Archive for February, 2010
President Obama’s recent proposal for health care reform would cover the cost of expanding coverage to millions of Americans by taxing investments. Here, Heritage analysts outline how this punitive tax would cripple future growth of the U.S. economy and further delay recovery from the current economic downturn.
President Obama used his health care summit to gave his side every advantage possible. Whenever opponents spoke, he got to respond. By appointing himself the moderator, Obama gave himself the first word, the last word, and the most words.
Overall, Obama gave Democrats over twice as much speaking time as Republicans. The 17 GOP’ers attending received a collective 110 minutes. By himself, Obama hogged 119 minutes of microphone time and gave his 21 fellow Democrats an additional 114 minutes. When called to account for this, Obama proclaimed it fair because, “I’m the President.”
Obama exercised free rein to cut off opponents, speak sharply, and to pass judgment on which arguments were deemed legitimate or unworthy or even ridiculed. He wasn’t just a player; he also was the referee. (more…)
The day before yesterday’s White House health care summit, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) told reporters: “The only way this works is for the House to pass the Senate bill and then, depending on what the package is, the reconciliation provision that moves first through the House and then comes here.” When Conrad was reminded that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has repeatedly insisted that the House will not pass the Senate bill until the Senate passes a second bill that fixes the first, Conrad replied: “Fine, then it’s dead.”
This was the dynamic that President Barack Obama was trying to alter with his eventually-seven-hour meeting. And judging by pretty much every major news outlet, he completely failed. Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA), who is one of the 39 House Democrats that the White House needs to switch from a “no” the first time around to a “yes” this time, told The New York Times: “I don’t see very many at all who voted no who are going to switch their votes unless there are substantial changes in the bill.” (more…)
Following the President’s health care summit, several Heritage scholars provided immediate analysis of the day’s discussion.
Bob Moffit: The President’s Health Care Summit was an exercise in public education; it was enlightening. Particularly noteworthy was the threat of rising deficits to the nation’s future articulated by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Congressional Democrats and Republicans often used similar language in describing their broad objectives: lowering the cost of care, improving the treatment of patients, and expanding coverage to more Americans. Representatives on both sides also made it clear that they have sharply different methods of achieving these objectives. The polarization at Blair House reflected the polarization in the nation at large. But the Congressional Republicans can take solace in knowing that on the specific issue of the House and Senate health bills that they alone stand with the vast majority of their fellow Americans in opposition to these measures. (more…)
In preparation for today’s bipartisan Health Care Summit, President Obama released his own version of health care reform earlier this week. The President’s proposal includes several high-ticket provisions for expanding coverage. Since he has promised time and again not to raise taxes on the middle-class in order to pay for health care reform, the President’s bill imposes a Medicare tax on the investment income of high-individuals to off-set some of the cost of expanding Medicaid and financing other provisions of his health agenda.
But, as Heritage analysts Karen Campbell and Guinevere Nell explain in a recent paper, these new taxes would have widespread adverse effects for all Americans, not just the wealthy that they target. This is partially due to the very nature of a tax: (more…)
President Obama keeps rolling out the tax hikes. In his budget released earlier this month, excluding the tax hikes he assumed to pay for health care, he called for $1.3 trillion in higher taxes over the next decade. Now in his recently released health reform plan, he calls for even more tax increases. Today, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) released their analysis of the tax increases in the President’s plan. According to the JCT, the plan will raise taxes by another $414 billion between 2010 and 2019. The taxes the President Obama proposed hiking are as follows (the year the tax kicks in and the amount the tax will raise between 2010 and 2019 are in parentheses):
– Require information reporting on payments to corporations (2011 – $17.1 billion)
– Exclusion of unprocessed fuels from the cellulosic biofuel produce credit (immediately upon passage – $23.9 billion)
– Codify economic substance doctrine and impose penalties for underpayments (immediately upon passage – $4.9 billion)
– Increase Hospital Insurance portion of the payroll tax and apply it to investment income for families earning more than $250,000 a year ($200,000 for single filers) (2012 – $183.6)
– Excise tax on “Cadillac” insurance plans valued at more than $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families (2018 – $32.7 billion)*
– Impose annual fee on manufacturers and importers of branded drugs (2011 – $33.4 billion)*
– Impose excise tax on manufacturers and importers of medical devices (2012 – $20 billion)*
– Impose annual fee on health insurance companies (2014 – $59.5 billion)*
– Excise tax on indoor tanning services (2010 – $2.7 billion)*
– Limit Health Savings Accounts (HSA) (2011 – $5.0 billion)*
– Increase taxes on unqualified distributions from HSAs (2011 – $1.4 billion)*
– Limit Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) (2014 – $11.4 billion)*
– Eliminate deduction of expenses allocable to Medicare Part D subsidy (2012 – $2.6 billion)*
– Limit deductions for medical expenses (2013 – $15.2 billion)*
– Higher taxes on compensation above $500,000 paid to officers, employees, directors and service providers of covered health insurance providers (2013 – $0.6 billion)
– Higher taxes on certain health organizations (2010 – $0.4 billion)*
Health Care News
In preparation for the Health Care Summit, President Obama unveiled his first official health care proposal. It is intended to reconcile the differences between the highly unpopular House and Senate bills. Curiously, President Obama’s latest iteration of the liberal health policy agenda includes more federal power: the power to control “private” health plan premiums.
