Richard Eskow

The Front Line: Senate and House Anti-Tax Fighters

The battle to resist the excise tax continue, with a front line of resistance forming in the House and Senate. Efforts include the movement to drum up support for the Sanders-Franken-Brown Amendment, which replaces it with a high-earner tax similar to that contained in the House health reform bill. The Amendment’s three sponsors – Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, and Sherrod Brown – are clearly holding the fort on the Senate side, and we’ll be watching to see who else signs on as a cosponsor. In the House, one prominent front-liner is Rep. Joe Courtney. Last Friday Rep. Courtney joined the director of health research at consulting firm Watson Wyatt to discuss the negative impact of the tax at a press briefing. “(T)he Senate proposal, when you really scrutinize it, will result in a much higher burden to middle class families,” Courtney said.

Continue Reading...
Richard Eskow

NY Post: Raising Taxes On Health Care Doesn’t Equal Cost-Cutting

Kirsten Powers has an editorial at the New York Post attacking the excise tax. “(N)no topic has gotten more ink during the health-care debate than cost,” she observes. “This question has become the obsession distracting us from the moral imperative to provide health care to all Americans.” Powers draws a parallel between discussions of war policy and the health care debate, contrasting the resistance to questions of cost in matters of war with the way the matter is handled in health care.

Continue Reading...
Roger Hickey

Peterson, Conrad Weaken Democracy, Social Security, Medicare, & Recovery

On Monday morning, wealthy hedge fund mogul Peter Peterson and his Commission on Budget Reform will hold a press conference to issue a “Call to Action to Stem the Mounting Federal Debt.” Their scary promotional material declares, “The ever-growing federal debt is spiraling out of control. If not addressed . . . Americans could be faced not only with a lower standard of living, but a real fiscal crisis.” Peterson’s self-appointed deficit warriors don’t really have a plan to cut debt and deficits – although most of them have a clear record of trying to cut America’s meager Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Continue Reading...
Sam Pizzigati

Wall Street’s ‘M&A Follies’: Why the Curtain Never Falls

AOL and Time Warner split, Comcast and NBC join. The merger merry-go-round continues to spin. Investment bankers and corporate execs get the brass ring. The rest of us get pink slips and higher prices. What may be the dumbest corporate merger of all time — the $165 billion deal that saw AOL gobble up Time Warner — has finally ended. AOL last week formally spun off and became a totally separate and independent corporate entity. The AOL-Time Warner merger, initially brokered back in 2000, had been a disaster for years, by every standard measure of enterprise success. Indeed, the merger had essentially become a joke, a move so excruciatingly wrong-headed that observers from outside could only laugh at the sheer folly behind it. The yucks started breaking out when execs at the newly merged media giant forced Time Warner-side staff to use AOL’s email system.

Continue Reading...
Richard Eskow

The Women’s Health Amendment and the Excise Tax: One Hand Giveth …

Recently the Senate passed Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s Women’s Health Amendment, which requires health insurance companies to provide free mammograms and other preventive health services for women. This was lauded by many, since women’s health needs have traditionally been underserved by the insurance system. So it’s ironic that the Senate’s excise tax will force many women to “pay” for these services indirectly.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

New Lie On Bank Reform

Opponents of financial reform, after huddling with banking lobbyists, are now circulating a story that the reform bills are nothing more than more bailouts for the big banks. In fact the bills do the opposite, and have a mechanism for shutting banks down instead of bailing them out in the future. But the bank lobbyists and their paid-for allies in the Congress understand that the public just hates the bailouts, so they are trying to direct that hatred to try to kill a bill that would … prevent bailouts. Here’s how it works: If focus groups showed that the public overwhelmingly loathed green cheese, the reform opponents would be circulating a story that a bill to regulate green cheese actually forces everyone to eat it. Until the public catches on that this is how lobbyists and their allies work, this is how the game will be played.

Continue Reading...
Richard Eskow

Sanders, Franken, and Brown Introduce Amendment to Replace Excise Tax

Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, and Sherrod Brown have introduced a bill in the Senate that would replace the excise tax on higher-cost health plans with a tax on very high-earners. This amendment would put the Senate’s proposal in line with the House bill, removing one contentious issue from any future conference to reconcile the House and Senate bills. The bill’s announcement included the following information: Individuals: Out of the approximately 134 million individual returns filed in 2005, 0.02%, or about 26,000, reported adjusted gross income over $2.4 million. Families: Out of the approximately 100 million joint returns filed in 2005, 0.08%, or about 80,000, reported adjusted gross income over $4.8 million.

