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Playing games

Original post made on Oct 9, 2013

The GOP rallied against Social Security in the 1930s, Medicare in the '60s and now ObamaCare, Tom Cushing writes in this week's [Web Link Caucus]. With just a few days left before the U.S. approaches its debt deadline on Oct. 18, Cushing invites readers to play an apocalyptic quotation matching game.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 8, 2013, 4:21 PM

Comments (32)

Posted by Joseph, a resident of Danville
on Oct 9, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I just don't understand how come the media is so biased. Why is the GOP playing games? Why isn't our illustrious President Obama, who taught Constitution, playing games? What makes him think he's King?. Apparently he doesn't realize the government has three branches.
The sad part is that the game is being played at our expense.
By the way, Social Security is a Ponsi scheme and Medicare is a money loosing program, one from which Obama extracted billions of dollars to fund the Affordable Care Act which is already proving to be a loser. Hiring 16,000 to the IRS to control it should be a clue.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo
on Oct 9, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Joseph: I think your last paragraph says it all. If you truly believe anything you wrote there, then everything else you write is just not worthy of serious consideration.

For your own sake and The Lord's, change the channel.


Posted by Joseph, a resident of Danville
on Oct 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Mr. Cushing:
Yours is the type of response I would expect from someone who is not like minded.
Change the channel????? That says it all.


Posted by Farmer Dave, a resident of another community
on Oct 9, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Farmer Dave is a registered user.

@Joseph:

I think Tom Cushing was just exasperated by your ignorance of the facts.

Your 16,000 hires by the IRS was rated "Pants on Fire!" by Politifact.
Web Link

The remainder of your statements are equally false, but you can use Google to find out the truth yourself (if you dare).


Posted by cardinal, a resident of Diablo
on Oct 9, 2013 at 10:11 pm

At least change the frequency, Kenneth.


Posted by Independent Voter, a resident of Danville
on Oct 10, 2013 at 8:21 am

Joseph-

The government does, indeed, have three branches. Congress approved the affordable care act, the president signed it into law, and the Supreme Court found it to be constitutional. As all three branches of our government have determined the law to be valid and in effect, those who would impede the government from functioning in order to try to defund a valid, constitutional law are precisely the ones who are, in fact, just playing games. The GOP has tried some 41 times to try to repeal the law knowing full well that our president would veto it. Enough already. The law is the law. Accept it and let's move on with the business of running this country.


Posted by Derek, a resident of Danville
on Oct 10, 2013 at 11:13 am

Here Joseph. let's let our friend Tom Tomorrow explain things for you in a simple six panel cartoon form (scroll down to the second one - though the first cartoon applies as well)-

Web Link#

Not that I'm a big proponent of AHCA, just that I am anti-teanut.


Posted by John, a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Joseph:

Obamacare was passed by all three branches of the FED government.

I am really tired of the GOP (tea party). These fools are ruining the government with no end in sight.

Throw the bums out they are wasting our time and money.

Why were at it let's gut some of Bush's laws and impeach the treacherous Tea party.


Posted by Arlene, a resident of Diablo
on Oct 14, 2013 at 7:59 am

Joseph - Hopefully you are still reading this blog so that you might become better informed of the facts. Please reread Independent Voter above. It says it all.


Posted by Arlene, a resident of Diablo
on Oct 14, 2013 at 8:04 am

I just checked out Derek's recommended website cartoon by Tom Tomorrow in the Nation. (see above) It's great and unfortunately too true. Check it out.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville
on Oct 14, 2013 at 10:55 am

This is Tom's 5th article in a row ranting against Republicans on debt / budget issues.

This time Tom even invokes The BIBLE. WOAH!!!!

Voting against raising the debt ceiling is nothing new, of course.

Back in 2006, all 195 Democrats in Congress (who voted) and all 45 Democrat senators voted against raising the debt ceilings, including Obama, Reid, Pelosi, etc. Web Link Web Link

Back then, Democrats made various demands of Bush & Republicans in order for Democrats to vote yes on raising the debt ceiling. But ultimately, Bush had the votes he needed.

