Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why a progressive income tax system?

Revenue, right? Nope... thats what a lot of peole think but they really miss the mark, there's more to it than revenue. And right now with U6 longterm unemployment (June) rising from 16.3% to (Oct) 17.5%, and looking to break 18% by late winter/early spring, I have a question:

The question I ask tonite is what sort of society do we want?

Do we allow the wealthy to oppress the rest of us? Do we call for a more Egalitarian society? (Less economic oppression) Low tax rates like we've had since Reagan are considered progressive, but they have a regressive effect, taxing the working poor and middle classes out of the economy, as a result families are less capable of taking care of their own, and more often than not rely on government hand outs.

When tax rates are high enough, the working poor and middle classes are engaged in the economy. The point is having a large and vigorous middle class that can participate as citizen legislators, send its kids to college, so those kids can invent lots of cool stuff for the corporations to make money off of. Consider kids as assets. How do you make best use of those assets? Educate those assets of course.

The above chart is from the Heritage Foundation, the infamous conservative think tank, where much of the Kool Aid is actually manufactured. The really funny thing is, when reading the title, the opposite is also true, lower tax rates don't raise more revenue.

The Progressive Policy Institute says basically the same thing, comparing real low tax rates to real high tax rates.

By itself, economic theory cannot choose between the two cases, and hard economic evidence does not fully support either side.

If low rates or high rates raised more revenue there would a correlation between the next 2 charts:

As you can see, Reagans 28% raised no more revenue as a percent of GDP, than when Ike jacked up the top rate to 94%. (IIRC there was a recession caused when Ike went too high) I fail to see any real relation to tax rates and revenue, but I do see a relation to low tax rates and economic oppression (Do you see those 2 yellow lines?).

Not too long ago Thom Hartmann wrote:

"Progressive taxation has a long history: As Jefferson said in a 1785 letter to James Madison, "Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise." Hartman concludes, "Progressive taxation has helped create every middle class in the First World, and without it the middle class will vanish."

As a percent of GDP, revenues are incredibly consistent, Something I think Bill Clinton clearly understood when he raised the top rate a little and concentrated on getting the economy really ramped up, as GDP increased so did revenue, and over time Clinton was able to balance the budget. And do note that the economic stimulus happens first, and balancing the budget occurs later. FDR wanted to balance the budget in 1937, after all GDP in 1936 was a touch higher than inn 1929, 1936 was a good year, nearly 14% GDP growth, hours worked were down, wages were up But FDR made the mistake of cutting back the WPA and the rest of the stim programs in 1937, causing a recession. FDR learned his lesson and brought back the stim packages he had cut, plus he added a 200 ship navy building program.

If all you want to do is balance the budget, then just get the economy cranked up. If you want the idea called democracy to work, where folks get involved in participatory government, then you must stop economic oppression in the form of a tax system that taxes the majority of us out of the economy, and leaves running for office an entitlement for inherited money.

So at this point I am renewing my call for an increase of the Individual top tax rate to at least 60%, and using a minimum of 10 tax brackets to get the proper progressivity amongst the top quintile of income earners. In simple terms if you have individual income, not family income, of 90k, you'll see a tax break. I'm not just talking about letting the Bush tax cuts sunset, I'm talking about sunsetting Reagans 60% tax cut for the richest amongst us.

And don't even get me started on the 12 millin jobs we need and the stimulus to craete them, Arrggg.....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Yes this is a form of Single Payer

The Public Option or Single Payer, you choose.

The Senate Healthcare bill does indeed give us a foundation of National Single Payer Primary Healthcare. I know that saying because the government pays 80% thats not exactly single payer, and that its really charity care, or when the House and Senate are in conference we should keep the House's Public Option.

But the Senate bill is the closest thing to single payer I have seen yet. Starting a national healthcare program with single payer at its core gives us a foundation from which to expand on. Primary care for 30 million poor is significant, and takes millions out of the Emergency room and puts them in a Doctors office where they belong and where George Washington University says we will save 23 billion over 5 years.

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon wants to allow states to take Senator Sanders Primary Care plan and make it comprehensive. Clearing the way for Universal Single Payer Comprehensive Healthcare at the state level. I don't know about you but that makes the public option a dead issue for me.

Community Healthcare Centers.

These centers are born of legislation originally authored by the Late Senator Ted Kennedy about 40 years ago, they provide primary care for 20 million Americans with 4000 locations, 98 of these centers already exist in New Jersey, and the state is slated to get over 250 additional Clinics.

Click on this link and do a search by state or zip code..

