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Grijalva On Exempting Union Health Benefits From Tax: Close, But Not Enough

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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 07:33 PM
Original message
Grijalva On Exempting Union Health Benefits From Tax: Close, But Not Enough
Grijalva On Exempting Union Health Benefits From Tax: Close, But Not Enough

"Given the precedent of fire fighters and police, If there is a collectively bargained agreement on health care that that would be exempt: it's a good step, but it still does not deal with the reality (that) we're dealing with," Grijalva told me. "As much as it's an important gesture to labor, particularly the trades, it continues to be a problem about: (number one) how you're going to administer that...number two I still think we're still dealing with a fundamental problem of creating a real class conflict here between those people that are having to pay, through their taxes, health benefits for those people that have none."

There are other potential fixes on the table to, including raising the threshold on the tax, so it only covers really expensive policies, and indexing the tax to health care inflation, so it doesn't ensnare more middle-class people over time. That would have to be paired with new funding sources to make up for lost revenue, and Democrats are currently considering a number ways to raise the money.

Grijalva says a combination of all the changes on the table could be enough to win his vote. But without those changes, he won't support it, and he says it will be "hard, if not impossible," for the bill to pass in the House.

"At this point, if we're dealing with what we have in front of us, I'm not convinced this is history moving forward," Grijalva told me. "Given the scenario you've just outlined, then perhaps it is a step toward history and many of us would be more inclined."



Financing health reform means tough choices. On the excise tax, unions hate it, the Heritage Foundation hates it, the insurance companies hate it. It's probably the most reasonable tax around because it checks the high price for lousy plan. In the final bill, there will be a modified excise tax and some other things that outrage people.

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grantcart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 07:36 PM
Response to Original message
1. I don't have a problem with the tax but I doubt that it will raise much revenue

Once plans hit the ceiling to trigger taxes they will reduce benefits to keep the cost just below the trigger.

This will keep the cost down but not raise much revenue.
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 07:37 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Employers and people will still have more choices
They can go with a plan that offers better benefits. This isn't a single-plan system.

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 07:37 PM
Response to Original message
2. I'm heartened that they're working on it, the Senate AND the House! nt
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ibegurpard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 07:39 PM
Response to Original message
4. we need to stop debating this tax
it's obscuring everything else that is SO wrong with this bill and making it seem as if the whole thing is a fait accompli.
The whole thing needs to die and we need to start over.
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Clio the Leo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 08:04 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. What needs to die.....
.... is THAT argument.
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stevenleser Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 07:08 PM
Response to Reply #8
31. Yeah, we need to deal in reality. Something is going to be passed.
Our choice is to press our congressfolks to make it as good as they can, or not.

There is no third choice.
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high density Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 07:49 PM
Response to Original message
5. So union members should be able to get tax free benes that the rest of us can't?
Give me a break, that's not going to fly at all.
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Hello_Kitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 08:00 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Married people and parents get tax free bennies that I don't get as a single person.
The guy in the cubicle next to me with a wife and 3 kids gets THOUSANDS in untaxed compensation that I don't. That's a helluva lot more unfair to me than people at the union having "Cadillac" plans.

And hey, since I'm told reducing health insurance costs will increase my wages how about we kick all my coworkers' dependents off their health plans so I can get a raise? Hmm?

Do people really want to go down this "fairness" path?
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high density Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 08:39 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. That's quite a bit different than protecting union members for votes
Edited on Tue Jan-12-10 08:44 PM by high density
And I say that as a single person. Believe me, every year when I go through open enrollment and see the benefit levels I wonder why it is legal for a company to say they'll pay me $3,000 in benes when I'm single or $16,000 in benes when I'm married with a kid. Yes, that is unfair. If they were doing this based on age or race it would be a major outrage, but since it's based on holy marital status it seems to be exempt from question or discussion.