It's different this time, as Democrats don't have the votes. That's why this time, Republicans are "terrorists, arsonists, jihadists, etc."


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo
on Oct 14, 2013 at 11:59 am

S-P: in your haste to publish your latest ode to false equivalence, you put it on the wrong article. This link is the teaser to #4 in the series, and makes no biblical references. That said, it IS the best thing about your comment.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville
on Oct 14, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Woah, you're right. That is the wrong link.

Danville Express's new website is complicated!! Looks like it's running about as smoothly as Obamacare exchanges. HA HA!!!!!


Posted by C. R. Mudgeon, a resident of Danville
on Oct 14, 2013 at 12:37 pm

John is correct in saying that Obamacare was passed by both houses, and signed by Obama, etc. However, it wasn't without a fair amount of parliamentary procedure gamesmanship, to get around the fact that the Dems didn't have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. But, fair enough, it was passed.

At the same time, it is equally fair for the Republican-majority house to try to modify prior legislation. Actually, this is a lot more legitimate than the de facto modifications Obama has been making, without legal or constitutional justification (the main example being his unilateral "decision" to waive the employer mandate for one year).

I hope that John doesn't believe that laws, once passed and signed, are never to be changed? There are any number of laws that have been changed, or "undone" over time, with good reason.

I commented in fair length on Tom Cushing's original article, but those comments seem to have been lost in the change-over of the Express's web-site. But on thing I wanted to say, regarding Social Security and Medicare. In the past, with major legislation that directly affects millions of Americans, there was been concerted effort to achieve at least a degree of bi-partisan support. The Republicans who were the originators of the 1964 Civil Rights Act made sure that they had non-trivial Democrat participation, if for no other reason than the fact that they needed LBJ to sign it (and despite the objection of Southern Democrats). With Medicare, there were modifications made to the legislation to ensure/obtain the support of at least some Republicans, even though most of the opposition came from Republicans. With Obamacare, there was zero Republican support, and zero attempt to make it even slightly palatable to Republicans. Basically it was rammed through during a period of Dem control of the two houses, and the presidency. By NOT seeking at least SOME Republican input and support, the Dems basically guaranteed that there would be attempts to undo the legislation, as soon as an opportunity presented itself. When there's no compromise during the passing of major legislation, why should thre by compromise on attempts to undo it later? Actually, it should be clear to everyone by now that Republicans were not really looking for much, at least with their more recent House bills. Basically just a one-year waiver of the infividual mandate (to match the waiver that Obama illegally has given companies), plus an elimination of subsidies to the Congress, the President, and their respective staffs, for THEIR healthcare. How radical!


Posted by C. R. Mudgeon, a resident of Danville
on Oct 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Sorry about a couple/few typos in my post, above. Hopefully it is not too hard for the meaning to be determined.... It's disappointing that editing of your own prior posts isn't available. (Or is there a way to do this?)


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Danville
on Oct 14, 2013 at 1:27 pm

The interesting thing, CRM, is that Obamacare is, in fact, the Republican option for health care reform. It's just tweaked Romneycare on a national level. All the compromise during the legislative process came from the left. In particular, and tellingly, there's no single payer option.

But the right has demanded capitulation. Even though we had an election in 2012 in which Obamacare was a major issue, and more people voted for Democrats than Republicans on every federal level - House, Senate and President - Republicans have demanded that it be defunded, delayed, dismantled. "Undo everything you've done or we'll harm the nation by taking action that is unrelated to this issue" is not a negotiation - it's extortion.

