July 8, 2009

House Wants to Soak the Rich For Health Care; AP Forgets the ‘Again’ Part

(Image found at BuriedPlanet.com)

In a wildly meandering report on the status of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Alliance’s attempt to enact statist health care this year, Associated Press writers David Espo and Erica Werner:

  • Told us that the House wants to slap a surtax on “highly paid” Americans without disclosing the percentage of the proposed surtax or how much it might raise.
  • Forgot to tell us that wealthy wage earners already pay a “surtax” designed to fund others’ health care that has failed to solve any long-term financial issues (maybe you’ve forgotten too, so I’ll remind you).
  • Acted as if the legislation under consideration will instantly zero out the number of uninsured Americans, which they claimed is currently 50 million.

Here are the relevant paragraphs from the AP report:

An income tax surcharge on highly paid Americans emerged as the leading option Wednesday night as House Democrats sought ways to pay for health care legislation that President Barack Obama favors, several officials said.

As discussed in the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, the surtax would apply to individuals with adjusted gross income of more than $200,000 and couples over $250,000, they added.

In addition, key lawmakers are expected to call for a tax or fee equal to a percentage of a worker’s salary on employers who do not offer health benefits.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., a member of the panel, said the proposed surtax on high-income taxpayers appealed to her and others as a way to avoid a “nickel-and-dime” approach involving numerous smaller tax increases. She added that other earlier options had fallen away, including an increase in the payroll tax.

The developments stood in contrast to the Senate, where Democrats edged away from their goal of passing ambitious health care legislation by early August amid heightening partisan controversy over tax increases and a proposed new government role in providing insurance to consumers.

….. Any failure to meet the goal would be a setback – but not necessarily a fatal one – for Obama’s attempt to win legislation this year that both slows the growth in health care costs and extends coverage to nearly 50 million Americans who now lack it.

Points:

  • Espo and Werner watered down the applicability of the surtax, whatever the rate might be under consideration. that’s because there’s a big difference between “highly-paid” and “high-income” individuals and families. By pegging the surtax the adjusted gross income, it’s clear that the House’s surtax targets all income, including investments, capital gains, and any other income that makes it to the first page of the long-form 1040, and not just earnings from “highly paid” work.
  • By not telling us how much the House thinks it will raise with a surtax, the AP pair made it impossible for readers to even back into what the surtax rate might be. The guess here is that it would have to be pretty high to make a meaningful dent in the $100 billion or so a year (technically $1 trillion over 10 years) the Obama plan allegedly costs.
  • What’s worse, individuals and families who are already “highly paid” because of earnings from work are already paying a surtax. Unlike the Social Security payroll tax of 12.4% (6.2% employer, 6.2% employee), the Medicare payroll tax of 2.9% (1.45% employer, 1.45% employee) has no income threshold. That means a high-earner is forced to throw a surtax amounting to $2,900 of every $100,000 of earnings at the retiree health care system for the right to get the same government-provided health care in retirement that a person who makes very little receives. 15 years of rich-soaking later, Medicare has a mind-numbing $34 trillion unfunded liability.
  • Espo and Werner didn’t tell us whether this surtax implements or is meant to be on top of Obama’s long-desired proposal to “repeal the Bush tax cuts” (in normal-speak, that means raise taxes) on high-income Americans.
  • By saying that Obamacare supposedly “extends coverage to nearly 50 million Americans who now lack it,” the AP pair implied that — presto! — the problem of the uninsured will be magically solved. Baloney, says the Congressional Budget Office: After 10 years, CBO estimates that the number of uninsured will go from 46 million to 30 million. Of course, 46 million, 50 million, whatever — the tired claim about the number is so obviously overblown that it barely needs explanation — except to AP reporters who want to perpetuate what is for all practical purposes an urban legend.

Espo and Werner didn’t look into one other thing, which is this: By the time the Obamanomics ruins vast sectors of the economy and mires others in endless subsidies, will there be anyone left to hit with a surtax besides Hollywood entertainers and and a few thousand professional athletes?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

The Arrogance of the Current Congress ….

…. captured in one article:

HoyerLaughsAtReadingBills0709

Everything wrong with the establishment media will be reflected in the high likelihood that not one of them, other than perhaps Fox News and the Washington Times, will report this.

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UPDATE, July 9: Michelle Malkin — “Confirmed: Deliberative democracy is a joke.”

Lucid Links (070809, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:17 am

Noteworthy Net-Worthies:

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Holman Jenkins, in a Wall Street Journal column about the Obama administration’s opposition to U.S. airlines’ attempts to form alliances with international carriers, makes a sad and important observation –

What we’re seeing here and elsewhere from the new administration is not some rebirth of thoughtful liberalism, but a spastic descent into machine liberalism — government for the benefit of government officials and their hangers-on. Mr. Obama, however, may not be so pleased with the result if it means he must soon add the airlines to the collection of failed industries being run out of the White House.

