ObamaCare Flatlines: ObamaCare Taxes Home Sales – Clobbers Middle-Class Americans

ObamaCare Flatlines: ObamaCare Taxes Home Sales – Clobbers Middle-Class Americans

“I can make a firm pledge.  Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.  Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes,”
President Obama, September 12, 2008

Beginning January 1, 2013, ObamaCare imposes a 3.8% Medicare tax on unearned income, including the sale of single family homes, townhouses, co-ops, condominiums, and even rental income.

In February 2010, 5.02 million homes were sold, according to the National Association of Realtors.  On any given day, the sale of a house, townhome, condominium, co-op, or income from a rental property can push middle-income families over the $250,000 threshold and slam them with a new tax they can’t afford.

This new ObamaCare tax is the first time the government will apply a 3.8 percent tax on unearned income.  This new tax on home sales and unearned income and other Medicare taxes raise taxes more than $210 billion to pay for ObamaCare.   The National Association of Realtors called this new Medicare tax on unearned income “destructive” and “ill-advised” and warned it would hurt job creation.

For previous ObamaCare Flatlines, visit click here.

Additional Document: The Costly Consequences of Health Care Reform (Courtesy of the Budget Committee)

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Morning Bell: The Rationer-in-Chief

Morning Bell: The Rationer-in-Chief

Posted By Conn Carroll On July 7, 2010 @ 9:29 am In Health Care | No Comments

When Linda O’Boyle was diagnosed with bowel cancer, her doctors told her she could boost her chances of survival by adding the drug cetuximab to her regimen. But the rationing body for Britain’s National Health Service, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), had previously ruled that the drug was not cost-effective and therefore would not be paid for by the government. So O’Boyle liquidated her savings and paid for the drug herself. But this is not allowed under NHS rules. When government bureaucrats found out that O’Boyle had purchased the drug with her own money, she was denied NHS treatment and died within months [1].

Defenders of Britain’s health care rationing system may try to claim that this tragic death is an outlier in an otherwise acceptable government run health care system. They are wrong. It is the point of the system. As socialized medicine and infanticide advocate Peter Singer has argued in The New York Times [2], the NICE bureaucrats must ration care or else free government health care would bankrupt the British economy. “NICE had set a general limit of £30,000, or about $49,000, on the cost of extending life for a year,” Singer writes. Following this logic, Singer supported NICE’s decision not to allow British citizens the kidney cancer fighting drug Sutent [3]. As a result of this, and many other rationing decisions Britain, has one of the lowest cancer survival rates in the Western world. While 60.3% of men and 61.7% of women in Sweden survive a cancer diagnosis, in Britain the figure ranges between 40.2% to 48.1% for men and 48% to 54.1% for women [4]. And NICE’s rationing has not just hit cancer patients. Doctors have warned that patients with terminal illnesses are being made to die prematurely under the NHS rationing scheme [5]. And according to the Patients Association [6], one million NHS patients have been the victims of appalling care in hospitals across Britain.

Most Americans would find this harrowing. But not President Barack Obama. Yesterday he bypassed the Senate confirmation process and used a recess appointment to install Dr. Donald Berwick to be the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS is the agency that runs the Medicare and Medicaid programs). Dr. Berwick said [7] of Britain’s health care system: “Cynics beware, I am romantic about the National Health Service; I love it.” And his love for Britain’s health care system is not in spite of its rationing, but because of it [8]. In 2009 Dr. Berwick told Biotechnology Healthcare [9]: “NICE is extremely effective and a conscientious and valuable knowledge-building system. … The decision is not whether or not we will ration care – the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”

The fact that the White House chose to empower Dr. Berwick by recess appointment is particularly audacious. The recess appointment power was intended to be used for occasions when the Senate is out for moths at a time [10]. The Senate is currently out of session for just 11 days. Worse, the Senate majority has never even scheduled a hearing [11] so that Dr. Berwick’s rationing views could be given an “open” forum. In fact, Dr. Berwick has not even returned Senators’ written questionnaires [11]. The White House defends [12] the move by claiming “there’s no time to waste with Washington game-playing.” But then why did the Obama administration wait until April 2010 [13], a full 15 months after President Obama was sworn into office, to nominate Dr. Berwick? Is it because they did not want Dr. Berwick’s well known and public support for rationing health care to affect the debate over Obamacare?

