Didn’t President Obama say we all have to sacrifice for our children’s future? Apparently that doesn’t include union members when it comes to paying for Obamacare. On the subject of taxing employer-provided health care benefits, from WSJ, Democrats and the Health Tax Taboo
Mr. Baucus, the Finance Committee chairman who is helping lead the Obama health effort, is still deciding what to include in the bill. But his far bigger headache remains how to pay for this blowout. He and other Democrats have been inching toward the taboo benefits-tax, putting them on a collision course with liberal special interests like unions. Mr. Baucus’s newest solution? A union payoff.
They’ve been floating other revenue enhancements, like taxing Gatorade, alcohol and salt, limiting tax deductions on charitable gifts, and even a national sales tax. But they’ve realized that won’t bring in nearly enough to cover the costs.
…Contrast this with the tantalizing reality that requiring Americans to pay taxes on some part of the company health-care benefits they now receive for free could easily raise a half-trillion dollars over a decade. In a choice between a dozen niggling tax fights that could yield uncertain revenue, or a bigger fight over benefits taxes that could yield oodles, Mr. Baucus will take the oodles.
The Democrats’s problem is that a lot of the people who have expensive employer-provided plans are union members:
…Union workers “would be stuck footing more of the bill than others,” says Paul Fronstin, a senior research associate with the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
Unions have contributed a lot of cash to Democrats over the years, to the point where some of them are going broke. So the Democrats’ solution to this political conundrum?
…Mr. Baucus officially floated his plans for a tax this week, only with a surprising twist: His levy will not apply to union plans, at least for the duration of existing contracts. In other words, Mr. Baucus intends to tax the health-care benefits only of those who didn’t spend a fortune electing Democrats to office. Sen. Ted Kennedy, who is circulating his own health-care reform, has also included provisions that will exempt unions from certain provisions.
The President is being his usual decisive self:
The administration, for its part, is bobbing and weaving. Peter Orszag, Mr. Obama’s budget director, said in a recent hearing that a benefits tax “most firmly should remain on the table,” a comment immediately followed by White House assurances that, honestly, it hated the idea. Mr. Baucus also recently reported that the president remained open to the idea, a comment again instantly refuted from above. The president may well be attracted to the dollars of a benefit tax, but he’s waiting to see if he can blame Congress for dragging him into it.
Speaking of waffling, even lefty Bill Maher has had enough of the Obama Shuffle and wants him to be more like GW:
And we need to marry the good ideas Obama really believes in with that Bush attitude and Bush certitude. I’d love for Obama to come out one day and say, “Jesus told me to fix healthcare.” Or, “History will decide whether stopping the polar ice caps from melting and drowning us all was a good thing.”
In conclusion, Bush was a jerk, but he never cared about being seen having a burger with Dick Cheney. He picked up the phone in the White House and said, “I’m the president, bring me a burger.” And they’d say, “Sir, this is NORAD. Would you please stop ordering burgers with the red phone?”
I’m glad that Obama is president, but the “Audacity of Hope” part is over. Right now, I’m hoping for a little more audacity.
I’ll bet that left a mark.