Price Controls. According to the President’s proposal, a new “Health Insurance Rate Authority” would oversee rate review for private insurers, so that “if a rate increase is unreasonable and unjustified, health insurers must lower premiums, provide rebates, or take other actions to make premiums affordable.” On the face of it, this means price controls on health insurance.
The President knows the unhappy history of price controls, and the genuine misery- shortages, mainly- that such a policy guarantees. Think of the long, hot gasoline lines of the 1970s, courtesy of the Carter Administration. (more…)
Health Care News
Today’s White House-sponsored health care summit is an insult to the intelligence of every honest American. President Barack Obama’s communications minions are still trying sell his plan as an “opening bid” in the health care debate. But as Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus asks: “With whom is he bidding? The public dance is with Republicans, but this is hardly serious. The White House does not enter Thursday’s summit expecting Republicans to make a deal.” In fact, the President’s recently-unveiled plan is specifically designed to be passed without a single Republican vote. That is why the Washington Post reports this morning:
Although Obama is billing the White House gathering as an opportunity for Republicans to air their ideas for reform, Democrats do not expect it to reveal much common ground and are showing little willingness to abandon the basic outline of legislation that the House and Senate have approved.
The real target of today’s summit are the 38 Democrats in the House who voted against Obamacare the first time. While Obamacare passed the House 220-215, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters yesterday she is not sure if she has the votes this time around. The passing of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) and the retirements of Reps. Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) have cost her three votes, and the inclusion of taxpayer-funded abortions in the Senate and White House plans will cost the vote of the only Republican to vote for the plan the first time around, Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA), as well as Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and 15 to 20 additional pro-life Democrats. (more…)
Health Care News
Tomorrow, President Barack Obama will host a summit to discuss health care reform, but as Heritage’s Nina Owcharenko notes in this video, if the President is serious and sincere about making the summit a success, he should simply start over.
Owcharenko, who is Heritage’s Deputy Director of the Center for Health Policy Studies, says that the fundamental direction of the President’s plan is flawed.
Health Care News
In anticipation of the February 25th health care summit with members of Congress, the President released his proposal for pricey, government-run health care. The White House estimates the cost of the proposal to be $950 billion over a decade, decreasing the federal deficit. However, health policy expert James Capretta, a former senior official of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), shows in a recent paper that this is not only inaccurate, but far from reality.
Capretta’s research shows that ten full years of implementation of the President’s proposal would cost closer to $2.5 trillion, with the strong likelihood of far exceeding this amount. Here’s how:
- The President’s proposal ignores “doc fix” legislation, which would cost roughly $200 billion over ten years. As Capretta notes, it is ironic that the President does not account for this provision, but includes several other Medicare provisions in his proposal.
- Non-coverage spending would add about $90 billion to the cost of the bill.
- Cost estimates for the President’s plan should apply to the ten year window from 2011 to 2020—not to 2019. This would add approximately $200 billion more to the cost of the bill. (more…)
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