Democrats Reveal Tax Proposals — Triggering Complaints that Some Rates Threatened to Go as High as 57 percent

thumb_bag_of_moneyMany of us have expressed concern about the pork-laden appropriation bills and stimulus package this year. Just as Republicans showed little restraint in spending in the war bills, Democrats have treated the economic recovery bills as a license for unlimited spending. Now, massive taxes and sur-taxes are being proposed. New York officials are complaining that, if passed, the rate for some of its citizens could reach almost 60 percent. Some Democrats are now seeking to reduce a proposed 5.4% sur-tax to 1 %.

The taxes are being proposed to reduce the towering deficit and pay for the national health care plan — which the Obama administration is pushing through as a breakneck speed — demanding passage by the August recess. This reminds many of us of the Patriot Act where precious little time was allowed to consider its implications and language.

However, the New York Times has an editorial detailing the fairness of the plan and questioning the criticism over tax increases. I happen to support the policy agenda of the Administration in this area, but I think that the administration can be faulted for pushing such an important piece of legislation through on an expedited schedule.

Biden reportedly entered the fray today with a classic statements: “Well, people when I say that look at me and say, ‘What are you talking about? You’re telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?’” Biden said. “The answer is yes, I’m telling you.”

Nevertheless, opposition to the sur-tax is growing among Democrats and Pelosi is indicating that she may try to reach a compromise, here.

For the New York objections, click here.

78 thoughts on “Democrats Reveal Tax Proposals — Triggering Complaints that Some Rates Threatened to Go as High as 57 percent

  1. IS Bush is the one who sewed the seeds for the US to beome a third world country. He relaxed many regulations and promoted privitization so only the rich could afford many services. Also the income disparity grew under Bush. The middle class shrunk. The only problem was the Bush administration went too far and the whole system nearly collapsed and inadvertantly hurt the rich. I think Obama could be an advocate for poor and middle class people but the funds have already been mispent on wars and bank bailouts.

  2. Mike Spindell:

    I think we disagree only on the mechanism for achieving this. I truly believe that true free market capitalism without any governmental or Federal Reserve intervention can produce these results.

    I further believe that production and not consumption is the only way out of economic down turns. Henry Ford was right.

    Although I do believe that banks and the stock market are necessary to allocate capital to new enterprises. However average people are definitely excluded from some of the better investments because of lack of capital.

    Immigration does drive down wages, but I recently had an experience that might not jibe with that hypothesis. I was trying to hire a tech worker, he had a masters degree and was from India, and we had agreed on a salary. But I could not hire him because he had that H1B immigration status and I would have had to pay prevailing wages which was more than I could afford. I could not hire an American for the same salary (although I probably could now but now I don’t have the work to support an additional person) and so I lost and he lost. I guess I am saying what you are saying that wages should be whatever 2 parties agree to without artificial influences (read government).

    I think our disagreement is on the concept of a benign and beneficent government which I don’t believe and I am pretty sure you don’t think free markets are benign and beneficent. I think free markets are morally neutral and that governments are comprised of men with preconceived notions of morality. While some may be angles, most are not and so I trust in the neutrality of market forces unencumbered by human intervention.

  3. Swarthmore Mom:

    I think Bush was a stain on our nation and I voted for the jackass twice. I will not make that mistake again. I don’t disagree with you but I think the federal reserve and congress and Freddie Mac and Fannie May also had something to do with this. And the bankers and real estate agents and the consumer who knew he/she could not afford a $500,000 home on a $35,000 income.

    In my business I hear stories about people making $50,000 a year being given no interest loans for huge amounts of money. They were banking on a never ending increase in property values. Basically a bunch of stupid people caused this problem and there is enough blame to go around.

    I would make a suggestion for the 2010 elections, find decent 3rd party candidates that are fiscally conservative and who have run businesses of their own and have made a payroll and have successful enterprises and vote for them. I think this might send a message to the Dimwitocrats and Redumblicans that we are tired of the BS.

  4. “The cost has dropped to about $1,200 bucks per eye and you can negotiate with most offices about cost or financing and the quality has increased significantly.”

