Obama "Flexible" On Excise Tax


President Obama told union leaders at a private White House meeting on Monday that he remained committed to taxing high-cost insurance policies as a way to drive down health costs. But he also signaled that he was willing to amend the proposal to “make this work for working families,” a senior administration official said.

We'll see. The strange thing to me is this - if you think it is good policy - as most defenders of it have argued, wouldn't the President's "flexibility" upset you? The other thing I still do not get is how they plan to improve "affordability" (see my previous post) (which means increasing the subsidies to purchase private insurance) without finding a different revenue source. "Fixing" the excise tax is projected to cost 50 billion dollars. How much extra money will be spent to "improve affordability?" If the "deficit hawks" were REALLY deficit hawks, they would embrace the House funding mechanism - raising taxes on the wealthy - those who earn more than $500,000 a year.

Speaking for me only

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    Seems like a good place for a windfall bonus tax (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by andgarden on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:04:01 AM EST
    Just sayin'

    TL sidebar: Amish exempt from (none / 0) (#24)
    by oculus on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 12:19:51 PM EST
    mandate.  Glory be--membership will probably sky rocket.

    I could go either way on that one (none / 0) (#26)
    by andgarden on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 12:28:10 PM EST
    I think it's probably the wrong call though, for the same reason that Quakers have to pay all of their taxes, even when those taxes go to finance war.

    Amish don't pay (none / 0) (#27)
    by lilburro on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 12:35:55 PM EST
    all federal taxes though, just some, apparently.  

    Will Christian Science and Scientology (none / 0) (#28)
    by oculus on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 12:41:44 PM EST
    press for a "Nelson" exemption also?

    Wasn't he committed to a public option too? (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by ruffian on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:09:40 AM EST
    Until he wasn't. Maybe we need an Obama commitment scale of some sort that Gibbs can report every day.

    LOL (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:12:17 AM EST
    Instead of the color coded terror chart from the Bush Administration, we can now have the color coded Obama commitment chart.

    Strongly Believe is at the low end - green (none / 0) (#9)
    by ruffian on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:18:12 AM EST
    meaning the idea in question can be discarded at any time. We will see if "committed" is at the middle 'yellow' end or the high 'red' end after this excise tax thing is decided. These scales require constant calibration.

    The problem with that is that (none / 0) (#33)
    by Anne on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 01:21:13 PM EST
    it would all be shades of oatmeal and cream of wheat...

    Never mind (none / 0) (#6)
    by ruffian on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:13:21 AM EST
    the C-word was not used for the PO...only "strongly believe". Now we have some way to judge the likelihood that the excise tax stays in.

    Well (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:11:26 AM EST
    I don't see how it works to change affordablity. Seems to me that all is does is make it more likely that companies will move more and more to junk insurance.

    This is all that it does (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:17:07 AM EST
    And as far as health care goes, I'm for getting people health care.  There is nothing more precious than quality of life.  If you want to tax an effing Cadillac something then tax a damn Cadillac?  Heck how about properly taxing a BMW bonus or a Rolls Royce bonus?  Or how about a damned Cadillac bonus.  Leave people and their health care who actually are getting health care right now alone.  Give health care to everyone else who isn't getting health care.  Stop being a total fricken idiot who obviously flunked out in Economics.  Good thing he could at least manage to seemingly successfully study the law.

    Can't tax the Rolls Royce owners (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by MO Blue on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:25:39 AM EST
    (i.e. those making over $500,000 a year) but can force everyone to get Edsel coverage. Pretty indicative of whose interests Dem Senators represent.

    I'm officially enraged anymore (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:31:10 AM EST
    I can't stand how nuts the cult of Obama is.  I see that Booman is celebrating today that he is an accomplished liar.  See, the thing about Booman is that he knows when to lie in order to preserve the truth, just like his cult leader Obama does.  And I thought the Watchmen was only a movie, but it is real life in the cult of Obama.  Todays lie will save the world.