Continue Reading...
Eric Lotke

The Problem is Jobs, Not Debt

Conservatives are using the economic crisis to push through their favorite tricks. The latest trick is a commission to cut the budget and cut the debt without the inconvenience of the democratic process. It’s a strange distraction from the real problem. The real problem is jobs. We need more of them. We need them right away. And we need real jobs — rebuilding our infrastructure, producing things right here in America, and powering a clean energy economy. The false problem is debt. Yes, we are in a budget crunch and we need to be fiscally responsible in the long run. But no, it’s not an urgent problem and not even such an overwhelming problem at that. Today’s Financial Times carries an article about deficits in Europe. It has a handy chart showing public debt as a percent of GDP for 2010 (estimates).

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

How Big is the Green Manufacturing Revolution?

The other day I posted Green Revolution – Ideology Holding America Back The world understands that “green energy” is the next big industry that will drive the world economy. Actually, the rest of the world has understood this for some time and has been investing and inventing and innovating and building. This energy revolution that is beginning is big, and it means jobs. It could mean jobs here. Let’s take a brief look at what I mean. Here are a few snippets about wind farms from the news in just the last day or so: GE wins $1.4 billion wind farm contract The massive 845-megawatt wind farm, Shepherds Flat, will be located near Arlington, Oregon, but span approximately 30 square miles… GE estimates that it will supply 338 of its 2.5-megawatt wind turbine models to be installed between 2011 and 2012.

Continue Reading...
Richard Eskow

Yglesias: Another Progressive Gets the Excise Tax Wrong

Matt Yglesias is right to skewer a truly terrible idea from Sen. Tom Carper. Sen. Carper wants a health tax based on the rate of increase a health plan experiences over time, and Yglesias does a good job pointing out the flaws in this notion. But in mustering his arguments against the Carper plan, Yglesias repeats some common progressive misconceptions about the excise tax. You’ll find a number of them embedded in his closing paragraph: :The existing excise tax idea is not perfect, but it’s pretty smart.

Continue Reading...
Richard Eskow

New Poll Shows Excise Tax Is Politically Unpopular, Likely To Hurt Re-election Prospects For Legislators

A recent poll released today provided the first comprehensive look at the political popularity of the excise tax on higher-cost health plans, and the results should raise grave political concerns for the tax’s supporters. The poll, which concentrated on battleground electoral states, showed that legislators who voted for the tax could face voters’ wrath in 2010. The pollsters found that the excise tax was extremely unpopular, while voters overall favored the idea of taxing high-income earners. Pollsters John Anzalone and Matt Hogan presented their findings today on a conference call with reporters. ““We’ve never seen numbers like this,” said Anzalone.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

Memo to Politico: “ClimateGate” Is a Flop

Today’s Politico headline from Copenhagen is: “Climategate distracts at Copenhagen.” This seems based on a very low bar for what constitutes a distraction. Is the international summit torn now between resolutions saying global warming is a moral imperative or a dastardly hoax perpetrated by the sinister scientist conspiracy? Hardly. Is there one country that previously was open to a climate agreement, and now is suddenly abandoning it? Nope. is there one US Senator changing his or her position on a cap-and-trade bill after the ginned up right-wing hysteria? Not a one.

Continue Reading...
Isaiah J. Poole

New Democrats’ Morally Hazardous Ploy

A chart buried in the Congressional Oversight Panel report released Tuesday explains one of the reasons why a compromise on a financial regulatory reform bill struck by the White House, the House Democratic leadership and a group of conservative Democrats is so wrong-headed and potentially dangerous. The compromise, as reported by Politico and The Hill, would weaken the ability of states to rein in financial institutions, standing in the gap when federal regulators are failing to adequately protect the interests of consumers. Why would a group of Democrats fight to keep states out of the banking regulation business? Here’s a clue: The top four banks—Citibank, Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo—have grown dramatically larger in the past two years and now control roughly one-third of all bank deposits.