Actually, I don’t think the President ‘Prompter would mind turning the industry into Air Obama, complete with a new set of know-nothing apparatchiks like the car czars, but travelers would.

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You don’t say? Via AP

An attempt by Hamas police to detain a young woman walking with a man along the Gaza beach has raised alarms that the Islamic militant group is seeking to match its political control of the coastal territory with a strict enforcement of Islamic law….

Imagine that.

What a great place to waste $900 million (HT Mere Rhetoric via LGF).

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Which reminds me — Isn’t it amazing how nearly invisible Hillary Clinton is? Hard-lefty Bonnie Erbe has noticed. We know much more about what Slow Joe Loose Cannon Biden thinks about Israel and Iran than what Hillary has to say.

Especially when relative visibility is taken into account, this administration seems to be more of a boys’ club than Bush 43′s ever was. I count eight women who put in 37 years of service in executive positions during the Bush administration (I added 4 extra for Condi Rice for her time at NSA) at this Wiki link.

Though of course it’s early, Obama has five. But one very conflicted female health care czar for all practical purposes cancels out HHS’s Kathleen Sebelius, and a socialist, government file-trashing female environmental czar effectively cancels out the EPA’s Lisa (who?) Jackson. That’s because the czars are non-executive advisers who effectively strip the cabinet members they usurp of much of their authority while pushing ultimate decisions to power-consolidating, chief executive, “I call female reporters ‘sweetie’” Obama).

Janet “Pro-lifers Are Terrorists” Napolitano is the most visible woman in the administration. No one has the profile Condi Rice had.

Among non-executives, Christina Romer’s presence on the Council of Economic Advisers mocks her tax-cut-effectiveness findings when she was in the private sector.

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DavidCrackedKrikorian is on the warpath again. That would be David Krikorian, Democrat.

As I noted in October, after Krikorian questioned the seriousness of Congresswoman Jean Schmidt’s injuries when she was hit by a car while jogging (she suffered “two broken ribs and two fractured vertebrae”) — “I’ve known about Krikorian’s unhinged nature for some time. …. but I would need permission to reveal (what I know). For now, I’m not inclined to ask for it.”

The summer or fall of 2010 might be a good time to revisit that inclination.

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John Fund, at today’s WSJ “In helping to convince Sarah Palin that her road forward in national politics would demand even more sacrifices and pain than exacted from most politicians, the media did nothing to encourage women or people of modest means to participate in politics.”

That’s the point, John.

Successful people of relatively modest means, especially if married with children, tend to be conservative and very sensible. The Beltway elite, and especially its media branch, would prefer that these people stay at home, pay their outsized taxes, and mind their own business, while letting their “betters” run things.

Positivity: Cancer-free Eric Shanteau back to swimming fast

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Indianapolis, Indiana; Atlanta, Georgia; and Austin, Texas:

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Eric Shanteau is swimming faster than he ever has, diving into the water every day knowing that he’s cancer-free.

That’s gratifying news to the 25-year-old breaststroker who was diagnosed with testicular cancer just weeks before last year’s U.S. Olympic trials.

He kept the stunning information to himself while competing for a spot on his first Olympic team. Shanteau earned a spot in the 200-meter breaststroke, finishing 10th in Beijing with a personal-best time.

Then he returned home to Atlanta for surgery. After a recovery period, Shanteau resumed training in Austin, Texas, with a goal of making the world championships.

He’s four laps away from a trip to Rome later this month.

Shanteau became the second American to swim under a minute in the 100 breaststroke, clocking 59.89 seconds to make him the leading qualifier going into Tuesday night’s final at the U.S. national championships.

“It gives me a lot of confidence,” he said before adding, “It doesn’t matter what happens this morning if I don’t do it tonight.”

The top two finishers qualify for the world meet.

Since March, Shanteau has posted personal bests in his signature events, the 100 and 200 breaststrokes. His 100 time in the morning preliminaries lowered his previous best of 1:00.09.

….. Just before traveling to Indianapolis, Shanteau went for a final round of blood tests that confirmed he is cancer-free, the 10th month he can celebrate such welcome news.

But memories of his recent past are never far away.

“There’s still that thought in the back of your mind, `What if there’s a recurrence?’” he said. “It’s been a difficult past eight or nine months. I have to live with it the rest of my life.”

The disease had already hit home for Shanteau, whose father Rick battled lung cancer at the same time his son was diagnosed. The elder Shanteau is in Indianapolis this week to cheer on his son, and now needs only occasional chemotherapy treatments.

“He’s doing really well,” the younger Shanteau said smiling.

Happily, Shanteau can say the same about himself.

Go here for the full story.