“I don’t think anybody in this town believes that repealing Obamacare is going to increase the deficit.”

That was House Speaker John Boehner yesterday, reacting to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimate that repealing the health care bill would increase the deficit – and by $200 billion, no less.

The Republicans brush this aside, simply asserting “everybody KNOWS Obamacare is going to cost more.” The CBO analysts must be idiots.

And because it’s intuitive, and we tend to be cynical about government, it resonates.

But the Republicans are not telling you the whole story. The health care bill really WILL reduce the deficit – not necessarily because it will cost less, but because it adds a tax on high-level investment income to cover the cost (and then some). THAT’s how it works. THAT’s why the Congressional Budget Office expects it to lower the deficit (even BEFORE the additional savings in improved efficiencies and preventive care that we hope for down the road). And THAT’s why the Republicans want to repeal it.

What the Republicans want is to keep millionaires and billionaires from seeing the tax on their dividends and capital gains go up. THAT’s why they want to repeal this bill and go back to the bad old days of tens of millions of people uninsured, the “donut hole” for the elderly, and all the rest.

Sure, they wouldn’t mind if everyone had coverage – just so long as rich people didn’t have to pay more tax.

Yet before you feel too bad for our rich friends – and we Democrats do have rich friends – please note that the tax rate on dividends and capital gains in Ronald Reagan’s day was 28%. After all his famous tax cuts. With the health care bill, the Obama rate is brought back up from 15% only to 19.8%. A third LOWER under Obama than under Reagan! But our Republican friends never tell you that. They can’t stand to see the billionaires who finance their campaigns take any hit. Better, they feel, for tens of millions of Americans to lack health care insurance, and for an estimated 45,000 of their fellow citizens to die each year for lack of health insurance, than to see the rate on investment income for higher-income individuals go back up from 15% to 19.8%.

They say, they have better ways to fix the health care system.


They controlled all three branches of government from January 2001 through January 2006. They didn’t even try. Not a priority. The rich were doing fine.


Wayne Furnweger: “I thought your readers might like this cartoon.”

☞ Indeed. But – in fairness – it leaves out at least two other things some people don’t like about Obamacare (beside the “Obama” part):

First, as noted above, the tax levied on the best off to pay for it. Some of the best off are okay with – or may even feel good about – being part of the solution. Others, being human, hate being taxed under any circumstance. So that’s number one.

And second, there are those who don’t like “the individual mandate,” currently being challenged in the courts. Why should they have to buy insurance if they don’t want to? Especially the young and healthy. They don’t have to buy auto insurance. (Well, they do; but that’s a state requirement, and only if they choose to drive.) They don’t have to register for the draft. (Well, they do, actually.) They don’t have to “buy” Medicare (except that they do, via the payroll tax). So why should they have to buy health insurance?

It’s certainly possible that much the same court that found as it did in Bush v. Gore will decide that they don’t. According to this analysis, the decision may hinge on whether the mandate is “necessary and proper.”

But if we can conscript people into the Army for two years – which we don’t any more, but Constitutionally could – it being deemed necessary and proper for the common good . . . and if we can imprison them for not complying . . . then surely we can require that everyone carry health insurance and impose a $750 fine for not complying. (Indeed, that $750 is a bargain, because it then entitles them to sign up for insurance, despite whatever egregious preexisting condition they then might have, when suddenly they do need it.)

A decent health care system that covers everyone is necessary and proper for the common good – a matter of life and death, no less. And such a system, of necessity, will require healthy people to chip in to subsidize those less fortunate. As Ezra Klein argues well here.


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