Health care reform: the polls and the politics

Among the dozen or so things that the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats are busy trying to shove down the throats of the public is the emphasis on a healthcare reform. Currently Congress is trying to rush a Bill, much in the way that the ineffective Stimulus package was done, through to be signed by President Obama. There are lots of soundbites and polispeak, but details of the exact plan are few and far between.

Plus polls are starting to show a wariness among the public. This is pulling from the President’s approval ratings, draining support of the healthcare reform, and causing people to notice all the failures that the rushed Stimulus has created to date.

So I thought that looking at some of the poll results, in conjunction with the proposed facts of the healthcare reform might help some that are unsure or unaware of what is going on.

One of the big things that I noticed were the answers to the question WHO will pay for this?

“Employers would be required to offer health benefits to workers or pay a tax based on payroll. Exemptions and tax credits would be available for small businesses.

Legal U.S. residents be would be required to enroll in health insurance or face an income tax penalty of 2.5 percent. The bill would allow some exemptions.”

Which polls say the public feels

“Support tax breaks to small businesses to help provide insurance, by 91-8 percent

Want to order businesses to offer insurance to employees, by 70-28

Support mandating individuals to have insurance, by 69-26”

In essence it means that Democrat politicians want business and an undefined wealthy to pay for the health care. In addition anyone that does not take this insurance and is not covered by any other WILL pay a penalty on all the money they earn in a year. Which means that if you happen to be poor, or you feel that other bills are more pressing than having health insurance, you will lose even more money under the Democrat plan.

Somehow I don’t see the people that want to force everyone to have health insurance, and expect business to pay for it, expected the poor to also foot the bill. I don’t think that most are aware that even the middle class will wind up paying for this bill under these and other provisions. And while everyone is saying a small business will be exempt (partially) they forget that the taxes – I will get to that – will already be placing pressure on them and thus cost jobs.

But speaking of HOW this will all be paid for

“Taxes on wealthy would raise $544 billion over ten years.

Additional tax of 1 percent on income for couples above $350,000, 1.5 percent above $500,000, 5.4 percent over $1 million

Triggers a higher rates in 2013 of 2.0 percent for those above $350,000 income and 3 percent for those above $500,000”

With polls stating

“Support higher taxes on alcoholic beverages to help pay for health care, by 59-39

Oppose higher taxes on soft drinks, by 51-42

Oppose a national sales tax or value added tax, by 61-32

Oppose taxing people on the value of their employer-provided health insurance, by 64-32

The survey also found 38 percent saying that the availability of government insurance would bring down their family’s costs, 27 percent said it would raise their costs and 31 percent said it wouldn’t make any difference”

Thus we get to another problem. The total taxes on the “wealthy” does not cover the $1 trillion dollar cost of this plan. And if these estimates of higher taxes is as accurate as the projection of the “jobs saved or created by the stimulus”, well we can imagine how off that could be.

In addition we see that those under $350,000 will also be taxed to some degree. Thus the term wealthy severely needs to be defined. Because under terms of the Stimulus it would include those making over $75,000. In terms of the tax increase President Obama voted for as a Congressman it includes those making over $31,850.

Considering that the missing money for the cost of the $1 trillion must come from somewhere, and the fact that polls are targeting alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, and a national value added tax, it seems that ALL Americans are on the hook. Which is separate of the taxes forced on those not taking the Government plan. So claims that it will not cost you more is apparently untrue.

But let’s assume that the plan is passed (which is very likely since Democrats hold enough votes to pass the Bill, and President Obama is hardly going to veto it). Let’s assume that funding falls from the sky (since the economy is not getting better soon and we already are in enough debt to bankrupt the next generation) and we can afford the “health care reform”.

The question that next comes up is HOW will it be run?

“Creates an insurance exchange through which individuals and small businesses could shop among private companies and a new government-run plan for insurance policies. States may offer their own exchange or join with other states to create an exchange.

Both the exchanges and the new government health insurance would start in 2013

Creates an independent agency, the Health Choices Administration, within the White House to work with states to oversee the proposed new health insurance exchange and set benefit standards

Congressional aides said about 9 million people would be insured by the public plan, with 21 million insured by private companies in the exchange by 2019”

And polls take this view

“Want the government to have the power to negotiate drug prices, by 71-25

Want limits on malpractice awards against health care providers, by 62-31

Obama has the edge, as 26 percent said they trusted him most to expand care to the uninsured. The second most trusted voice, however, was doctors and other health care practitioners, named by 20 percent of Americans.

While 40 percent said they thought it would lower the quality of their care, 21 percent said it would improve the quality and 36 percent said it wouldn’t make any difference. The rest had no opinion.”

This seems to be where the most consensus exists. Democrats want to create a huge complex Government run department to maintain a health insurance plan – another industry that President Obama did not want to run – that competes with equally large and complex state programs. The public though believes that doctors would be better at this and that a Government program would be about as effective as the local DMV or Post Office (which is my view).

Beyond helping keep cost of healthcare medication down, and limiting malpractice costs (a vital key in the rising cost of health care) the public does not favor President Obama or any part of the Government in the health care process.

Yet Congress continues to move forward with it’s plans, on a uni-lateral political basis, assuming it knows better than the Average Joe. Something proven incorrect as Average Joe can balance a checkbook and the Government has not in my life of 41 years, at least.