It's clear to me that no compromise was or is possible with the Tea Party handcuffed Republicans on this issue. There's "zero support" from the right for doing ***anything*** about healthcare that will continue as long as a Democrat sits in the White House. A substantial majority of Americans want either Obamacare or something even less palatable to the right wing, and have voted their opinion. The Republicans, on the other hand, have made it clear that they will gladly harm the nation rather than let Obama "win" - and that's not Obama's fault, it's the Republican's fault. The fact that Republican politicians have ignored the will of the clear majority of the people and are willing to punish us all to prevent this legislation from being implemented is due to the extremism of today's Republicans, not a lack of effort to reach across the aisle.

Once again, you're justifying the hostage taker threatening to kill the hostage, agreeing that it's the fault of the police if the criminal pulls the trigger. It's not. The fault lies with the guy with his hand on the trigger, and right now that's Mr. Tea Party.

Incidentally, the slimy ploy of complaining that the Republican-initiated provision that Congress and their staffs be uniquely required obtain their health insurance through ACA exchanges even though they already had coverage through their employer wasn't accompanied by the deletion of the contribution to the payment of the premium that their employer has made for decades (calling it either "exemption" or a "subsidy") is one of the more dishonest and childish ploys in this entire debacle. Seeing this argument repeated reminds me that this isn't a debate between reasonable people, it's a struggle between responsible adults and those who will enthusiastically embrace profound intellectual dishonesty to advance their ideology.


Posted by Pierce, a resident of Blackhawk
on Oct 14, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Where is the fool Ted Cruz now .. was a a$$wipe!


Posted by John, a resident of Danville
on Oct 14, 2013 at 2:26 pm

C.R. Mudgeon:

I did not want to waste my time responding to you, but I have a couple of points to make.

I do not like subsidizing your medical insurance a few days ago you said in a another post why I thought I was subsidizing your insurance. You said what's wrong with my boss giving me a raise by paying your medical insurance (or at least most of it). You said it would retain and attract good employees.

I thought through your wisdom, you knew that you are not required to pay income taxes on your benefits. This should be income for both federal and state taxes but is excluded by tax loop holes. Your Company gets to deduct the medical insurance it pays you for Federal and State income taxes. Thus the taxpayers pickup these amounts. This is referred to as "Corporate Welfare".

I do not know what your company is paying for your medical insurance, it depends on your age, deductibles, copays and the overall quality of your plan. However, as you age this can easily amount to $10K annually or much higher (My wife and I have paid $40k a year out of pocket since 2008).

Therefore, all taxpayers federal and state are subsidizing your medical insurance. In addition, you are being shielded from the realities of the
nasty health insurance market. Furthermore, you actually drive up the costs of my medical insurance by not competing in an open market. Also if your older than 35 you are also subsidized by the younger people in your Company.

In summary, I am tired of subsidizing your health insurance and Ted Cruz's, Ron Paul, Bill Lee and the rest of the tea party (I mean GOP).

On your 2nd post above, I am not sure if you were talking about my post or Tom Cushing's story. If you directed that at my post I suggest that you learn to correct your own facts and grammar. You said you wished you could change my posting. Keep your nose out of my posting. It seems you got the drift of what I meant. The GOP is so arrogant and righteous with their opinions.

C.R. I wholly expect that this law will be revisited and fixed as issues arise. The Tea Bangers are holding us hostage. Obama should have come to the table ready to repeal some GOP implemented laws. I would like to see how you would feel.

What if the law is repealed what goes in its place? The current system is unequivocally unfair and is not sustainable. The GOP complain about everything without offering legitimate solutions.

C.R. not knowing how I am subsidizing your insurance shows your ignorance of the facts.

Finally,throw the treasonous and whining Tea Bangers out of office. These guys are ruining the country for their own goals. The Tea Bangers would be more believable if before they closed the government they would permanently refuse their lifetime "Cadillac" benefits, such hypocrites.


Thanks





Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville
on Oct 14, 2013 at 3:28 pm

If you disagree, you must be willing to "gladly harm the nation," "punish us all," be guilty of "extremism" and "extortion" a "hostage taker" "dishonest" "childish" and "embrace profound intellectual dishonesty."

My, my. Someone loves hyperbole.

Seems a few people could benefit from a remedial course in how the U.S. government works.

First of all, the U.S. is not a "winner take all" democracy, like those in Europe. It is a constitutional republic, with built-in safeguards to protect states and minority rights. One such protection is the division of powers between various government branches.

All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congress has the right and obligation to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity. They are free to vote their conscious.

ObamaCare is indeed "the law of the land." But the whole point of having a division of powers within the federal government is that each branch can decide independently what it believes is best for the country, regardless of what the other branches do, when exercising the powers specifically granted to that branch by the Constitution.

The House of Representatives has followed the constitutional procedures and passed numerous budgets to fund the government according to what they think is best for America and what is supported by the people who voted for them. Some call that "acting like a terrorist." Others might call it "doing your job."

Senator Reid and Senate Democrats have refused to accept the money required to run the government, because it leaves out the money they want to run ObamaCare. That is their right. But that is also their responsibility.


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Danville
on Oct 14, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Just like it's the police negotiator's "right" to let the hostage taker have what he wants. Still doesn't make it his fault or his responsibility.

The Republicans have announced that if a law they don't like - and which they lack the votes to repeal - isn't destroyed on their demand they will punish America by wasting billions through a government shutdown (check.) and send the globe into an economic recession with uncertain (but certainly bad) consequences if they don't get what they want. If the matter were put to a straight up and down vote right now a "clean bill" would pass and the damages stopped. But the Republican "leadership" won't let that happen. House members are not "free" to vote their conscience - if they were this would have ended days ago.

spcwt, there isn't enough lipstick in the world to make your pig look good. It's not "hyperbole" - it's calling a spade a spade. The spin you repeat to try to justify the unjustifiable is dishonest. "Minority rights?" Are you actually serious?

The harm your politicians have already caused and are continuing to cause has already damaged the country by wasting billions - and they're not done yet. They are playing games. I know that, the vast majority of Americans know that, and they know that. If you can't see that, take off your blinders. Your ideology was rejected by the voters in 2012. Accept the verdict.


Posted by Conservator, a resident of Danville
on Oct 14, 2013 at 5:08 pm

@Spcwt,

Our Founding Father's process of legislation is has been defined and opined ad nauseam. Even the most staunch conservative would however be forced to acknowledge that we have introduced a new 'tool' for legislators on both side of the aisle to either build or tear down our Republic. In a manner akin to Jefferson 'buying' a significant piece of terra firm from the French and later acknowledging that it was not in his constitutional power to do so or the raising of the bench's power of constitutional interpretation by John Marshall, 'The Great Chief Justice' at the beginning of the 19th century, we now have the rule of 'post hoc' congressional litigation for any and all passed legislation. Prior government shut-downs have always been as a result of budgetary stalemates. This most recent slate of events has sadly, in my opinion and I believe that of many others, damaged the essence what the Great American Experiment meant to our forefathers and what it should mean to all of us.

At some point in our foreseeable future, a strong left-leaning group will surely gain political power in one or both of the houses of Congress. At the same time, an arch conservative will likely be in residence in the executive branch. It could even be a certain Canadian-born politician of Cuban decent who was formally educated in the Northeast at two of the nation's finest Ivy League institutions and works very hard to maintain a practiced Texas drawl.

When this hypothetical situation does occur and the former chooses to derail the entire legislative process of the latter so as to achieve stronger bargaining unit tools, the return of Eisenhower taxation levels or just anything that would make the late William F. Buckley roll twice in his grave, you be sure and remember that they were just "doing (their) job". Or in the words of the legendary University of Texas football coach, Darrell Royal, to "Dance with the one that brung (sic) you."

Just sad and disgusting political theater.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville
on Oct 15, 2013 at 7:40 am

The Economist found that a plurality of respondents favors stopping Obamacare even if this causes a temporary government shutdown: 49% favored repealing the law, compared with 36% who favored expanding or preserving it. Web Link

Obama was soundly defeated in 24 states in the 2012 election. In a lot of states he got ~35% of the vote or less. In Utah, Obama got less than 25% of the vote. Why shouldn't the delegates from these states vote on budget matters according to what they believe is in America's best interest and represents the views of their constituents?

Following congressional budget rules doesn't make you a "terrorist" any more than following the rules in chess makes you a cheater.


Posted by American, a resident of Danville
on Oct 15, 2013 at 9:08 am

Although I am against Obamacare, I am more upset that our elected politicians are playing Russian Roulette and risk damaging our country much more by not compromising and passing a budget. I saw a story yesterday on the news how the failure to pass a budget is keeping ranchers in South Dakota from getting assistance in saving their cattle from an early snow storm. Watching the agony on the faces of these ranchers(who I assume are my fellow Republicans)as their cattle freeze to death with zero help from the government is one of a million stories of how the government shut down is hurting our country. These ranchers would rather have the Obamacare program they are probably against than lose their cattle and their livelihood, but politicians have lost touch with their constituents and are more concerned about PR and getting sound bites than helping those who elected them.

Why not pass an Amendment that if congress fails to do their job and pass a timely budget, that last year's budget automatically becomes this year's budget? Wouldn't this negate the terrorist ploy of refusing to do their job and pass a budget?

I, like most people, stand to lose more in the stock market, during this government shutdown, than the horrible Obamacare program will increase my medical insurance payments.

I am waiting for my Grand Old Party to get their head out of their.... and return to the party of Lincoln and Reagan, and for moderate democrats to remember they took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not to blindly follow President Obama and Harry Reid.

If this shutdown issue is not resolved very soon, I do expect many voters to leave both the Republican and Democratic parties, and for true independent leaders to get elected. Maybe this will ultimately lead to the demise of the party system as we know it?


Posted by Conservator, a resident of Danville
on Oct 15, 2013 at 9:37 am

I've often wondered why it rarely comes about that someone who is clearly a learnt and intellectual individual does not present the argument provided earlier by one this board's perpetual contributors.

It makes complete 'common' sense. If one state or more votes for candidate B while the rest (presume majority) support candidate A then those that picked the defeated as their 'man' should still get to follow their 'guy' anyways. Suspending the tenets of the 14th Amendment in this hypothetical, it would make some sense that if a people did not want one law but greatly desired others that few to none wanted in adjacent regions of the country then it should so be allowed. No?

By the prior contributor's logic relative to the last election, based on the outcomes of the '56 election, Eisenhower's Interstate System (i.e. Freeways - at least in the West) should have bypassed the states of MO, AK, MS, AL, GA, SC, NC as they all resoundingly voted for Stevenson. If one has ever driven on I-40 through AK, you might consider that this actually did occur.

All trivial points aside, the sad element of what was recently contributed to this post is that in some minds, it would be logical to have something akin to 'Healthcare States' and 'NO Healthcare States'. Even more vile but sadly not surprising is that the same general regions of the country which could be defined by their relative rejection of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 could so also be defined by the 'soulless' provisions of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 (Web Link). In my opinion it was an oversight by the author of the previously provided web link to not include the one provided here as a proper academic reference as a basis for their writings.

If you're any kind of student of our great nation's history, you will quickly appreciate that the 'law of the land', if found constitutional, must only be modified or repealed by regular legislative action and not by CSPAN-televised brinksmanship.


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Danville
on Oct 15, 2013 at 9:49 am

spcwt, if you go to the source of the numbers you cite as being from the Economist, you'll see that it's not a poll but an internet survey of a paid panel, and that the same polling company - YouGov - just completed a survey which found that a clear majority of Americans want a "clean bill" passed, and only 28% demanded that Obamacare be cut back or eliminated as a condition of reopening the government. Web Link

Whatever your position on Obamacare is, nothing you say changes the fact that the technique used by the Republicans - "Do as we say or we'll cripple the American economy" - is an attempt by a minority to get their way through extortion, plain and simple.


