of the leading liberal columnists in the country is openly criticizing ObamaCare/DemCare for the same reasons conservatives have criticized it for months. Now might be a good time for conservatives to start saying, “I told you so.” Their complaints, derided by the administration as fear-mongering, are turning out to be not only exactly right, but acknowledged outright by the Obama’s admirers.

Give the Prez credit: he has managed to unite left, right, and center against his signature initiative. That’s leadership!

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