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Health Care: Unhealthy Taxes

November 5, 2009

Unhealthy Taxes

IBD: 4 Nov. 2009

Health Care: The giant health care bill that just passed will cost far more than its authors estimated. Which means it’ll also require massive new tax hikes on all Americans, rich, middle class and poor alike.

Congress has barely finished blowing the ink dry on its bill, but already its central fiscal premise is being convincingly challenged.

While Democrats have claimed the overhaul will cost $900 billion, the Congressional Budget Office puts the real cost at $1.1 trillion. The Associated Press, citing unnamed Democratic sources, comes up with $1.2 trillion; Republicans say it’ll cost $1.3 trillion or more; others say it’s more like $1.8 trillion.

In short, the bill will spend far more than now estimated over the next 10 years, and certainly more than $1 trillion — requiring at least that much in subsidies.

This means more taxes, of course. Oh, they say only the rich will be affected. And to be sure, the rich do get taxed in this bill — mainly with a new 5.4% levy on those earning more than $500,000. This will raise the new top rate from 39.6% to 45% — highest since the Carter years.

But remember last year’s solemn pledge — actually, it was a promise — that the bottom 95% of taxpayers wouldn’t see their taxes rise one dime during the new administration? Well, kiss that one goodbye. In fact, the 1,990-page House bill contains 13 separate tax hikes on Americans, hitting virtually every income class.

Among them: an Employer Mandate Excise Tax, an Individual Mandate Surtax, an Excise Tax on Medical Devices, a Surtax on Individuals and Small Businesses, a tax on nonqualified Health Savings Account distributions and a cap on Flexible Savings Account spending.

There’s even a Medicine Cabinet Tax. We are not making this up.

If you’re shocked by all this, you shouldn’t be. This is how Congress works these days: Promise one thing, deliver another, and count on constituents being too distracted and frightened to notice what exactly is going on.

It would be bad enough if this was just about taxes. But it isn’t. GOP critics scoured the bill and found it contains the seeds of 111 new bureaucracies. They range from a new Retiree Reserve Trust Fund and Health Insurance Exchange to a Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research and an Office of Indian Men’s Health (one of 10 new entities just to handle Native American health care).

It even contains — get this — a “program of administrative simplification.” This bill has Leviathan written all over it.

If the size and power of the insurance industry scares you — health insurers posted revenues of about $405 billion in 2007 — consider that Democrats want to control a $2.5 trillion chunk of the economy that dwarfs what insurers make. That’s why Pelosi & Co. villainize that industry — so you’ll let them take over.

If they do, you can be sure of one thing: They won’t be as efficient or as responsive to individuals as private insurers are. And once in control, government will grow without bounds — endangering all our liberties, not to mention our economy.

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