    IS,
    There’s something here you are missing. I was forced to retire by health, in what would have been my most productive years financially. While my fixed income for a family of two is higher than the median income of a family of four, it does not make for a luxurious lifestyle. I have unmeasurable astigmatism and am nearsighted. My wife’s vision is worse then mine. both are correctable by laser surgery. We couldn’t afford $4,800 for this surgery. most American’s couldn’t except those who want to finance it by programs like GE’s CareCredit, which then charge up to 29% interest. So we use eyeglasses, that are poor substitutes. It would seem you are more comfortably fixed and I wish well with that and truly hope it continues. However, part of your inability to grasp the extent of this problem is that you don’t realize the dire straights that most fully employed Americans face when it comes to health care. $1,200 is a lot for me and for those without my resources it is enormous.

    Incidentally, when my youngest Daughter, still in school, became 23 she was dropped off my health plan. Since I was supporting her in school, although she worked 25 hours per week at two jobs, I had to investigate health insurance for her a healthy, single woman. The best deal I could find, through the school mind you, was $2,800 a year, with the first $3,000 not covered. As luck would have it I now am paying off about $5,000 because of some of her health needs and you wouldn’t believe the interest rates. Now I own my own home in a lovely area, it’s now worth a third less than I paid for it so there is no equity, but I live well compared to most American’s so I’m not complaining.

    The fact is though I know the other side of the issue and I understand the hole that people have been put into by phony mortgages, the fraud of credit card companies, the greed of health insurers, the fraud of banks and the fact that the Stock Market is a rigged game with worse odds than Blackjack at a Casino. Add to that a culture that has convinced people that consumption is a measure of one’s worth, a food industry that sickens and fattens the public, a predatory credit industry that convinces gullible people to taste their poison
    and business practices that focus on a present bottom line, rather than a stable future and your picture of a “free market” becomes a false one.

    Now I believe strongly in Capitalism as an economic system, providing there is sufficient regulation of the system and the market to ensure that it is not run by greedy bastards, who measure their self worth in that dumb saying on bumper stickers “Whoever dies with the most toys wins.” However, there are some things that a government should do because they can do it better and it serves the public interest. One is health care. Throw in Police, the courts, the Military,
    Public Transportation, Roads and infrastructure, to name a few. For the government to fulfill these very public needs is far from socialism, it is sensible, humane capitalism.

  5. Mike Spindell:

    I personally use glasses because they are about 100 bucks at Costco. I was merely using that as an example.

    $233 a month for health insurance seems like a pretty good deal although I will admit the $3,000 deductible is high, but your daughter is young and hopefully she wont have any significant health issues that effect her long term.

    I freely admit there are problems with the current system. We have 3 or 4 friends that have children with severe chronic illness that will not end well and these children will be left dangling by our system once they are out of school or reach 21 I think. There should be some sort of pool that is spread between various companies and those companies ought to get some tax breaks for insuring these people once they leave their parents plan. I just think there has got to be a private sector solution to this issue.

    Should we pay taxes for protective services such as fire, police and military-yes absolutely but not 40-60% of our income. I think about 20% for all taxes would be a good number. And I don’t think people making less than $35000 per year should pay any taxes but they also should not get a refund.

  6. Jim Byrne writes: Will the doctors be reimbursed any better under the proposed plan? If not, why would anybody spend the time and money to become a doctor? If we end up with less doctors, due to lower pay, can we expect the same level of care?

    That’s my major concern with universal health care. Perhaps people will be crossing the border to get those jobs too. :>)

    me: you know what? I don’t know if the medicare reimbursement will improve or not. Its hard to imagine it getting worse.

    I don’t know how old you are. I’m 57. I remember a time before health insurance when you went to the doctor and s/he charged you for the exam/treatment and if you could pay it all right then, you did. If you could not, you paid it out over several months. When I had my tonsils out (age 5) my mother went to the billing office,paid the $300 and then I was discharged. Blue Cross came along and after you paid your $25o deductible every year you were reimbursed at 80-20 for everything. Kaiser Permanente was the first doctor owned HMO and lots of people we knew had that but it was clinic medicine and you didn’t have your own doctor. in the early 70’s the first doctor owned HMO groups began in earnest and by the late 80’s employers offered HMO’s like they were the new panacea.
    we now know what that was really about.
    and basically, in the last 20 years the insurance companies are the ones who own and direct medical care in this country.