Posted by Citizen Paine, a resident of Danville
on Oct 15, 2013 at 12:06 pm

That guy spcwhatever is nothing if not disingenuous. He'll never let the facts get in the way of good propaganda.


Posted by James , a resident of Alamo
on Oct 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Great news the Tea Party (Ted Cruze and company) just got are credit rating on the watch list. Next our credit will be lowered from AAA. Everyone will pay because of their stupid ideology.

These guys are out of touch, where are the old style GOP. The Tea Party will ruin the country.

The House is voting on a proposal tonight, lets see what happens.

I did not vote for Cruze, Paul, Lee, etal. (We can thank Texas, Kentucky, Utah, etc.(you guys know how to pick winners). Why are we being held captive by such a few. I want the reasonable old style GOP back. I want the Tea Party members to relinquish their salaries and lifetime medical benefits. This is ridiculous.

Unfortunately, these guys will ruin our country and there is nothing we can do. I wish they all could be impeached.

I am so tired of hearing these guys on TV. I hope the Bums resign and then they can write their books.




Posted by C. R. Mudgeon, a resident of Danville
on Oct 15, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Huh? wrote:

"Incidentally, the slimy ploy of complaining that the Republican-initiated provision that Congress and their staffs be uniquely required obtain their health insurance through ACA exchanges even though they already had coverage through their employer wasn't accompanied by the deletion of the contribution to the payment of the premium that their employer has made for decades (calling it either "exemption" or a "subsidy") is one of the more dishonest and childish ploys in this entire debacle. Seeing this argument repeated reminds me that this isn't a debate between reasonable people, it's a struggle between responsible adults and those who will enthusiastically embrace profound intellectual dishonesty to advance their ideology."

It's not real clear what the point of the above sentence is, given the number of negatives in it. But, just to be clear on what MY position is, regarding whether Congress and the President should be obligated to be covered under Obamacare, here it is:

- I DO think that it is fair for the government officials who are bringing us this wondrous bit of law, to be obligated to obtain their own health insurance through it. Even though they had a perfectly good (probably better) "employer" provided health plan. Of course, in this case the "employer" is still the government, and therefore us taxpayers....
- I can't tell if you are complaining about the so-called "subsidy" for the Congress' (and President's) own health plans, or saying that it is a stupid issue to be complaining about. I don't really care about this particular issue. I have no problem with Congress and the President receiving a fairly large "subsidy" of their healthcare premiums, just as other employees typically receive.
- To some extent, I agree that the recent Republican (House)-passed bill that removed the subsidy, was in fact a bit of political gamesmanship, because of the fact that it was likely something that would have some degree of popular (or perhaps populist) support. Of course, Democrats would NEVER grandstand on anything....
- What you keep ignoring, is that the Repiblican-controlled House is not demanding a repeal of Obamacare, nor are they defunding it, even if they would probably like to do both. Given that there are various proposed deals flying around from all sides at present, it is difficult to say with any certainty what the latest Republican proposal is. But one of the more recently House-passed bills would have funded the government (this was prior to the debt-ceiling issue being intermingled), in exhange for two things: 1) the removal of the "subsidy" for Congress, the President (and respective staffs, I think), and 2) one year delay to the individual mandate (to match the one year delay that Obama ilegally "granted" to large companies). That's all. No defunding, no repeal. So debate the actual proposal, but not scenarios that weren't real.

Also, aren't you (and other libs) against the use of violent metaphors, in the interests of constructive discourse? So what's with all of the references to "hostages", "guns to heads", "arsonists", "anarchists", or even Babs Boxer's comment today (or maybe it was yesterday), likening disagreement on obamacare, funding, and the debt ceiling to "domestic abuse".

Actually, I like hearing this, as I think it backfires as a tactic.


Posted by C. R. Mudgeon, a resident of Danville
on Oct 15, 2013 at 3:07 pm

John,

OK, I guess you are saying that you object to health-insurance being tax-deductible, as then you are subsidizing it.

That's largely true. But, a couple of comments on this:

- The employer-paid portion of health insurance is like any other employment-related business expense of the company, no different from salaries. So the tax code isn't really doing anything special to subsidize the employer-provided part, beyond what applies to other expenses/costs of the business.
- As for the employee-paid part, some companies administer their plans so that the employee contributions are made with pre-tax dollars; in other cases the employee contributions come out of after-tax dollars (which is the case in my situation). If after-tax dollars are used, then the employee can deduct those contributions on their own income tax return (albeit subject to a fairly large "threshhold" requirement, which I don't want to get into explaining).
- The same basic thing applies to individually-purchased healthcare policies, as well as to out-of-pocket expenses. They can be deducted on the individual 1040 return (again, subject to the "threshhold" requirement mentioned above).
- In small businesses, it all depends on the structure, but in general health-insurance costs are deductible in some fashion. So I'm not sure what it is that you don't think I understand?

I think you mentioned that in some years you have had out-of-pocket medical expenses of $40k. First, I hope you (and family members) are all right. But you DO realize that you could have deducted those expenses? (Again, subject to the theshhold requirement.) Sure, you have to itemize your deductions to utilize this. But then you'd also have (presumably) other deductions for things like state and local taxes, charitable giving, mortgage interest (if any), etc. So, YOU TOO can be subsidized!

For the record, I don't begrudge anyone the tax deduction for medical insurance, and/or out-of-pocket medical expenses. I also hope people don't have to incur them, any more than necessary....

As an aside, I noticed that you are somewhat selective in your anger towards "subsidies". You don't want to subsidize me (I don't think you are, actually), you don't want to subsidize Republican elected officials, nor "Tea Party" people, whatever that means. But apparently you don't have objections to subsidizing Democrats, others of like political views, etc. And unless I am missing something, I suspect that even you are receiving some "subsidy" for medical things, at least by the definition you seem to be using. As for young people subsidizing the health care of old people. That's no doubt true, and is also a complex subject. But if anything, Obamacare is intended to make that worse. It is only by getting more young/healthy people into the pool, that the numbers hang together at all...


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Danville
on Oct 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Okay, let's see where we've gotten to now, CRM. You acknowledge that the insistence on Congress and their staffs not continuing to get the same employer contribution to their health care that they had previously received after being required to obtain coverage through the ACA exchanges was "political gamesmanship." It's been billed as Congress "exempting" itself or as a "subsidy" when in fact it's simply a continuation of the long standing practice of providing those employees with a health plan arranged through and paid in substantial part by their employer. Every aspect of that is a political stunt - the bill requiring Congress and staff to get their insurance through the exchanges, even though they had an existing employer plan, making Obamacare not apply to them any more than it applies to the millions of other Americans with employer health plans, and the insistence that they not only get their plans through the exchanges but lose their employer-paid share of the policy cost. Removing that "subsidy" would constitute a significant pay cut for them - and not every staffer pulls down Congressman-level paychecks. So it's grandstanding to make that pay cut a condition of allowing the U.S. government to operate and pay its bills. The other part you mention - the individual mandate - is actually a ***Republican*** policy provision, introduced by the Heritage Foundation, passed along by Newt Gingrich to Mitt Romney. The only reason to "suspend" it is to wreck the financial balance of the program. More political grandstanding.

And finally: "it is difficult to say with any certainty what the latest Republican proposal is." And there you have it. Billions have already been lost because the operations of the U.S. government have been suspended. The nation's credit rating is on the brink of being downgraded; if the debt ceiling charade isn't resolved within a couple of days huge economic consequences - including the very real possibility of a return to a 2009 or even 1930 level of economic downturn. And yet, John Boehner won't even let the House of Representatives vote on a "clean bill" which would pass and would solve those problems overnight. Why? What is so important that it justifies the damage to the nation that's already been done, and the threat of even greater damage?