I do not feel the government should effectively subsidize union benefits with special tax treatments.
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Hello_Kitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 09:22 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Exactly, it's exempt from discussion or question.
Edited on Tue Jan-12-10 09:23 PM by Hello_Kitty
Imagine how many in the "OMG it's sooooooo unfair that the YEEEEEEEWNIUNS get something I don't!" crowd would react to any threat to their sacred dependents' benefits?
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Bluenorthwest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-14-10 08:24 AM
Response to Reply #9
34. Holy marital status?
Try bigoted special treatment, paid for by others. It is not exempt from question at all. Equality in marriage is in fact a rather prominent issue of our day.
So you think you should get more for being straight, and that couples who are not 'holy' should pay for that? Or what, exactly?
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high density Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-14-10 09:07 AM
Response to Reply #34
36. Well you're interpreting that single word a lot differently than I intended
Edited on Thu Jan-14-10 09:09 AM by high density
Do I need to use the fucking :sarcasm: emoticon everywhere?
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Hello_Kitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 07:56 PM
Response to Original message
6. Unions, the Heritage Foundation, and insurance companies hate poison ivy too
Poison ivy must be good then. :eyes:
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frazzled Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-12-10 11:35 PM
Response to Original message
11. I'm shocked at one statement he has made
I still think we're still dealing with a fundamental problem of creating a real class conflict here between those people that are having to pay, through their taxes, health benefits for those people that have none."


That's a problem for the head of the progressive caucus--to use taxes from those who have to help those who have not? Am I misinterpreting something here? Isn't that the entire premise of a progressive tax system? A progressive talking about class warfare?

Well, screw that. If the union attitude is I've got mine bub so screw you, I've totally had it.

Please tell me I'm wrong.
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Hello_Kitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 12:12 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Grijalva supports the House plan to tax the rich.
You support an excise tax that would affect a lot of middle class workers.

And you're accusing him of not being progressive?

Really?
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frazzled Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 12:23 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. I'm accusing his statement of being horridly unprogressive
Taxing the rich on income is fine--as a means of raising money. But it doesn't do a goddamn thing to bring about cost controls on health spending in this country. And that is a good half of what this health care reform needs to achieve. We can tax the rich for a lot of other things: I am all for doing it. The point of the excise tax is to bend the cost curve.

But when he starts complaining that we shouldn't be taxing those that have health care to help those who don't, well, I find that a completely unfathomable thing to say.

First time in my life I am really starting to question the union lobby and its stranglehold on the party.
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Hello_Kitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 12:33 AM
Response to Reply #13
14. You are taking the side of the rich against the side of workers.
That's what you're doing. The whole point of the excise tax is to drop the tax on rich people. And the whole point of "bending the cost curve" (a ridiculous phrase that I'm bone tired of) is to fob more of the cost of health care onto the pockets of workers.
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frazzled Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 12:44 AM
Response to Reply #14
16. No, you are
I hope you understand the import of the statement about "class warfare." That's a Republican meme. If you want to support that kind of language, knock yourself out. But it ain't progressive.

I find it interesting that you always pop up to attempt to quash any real discussion of this issue: it's almost like you're scared that some people will start to figure out the truth.
I've found it not to be worthwhile to have further discussions with those who are simply on an agenda here. So don't expect any further responses to your garbled, unreflective crap.

If you don't understand why bending the overall cost of health spending in the country is important, and are "tired" of it--then you don't get 50% of what health care reform is about. And I can't teach you.

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Hello_Kitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 12:55 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. If you don't understand why "bending the cost curve"
Is pushing more of the cost of health care onto American workers, while preserving the profits of insurers, I don't know what to tell you.

But hey, I'm a single payer gal, which automatically disqualifies me from the "grown-up's table". Carry on with your...whatever it is you're trying to do.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 02:52 PM
Response to Reply #11
25. This stunned me as well - that comment is unbelievable from a progressive
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dkf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-14-10 10:33 AM
Response to Reply #25
39. The hotel maids in Las Vegas have plans generous enough to hit the tax
I'm guessing they would be lower middle class. They might land up subsidizing people who get more take home pay than they do.

Wouldn't that be ironic?
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TheKentuckian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 12:38 AM
Response to Original message
15. What is your obsession with forcing most Americans into non-comprehensive coverage
instead of the reverse?

Why is your life's mission to make sure every soul is paying half of their rent/mortgage on some old bullshit 70% coverage and more and more "cost sharing" as the years go on?

You know good and well it won't produce a reliable revenue stream since the incentive is so heavy to shed premium costs which almost always means benefit reduction and shifting more cost to the consumer and that while you'll hold premiums in line some, more burden goes to the individual including self rationing. So, what about this scam makes you so fervent?

Does it bug you that bad that a working class person can seek treatment without financial stress and be given effective and quality care?

If you start with the idea that your mission is to give every American quality, affordable, and accesible health care then how do you even arrive at an proposal which is essentially focused on shaving down plans in a for profit market?
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 12:34 PM
Response to Reply #15
18. What is your obsession with distortion? n/t
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TheKentuckian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 01:27 PM
Response to Reply #18
22. Whats the distortion? The guy that invented the scam will tell you the same thing
Edited on Wed Jan-13-10 01:29 PM by TheKentuckian
he just dresses it up in some lame trickle down myths and spins it to be more palatable.

So far, not a soul has refuted my interpretation of the results of the Max Tax/Benefit squeeze play other than spinning that revenue will be raised and pretending the chopping of benefits and shifting of more costs is some how a positive. Which is also why the propaganda machine only is willing to talk premiums because it gets a lot harder to sell to desperate and strapped folks after that.
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karynnj Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 01:02 PM
Response to Original message
19. The most stunning comment here is this
"number two I still think we're still dealing with a fundamental problem of creating a real class conflict here between those people that are having to pay, through their taxes, health benefits for those people that have none."

Now this is said by a leader of a progressive caucus. The fact is that EVERY program that aims to help those who need help is funded out of the pockets of someone else. This is true even if you are speaking of business taxes. But, this is what I as a liberal have always assumed to be fair. If you earn more money, you pay more taxes. It also creates the type of society in which people want to live.

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Phx_Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 01:13 PM
Response to Original message
20. If there's a tax, union members had better NOT be exempt.
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freddie mertz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 01:15 PM
Response to Original message
21. I hate it too. and I hate all these posts in favor it.
This is getting very close to a spamming situation.
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Ganja Ninja Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 01:42 PM
Response to Original message
23. "it checks the high price for lousy plan."
That's just stupid. All taxing insurance premiums will do is make the coverage worse and the policy cost more. Insurance companies will just try to cut the policy prices by cutting services to make up for the tax. All this tax will mean is that people with good policies will now have shitty policies like the rest of those who are fortunate enough to have any policy at all and they'll be paying more for it.
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 01:47 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. Disagree
Employers and people will still have more choices. They can go with a plan that offers better benefits. This isn't a single-plan system. Also, the Senate bill allows employees to opt out of employer coverage and obtain a voucher for the employer's portion.



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freddie mertz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 02:56 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. The plan you are promoting over and over still sucks.
Edited on Wed Jan-13-10 02:56 PM by freddie mertz
Why do you oppose the ongoing effort in the House and among progressive groups to improve this bill?
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 02:58 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. Wait
"Why do you oppose the ongoing effort in the House and among progressive groups to improve this bill?"

Being for the excise tax is being against efforts to improve the bill?

Ridiculous.



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freddie mertz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 03:17 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. Excise tax is one of the least progressive components of the Senate bill.
Many are in the trenches fighting for its removal.

But you seem to be in love with it.

Strange.
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niceypoo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-14-10 11:16 AM
Response to Reply #28
40. This plan could mandate voodoo doctors
...and the OP would still shout its 'benefits' from the rooftops.

