Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: November 18, 2009


Stimulus Funds Used To Fund Fat Tax Study

This one is right out of the “you’ve got to be kidding me” category.

It seems that stimulus funds, you know that 787 billion bill without an “ounce” of pork in it, are funding a study at the University of Illinois (wow, there’s a surprise) to look at “the relationship between fat taxes and food consumption, diet quality, and obesity.”

In reality it is a study to assess the feasibility of taxing soda, under the guise of fighting obesity, to fund health care reform. You remember all the trial balloons that were launched earlier in the year concerning this tax? Well, now taxpayers are funding research to figure out if it is feasible to further tax taxpayers.

And does anyone really doubt the outcome of the study? Really?

This is perfect example of how out of control government has become. Spending money it doesn’t have on a study to see if it can tax you more to make up for some of the money it’s spending that it doesn’t have.  That should be a line in a comedy skit, not a reality.

This also makes the point that government would have no hesitation whatsoever – if it can manage to wrangle the power to do it – in deciding what you should or shouldn’t consume – all in the name of health care dollars – and punishing you if you don’t conform. And, of course, regulators and bureaucrats can’t assume that power unless Congress hands it to them through this health care reform monstrosity.

While you’re noodling over that, you might also consider another voice that came out today in opposition to the present health care reform bill. Dr. Jeffery Filer, dean of the Harvard Medical School said:

Speeches and news reports can lead you to believe that proposed congressional legislation would tackle the problems of cost, access and quality. But that’s not true. The various bills do deal with access by expanding Medicaid and mandating subsidized insurance at substantial cost—and thus addresses an important social goal. However, there are no provisions to substantively control the growth of costs or raise the quality of care. So the overall effort will fail to qualify as reform.

Make sure you read the whole thing.

[HT: Katherine P.]

~McQ


Senate Update: Reconciliation Out – Luring RINOs In?

Is anyone else tired of hearing about Sarah Palin?  As an aside, she’s ginned up one heck of a media storm to push her book – I’ll give her that.  One of the best I’ve ever seen.

Anyway, on to the Senate.

First the semi-good news from the senior chamber – the Senate won’t consider the cap-and-trade economy buster bill until spring. Harry Reid, Senate majority leader and all around putz, says they simply can’t get to it before then.  That, of course, gives us the opportunity to concentrate fully on the other legislative monstrosity they’re engaged in trying to pass – health care reform.

Reports have Reid “cautiously optimistic” about getting the 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture and pass the bill.  How, you say?  Well there’s a new strategy, apparently.  Forget reconciliation and get Republican Senator Olympia Snowe on board (yes, the terrifying RINO attack).  CQ (via Brian Faughnan) reports:

Senate Democrats have abandoned plans to use a fast-track parliamentary strategy to avert a threatened Republican filibuster and pass a health care overhaul — a signal that they are considering major policy concessions to moderates.

The most significant of these could be restructuring or dropping altogether a proposed government-run insurance plan — the so-called public option — that many liberals consider a necessary part of the overhaul.

The idea, of course, is to attract at least one Republican by removing the obstacle of a “public option”. It would also supposedly allow all Democrat hold-outs (Lincoln, Landreau and Nelson) and Independent (Democrat) Joe Lieberman to support the bill.

The substitute?

One possible fallback is a proposal by Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., to create a government-sanctioned insurance plan that would be available only in states deemed to lack affordable private insurance plans. Under Carper’s plan, the insurance plan would be structured as a private nonprofit entity, run by a board appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate…

You have to love the use of “private” immediately followed by the president having to be “confirmed by the Senate”. Yeah, no undue pressure can be brought to bear in that sort of a set-up can there?

Anyway, the entire point of Carper’s plan is to lure Olympia Snowe on board (the fact that it isn’t a public option should bring Lieberman and others on board – or at least that appears to be the thinking):

…[Carper's] proposal is similar to one Maine Republican Olympia J. Snowe offered that would create a “trigger” for the public option, making it available only if private insurers fail to meet deadlines and targets for affordable insurance plans.

