It was little-noticed in late November when former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker announced that the tax reform commission he chairs would wait to deliver its report until "after the holidays."
What you might not see is the connection between this and the Reid-Obama government healthcare bill.
ATR has written considerably about the $500 billion in new tax increases to pay for this government takeover of health insurance. Many have speculated that even this gargantuan sum of money won’t be enough, especially as unanticipated cost over-runs typical of such schemes begin to take hold.
This is where the Volcker tax-hike commission comes in.
If the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats are going to get their way and permanently raise federal spending to 25 or 30 percent of GDP (and the unfunded liabilities in Reid-Obama will do their part to push that along), they will need new sources of revenue (the historical level of federal taxes has been a bit over 18 percent of GDP).
It’s likely the White House and Capitol Hill Democrats didn’t want to announce all the new tax increases now, preferring to wait until "after the holidays" (and after Congress has already committed American taxpayers to this new scheme).
What types of tax hikes could there be? How about a new value-added tax (VAT)? Assuming a European VAT base, each 2.5 percent of VAT rate raises you 1 percent of GDP. Tax hikes on international profits of U.S. employers is another tempting target. How about carbon taxes or other energy tax hikes? Some have called for the IRS to prepare your tax return for you, which "strangely" results in higher overall taxes collected. Anyone for closing the "tax gap" through "revenue enforcement mechanisms?" The list goes on and on.
The point is, the tax hike side of this health care debate has yet to show its final card.