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Taxing Our Patience

The Hill, reminding us that certain senators have promised not to raise taxes, explains just how many taxes there are in the pending health-care bill:

Individuals would face penalties for failing to purchase insurance and those earning more than $200,000 would see their Medicare payroll tax rise from 1.45 percent to 1.95 percent. The payroll tax rise would hit couples earning $250,000 or more.

The measure would also impose a $2 billion annual tax on medical devices such as pacemakers; a broad $6.7 billion annual tax on the health insurance industry; a 5 percent tax on cosmetic surgery; and would eliminate tax deductions for employer-provided prescription drug coverage in retirement.

An analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation found that in the year 2019, 77 percent of the cost of the tax increases proposed in the Senate Finance Committee’s healthcare bill would be carried by families earning less than $250,000 a year.

There is a total of $494B by some estimation. And, of course, this flies in the face of Obama’s pledge not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000. Specifically, labor unions aren’t very happy about the tax on so-called Cadillac health-care plans (which were in many collective-bargaining negotiations provided in lieu of higher wages or other benefits): “Labor unions have opposed this tax, which funds a substantial portion of the bill, because they argue that it would hit many unionized, working-class families.”

All this would be bad enough in ordinary times but we are, after all, not yet out of the recession. Can anyone really imagine that hundreds of billions in new taxes are going to help matters? We are continually told that taxes are receding as a top issue. The way to test that proposition is to vote for massive tax hikes, in violation of a specific campaign pledge in the middle of an economic downturn. How many lawmakers will have the nerve to find out?