    My best friend in grade school (none / 0) (#19)
    by oculus on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:56:26 AM EST
    visited me last week from Iowa.  Her whole family was Democrat.  She and her husband, who were small business owners, are Republican  She sd. even she considered voting for Obama, as he was all over the state and TV and so charismatic.  She does not want the government messing with healthcare.  I mentioned government runs Medicare, which provides her health care coverage now.  Didn't matter.  

    you can't stop stupid (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by Dadler on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:59:38 AM EST
    you can only hope to contain it.

    She is a very savvy woman re (none / 0) (#22)
    by oculus on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 12:14:17 PM EST
    her business and extensive charitable stuff.  Says she is not well-informed re politics.  

    I understand the frame of mind (none / 0) (#25)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 12:20:08 PM EST
    I don't know what sort of small business owner she is, but your success or your failure is your own.  You have analyzed what you do everyday, plugged the holes, found and cultivated the new tech and the best workers you could get.  You've paid the bills, paid the rent, paid your people, in the end all of that has to be covered and then you need a surplus to even keep your doors open. Then the government taxes you and often you watch them do the most unsuccessful total B.S. stuff with your money.  It can be infuriating for small business owners to witness such insanity and unaccountability and utter failure.

    I'm sure she is (none / 0) (#31)
    by Dadler on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 01:08:17 PM EST
    I am just ever amazed at how successful the right has been, especially since Reagan, at so demonizing government as something to be not just simply mistrusted, but to be instinctively denigrated and dismissed, even in the face of opposing facts and logic.

    It doesn't help (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by cawaltz on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 04:08:05 PM EST
    when government itself contributes to the argument. How many times now have the dolts in our government in 2 of the 3 branches uttered.....I had no idea and who could have ever have imagined now? 9-11, Iraq war, stimulus, I mean geez there seems to be a dearth of lack of imagination in Congress.

    Agree. She did mention, quite (none / 0) (#32)
    by oculus on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 01:10:13 PM EST
    seriously, receiving a "birther" e mail recently.

    Not well informed (none / 0) (#37)
    by cal1942 on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 06:00:56 PM EST
    re politics.

    Ya don't say.

    Political ignorqance is killing us.


    In many cases, this means (none / 0) (#34)
    by KeysDan on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 01:22:59 PM EST
    that the government should not knock down Medicare in order to build up health insurance for all.  It is often neither a comment on  government involvement nor absence of support for health care extension for those not eligible for Medicare. Therefore, explaining that Medicare is a government program usually goes nowhere.

    I wouldn't say he studied the law (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by oculus on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:52:54 AM EST
    all that successfully.  See Lawrence Tribe.

    Those of you exposed to (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 12:14:34 PM EST
    the study and the application of the law would know better than I.  As it goes with everything, a degree is only a piece of paper and not indicative of overall competency.

    This "say anything" aspect of Obama (5.00 / 5) (#7)
    by Anne on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:16:14 AM EST
    has moved beyond the run-of-the-mill pol-speak, and seems to me to reflect at least two things: (1) that he doesn't really, completely understand the economics of health care and (2) he really does not believe in anything enough to fight for it.  He's open.  To anything.  He wants those union votes, and he'll say whatever it takes to placate union leadership, but if the unions are paying attention, they might want to be wary of eventually being driven over by the Obama "you didn't think `flexible' meant I was on your side, did you?" Bus.

    And I bet Obama doesn't understand why someone as accommodating as he is can't seem to get his poll numbers to stop falling.

    Every turned on its head (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:23:25 AM EST
    economic principle that he so openly preaches and embraces screams nothing more than Hamilton Project to me.  I think that the only economic solutions the man was ever interested in studying and applying are Hamilton Project new society order, corporations own the people solutions.

    Argh! Can't stand him. (5.00 / 4) (#11)
    by Nathan In Nola on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:22:40 AM EST
    Of course he's flexible on it. He's flexible on anything, especially if it might make the person he's talking to at that moment upset. He won't have union reps over to the White House and then tell them something they don't want to hear -- that would be AWKWARD. But that's not to say he won't just turn around and give an interview on NPR and say that the excise tax is a great idea and he's all for it because it will put money back in people's pockets (yeah right).

