Ryan Ellis

Healthcare Townhall Spin Translator

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Thursday, August 6th, 2009, 11:35 AM PERMALINK

Over the August recess, Congressmen will be holding townhalls on healthcare.  There's likely to be a lot of spin and doubletalk from very nervous Democrat members.  If you're going to one, you should bring a copy of this handy translation guide (PDF version).  The guts of it is pasted below:

No discrimination for pre-existing conditions
One can wait until one gets sick to sign up for coverage, and thereby game the system, costing the rest of us
No exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles or co-pays
You can’t have a health savings account (HSA) even if you want to keep one. If you want to save money on your premium by having a high deductible, the government won’t let you
No cost-sharing for preventive care
An unelected and unaccountable government board of bureaucrats will decide what procedures must be first-dollar, even if you don’t value them
No dropping of coverage if you become seriously ill
This only happens in Helen Hunt movies, but Congress will demagogue it anyway to scare us
No gender discrimination
You’ll be forced to have your tax dollars pay for abortion and other things you disagree with. You’ll also be forced to purchase a plan which covers abortion on demand for all nine months
No annual or lifetime caps on coverage
Congress will tell insurance companies how they have to price their coverage and determine risk
Extended coverage for young adults
1. “Children” up to age 30 will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance at taxpayer expense
2. Inculcating the culture of entitlement and preening a generation of welfare-dependents.
Guaranteed insurance renewal so long as premiums are paid
Another red herring that Congress will use to scare people into adopting government medicine


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Five questions every Blue Dog should answer at a town hall meeting

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Wednesday, August 5th, 2009, 10:46 AM PERMALINK


This month, Congressmen across America will be engaging in “town hall” meetings with their constituents. The most nervous Congressmen are the 52 members of the “Blue Dog” caucus, who will have to answer some tough questions on where they stand on Nancy Pelosi’s plan for the government to control health care, raise our taxes, increase spending, and put America further in debt. Below are five questions every Blue Dog should have to answer at every town hall meeting. Attendees might want to print this list out and take it with them to a town hall near them:
  1. Before the August recess, a backroom deal was struck between Blue Dogs and the liberal House Democrat leadership. At the time, the deal was hailed as a breakthrough to get you and your fellow “Blue Dogs” on board with government medicine. Where do you stand on this deal?   Do you support the Blue Dog healthcare “compromise” which still contains hundreds of billions in new taxes, spending, and debt?
  2. Will you promise to read any healthcare bill in full, yourself, BEFORE you vote for it?
  3. Will you promise to vote against any healthcare bill which has not been posted online for at least five full days so the public can review it?
  4. Will you oppose any healthcare bill which taxes the health insurance benefits people get from their jobs and spends the money on government medicine?

  5. You voted for San Francisco’s Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker of the House. Can you explain how Nancy Pelosi’s liberal San Francisco values are consistent with this Congressional district’s values?

Click here for a PDF of this document


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Will Obama Condemn Tax Hikes in Health Care Bill?

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Tuesday, August 4th, 2009, 3:44 PM PERMALINK

President Obama Re-Affirms No-Tax Pledge: Will He Condemn Middle Class Tax Hikes in the House Democrat Health Bill?

On Monday, Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs affirmed that President Obama will uphold his repeated promise to not raise “any form” of taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year. The healthcare bill under consideration in the House of Representatives, though, does raise taxes on these families in three different ways.
Individuals (including those making less than $250,000) not enrolled in a health insurance plan would pay a tax of up to 2.5 percent of their income. Employers (including business owners profiting less than $250,000) not providing health insurance for their workers would face a payroll tax of 8 percent. Finally, the IRS would be empowered to disallow legal tax deductions that lack “economic substance”—a nebulous concept that would affect families of all income levels.
“There are at least three ways that the House Democrat bill would raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 per year,” said ATR President Grover Norquist. “This doesn’t even count the indirect taxes families would bear in the form of lost jobs, lower wages, higher prices, and shrunken retirement savings.”
President Obama has been adamant that he doesn’t want to influence the legislative process on healthcare reform. However, he has been willing to draw several “lines in the sand” thus far. He wants healthcare legislation to “bend the cost curve.” He doesn’t want any healthcare bill to increase the deficit. He wants a healthcare bill to substantially increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance.
“President Obama needs to put some teeth in his no-tax promise by creating a line in the sand for taxpayers,” continued Norquist. “He should make clear to Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid that he will veto any healthcare bill which raises taxes—any taxes—on American families making less than $250,000 per year. To do any less would render his promise worthless.”
Click here for a PDF of this release

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Obama Floats Latest Tax Hike:<br> Health Care Benefits Tax

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Monday, July 27th, 2009, 5:57 PM PERMALINK

Over the weekend, President Obama floated his latest tax hike plan in a desperate attempt to rescue his failing government healthcare plan.  Under the idea, any family plan premium in excess of $20,000 would have to pay income taxes on the overage.

A few points here:

  1. Because this would be a net income tax increase, this idea would violate the Taxpayer Protection Pledge
  2. Because this idea does not distinguish the income of the taxpayers, it would violate Obama's promise not to tax families making less than $250,000 per year
  3. Because this tax increase would simply use the dollars to increase government spending, it can in no way be called "tax reform."  It's just a plain old tax hike.

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How Progressive Can the Income Tax Get?