When mindless shilling crosses over into the absurd, everyone sees it but the shill.
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Ganja Ninja Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-14-10 05:40 AM
Response to Reply #24
32. "They can go with a plan that offers better benefits."
There's a reason they call them "Cadillac" plans. :eyes:

You're just blowing smoke aren't you. These are the best plans. People don't want to change from them because the alternatives don't measure up. What part of that don't you understand?
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madmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 03:49 PM
Response to Original message
29. So how about they give us back all the concessions we gave in order to get this
"cadillac" health care. Union members gave up an awful lot of benies, including wages to get these insurance packages, so if we can't have them the way they were negotiated then they need to give back what was given up!
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stevenleser Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-13-10 06:30 PM
Response to Original message
30. K&R
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last1standing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-14-10 08:09 AM
Response to Original message
33. More anti-Union bullshit from the DU Union-hater.
This insurance care bill needs to die and real reform take its place. If that can't happen, these weak-kneed Republicrats need to be driven from office so that real Democrats can take their place.
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Bluenorthwest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-14-10 08:29 AM
Response to Original message
35. One trick pony by Paul Simon
He's a one trick pony
One trick is all that horse can do
He does one trick only
It's the principal source of his revenue
And when he steps into the spotlight
You can feel the heat of his heart
Come rising through

See how he dances
See how he loops from side to side
See how he prances
The way his hooves just seem to glide
He's just a one trick pony (that's all he is)
But he turns that trick with pride


Love that song!
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frazzled Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-14-10 10:17 AM
Response to Original message
37. So why does John Kerry (it's originator) still say, "as a progressive, I support it"
There is probably no senator as union-dependent as Kerry. I witnessed it personally during the 2004 primaries. In the freezing cold of NH on primary day, the Dean and Clark volunteers were out en masse at various polling stations for visibility and poll watching. Kerry was supported almost entirely by union guys: we watched them with envy as they drove up in large white trucks (firefighters) to deliver coffee and donuts.

So why, even last week, did John Kerry make such a push to defend the excise tax on insurers if it is so evil?

Why This Progressive Is Sticking By the Tax on Insurance Companies

There've been a lot of claims made and exaggerations leveled in the last days about a provision in the Senate-passed health reform bill that places an excise tax on the insurance companies that offer high cost health insurance plans. A lot of it comes from the right wing that wants to kill health care reform. But a lot of it also comes from friends who share my convictions about health care.

<...>

Second, this is an idea that will help health reform succeed in the long run. It will create competition and place sunshine on the process of pricing health insurance premiums.

Third, it will help control future health care costs without -- I repeat without -- directly taxing employees. Unlike a cap on the existing tax exclusion of health insurance benefits, which I oppose, this provision will not require employees to include a portion of their employer provided benefits as part of their taxable wages.

Fourth, the excise tax included in the Senate-passed health care bill will affect only a small portion of the very highest cost health plans -- a total of 3% of premiums in 2013. The vast majority of health plans fall below the thresholds set in the Senate plan and would be completely unaffected by the provision. In addition, the Senate plan provides special protections to plans held by workers in high-risk professions -- like police and firefighters -- as well as by those over 55.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-kerry/why-this-progr...

There are a lot of people here who are spreading panic about the provision. I don't know if some of them have been sent from unions or from the insurance companies. Others have just fallen victim to the hyperbole and believe it. Many are simply in the mindset of "me, my, mine and screw everyone else." A last group may simply not understand the importance of cost containments to an overall health reform agenda.

I am not married to this excise tax. But I am committed to the idea that some measures will have to be installed to reduce the aggregate amount the US spends on health care. And there is nothing that will achieve that that won't tick off somebody or cause some pain to someone.

The excise tax was a progressive economic idea espoused by some progressive senators. If you don't believe that, you don't have all the facts.

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joeglow3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-14-10 10:25 AM
Response to Original message
38. Overall, I like it
These plans offer little to no incentive for the consumer to be cognizent of their costs and usage of a finite resource. About 7 years ago, I had a nice HMO with my employer. When I needed emergicare, the cost was the same for me ($100) to go to an emergicare facility as it was for an ER. Since the ER was about 5 miles closer, I went there. I readily admit I am part of the problem as I did not care since the cost was the same.

A couple years ago my plan required be to pay a percentage of all costs (10%). When I broke my finger and needed to get an x-ray on a Saturday, I drove the extra 5 miles because it cost me much less than an ER.

I think this tax is intended to serve 2 purposes: raise revenue and at least make consumers more congnizant of the impact their collective decisions on where to get care has.
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