Continue Reading...
Richard Eskow

Read Us on DailyKos

We’re summarized some of our content on DailyKos. Stop on by if you have any comments to add. As we told the Kossacks: A lot of folks in Washington like to pretend there are mythical union people out there somewhere savoring the fruits of their lavish health plans, perhaps by enjoying a free massage while Deepak Chopra whispers meditation instructions in their ear. Meanwhile everybody else get only the care they bought fair and square. That’s the American way, right? But the fact is that most people in these so-called “Cadillac plans” are in them because they or their fellow employees are sicker than average, or because of other factors they can’t change. Taxing them for that is immoral and wrong.

Continue Reading...
Richard Eskow

Breakthrough? Two Research Papers Slam the Excise Tax

Two new papers published today in Health Affairs could help turn opinion against the excise tax, especially from an academic perspective. Using a combination of analysis and interpretation, six researchers reached essentially the same conclusion: The excise tax would be unfair in its impact, and there is no reason to believe it would effectively target unnecessary medical care despite the claims made on its behalf. The first paper, entitled “Taxing Cadillac Plans May Produce Chevy Results,” contained the findings of a study by four well-regarded researchers. They mined data from the 2007 Kaiser Employer Benefits Survey and other sources, drawing the following conclusions: “Health reform provisions that treat these plans like luxuries may be misguided.

Continue Reading...
Dave Johnson

Green Manufacturing Revolution – Ideology Holding America Back

American competitiveness is severely hobbled by our “free market” and anti-government attitudes. One way our competitors hold us back is by encouraging this outdated ideology. Result: other countries have national economic/industrial strategies and we don’t. So we lose. Remember how “chips” was a major driver of the economy in the 80s and 90s? Then the Internet drove the economy late 90’s and early 2000s? The world understands that “green energy” is the next big industry that will drive the world economy. Actually, the rest of the world has understood this for some time and has been investing and inventing and innovating and building. Meanwhile over here America’s big oil and coal companies bought themselves a Presidency and an anti-government ideology and a climate-change-denial industry that has cost us 8 years and counting.

Continue Reading...
Richard Eskow

Excise Tax Will Target Large Corporations – And Further Erode Our Social Safety Net

“We’re finding that about half of the large employers we work with will be at or above the (excise tax threshold) limits.” Senior Health Benefits Consultant We promised yesterday to write a series of posts about the “amazing facts” contained in a recent Kaiser Health News article about the excise tax (aka “middle class health tax.”) We suggested yesterday that the larger a health plan, the more likely it is to have plans that would would be “generous” enough to be targeted by the tax. Yesterday we highlighted Mercer’s finding that up to 19% of employer health plans would be affected by the tax in 2013, its first year. That contrasts only slightly with the CBO’s estimate that 19% of plans would be affected by 2016.

Continue Reading...
Bill Scher

How Good Is This Deal?

LIberal and right-leaning Democrats reportedly have reached a compromise that replaces Senator Harry Reid’s version of a national public health insurance option, which states could decide not to offer, for giving workers between the ages of 55-65 the option of buying into Medicare. How good is that deal? Certainly, a limited Medicare buy-in does not solve the fundamental problem with private insurance facing minimal competition. But the versions of public option that are pending in Congress — which would not allow the public plan to fix reimbursement rates at levels lower the private insurance, proving robust competition to reduce premiums — were not ideal either. The Congressional Budget Office concluded they were good enough to lower premiums overall, and they would at least set up a framework that could be improved upon.

Continue Reading...
Richard Eskow

AFL-CIO Sends Letter Promoting Anti-Tax Campaign

The AFL-CIO has sent out an email blast in support of the campaign to overturn the excise tax on health benefits. The letter is addressed to constituents of Rep. Jerrold Nadler, praising him for his work in opposition to the tax and suggesting they encourage him to “stay strong” on the issue. The letter reads in part: “Can you believe the Senate is considering taxing our benefits to pay for health care reform? We need health care reform desperately, but taxing workers’ health benefits is wrong. Fortunately, 185 members of the House are opposed to taxing worker benefits, including your representative, Rep. Jerrold Nadler. We need to make sure Rep. Nadler stays strong and continues to side with working families.” The email includes links that enable readers to “thank (their) representative” for his stance on this issue.

Continue Reading...
1 480 481 482 483 484 578