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Tuesday, July 21st, 2009, 6:00 AM PERMALINK

I did a post on National Journal's economy blog, so go check it out.  It questions whether the Obama/Congressional Democrat plan to raise tax rates will make the income tax more progressive.

Short answer: no.  It will lead to sheltering.  What made the code more progressive over the past decade (and it's gotten more and more progressive) is that lower rates lead to more disclosure of taxable income.

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How Many Uninsured Are There, Really?

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Tuesday, July 21st, 2009, 6:00 AM PERMALINK

Keith Hennessey has a great breakdown of what the real number of uninsured is in America.  The short answer is that there is NOT, in fact 47 million.  It's a great deal less:



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Open Letter from ATR to Congress:<br> No More Spending Until Obama Releases<br> Latest Economic Data

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Monday, July 20th, 2009, 7:02 PM PERMALINK

An open letter to the United States Congress:


This week, you will continue to vote on multi-hundred billion dollar appropriations bills that continue to put the budget into the red and keep taxpayers on the hook.  At the same time, the Obama Administration this week announced it was putting off revealing the updated over-spending (aka "deficit") numbers for this fiscal year until the August recess.

The clear intent is to neither impede the march toward high-tax government medicine, nor to give the Congress any pause in writing more checks on the taxpayer account.  Reports indicate that the spending-over-taxes for 2009 may approach $2 trillion.  This is a vast sum when one considers that it's over four times last year's level, and is equal to all of federal spending as recently as 2002!

As such, Congress simply doesn't have all the facts to proceed.  It's unconscionable to be voting on bills totaling hundreds of billions of dollars each without knowing how much of an over-spending problem we have.

Therefore, I am calling on the Congress to suspend all legislative activity that involves appropriating taxpayer dollars until the Obama Administration sees fit to release its latest estimate of the over-spending amount for 2009.


Grover Norquist

Click here for a PDF of this Document

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ATR Supports H.R. 3218, "Improving Health Care for<br> All Americans Act" by Cong. John Shadegg

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Thursday, July 16th, 2009, 3:12 PM PERMALINK

ATR sent the following letter today to Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ):

Congratulations on your introduction of H.R. 3218, the “Improving Health Care for All Americans Act” this week.  Your free-market health care bill gives all Americans better options for health care without raising taxes or increasing the role of government.

The heart of H.R. 3218 is the creation of refundable and advanceable tax credits for the purchase of health insurance or other health coverage.  This $5000 family credit (half that for singles) is an additional option for getting a healthcare tax benefit.  Existing options—most namely the employer-provided exclusion—remain in place as alternate mechanisms.  Unlike other plans which would displace existing coverage, the “Improving Health Care for All Americans Act” truly gives a “yes-and” solution.

Additionally, H.R. 3218 creates “Individual Membership Associations.”  This would allow any American to join in a national pool in order to purchase coverage.  In so doing, more Americans will have greater access to affordable insurance.

Finally, H.R. 3218 provides a $0.50 on the $1.00 federal match to states to incentivize the creation and full funding of high risk pools.  Over the past decades, dozens of states have found that high risk pools are the best solution for the most difficult cases.  Some Americans just can’t qualify for insurance without a government mandate, but high risk pools allow insurance companies to bring someone on with a bit more of a safety net.  No American should be left behind if they want to purchase affordable insurance, and high risk pools ensure that even our sickest neighbors can get health insurance.

All Members of Congress should co-sponsor H.R. 3218, the “Improving Health Care for All Americans Act.”

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Will Congress Turn to a VAT to<br> Pay for Health Care Spending?

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Thursday, July 16th, 2009, 3:07 PM PERMALINK

Now that the Congressional appetite for a small business surtax or taxing your health benefits seems to be cratering, taxpayers need to be on the lookout for the next tax hike idea to be floated.

One good candidate would be a VAT. 

ATR has an Anti-VAT caucus, and has for years.  Click here to read what George Will has to say on a VAT.

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House Dem Healthcare Tax Hike<br> Breaks Obama's Tax Pledge

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Wednesday, July 15th, 2009, 3:33 PM PERMALINK

Besides being the largest tax hike in American history, the House Democrat health care tax increase breaks Obama’s pledge not to raise any taxes on any American making less than $250,000:

“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.” (Barack Obama, September 12, 2008, Dover, NH)

The following tax increases will directly hit Americans making less than $250,000 per year:

  • a tax on individuals failing to sign up for health care equal to the lesser of 2.5% of adjusted gross income (AGI) or the average individual premium amount.  There is no income floor on this, so this would hit any uninsured American of any income
  • a tax on employers for not providing a health care plan equal to 8% of payroll.  This becomes 0, 4, or 6 percent of payroll as payday totals dip below $400,000 annually.  This will even hit the smallest of small businesses, those making profits of less than $250,000
  • codification of the "economic substance doctrine," whereby taxpayers would not be able to engage in legal tax avoidance techniques without demonstrating a bona fide business purpose.  This would apply not only to large companies and wealthy individuals, but any taxpayer of any income who engages in a legal tax avoidance technique

These are only the tax increases which would fall directly on Americans making less than $250,000.  This doesn’t account for the other tax increases in the bill on small businesses which will kill jobs and slash wages.

President Obama should publicly repudiate these taxes, which are a clear and direct violation of his campaign promise he made again and again in 2008 not to raise any taxes at all on families making less than $250,000.

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