The politics of Obamacare
Today’s Morning Bell from the Heritage Foundation does a great job of detailing the backroom dealings happening with Obamacare.
And just what deals were Big Labor, the leftist majorities in Congress and the Obama administration making behind closed doors? How to pay for President Obama’s likely $1 trillion health care plan without raising taxes on one of the President’s most loyal constituencies: labor unions. Specifically, Big Labor reportedly has struck a deal with health care negotiators to exempt union members from the 40% excise tax on high-priced health insurance premiums. By some estimates, the tax would hit one in four union members. Now Big Labor will get all of the big government health care spending they always wanted, but they will not have to pay for it.
And Obamacare’s Big Labor handouts don’t end there. The legislation also sets aside $5 billion to subsidize the costs of employer health benefits for early retirees. As Heritage fellow James Sherk notes, few nonunion employers, of course, pay pension and health benefits for workers to retire at 55. And then there’s the small business exemption from the employer mandate for businesses with less than 50 employees. At first this applied to all small businesses, but after aggressive lobbying by Big Labor, non-unionized construction businesses were unexempted. Big Labor lobbyists explicitly admitted they wanted to use Obamacare’s job-killing employer mandates as a competitive advantage to drive non-unionized firms out of business.
So where does the White House and Congress propose to regain the revenue lost from exempting unions from the health care excise tax? The people who fund job creation: investors. The Obama administration wants to apply the Medicare payroll tax not just to wages but to capital gains, and for the first time ever, to dividends and other forms of investment income. This tax will hit seniors the hardest since many of them live off their dividend and interest income, in addition to their pension and Social Security checks. But it also hurts us all since high taxes on capital gains, dividends, interest and business income increase the cost of capital, thus depressing investment at the very time the economy needs new investment to grow and create jobs.
This isn’t just another example of why the government shouldn’t be picking the winners and losers. It’s also a preview of how health care will be rationed once (and if) the government takes it over.
As we’ve seen again and again in places with socialized medicine, health care decisions get made by government bureaucrats once government begins paying for treatment.
Think I’m being dramatic? Check out Oregon and that state’s Oregon Health Plan, a government-run health-insurance option.