    People still want to become physicians — but the demographic has changed substantially along with the role doctors actually play in the lives of their patients. I don’t know any young people, who graduated high school with my kids who plan to go to medical school. not one. and these are the brightest kids in the school. we already have a doctor shortage and a worse nursing shortage.

    a good friend, an internist, just took a teaching job because he as become so exhausted fighting the company that owns his medical clinic. He got tired of having every chart reviewed to see if he could spend less time, order fewer tests, prescribe less medication and tie his salary to how little he could do for his patients.
    another doctor friend decided to leave her clinic and go it alone. she does not take insurance of any kind and charges $175/hr. if she needs to spend an hour with a patient, she does. if she needs to spend 15 minutes, she does. if her patients with decent insurance want to, they can pay their out of network deductible, get reimbursed whatever percentage that they can and get some coverage.
    more and more docs I know are doing things like this.

    The question is: how much worse can things get before we stop sucking up to the insurance industry and allow doctors and patients the right to decide treatment and prices.

  7. This is an op-ed from the Orange County Register.

    “The debate on health care reform is starting to turn ugly. Those who want to increase government power to rule American medicine are adding physicians to their list of “enemies of the people.” We hear frequently that insurers and drug companies are inefficient and greedy businesses that must be replaced by efficient, enlightened and compassionate government bureaucracies. Now doctors are coming under attack for daring to resist government attempts to tell them how to practice medicine.

    In an editorial last month in the New York Times, readers were told, “Doctors have been complicit in driving up health care costs.”
    “Complicit” is an ominous term, often used in a legal or criminal context. Such language is obviously intended to intimidate physicians into submission.

    How are doctors “complicit” in rising costs? The Times tells us they are to blame because “doctors largely decide what medical or surgical treatments are needed,” which makes many of them “unabashed profiteers.”

    Such a statement provides two keys to understanding the debate on health care reform.

    The first and most obvious is that reform advocates in government want the legal power to prevent doctors from deciding “what medical or surgical treatments are needed.” They think that role must be reserved for politicians and government officials.
    Physicians must not be allowed to prescribe a drug if the government decides it helps only some but not all patients and is thus not “comparatively effective.”

    Physicians must conform to new government “protocols” in providing treatment, not their own judgment. If they do not, the government will make them more liable to malpractice suits for not doing it the government way. They are now forced to computerize their patients’ medical records and turn them over to the government – without the patients’ permission – to better help the government supervise their practice.

    Also revealed by the Times’ editorial is the attempt to disarm doctors morally and politically so they will do what they are told.
    Any attempt to protect their ability to practice medicine as they think best will just prove that they are greedy profiteers, like businessmen. Anyone who makes a living or runs a profitable business that does not need to be bailed out by the government may be condemned.

    Conversely, greed for power is a saintly virtue for those who want to instruct physicians how to run their practices.

    From other quarters we hear arguments that doctors should just do what they are told and accept what the government pays them, even if it does not cover their costs, because they owe us all for their medical education. Never mind the huge debts with which most MD’s graduate from medical school. Never mind the long years and long hours of medical education and internship. If they went to a public school, never mind the taxes their parents paid to support it.
    If the government gives you an education, these politicians say that you owe that government your life. Are we now discovering the true purpose of government-controlled education?

    Doctors are probably coming under attack now because even the American Medical Association – not known in recent years for its resistance to government incursion in medicine – is showing a bit of backbone in opposing proposals such as a new “public option” for medical insurance. The AMA is to be encouraged. If physicians do not take a stand to defend their rights to their own lives, their careers and their freedom to practice medicine, and, yes, to decide with their patients “what medical or surgical treatments are needed,” who will?

    We will not preserve our freedoms or our health if we as physicians and patients surrender our rights to politicians in return for their promises to take care of us.

    Richard Ralston

    Americans for Free Choice in Medicine”

  8. IS,
    Really? The Orange county Register, is this the best you’ve got?

    Richard A. Ralston: He is the Publishing Manager of the Ayn Rand Institute. Americans for Free Choice in Medicine is a right wing think tank. Although they are rather bland in their
    descriptions, read between the lines at their base of support:

    “Members include patients, Medicare recipients, physicians, nurses and health care professionals, insurance industry professionals, including agents, pharmacists and pharmaceutical industry professionals, financial services professionals, businessmen, employee benefits professionals and hospital staff. AFCM was founded in 1993.”

    A whole bunch of people who would benefit from a health care status quo and who you can be sure represent major Health Insurance and Pharmaceutical players. In what way would The Publishing Manager of the Ayn Rand Institute support anything having to do with government involvement in health care?

    “We hear frequently that insurers and drug companies are inefficient and greedy businesses that must be replaced by efficient, enlightened and compassionate government bureaucracies.”

    I would think that the insurers and drug companies who support this man’s group would want him to make such a defense. The fact is that they are greedy businesses, with overly high profit margins swelled by raised costs that represent about 5 times the increase in the cost of living. They are inefficient businesses because their admin costs run up to about 30%. could you stay in business IS with an admin
    cost of 30%, without pricing yourself out of your market? I doubt it. Remember I’m talking strictly admin as defined by normal accounting principles and not the normal costs of doing business.

    “Now doctors are coming under attack for daring to resist government attempts to tell them how to practice medicine.”

    Rather than doctors being told how to practice medicine by private insurers, who if you talk to doctors have become intrusively proactive in telling doctor’s what to do.

    “In an editorial last month in the New York Times.”

    Read the editorial itself and see how he takes things out of context and also changes meanings of what is being written.
    The NY Times by the way has been for the last 30 years a right of center newspaper and that is a shift from their being a centrist newspaper, not the organ of the left wing Bill Buckley declared it to be.

    “Doctors are probably coming under attack now because even the American Medical Association – not known in recent years for its resistance to government incursion in medicine – is showing a bit of backbone in opposing proposals such as a new “public option” for medical insurance.”

    This guy is so full of crap. For years the AMA has been a conservative organization fighting any government reforms of health care. Guess what though, last Wednesday they reversed themselves:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/01/ama-reverses-position-say_n_224458.html

    do you know why because Doctors (see link below) are quitting in droves because the Doctors are fed up with the current health care system.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-chris-mccoy/dear-ama-i-quit_b_214318.html

    This is directly opposite of what Mr. Ralston is saying.

    “We will not preserve our freedoms or our health if we as physicians and patients surrender our rights to politicians in return for their promises to take care of us.”

    47 Million Americans adults and children don’t have freedom of their health choices because they either can’t afford health insurance, or can’t get it because of preexisting conditions. While some say that they can get it at ER’s in public hospitals, you know very well that Objectivists like Mr. Raltson oppose public hospitals and oppose the government ensuring that people can be treated in ER’s. While he hasn’t the courage to admit it, industry lobbyist that he is, from his political perspective these people can go die because they are of no worth to society if they can’t afford good health care. This is happening every day and while this turkey
    does allude to morality:

    “Also revealed by the Times’ editorial is the attempt to disarm doctors morally and politically so they will do what they are told.”

    Morality has nothing to do with this guys beliefs, which are closest to “survival of the fittest” and well if that’s the kind of society you want, then we’d better start buying automatic weapons, guns, knives and surplus hand grenades. You know of course as a Jew my machine gun of choice would be an Uzi, but as for handguns I’d run into a problem since Sig Steyr’s, Glocks and and Walther’s are made in Germany. Oh well, I guess it will have to be a 9mm Beretta. Wait until people see the plans I have for barricading my house and making my cars armor plated. Mr. Raltson will have us all leading exciting, if very dangerous, lives.

  9. Mike S writes: 47 Million Americans adults and children don’t have freedom of their health choices because they either can’t afford health insurance, or can’t get it because of preexisting conditions. While some say that they can get it at ER’s in public hospitals, you know very well that Objectivists like Mr. Raltson oppose public hospitals and oppose the government ensuring that people can be treated in ER’s. While he hasn’t the courage to admit it, industry lobbyist that he is, from his political perspective these people can go die because they are of no worth to society if they can’t afford good health care. This is happening every day and while this turkey
    does allude to morality:

    me again, you are making to much sense and while I did promise to lay off your pursuit of happy times, maybe you could add this tidbit to your argument…. millions of Americans who have insurance through their workplace also have little or no choice in making health care decisions. employer funded insurance is only partially paid for by the company yet they choose which health care plans their employees can enroll in. if all they offer is a crappy HMO then that’s all the employee gets. if they put lifetime limits on health care, because its cheaper for them (even though the employee pays larger shares every year) then chances are an employee with benefits may not be able to get cancer care or a transplant.

    anyway, I think I am on the verge of a rant here.
    someone throw cold water on me….quick

  10. As long as someone else is paying for it; they, not you, and not your doctor are going to decide how you get treated.

    Insurance company -for profit, wants your business as long as they can make a profit. -cost goes up…premiums go up.

    Government paid -not for profit, could care less about your business. must try to cut spending. -cost goes up, taxes go up.

    –and we’re not even discussing pharmaceutical companies. Profit drives research. Less profit, less research.

    We can’t have our cake and eat it too. Change will require sacrifices. Is everyone prepared to accept those sacrifices?

    Government run health care will not be as good as the health care WE have today, but more people will be covered.

  11. “millions of Americans who have insurance through their workplace also have little or no choice in making health care decisions. employer funded insurance is only partially paid for by the company yet they choose which health care plans their employees can enroll in”

    GWLSM,
    An excellent point as usual and one that I haven’t, but should have, been thinking about.

    Jim Byrne,

    “Insurance company -for profit, wants your business as long as they can make a profit. -cost goes up…premiums go up.”

    Not true, the rise in their rates has far exceeded the cost of providing benefits. They have been maximizing profits, not responding to the market, because they don’t have to.

    “–and we’re not even discussing pharmaceutical companies. Profit drives research. Less profit, less research.”

    Also not true. most research is still paid for by government.
    Their costs have risen more because of their excessive marketing expenses: TV Ads, Print Ads and “Detail People” and with bonus payments to Doctor’s who prescribe lots of their medicines. Also they sponsor many “symposiums” at luxury resorts, underwrite attending Physician’s expenses and the Physician can write off all other costs tax wise as education
    for continuing their skills. These conferences are used to propagandize the effectiveness of their drugs. You never see one of these conferences held in Milwaukee, for instance, with no intent of defaming the great state of Wisconsin.

    The other part of this is that other countries in the world negotiate more reasonable rates for medicines, while Bush and the then Republican Congress specifically forbade Medicare and Medicaid from negotiating. That is why drugs in Canada cost half of wht they do in the US for instance and even there the drug companies make good profits.

  12. Jim,
    Also in my last post I neglected to mention the huge amounts spent on lobbying congress. Max Baucus received more than 3.3 million dollars last year and Joe Lieberman, about 2.3 million.
    This doesn’t even mention the millions contributed to Diane Feinstein, Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieux and even John Kerry. Notice all these are Democrats. Add in the Republicans and the Health Insurers and Drug company’s are spending about 1.6 million dollars a day on lobbying. There are not many heroes
    in Congress in this debate and that is why American Health care is a disgrace to the honor of our nation.

  13. Mike Spindell:

    I posted it as another opinion in our ongoing discussion. I generally think that people should be free to pursue their own idea of happiness unencumbered by government control of their life, liberty and property.

    When you are taxed you are forced to give up life and property. I think a small amount is necessary for the things you mentioned above but our government is out of control, and yes I blame both parties and the sleazy politicians on both sides.

  14. IS writes: When you are taxed you are forced to give up life and property. I think a small amount is necessary for the things you mentioned above but our government is out of control, and yes I blame both parties and the sleazy politicians on both sides.

    you know, I never minded paying taxes all that much. when you think about it you get an awful lot for this investment in how things run. you get police and fire protection, libraries, schools, parks and beaches, roads and highways and bridges, clean air and water, the NIH including medical research, NEA including Sesame Street, medicare and social security and war.
    the only thing I minded paying for was war.
    that’s a pretty good package of stuff.

    compared to other advanced societies our taxes are relatively low.

  15. bdaman:

    well when you subsidize something you get more of it. If I pay you to engage in a negative activity you and everyone else is going to sign on.

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