With 14 Billion dollars to build new Clinics, and to fund repayment of college loans thru the National Health Service Corps to create an additional 20,000 primary care doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and mental health professionals, we should see 10,000 new clinics built and staffed over 5 years.

Heres a few bullet points to drive home to your friends:

- The Senate bill will eliminate co-pays and deductibles for recommended preventive care, including preventive care for women.

- The Senate bill protects you legally from being charged any more than 10% of your income in out-of-pocket expense. Out-of-pocket expense is all of your medically necessary expenses except for your premium. That includes co-pays, whatever your share is at the hospital, etc. And the bill puts an absolute cap of $11,900 on out-of-pocket for family plans, and $5,950 for individuals (that is, if 10% of your income is greater than those amounts).

- The Senate bill will provide Premium Assistance if your income is up to 400% of Poverty level, under 100% you pay nothing, 100 to 400% you pay on a sliding scale. Check this table for particulars.

- In the Senate bill you are mandated to buy insurance but one is exempt from it if their premium costs more than 8% of their income.

Further resources:

Senator Sanders Monday December 21st Presser on C-span.

Senator Bernie Sanders press release.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bernie Sanders channeling FDR ?

FDR knew to build infrastructure, like schools and hospitals.

Thats what FDR did back in the day. You've all heard about the WPA and the CCC, building this and that. Well what good is a hospital without doctors and nurses? And FDR understood that too, so he had folks go to college to become doctors and nurses, so they could staff those hospitals. FDR knew it wasn't good enough just to build infrastructure, if you built a school, you had to supply the teachers, if you built a hospital you had to supply the doctors and nurses.

Now please take a look at the Healthcare bill in the US Senate and lets take a look at Senator Bernie Sanders channeling FDR:

Senator Sanders Press Release:

The provision would also provide loan repayments and scholarships through the National Health Service Corps to create an additional 20,000 primary care doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and mental health professionals..

20,000 jobs. Not too shabby, especially with that level of financial assistance. It just might be a good time to start medical school.

The Community Healthcare Centers were spearheaded in the 1960s through legislation authored by the late Senator Edward Kennedy.

-- Sanders is also working with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to improve language already in the bill to provide waivers for states that want to provide comprehensive, affordable health care and curb rapidly-rising costs for money-making private health insurance companies. The waivers could clear the way for a state-run, single-payer system.

10,000 Community Healthcare Centers means lots of folks won't be using Hospital Emergency Rooms, to the tune of saving 23 billion over 5 years according to a study done at George Washington University.

Sanders also says the insurance reforms--banning denials based on preexisting conditions, lifetime benefit caps, and dumping people because they ran up a high healthcare bill--are significant.

This could be the Shiznit, Brothers and Sisters.

The Senate HCR Act of 2009, starting to look good?

10,000 new Community Health Centers:

A $10 billion investment in Community Health Centers, expected to go to $14 billion when Congress completes work on health care reform legislation, was included in a final series of changes to the Senate bill unveiled today. Can you say "When do we break ground on 10,000 new Community Health Centers?".

For all the Doom and Gloom in the liberal blogosphere self avowed Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders is pretty darn happy, after all it seems Bernie just got Vermont style health care for the rest of the nation.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel wrote for The Nation on one important aspect of the Senate bill.
"These non-profit, community-based facilities provide primary health care, dental care, mental health services, and low-cost prescription drugs on a sliding scale," the blog added. "Sanders made sure that a $10 billion increase in funding for the health centers was included."

45 million Customers Served:

The House bill provides $14 billion in funding for the federal health centers and service corps. Sanders says that indications from the White House and Democratic leadership are that there is a "good chance" the final bill will do the same. That would translate to health centers in 10,000 more communities throughout America within 5 years, and increase the number of people served by over 100 percent, to 45 million.

Read Katrina Vanden Heuvel's whole blog here.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Healthcare Step One Act of 2009

Howard Dean was apparently on MSNBC, saying pass the bill

With Krugman, Nate Silver and Dean all on board its a done deal. Its The Healthcare Step One Act of 2009, its not what I envisioned, not remotely what I hoped for. And an excellent reason to hope Ned Lamont runs again. (Think of the need for more progressives in office, not about Joe Lieberman).

This was the first major legislative battle in the Obama era, and really was our first opportunity to see the opponents Order of Battle as employed in the Field, and we learned from that. WE need serious financial reform, and tax fairness (@ least a 60% top rate), Employee Free Choice Act, etc..

Now lets take what we've learned and do better.