Home > Obamacare > Two liberal columnists figure out that Obamacare is BAD, REALLY BAD.

Two liberal columnists figure out that Obamacare is BAD, REALLY BAD.

Bob Herbert writes a fantastic column in the New York Times:

Within three years of its implementation, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the tax would apply to nearly 20 percent of all workers with employer-provided health coverage in the country, affecting some 31 million people. Within six years, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax would reach a fifth of all households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually. Those families can hardly be considered very wealthy.

Proponents say the tax will raise nearly $150 billion over 10 years, but there’s a catch. It’s not expected to raise this money directly. The dirty little secret behind this onerous tax is that no one expects very many people to pay it. The idea is that rather than fork over 40 percent in taxes on the amount by which policies exceed the threshold, employers (and individuals who purchase health insurance on their own) will have little choice but to ratchet down the quality of their health plans.

These lower-value plans would have higher out-of-pocket costs, thus increasing the very things that are so maddening to so many policyholders right now: higher and higher co-payments, soaring deductibles and so forth. Some of the benefits of higher-end policies can be expected in many cases to go by the boards: dental and vision care, for example, and expensive mental health coverage.

Proponents say this is a terrific way to hold down health care costs. If policyholders have to pay more out of their own pockets, they will be more careful — that is to say, more reluctant — to access health services. On the other hand, people with very serious illnesses will be saddled with much higher out-of-pocket costs. And a reluctance to seek treatment for something that might seem relatively minor at first could well have terrible (and terribly expensive) consequences in the long run.

If even the plan’s proponents do not expect policyholders to pay the tax, how will it raise $150 billion in a decade? Great question.

And Howard Fineman writes a fine column for Newsweek:

But the crusade that is dragging itself toward the finish line doesn’t quite feel like a triumph, let alone the launch of a new New Deal. The reasons offered for the undertaking have been ever-shifting. In the campaign, it was about rationalizing the system and saving federal cash; then it was about protecting coverage of the middle class; then about the moral duty to cover the uninsured. By the time Bill Clinton met privately with Senate Democrats on Obama’s behalf, it was (in his telling) primarily about the political optics: the need to pass something, anything, to avoid defeat.

The effort to jam the bill through Congress made the public dubious. Most Democrats voted for a version of the bill on the first round without having read, let alone digested, its thousands of pages. As the Christmas Eve vote approached, desperate last-minute stocking stuffers appeared in the small print, such as a $1.2 billion payoff to the state of Nebraska that secured Sen. Ben Nelson’s reluctant vote. Obama had promised us a transparent “Google Government,” but now we know what Obama government actually looks like: ambitious and generous, perhaps, but also secretive, Chicago-style, and way too complicated. Fewer than half of voters now support the legislation, murky as it still is to them. Crucially, support has cratered among independents.

The result is a 10-year, trillion-dollar contraption full of political risk and unintended consequences for a health-care system that constitutes one sixth of the economy. Many of the people who will benefit directly from the reforms, the uninsured, don’t vote. Insurance premiums will continue to shoot up for most of us; Democrats fret that they will be blamed for those increases in the 2010 elections. Some regulations on the industry kick in immediately, but most don’t begin until at least 2013. And yet, to allow the bill to “save” money in the first decade, most new taxes and fees go into effect immediately. “We’re collecting money before we’re giving all the benefits!” lamented a Democratic senator facing reelection. “That is a political disaster.”

So will the public “learn to love Obamacare” as White House adviser David Axelrod said? If these two liberals along with other liberals such as Markos Moulitsas, Jane Hamsher, Keith Olbermann, and Rachel Maddow dont like it chances are that no, Americans will not learn to love Obamacare but will instead come to deeply despise it.

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