    Sad, but you can't trust anything the man says.

    Wow this is ridiculous (5.00 / 4) (#14)
    by lilburro on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:28:22 AM EST
    from the article

    Until now, Mr. Obama has taken a relatively hands-off approach to the specifics of the health care bill, instead leaving them to Congress. But last week, in a meeting with House leaders, he made clear his support for the excise tax, which many economists regard as an important way to bring down health care costs. The senior administration official, who insisted on anonymity to describe a private conversation, said Mr. Obama made that point at Monday's session.

    "It was a frank conversation about the excise tax," the official said, adding, "The president was very clear that he thinks this is a critical part of bringing down costs in the long term and bending the curve."

    So the guy who supposedly cares so much about cost control doesn't say a PEEP about the public option but comes out swinging for the excise tax.  

    There is a huge failure at framing the debate here IMO and when the excise tax is what you get for your love of cost control that says to me a failure of political courage as well.  Sorry I just can't get over it!!!!

    Naw (5.00 / 0) (#16)
    by hookfan on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:41:34 AM EST
    It shows great courage. Obama is clearly fighting against the will of the people and standing up for his corporate masters. Otherwise, he'd tax the rich.

    It's academic masters, not corporate (none / 0) (#38)
    by esmense on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 06:19:58 PM EST
    He trusts the wonks and their theories, and distrusts the people and their experience. He is not someone who is likely to give much credit to labor leaders' insights into how working people are affected by health care policy in the real world.

    His real weakness isn't corruption, it's intellectual arrogance combined with rather limited real world experience.  


    The United States used to care about (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:52:43 AM EST
    being #1 in anything it put its mind to.  Instead of focusing on making sure that every single American will receive the best health care we can give them....a sort of "Cadillac" Delivery of Health Care, we will now tax a Cadillac insurance plan because those people are just simply getting way too much stress free health care while everybody else is all stressed out and being denied health care.  See, if you take away the really good health care that some people get then magically everybody will get really good health care.

    At one time, if you had employer based insurance, (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by MO Blue on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 12:00:36 PM EST
    you had "Cadillac" health care coverage (i.e. no deductibles and low co-pays). Under the Obama plan, the emphasis is on shifting the cost to people who need health care and allowing the industries to continue to charge us two to three times more than other countries.  

    Oh, for pity's sake. What DOES he stand for (5.00 / 4) (#30)
    by Cream City on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 01:07:09 PM EST
    anyway?  That's it; I'm definitely watching Law and Order reruns or anything instead of the SOTU, as it just will make me even more frustrated to see him (a) lie about what he said before, and (b) make new statements that he will deny later.

    I begin to see why some people here say that at least Bush stuck with his stoopid beliefs.

    In that story about the Edwards implosion, (5.00 / 3) (#35)
    by tigercourse on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 01:24:19 PM EST
    there is a very telling quote about Obama. Edwards was trying to get Obama to join him in some kind of anti-poverty campaign, and Obama replied (paraphrased) "yeah, yeah I care about all that stuff".

    Seems like (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:13:10 AM EST
    He knows he's in trouble with the unions, so he's trying to placate them before he $crews them over. The funny thing is, I bet they will come out afterward and say they enjoyed it because of the awesomeness of Himself.

    I don't know (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 11:19:17 AM EST
    I've seen the unions sell out as often as I've seen them not sell out.  We shall see.  Do the unions fear their members this go around?  Given the economic situation I tend to think they do. Funny how Paul Krugman assumes that unions will always prevail and save the day for all of our group stupidity!

    Obama Flexible = Bend Over (none / 0) (#29)
    by Dadler on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 12:42:36 PM EST
    So far, his flexibility has far too often consisted of extending his arms out toward progressives...to push us away.

    A charitable interpretation is possible (none / 0) (#39)
    by jfung79 on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 08:32:32 PM EST
    Even supporters of an excise tax have admitted there are "design flaws," as Christina Romer said, perhaps referring to the age and geography concerns.  That may be what Obama means by flexible.