[Over the next two days, I’ll post articles and facts on both healthplan proposals. Then will produce our op Ed piece. While you may have already formed an opinion on this matter, it might be good for you to get some real facts instead of repeating propoganda talking points and looking like a parrot begging for a cracker. ]
Robert Caroll former deputy assistant for the US treasury wrote in the Wall Street Journal today about the McCain Healthcare plan to state the FACTS versus the rhetoric that Obama and his supporters have spun on this plan. Excerpts are shown below. There is a link to the entire article at the end.
The McCain health-care insurance tax credit may well be one of the most misunderstood proposals of this presidential election. Barack Obama has been ruthless in his attacks. But the tax credit is highly progressive and will provide a powerful incentive for people to purchase health insurance. These features under normal circumstances should endear Democrats to the proposal.
There has been a lot of rhetoric and misstatements, but what exactly does Sen. McCain have in mind? He would replace the current income tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance with a refundable tax credit — $5,000 for those who purchase family coverage and $2,500 for individual coverage. Mr. McCain would also reform insurance markets to stem the growth in health insurance premiums.
What many may not realize is that the federal government already “spends” roughly $300 billion to $400 billion through the tax code to encourage people to pay for their health care through employer-sponsored health insurance. This subsidy takes the form of the exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance from both income and payroll taxes.
Still, some 45 million Americans are uninsured; and the growth in health-care spending continues to outpace the growth in incomes and the economy, which portends further increases in the number of uninsured. The employer-based system itself is eroding. Voters should be wondering whether there is a better approach than this subsidy.
Consider the family of four shown in the chart nearby, assumed to purchase a $14,000 health insurance policy. The straight line reflects what the family would get under the $5,000 McCain tax credit. The lower line shows the value of the current income tax exclusion, which rises and falls with a taxpayer’s tax rate.
What is striking about this picture — and contradicts Mr. Obama’s public comments — is that the McCain tax credit for the purchase of health insurance exceeds the value of the current exclusion for all income levels shown. Indeed, it generally provides more resources to purchase health insurance than the existing exclusion. The total subsidy for health care would rise from about $3.6 trillion over 10 years today to roughly $5 trillion under his proposal.
How large an effect does this proposal have on the number of uninsured? Based on estimates by career economists in the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Analysis of similar proposals discussed in the Washington Beltway several years ago, the McCain health-care tax credit can be expected to increase the number of insured by 15 million and probably more. The Lewin Group, a respected private health-care research outfit, recently estimated that the McCain credit would increase the number of insured by as much as 21 million. It is true that many may no longer get their insurance through their employer, but they will be given the resources to purchase insurance on their own.
Finally, the credit has important implications for the nation’s finances down the road. This is perhaps the most important aspect of the proposal.
There is an enormous unfunded liability associated with the major entitlement programs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. If left unchecked, the growth in these programs will nearly double the size of the federal government by 2040, consuming roughly 40% of the nation’s output rather than the 20% today. While the growth in Social Security is largely the result of demographics, the growth in Medicare and Medicaid is also driven by the rapid growth in health-care spending. This is where a proposal like Sen. McCain’s can be so important.
Mr. Carroll served as deputy assistant secretary for tax analysis at the U.S. Treasury. He is now vice president for economic policy at the Tax Foundation, and an executive-in-residence with American University’s School of Public Affairs.