Thursday, December 10, 2009

Reform Debate Continues To Be Dishonest - Business As Usual

I don't watch the Senate and House debates on C-SPAN much anymore because it only frustrates me to listen to the dishonest arguments.

Yesterday the Senate was debating Health Care Reform.  One of the Republicans said that the Democrats wish to reduce the Federal income tax medical expense deduction.  Unreimbursed medical expenses in excess of 7.5% of your adjusted gross income are currently deductible.  The Democrats propose raising the limit to 10%.  The senator stated that this would result in a tax increase that would affect middle income families the most.  He stated that the tax increase for a family with an income of $57,000 would be more than $3,000, which is a gross overstatement.

A family with an adjusted gross income of $57,000 can currently deduct unreimbursed medical expenses in excess of $4,275.  The Democrats propose to raise this to $5,700 (10% of $57,000).  The maximum difference between the current and the proposed is $1,425 if the family's unreimbursed expenses equal or exceed $5,700.  A family with a taxable income of $57,000 will pay federal income tax at the rate of 13.54%.  Therefore, the maximum impact of the Democratic proposal is 13.54% of $1,425 or $193.

The typical family of four earning $57,000 doesn't have unreimbursed medical expenses exceeding 7.5% so most families will not be affected by this change.  The families and individuals that do have unreimbursed medical expenses exceeding 7.5% are likely to see those expenses reduced by far more than $193 due to positive affects of health care reform - reduced insurance premiums, increased coverage, lower costs for service and drugs.

The good senator's misinformation is not going to cause any Democrats or Republicans to vote against the proposal as long as they have a basic understanding of the tax laws and middle-school mathematics.  Therefore, the senator had no expectation of impacting the results of a Senate vote on reform.  Was he trying to mislead the C-SPAN audience?  I think the number of C-SPAN viewers who could be mislead by the senator's false statements is very small.  If responsible news media reported on the senator's statements, I hope that they recognized that the statements were false and reported them as such.

So... the good senator has perhaps only delayed voting on the bill, which was probably his sole purpose - keep talking to delay a vote.

No comments: