Wednesday, July 15, 2009

House Healthcare Bill: Sucker's Bet

Democrats in the House of Representativates unveiled a healthcare reform bill yesterday. It proposes, among other things, a surtax on the incomes of high-earning Americans to pay in part for the bill. House Democrats estimate that this surtax will raise $544 billion over 10 years, roughly half the cost of the bill over that time according to the (non-partisan) Congressional Budget Office. According to the New York Times this morning, the surtax would apply to any adjusted gross income exceeding $280,000 a year for an individual and $350,000 for a couple filing a joint return. The tax rates would range from 1 percent to 5.4 percent.

This bill also contains another provision stipulating that these surtax rates could rise significantly in 2013 if specified savings in federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid were not, in fact, actually achieved by then. This provision effectively forces every high income American to place an involuntary suckers' bet that the federal government can actually realize these hypothetical savings in Medicare and Medicaid (self-servingly touted by these same politicians to gain support for this bill), while also simultaneously expanding coverage to 40 million more Americans.

Notably, these surtax provisions have been drafted by House Democrats in such a way that they will never apply to themselves, however. Speaker Pelosi's annual salary is $223,000 and rank and file congresspeople are paid an annual salary of $174,000. They're not suckers, obviously.

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