In a 2005 interview with Health Affairs [14], Dr. Berwick said: “(G)overnment is an extraordinarily important player in the American health care scene, and it has inescapable duties with respect to improvement of care, or we’re not going to get improved care. Government remains a major purchaser. … So as CMS goes and as Medicaid goes, so goes the system.” And that was before Obamacare gave far reaching new powers to government bureaucrats.

In June of 2009, President Obama told [15] the American Medical Association that “identifying what works is not about dictating what kind of care should be provided.” Moreover, the president has assured the public time and again that the government will not get between patients and their doctors.  His nomination of Don Berwick for Director of CMS, however, tells a different story [8].

Quick Hits:

  • Arizona Democrats who have to face voters this year are lining up against the Obama administration’s suit [16] aimed at stopping states new immigration enforcement law.
  • According to a new study [17] by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the cost of harboring illegal immigrants in the United States is a staggering $113 billion a year.
  • According to Gallup [18] a majority of Americans believe the government’s main focus should be on halting the flow of illegal immigrants coming into the U.S., not developing a plan to deal with those already here.
  • The Obama EPA proposed new regulations for coal-burning power plants yesterday that would cost consumers nearly $3 billion [19] a year.
  • Also according to Gallup [20], only 38% of independents approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president, the first time independent approval of Obama has dropped below 40%.

Morning Bell: The Limitless Power of the Obama-Kagan Congress

Morning Bell: The Limitless Power of the Obama-Kagan Congress

Posted By Conn Carroll On July 1, 2010 @ 9:23 am In Rule of Law | 8 Comments

This Sunday, our nation will celebrate Independence Day, which commemorates the Continental Congress’ adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration preamble reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The fact that we as a nation came together every year to celebrate this document might lead many Americans to believe that a Supreme Court Justice should take the Declaration of Independence into account when they are interpreting the Constitution. Elena Kagan is not one of those Americans. Under questioning from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) yesterday, Kagan admitted [1]: “To be honest with you, I don’t have a view of what are natural rights independent of the Constitution.”

And Kagan’s disturbing indifference to the existence of natural rights is just one of the many frightening revelations her confirmation hearing has produced. On Tuesday, Sen. Coburn pressed [2] Kagan about the limits the Constitution places on Congress’ power to control what Americans do:

Coburn: If I wanted to sponsor a bill and it said Americans, you have to eat three vegetables and three fruits every day and I got it through Congress and that’s now the law of the land, got to do it, does that violate the Commerce Clause?

Kagan: Sounds like a dumb law

Coburn: Yeah, but I got one that’s real similar to it that I think is equally dumb. I’m not going to mention which it is.

Kagan: But I think that the question of whether it’s a dumb law is different from whether the question of whether it’s constitutional and I think that courts would be wrong to strike down laws that they think are senseless just because they’re senseless.

The law Coburn was referring to, of course, was President Barack Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment: the Obamacare provision that forces all Americans to buy health insurance. But Jefferson and the other Constitution framers designed the document to protect our “unalienable Rights” by limiting the power of Congress. They designed an ingenious system of checks and balances that divides state and federal authority in the hope of preventing any one government from exerting too much control over a free people. Specifically [3], Article I allocates to Congress “[a]ll legislative powers herein granted,” and section 8 of Article I (referred to by Sen. Coburn above as the Commerce Clause), grants Congress the authority “[t]o regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.” The Supreme Court has always understood that, taken together, these clauses put some legislative powers beyond Congress’ reach [3].

