Out of Control Policy Blog

Obama's Not-So-Noble Health Care Lies

Obama came to office, not as a mere mortal - but a near deity who was going to elevate the cesspool that is politics by always telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god. But as I argue in my Forbes column this morning, when it comes to healthcare, Obama has only told lies, lies and more lies.

As I note:

"Lie One: No one will be compelled to buy coverage.

During the campaign, Obama insisted that he would not resort to an individual mandate to achieve universal coverage. In fact, he repeatedly ripped Hillary Clinton's plan for proposing one. "To force people to buy coverage," he insisted, "you've got to have a very harsh penalty." What will this penalty be, he demanded? "Are you going to garnish their wages?" he asked Hillary in one debate.

Yet now, Obama is behaving as if he said never a hostile word about the mandate. Earlier this month, in a letter to Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., he blithely declared that he was all for "making every American responsible for having health insurance coverage, and making employers share in the cost."

But just like Hillary, he is refusing to say precisely what he will do to those who want to forgo insurance. There is a name for such a health care approach: It is called TonySporanoCare.

Lie Two: No new taxes on employer benefits.

Obama took his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, to the mat for suggesting that it might be better to remove the existing health care tax break that individuals get on their employer-sponsored coverage, but return the vast bulk--if not all--of the resulting revenues in the form of health care tax credits. This would theoretically have made coverage both more affordable and portable for everyone. Obama, however, would have none of it, portraying this idea simply as the removal of a tax break. "For the first time in history, he wants to tax your health benefits," he thundered. "Apparently, Sen. McCain doesn't think it's enough that your health premiums have doubled. He thinks you should have to pay taxes on them too."

Yet now Obama is signaling his willingness to go along with a far worse scheme to tax employer-sponsored benefits to fund the $1.6 trillion or so it will cost to provide universal coverage. Contrary to Obama's allegations, McCain's plan did not ultimately entail a net tax increase because he intended to return to individuals whatever money was raised by scrapping the tax deduction. Not so with Obama. He apparently told Sen. Baucus that he would consider the senator's plan for rolling back the tax exclusion that expensive, Cadillac-style employer-sponsored plans enjoy, in order to pay for universal coverage. But, unlike McCain, he has said nothing about putting offsetting deductions or credits in the hands of individuals.

In other words, Obama might well end up doing what McCain never set out to do: Impose a net tax increase on health benefits for the first time in history.................."

For three more lies, go here.

Shikha Dalmia is Senior Analyst


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