So what is it I get from polls and the actions of Congress? That the Democrats are very good at polispeak. Without addressing the actual plans for a health care reform, they are moving the plan forward. They are increasing the size of the Government – breaking a campaign promise, again. They are increasing the burden on virtually all Americans, in direct or indirect means, – breaking a campaign promise. They are creating a system that few have confidence in, that has no immediate effect – breaking a promise from President Obama on this being an immediate need and directly effecting the economy positively today.

The spin sounds great. President Obama is fantastic as polispeak. Congress is phenomenal at moving at break neck speed on reforms and Bills that spend more money than a 1/3 of the world governments can generate in a year combined – while they have a unbeatable hold on Congress. They are using up the positive approval rating of President Obama as fast as they can to do as much as they can before the public gets pissed off. And they are doing everything before an election cycle starts, so they can spin the election cycle without impediment.

But President Obama has an approval rating of just 57%, a new low for him. Those that think the Government is on the WRONG track has risen to a new high of 54%. Those that strongly approve of President Obama has dropped to just 22%. And the 2010 mid-term election cycle is about to start.

Will health care be an issue? Not if a hasty plan can be made and passed by Democrats – which is in the works. Which means that issues like those above, or questions like

“Why was the term ‘Legal U.S. residents’ used? Does that mean that this Government plan will cover illegal aliens that pay nothing into this?”

will never be asked. Because it will be too late.

The real question is not if health care reform is important. The real questions are how will it be done, and how much will it cost, and who will pay for it. That’s the questions that polls address, and that Democrats are avoiding in the Bill and telling the public.

And that’s “Change you can believe in”

About the Author

Michael Vass
Born in 1968, a political commentator for over a decade. Has traveled the U.S. and lived in Moscow and Tsblisi, A former stockbroker and 2014 Congressional candidate. Passionate about politics with emphasis on 1st and 2nd Amendments.

2 Comments on "Health care reform: the polls and the politics"

  1. Comment as found at 1800blogger, where I am a contributing author.

    Vigilante Says:
    July 17th, 2009 at 1:34 am e
    It’s the most blatant form of Robin-Hood economics ever proposed. The House of Representatives’ universal health-care bill, announced yesterday, pays for the health insurance of the poorest 20 percent of Americans who need help affording it with a tax surcharge on the richest 1 percent.

    I don’t remember a redistribution this direct ever coming out of Congress. I mean, occasionally Congress closes a few tax loopholes at the top and offers a refundable tax credit to people near the bottom. Or creates a poor people’s program like Medicaid, paid for out of general revenues from a progressive income tax. But to say out loud that those in our society who can most easily afford it should pay for health insurance of those who can not is, well, audacious.

    There’s another word for it: fair. According to the most recent data, the richest 1 percent of American households now take home about 20 percent of total income, the highest percentage since 1928. Now, yes, I know: Critics will charge that these are the very people who invest, innovate, and hire, and thereby keep the economy going. So raising their taxes will burden the economy and thereby hurt everyone, including those who are supposed to be helped.

    But there’s no reason to suppose that taking a tiny sliver of the incomes of the top 1 percent will reduce all that much of their ardor to invest, innovate and hire in the future. Yet if this tiny sliver means affordable health care for a far larger number of Americans, they’ll be able to get regular checkups and thereby stay healthy and productive. And a more healthy and productive workforce will do far more to build the American economy.

    One other virtue of this funding mechanism is its simplicity. A surtax is simple to administer. And the whole idea is easily understood.

    Tax the very wealthy to keep everyone healthy.

    Not even a bad bumper sticker.

  2. Vigilante,

    An interesting point of view. And you make a good arguement. Except you point out why it won’t work as you have laid out.

    Yes the top incomes of America provide the jobs and ability for everyone else to work and make an income. They are the pivotal tool to keeping the economy running. And right now thy pay some 45%+ of their income to taxes.

    If everything is passed as has been stated, the top incomes will be paying over 55% of their income to taxes. That missing money has to come from somewhere. Inevitably that means jobs and business growth. Or inflation as the average joe has to pay more for them to maintain what they have now. Either way, the public loses.

    That does not take into account that the health care plan costs more than taxes will provide. It does not account for the Government forcing people to take its plan or else. The or else being hit with taxes. The very people who can least afford to pay them.

    And the plan includes higher taxes for those not in the top 5% of income. In fact it can include those as low as around $80,000. Hardly rich. It might even include those of far lower brackets if you include the results of VAT and national surcharges.

    I don’t call that Robin Hood. I do call it Robber Barrons. And it’s the Government that’s doing it.

    But even that might be worthwhile if we could be assured of the quality of the health care received for this enourmous cost. But there is no guarantee. In fact it looks to be even worse than the current system. Which means the poor would be hit with fewer jobs, fewer hours, more taxes, and inferior health care.

    It’s easy to say that if you take from people that worked hard to earn what they have others that have not done the same will benefit. But nothing happens without a repercussion. Democrats took from the future of our children for a stimulus plan that only advocates social change. The repercussions of that has been greater foreclosures, greater unemployment, and even those in need getting less of a chance to feed their families via Government aide.

    The fact is that the Government has the least ability to run anything efficiently. It has the least knowledge of how to help anything except itself. That is a fact that history has told us about every Government. The Democrats and the Obama Administration are no different. IF they were I doubt they would lie to the public as they have.

    Health care reform is a great idea. But having the Government involved in every step is the worst solution since President Obama promising that the stimulus plan no one has read would improve the economy.

Thank you for lending your voice. We appreciate hearing what you have to say.

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