Tax policy in the United States is one of the most contentious subjects around, especially as the powers that be attempt to create, or modify, policy to enhance, enlarge or just fix the healthcare system in the United States. Regardless of your opinion on the Healthcare debate, the changes that come out will likely have a profound effect on your way of life, as well as your pocketbook.
As mentioned in other articles of mine, I am not opposed to tax increases as long they are logical or fill a need not being filled elsewhere in the economy. That is kind of the point of government in a capitalist society anyway, to fill needs for the public that are not being filled by the market as a whole.
In my opinion, the healthcare debate is equivalent to the debate about infrastructure investment. If this debate were about rebuilding bridges, I do not think many people would argue about the need for it. But the debate about healthcare has been soiled by the stereotype that anyone receiving a benefit from the government is either lazy, unable to care for themselves, inept, or a combination of the above.
The reality is that while the United States has one of the most advanced systems of healthcare, the lack of access for millions of Americans actually makes our system one of the worst of the developed world. One reliable measure of a healthcare system is a comparison of the infant mortality rate, where the United States ranks 45th in the world, according to the CIA's world fact book, behind nations like Cuba and Singapore. But hey, we are better than Angola and Sierra Leone.
I believe that a change to the system is needed, but I am not willing to do it any cost. Should our elected leadership decide that the best way to provide for our nation's children, and thereby the infrastructure of our future, then I will the price that they ask. If that includes a tax on healthcare benefits as regular income, then it should be done.
But before we start frolicking over the windfall, we need to evaluate what it is that we are doing. In order to tax healthcare benefits, we need to understand what we are is increasing the healthcare costs. From what I understand, some arbitrary number would be used to define a point where you are getting a "Cadillac health benefit," versus a "normal benefit," and then begin getting taxed. Well, doesn't that just increase the cost of healthcare? Would that not just reduce the amount of expendable income in the economy or, more importantly, in the households? What bothers me most is the Congressional belief that they can and should debate the future of the most important piece of legislation for decades to come. Why do we allow this sort of behavior in our officials? Please, please, please don't fall prey to special interests and insider politics while sorting this mess out. The Constitution, according to Lincoln, outlines a Government designed to be by the people, for the people and of the people. Congress, please do not take that away from us with your own self centered motives.