But Kagan has now testified that not only does she find the Founders’ concept of “unalienable Rights” irrelevant to Constitutional interpretation, but she also declined to say if the Constitution prevents Congress from telling Americans what to eat.  Her evasive non-response to Coburn’s Commerce Clause inquiry shows that she would indeed be a rubber-stamp for almost any part of the Obama agenda that Congress enacts [4]. So if the Obama administration convinced Congress (and this is a total hypothetical) that the survival of a single car company, let’s say Chrysler, was absolutely necessary for the survival of the nation’s economy, and Congress then passed a law forcing all Americans to buy a Chrysler car, Kagan would find such a law, while perhaps “dumb,” perfectly constitutional. Jefferson must be rolling in his grave.

The leftist members of the Senate Judiciary Committee know that the Obamacare individual mandate is extremely vulnerable to being struck down by the Supreme Court. That is why they have spent so much of the hearing trying to redefine what “judicial activism” is [5]. As Heritage Deputy Director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies Robert Alt will testify today, the Court is not committing “judicial activism” every time it finds that a law violates the Constitution. Judicial activism is not a function of outcomes, but one of interpretation [6]. Instead, it occurs when a judge applies his or her own policy preferences to uphold, or strike down, a statute or other government action which is clearly forbidden by the Constitution.

Kagan came to the committee with one of the thinnest records of any Supreme Court nominee in recent history. What little has been learned about her views so far has been highly disturbing. Nothing in her testimony has demonstrated she has either the respect for our nation’s founding documents or the independence from this White House to apply the law as it is written, and dispense justice without regard to the parties before her.

Quick Hits:

Obama’s Plan To Modify Your Behavior

Obama’s Plan To Modify Your Behavior

J.C. Arenas

Last week, with much of the news cycle focused intently on the oil spill disaster in the Gulf and the continuously weakening economy, Barack Obama quietly signed an executive order to establish the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council.

While such a council isn’t unusual given the president’s preferred collegial approach to governance, and may sound innocuous, a deeper look is needed to understand exactly what this council is and what it aims to accomplish.

As the newest expansion to the Department of Health and Human Services, the council is headed by the Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, and is comprised of 13 other high-ranking officials of executive agencies — including Janet Napolitano (DHS), Kathleen Sebelius (HHS), Hilda Solis (Labor Dept.), and Arne Duncan (Dept. of Education).

Additionally, the council will oversee an advisory group of up to 25 non-federal government officials who will be appointed by Obama. Many of the president’s appointees will be licensed health-care professionals with expertise in worksite health promotion, community services, preventive medicine, health coaching, public health education, geriatrics, and rehabilitation medicine.

Beginning this year, until 2015, the council will submit an annual report to the president and Congress that describes the progress it has made with its efforts to advance health promotion and disease prevention. Overall, it is expected to address “lifestyle behavior modification” of the American people, including, but not limited to, smoking cessation, proper nutrition, appropriate exercise, mental health, behavioral health, substance-use disorder, and domestic violence screenings.

Does the council still seem innocuous now?

Just in case a reminder is needed, this is the U-S-A, not C-U-B-A. Americans take pride in living in a free society, and we the people don’t need a president who can’t quit smoking, a surgeon general who has had to defend her own weight problem, government bureaucrats, and what will likely be an advisory group comprised of the crème de la crème of radical statists, to tell us what we should and shouldn’t put in our bodies, in addition to, how to behave.

The last council the president created via executive order was the deficit commission that Congress had previously refused to create – which came shortly after a New York Times report disclosed the president was preparing to rule more through executive declaration – and an explanation shouldn’t be required as to why Obama didn’t bother discussing the creation of this health council with the legislative branch.

With the Democratic Party poised to lose its majority in Congress, Obama will have to intensify his presidential usurpation of legislative power to ensure that the re-creation of America in his image comes to fruition; it has to make one wonder, what else is to come?

