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Baucus' bill "Voodoo Cost Savings"

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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 09:36 PM
Original message
Baucus' bill "Voodoo Cost Savings"
Edited on Wed Sep-16-09 09:39 PM by ProSense

Voodoo Cost Savings

If you really want to know about Max Baucuss bill, head on over to Ezra Kleins blog, which is all Baucus, all day. If you want to complain about fake cost-saving measures, stay here.

A major selling point of the Baucus bill (cant really call it the Group of Six bill with zero Republican support; cant call it the Democratic bill with questionable Democratic support), at least in the media, is its lower cost $860 billion according to Baucus, $770 billion according to the CBO. This compares to the $1 trillion cost of the House bill. But this is a meaningless number, for two reasons.

The first is that this is just the cost side; it doesnt take into account how those expenses are financed. The House bill has a net cost of $239 billion, not $1 trillion; why everyone focuses on the $1 trillion number while talking ominously about government deficits makes no sense to me. So if you really want to be selling the Baucus bill, you should be pointing to the $49 billion that the CBO says the bill will save the government over the next ten years.

The second is that the cost number is an accounting fiction. One reason the Baucus bill is cheaper than the House bill is that it has lower subsidies. For illustration, lets assume that the whole $140 billion difference is due to lower subsidies. Relative to the House bill, then, the Baucus bill costs the government $140 billion less; but it costs middle-income people exactly $140 billion more, since they have to buy health insurance. The difference is that in the House bill, the money comes from taxes on the very rich; in the Baucus bill, it comes out of the pockets of the middle-class people who are getting smaller subsidies. Put another way, the Baucus bill is the House bill, plus a $140 billion tax on people making around $40-80,000 per year. That s not only stupid policy; its stupid politics.

In reality, there are more differences between the bills than just that, and, in its defense, the Baucus bill seems to raise more revenue than the House bill. But this idea that reducing subsidies saves money is just an illusion created by selecting a particular frame of reference. If you start with a different frame of reference, reducing subsidies is just increasing taxes on the wrong people.



Now, even Ezra Klein has turned on Baucus' bill:

The Baucus Bill: The Worst Policy in the Bill, and Possibly in the World

Baucus's bill retains the noxious "free rider" provision on employers. Rather than a simple employer mandate that forces every employer over a certain size to provide health-care insurance or pay a small fee, the free rider approach penalizes employers for hiring low-income workers who are eligible for subsidies. That will create an incentive to do one of two things: Don't hire low-income workers (hire a teenager looking for a job rather than a single mother, or hire a housewife looking for a second job rather than an unemployed breadwinner), or hire illegal immigrants.

And it actually gets worse. The employer pays more if the low-income worker needs subsidies for his family as opposed to just himself. So it not only discriminates against low-income workers, but it particularly discriminates against low-income parents. Single mothers will get the worst deal, as they have lower incomes, and as you might expect, children who need health care.

<...>

Update: Originally, this post didn't include one of the penalty options, as I was basically confused on how it worked and thought it would apply too rarely to be worth mentioning. I reread the section, though, and corrected the post to offer a fuller picture of this no good, very bad, horrible policy.


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toandme Donating Member (109 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 10:18 PM
Response to Original message
1. Contact Info for Mr. Baucus & Finance Committee Members
http://finance.senate.gov/sitepages/committee.htm

Letter I sent to each of the Dems on this committee:

Baucus Bill = Garbage!

Please help take out this piece of trash to the dumpster!

I'm not sure why Mr. Baucus is willing to sell-out Dems to the insurance company's and Repubs (who won't vote for any reform bill anyway) but this guy must be loony. Why is he heading a committee??? Forget Joe Wilson, someone should make this guy publicly apologize to the Democratic Party for being a sell-out. And for $3 million the insurance company's got him on the cheap!

A bill with no public option or safeguards for private insurance = NO REFORM
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