"It is difficult to say with any certainty."

An arsonist would cause less damage than the congressional Republicans. They are hurting the nation - all of us - and even you don't know what they hope to accomplish, other than "whatever Obama's for, we're against." That's why people liken them to terrorists, hostage takers, or six year olds throwing a temper tantrum. They are hurting people and the Nation, in a very real, dollars and cents way, and they don't even have a coherent explanation of why they're doing it or what they actually expect to accomplish. That's not the conduct of statesmen or patriots. That's the behavior of zealots who don't care how much collateral damage they cause.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville
on Oct 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm

C Mudge,

I think the point is, the employer portion of the health insurance premium is tax deductible by the employer and is also tax-free to the employee.

For example, suppose employee insurance policy costs $18,000, with employer paying $15,000 towards the policy and employee paying the remaining $3,000. The employer gets to deduct $15,000 for federal and state tax purposes. And the employee does not have to recognize that $15,000 as taxable income, even though it is a form of compensation.

Why should you get $15,000 of tax-free compensation?

C Mudge, I hate to say it, but John's right. You're a gol darn freeloader!!!!!


Posted by C. R. Mudgeon, a resident of Danville
on Oct 16, 2013 at 10:47 am

Actually, spcwt, you're sort of right, but not fully.

If we are talking about the comployer/company's tax return, then ALL of the costs of their employees are effectively deductible, as costs of their business. Employee salaries, as well as cost of employee benefits are ALL deductible as business costs/expenses. Companies pay taxes on their income, which is basically their revenues minus all of their costs and expenses, including employee salary and benefits. There is nothing "special" about health insurance premiums paid by the employer, on the employer's tax return. It's just like any other cost.

So what about the employee's tax return? It can be argued, as you noted, that the employee of a company should be required to pay income tax on the value of the employer-paid portion of their health insurance plan. That's certainly a legitimate position to take. However, and I think this is very germane and important, individuals who buy their own policies are ALSO allowed to deduct their own helath insurance premiums, just as everyone is allowed to deduct any out-of-pocket medical expenses they have.

The unfairness that exists, is that the medical expense deduction on the individual (or joint) 1040, has an exclusion "threshhold" built into it, for medical expenses that are less than 7.5% of AGI (if I am remembering the percentage right). I really don't know what the original rationale was, for this exclusion. And I would agree that medical expenses should be fully deductible, with no "threshhold" to overcome. Or alternatively, re-work the individual tax code and forms so that health insurance premiums are fully deductible with no exclusion or 7.5% threshhold, even if the exclusion still applies to other medical expenses.

Which is why, in my reply to John, that I said that he could have deducted his $40k of medical insurance premiums, and/or out-of-pocket medical costs, to the extent that they exceeded 7.5% of his income. Unless John's income is quite high (one of the dreaded 1%....), then at least most of the $40k was deductible. (Just to pick a random number - if John's income was $200k, then he could deduct $25k of his $40k in expenses.)

John also had some valid points about young people (assuming they are healthy) effectively subsidizing old people. This is/was true to some extent in the "pre-obamacare" environment, although in some cases younger people just elected to be uninsured. But this gets worse (for young people) under obamacare, assuming that the individual mandate remains. It therefore seems illogical to me for John to oppose young people subsidizing old people, since this is a fundamental tenet of obamacare.

Finally, I don't know if you (spcwt) wrre being serious or joking when you called me a "freeloader". If you were serious, maybe we should have a private comparison of taxes paid (federal, state, local), as well as charitable giving, before passing too many judgements on "freeloading"....

PS (for Huh?) - Sorry, Huh?, but I'm electing not to respond to your latest. We've both said our respective pieces, and I think it's fair to say that we have "irreconcilable differences" in our opinions. So you get to have the last word. (Just don't interpret it as having convinced me of anything...)


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