Dems to tax health benefits … unless you join a union

Don’t ask, for the moment, why Congressional Democrats need to find an extra trillion dollars to pay for a socialized medicine scheme they insist will “reduce costs.”

We’re WAY too far into Wonderland to worry about that.

As Democratic senators including Max Baucus of Montana and Ted Kennedy of Palm Beach — whoops, “Massachusetts” — struggled to make their unnecessary and vastly expensive government scheme more attractive, they quickly realized the first thing they needed to do was to make America’s existing private health care plans — with which 89 percent of Americans say they’re perfectly happy — LESS attractive.

So, both to raise more tax loot and to drive the private plans bankrupt, the Democrats want to tax private, free-market health benefits that are “too good” — better, that is, than the cut-rate, rationed, one-size-fits-all plan thy have in mind for us.

Where your health benefits premium now comes off your paycheck before taxes are calculated, that part of your income would now be taxed, reducing the size of your paycheck, overnight.

Sen. Baucus told reporters Tuesday that taxing employer-provided benefits — except for union shops — is “perhaps the best way to raise money for an overhaul of the health-care system” the Washington Post reports.

Wait a minute. The “problem” is supposedly that not enough Americans have “health coverage.” (Some say we “don’t have health care,” but no emergency room will turn you aside if you’re having a health crisis.) And we all know that when we tax something, that creates a disincentive to continue buying, using, or doing that thing. (The huge taxes on alcohol and tobacco are certainly not designed to encourage consumption.)

So the solution is to punish with a new tax companies that already DO provide good health benefits for their employees?

Well, it turns out someone else noticed a problem, there. The labor unions — who own the Democrats the way a Turkish sultan once owned his harem — are dead-set against that part of the scheme. Unions have negotiated great health plans for their members, and they don’t want them taxed.

So Sen. Baucus gave that some thought, and is now floating a brilliant (albeit thoroughly corrupt) solution: exempt health benefits from taxation at union workplaces, only.

As Kimberly Strassel writes in the Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Baucus intends to tax the health-care benefits only of those who didn’t spend a fortune electing Democrats to office. …”

The health benefits provided to unionized GM workers — thanks to massive tax subsidies — would not be taxed, but the far more modest benefits of the private-sector workers whose taxes now prop up the bankrupt General Motors, would be.

With health care nationalization “apparently headed for the morgue in the House and Senate,” agreed the editorial writers at Investors Business Daily, last week, “the latest scheme to revive it is to give union health plans a special tax break. This will create a Frankenstein.”

Senators Baucus and Kennedy “both would like to slap a tax on private health plans to pay for a new government one,” IBD reports. “But they’ve carved out one very big exception: unions and their gold-plated benefit packages. …

“The logic behind this tax giveaway is that union health plans, which are lavish, would be subject to higher taxes than those of workers with regular private sector health care plans.

“According to news reports, if unions get a special tax break for themselves on health care taxes, they’ll gladly muscle ‘their’ Congress members into supporting a ‘public option’ health care bill, IBD reports.

“In short, it’s little more than a political payoff to unions for spending $400 million in campaign cash to elect Democrats to Congress and the White House last year. As if the outrageous favors they’ve received from the auto bailouts aren’t enough.”

But unions wouldn’t merely get a tax break. This could also become a great recruiting tool. “After all, nationalizing health care in itself undermines any reason to belong to a union, since unions exist to squeeze more out of companies. If a company is no longer involved in health care and thus can no longer be squeezed, why belong to a union? The answer: special tax privileges. …

“With the Employee Free Choice Act to coerce workers into unions now dead in the water, this could be a back door means of doing the same thing — while bringing in more campaign cash to Democrats,” Investors Business Daily concludes.

“This may be great for the Democrats and their union backers, but it’s bad for the rest of us. … The people who will get the short end of the stick on this — the rationing, the shortages, the wait lists — will be the very ones forced into paying for other people’s health care. Unions will get a free ride.”

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