HEALTH CARE

Here’s a key thing people don’t seem to get about the health care bill: it’s more than paid for. Over the long run, the many pilot programs in the bill may lead to improved quality and efficiency that will. And that’s really important. Free preventive care may more than pay for itself in lowered medical bills. And that’s really important. And future tweaks to the bill (including, I hope, medical malpractice courts of the type Philip K. Howard has proposed) may build on the great start this bill makes, which would be important, too.

But even leaving all that aside, it’s more than paid for.

To those who intuitively know you can’t provide 30 million uninsured coverage at no cost . . . that you can’t close the prescription drug doughnut hole at no cost . . . that you can’t remove the lifetime cap on benefits or accept people with preexisting conditions at no cost – all true – I say: what you may be forgetting is that these costs are more than met by the added 3.8% tax on investment income (and the 0.9% tax on ordinary income) above the first $250,000.

Some will argue that it’s unfair or un-American to ask those with more than $250,000 a year in income to chip in for this. Just how progressive our tax system should be is a judgment call.

But I would argue that taking the capital gains rate back to a level significantly below the 28% it was in Ronald Reagan’s second term is neither unfair nor un-American. After decades of growth in the gap between the rich and everybody else – decades in which the rich got phenomenally richer as the rest of America for the most part found it harder and harder to make ends meet – it’s not unreasonable to shift things back a little in favor of the middle class.

PROGRESS

Phyllis Overstreet: “My significant other was laid off by a sizable Georgia Engineering firm from his Civil CAD job (he’d held for over 20 years) in October, 2008. He starts work this coming Monday with a local firm here in SC that has a contract with the county for a fiber optics stimulus project. It takes so long for these government contracts to go through the hoops, even the ‘shovel-ready’ ones. I just wonder how many folks who are getting these jobs are even able to connect them back to the stimulus act? And I also wonder how many will be like my co-worker, who groused about ‘having’ to keep his kids on his insurance since ‘Obama’ changed the rules and raised the age of children’s coverage to 26. When I asked who twisted his arm and ‘made’ him keep the kids covered, he just stared at me then walked off.”

APPEALING “DON’T ASK/DON’T TELL”

Steve G.: “I understand the point about how the legal system works, but I don’t think it’s clear at all that a lawyer – public or private – has an obligation to defend a legal position that he considers to be in violation of the Constitution. Does the President think DADT is just a matter of politics? I guess Gay rights aren’t so important after the votes have been counted. Apparently Ahnold Schwarzenegger didn’t feel the need to defend discrimination against Gays. I know, he’s not running for anything, but would Obama have acted differently if he, too, were a lame duck? If so, how is it that you still defend him?

☞ Steve is too cynical. The President is absolutely committed to getting this done – right. Watch this Rachel Maddow interview with former Clinton U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger for more on the legal nuances. And if you really want an in-depth analysis, listen to yesterday’s recorded National LGBT Bar Association conference call in which three eminent pro-equality legal scholars conclude that the Administration is probably doing the right thing by appealing.

As for Arnold, it’s great that he’s chosen not to appeal California’s marriage-equality ruling, but there’s a big difference between that situation and this: Arnold twice vetoed marriage equality passed by his state legislature. Obama is trying to get his legislature (Congress) to pass repeal so he can sign it.

The House already has. There’s good reason to think the Senate will before the end of the year.

 

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