What a coincidence. A plan that a RINO could love. Of course the details have yet to be set in concrete:

Carper said he was still discussing how the government would determine whether private insurance in a state is unaffordable. A bill the Finance Committee approved (S 1796) deems insurance unaffordable if premiums consume more than 10 percent of a policyholder’s income.

The government would lend money to the new nonprofit for startup costs. After that, Carper said, the plan would have to be self-sufficient.

Of course the policyholders may not care that premiums consume more than 10% of their income if the benefits warrant that. However, as I recall, the plan is to tax “Cadillac plans” into oblivion anyway – so we can all suffer the same mundane “benefits” despite our willingness to pay for more. So I would think the trigger would never be pulled. Oh, what am I saying, this is government we’re talking about – triggers are mechanisms placed in bills to allay legislative fears and give legislators cover back home when explaining their vote. All of them know that there is every intention, if a trigger is placed in the legislation, of finding an excuse to pull it. And my guess is they’ll use the same sort of math to decide to pull the trigger as they have in computing “saved and lost jobs”.

Secondly, does anyone believe that if the government gives this new “nonprofit” startup money, it won’t save it if it begins to fail? If so, I’ll have to ask which turnip truck you fell off of last night. This, like the vast majority of the legislation on health care, is all smoke and mirrors designed only to provide political cover for its passage.

That’s apparently the developing plan in the Senate. Reid has to get this done and passed before Dec. 18th when Congress plans on going into recess until next year. Your job, should you decide to take it, is to ensure they go home unhappy and unfulfilled with this legislation still marked as “pending”.

~McQ


Debt Tops 12 Trillion – Can A Substantial Tax Increase Be Far Behind?

Another out of control government spending milestone tries to slip by quietly:

It’s another record-high for the U.S. National Debt which today topped the $12-trillion mark. Divided evenly among the U.S. population, it amounts to$38,974.34 for every man, woman and child.

Technically, the debt hit the new high yesterday, but it was posted on the Treasury Department website just after 3:00 p.m. ET today. The exact calculation of the debt is a 16-digit tongue-twister and red-ink tsunami: $12,031,299,186,290.07

And the 12 trillion mark was reached 8 months after reaching the 11 trillion mark – with oceans of red ink ahead as far as the eye can see according to the budgets the Obama administration has projected.

But don’t worry, Sec. of Treasury Timothy “Turbo Tax” Geithner, hero of the AIG bailout, had said they plan on getting serious about the debt. Are you feeling more assured now?

James Pethokoukas thinks he’s picked up on how they plan on doing that – or at least the trial balloon they’ve launched concerning their idea to see how well it flies. He saw this is the Wall Street Journal.

But the chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers admitted that health reform and a growing economy isn’t enough to bring down the deficit. She did mention one other place that revenue could come from: letting the Bush tax cuts expire.

You say, “that’s not news, they’ve always talked about letting the Bush tax cuts expire”. No. That’s not what they’ve always talked about. They’ve talked about letting them expire on the richest of Americans. But “95% of you won’t see your taxes go up by a single dime” – remember? Pethokoukas thinks the statement by CoEA Christina Romer is talking about all of the Bush era tax cuts:

Since Obama already wants to get rid of the income and capital gains tax cuts for wealthier Americans that expire at the end of 2010, clearly what Romer is referring to is the rest of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts. Letting all the 2001 cuts — rate reductions, child tax credit marriage penalty relief — expire would raise tax revenues by $2.5 trillion through 2019. (These CBO numbers assume no negative economic feedback impact from higher taxes.) And letting the 2003 tax cuts on capital gains and dividends expire would be tantamount to a $350 billion tax increase through 2019. And none of this includes possible plans for a VAT that could raise $400 billion a year more to close the huge projected gap — maybe 7 percentage points — between spending as a percentage of GDP and revenues as a percentage of GDP.

3 trillion in raised taxes? If they can manage to get away with it – you bet. And the previous no new taxes pledge for the 95%? It will be explained away as having been overcome by events – the financial meltdown, bailout, stimulus, etc. And again, you will be reminded that government, not you, has first claim on your property as they again raid your paychecks to the tune of a cool 3 trillion over 10 years.

~McQ

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