When it comes to health-care reform, Congressional Democrats are behaving a lot like newlyweds eying their dream home: They've finally found something they truly love — trouble is, they have no idea how to pay for it.
Well, maybe that's not entirely fair. In response to the news that Senate Democratic leadership has taken the idea of taxing employer-provided health benefits off the table, depriving reformers of some $300 billion they assumed they had in the bag, the Politico reports that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus has come up with plenty of ideas about how to come up with the $1 trillion necessary to pay for the bill.
His varied and creative set of ideas include: raising taxes, raising taxes, and raising taxes. In a list presented to other Finance Committee members yesterday, Baucus recommended expanding the Medicare tax on earned income to other income sources, including capital gains and rental properties; charging "fees" (otherwise known as "taxes") to drug makers and insurance providers; and, of course, taxing rich people — in this case, individuals who make more than $500,000 and couples who earn more than $1 million — for making too much damn money. Baucus also proposed a tax on sugary drinks like soda, but that option is reportedly unpopular, perhaps because government officials have already tired of finding the smokers necessary to pay for previous expansions of publicly funded health care.
And if raising taxes doesn't work, maybe they can just lean on the CBO to give them a better score. From the Politico story:
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said the bipartisan group of negotiators agreed in a Thursday afternoon meeting to renew their effort to find more savings in the health care system.
More aggressive care coordination for chronically ill patients could save hundreds of billions of dollars, Conrad said. The challenge is convincing the Congressional Budget Office to recognize these initiatives as true cost-savers, he said.
I used to try the same strategy with my teachers in high school whenever I got a grade I didn't like. The worrying thing is that in this case, it might actually work.
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