J.C. Arenas is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and welcomes your comments at jcarenas.com

The Government Bailouts Must End

Morning Bell: The Government Bailouts Must End

Posted By Conn Carroll On June 14, 2010 @ 9:37 am In Education, Entitlements, Health Care |

Late Saturday night President Barack Obama sent a letter [1] to the leadership of the House and Senate urging them to approve a tax and spending bill currently being debated in the Senate that already would add $80 billion to our nation’s budget deficit. But coming off of last year’s $862 billion stimulus, President Obama is not happy with just another $80 billion in debt for this year. He also requested another $50 billion in deficit spending [2] earmarked for bailing-out state and local governments. Without this “emergency” money, the President claims thousands of government union jobs would be lost. But even among his own party, the President faces an uphill climb. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told The Washington Post [2]: “I think there is spending fatigue.” “Bailout fatigue” is more like it. And the President’s envisioned spending spree is full of both.

The Government Union Bailout [3]: $23 billion of the President’s additional $50 billion in spending would supposedly go to keep teachers in the classroom. This new spending would be in addition to the nearly $100 billion appropriated to the Department of Education by the President’s $862 billion stimulus bill, of which $34.7 billion in education funds remains unspent. Meanwhile, over the past decade student enrollment has increased only 6% while the number of teachers in the classroom has risen 15.8%. But over this same period, studies found a correlation between reduced class sizes and student achievement. More federal funding is unlikely to increase student achievement and will not provide a long-term solution to states’ budget shortfalls. Another bailout from Washington could even exacerbate states’ fiscal problems by creating disincentives for states to tackle out-of-control spending and make real education reforms.

The Medicaid Bailout [4]: $25 billion of the President’s latest spending spree is set to bail-out state Medicaid programs. This would be the fourth time this decade that Congress has bailed-out state Medicaid programs. The cycle is all too familiar. Between 1990 and 2007, Medicaid spending more than quadrupled from $69 billion to $316 billion [5]. Because of these constant bailouts, states have avoided dealing with their mismanagement of the program. More money from Washington will guarantee one thing: states will continue to spend far in excess of what they can afford, and Congress will treat the federal taxpayers like an ATM machine to cover the shortfalls.

The Obamacare Bailout [6]: The President’s signature legislative accomplishment is just barely three months old, but it already is in need of a $400 billion bailout. In an interview with Politico [7] Sunday, the President said of Obamacare: “I strongly believe that the health care bill was the right thing to do … I think it’s going to help us bend the cost curve in ways that will actually help us deal with the deficit, not add to it.” But just one day earlier during his weekly radio address, the President pleaded with Congress [8] to pass a temporary fix in Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors: “Now, I realize that simply kicking these cuts down the road another year is not a long-term solution to this problem. I’m absolutely willing to take the difficult steps necessary to lower the cost of Medicare and put our budget on a more fiscally sustainable path. But I’m not willing to do that by punishing hard-working physicians or the millions of Americans who count on Medicare. That’s just wrong. And that’s why in the short-term, Congress must act to prevent this pay cut to doctors.” So which is it? Did Obamacare “bend the cost curve” in ways that will help the deficit, or is Medicare still on a fiscally unsustainable path? The reality is that Obamacare’s deficit reduction claims were always a complete fraud, and the President’s pitch for a doc fix exposes that fact.

Last week Gallup reported [9] that “Federal government debt” was the issue that most threatened the future well-being of the United States. Our nation’s record deficits are largely driven by the record spending increases of the last decade and the last year in particular. There is a way out of this deficit nightmare: stop spending [10]. If the federal government managed to return to the per-household spending level of the Reagan administration, the budget would be balanced by 2012 without any tax hikes. Or just returning to the per-household spending levels that existed before the current recession would balance the budget by 2019. But first we must stop the bleeding: the government bailouts must end.

Quick Hits: