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Old 01-05-2010, 05:01 PM   #21
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I don't think this is even close to applicable. States don't even require drivers to have insurance unless they drive on public roads. So, it's a requirement levied on citizens wanting to perform a voluntary act. That's a lot different from forcing everyone to buy health insurance as a condition of citizenship.
If you voluntarily choose to make less than $400, you don't have to file and, thus, won't have to get health insurance.

Health care costs for the non-insured are paid for with taxpayer money, anyway. This measure will, in fact, encourage private responsibility since, to paraphrase easysurfer, we don't leave the dying on the side of the road. Now those who "go naked" will have to ante up. It's a choose-your-own-tax! Given a supplier, choose as little or as much as you'd like to pay.

Yes, it'd be better if we weren't required to buy from a private company but the public option was roundly scorned, including by some posters on this forum.
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Old 01-05-2010, 05:24 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
I suppose there would be no problem having health insurance as optional if as a society we can say to those without insurance who go to the ER, "no insurance, no treatment" but I don't think we are at that point.
But even that wouldn't work if we want to also have "community rating" (i.e. coverage costs the same regardless of pre-existing conditions). Ifinsurance is voluntary, all the healthy folks go without insurance and get coverage only when diagnosed with an expensive illness, leading to sky-high insurance rates for the few who would still want to buy it.
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Old 01-05-2010, 05:29 PM   #23
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This measure will, in fact, encourage private responsibility since, to paraphrase easysurfer, we don't leave the dying on the side of the road.
I don't disagree that requiring people to buy private health insurance might be good public policy at this point (given public sensibilities at this point). But "good public policy" does not mean it is necessarily constitutional. I think requiring citizens to purchase a private good/service as a condition of residency in the US is likely unconstitutional, and will be found so by the Supreme Court.
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Old 01-05-2010, 05:44 PM   #24
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I think that it is constitutional based on the commerce clause plus the power to tax to provide for the general welfare.
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:24 PM   #25
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I guess I will risk showing my ignorance on this and hope to learn.

How did Mass. and other states with similar requirements to buy health ins. pass their law? Is it that the states definitely have the right too and the Fed is in question?
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:28 PM   #26
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I think that it is constitutional based on the commerce clause plus the power to tax to provide for the general welfare.
Well, seeing some of the ways the commerce clause has been used in the past 50 years, you are probably right. As I said, the SCOTUS and I don't agree very much on constitutional interpretations. I keep reading the words in the Bill of Rights, which must be the wrong way to do it. If they can rule that growing pot in your house for your own use is a violation of the interstate commerce act, or that the gov't can take your house and give it to a developer under eminent domain, then they can certainly justify this one.
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:33 PM   #27
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How did Mass. and other states with similar requirements to buy health ins. pass their law? Is it that the states definitely have the right too and the Fed is in question?
Yes. The article at this link discusses the potential constitutional problems with the proposed health care legislation, including some relevant precedents.

Congress is supposed to police themselves and not pass bills that are unconstitutional, but, like conference committees and open debate of final legislation, that has apparently fallen out of vogue.
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Old 01-05-2010, 10:33 PM   #28
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I think that it is constitutional based on the commerce clause plus the power to tax to provide for the general welfare.
I certainly don't know about the constitutionality of it, but it just does not strike me as 'general welfare', when one state (Nebraska) gets a better deal than other states. That seems like "specific welfare" to me.

Ben Nelson Faces Outrage in Nebraska Over Health Care Reform Vote


I'm sure there is precedent. Federal pork going to one state versus another could be considered the same thing. But that doesn't make it right. In fact, I think it makes it wrong, which was my point.

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Old 01-06-2010, 09:51 AM   #29
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Are you referring to a "Flat Tax"?
No, I'm referring to simpler taxes. Imagine that the individual income tax code/regulations cover 10,000 pages. The first 9,999 determine your taxable income. The last page has a table of graduated tax rates. I think of a "flat tax" as replacing the last page with a single number. A "simpler tax" gets rid of as much of the first 9,999 pages as possible.

It's possible to do both. Many flat tax proposals also try to simplifiy that other 9,999 pages. But I see two different concepts.

Looking at graduated tax rates, I see the pros outweighing the cons. But, when I look at using the tax code to as an opportunity for social engineering, I think the cons outweigh the pros.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:57 AM   #30
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I certainly don't know about the constitutionality of it, but it just does not strike me as 'general welfare', when one state (Nebraska) gets a better deal than other states. That seems like "specific welfare" to me.

Ben Nelson Faces Outrage in Nebraska Over Health Care Reform Vote


I'm sure there is precedent. Federal pork going to one state versus another could be considered the same thing. But that doesn't make it right. In fact, I think it makes it wrong, which was my point.

-ERD50
I would think that the premise of the quoted article is wrong. The outrage shouldn't be coming from Nebraskans. They got the great deal. The real outrage should come from others.
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:04 AM   #31
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Taxing LTCG at the same rate as earned income would be okay if indexed for inflation. I don't think it's right to hold high net worth people hostage in order to have them form some kind of political constituency against high inflation--it's not like the US money supply is somehow controlled via direct referendum by people with a net worth over $5M.
But, I will go this far toward creating constituencies: let's create a "political constituency" for lower taxes by eliminating itemized deductions (as you suggest) and by reducing the standard deduction and the personal exemption. Get a higher percentage of people paying taxes so there's some meaningful counterbalance to the growth of government. When everyone feels the pain, the pain will be reduced. But if Joe pays no taxes and yet benefits from government spending, he's gonna vote for more spending . . . funded by others.
We're off on a tangent here, but I'll go on anyway. I think experience shows that "richer" people have a lot more political power than their numbers suggest. Money is very important in US politics.

At the same time, "poorer" people don't vote their pocketbooks as much as self-interest might suggest. One reason is that historically Americans have believed that they or their children are likely to end up "richer". So it's better to become rich than to soak the rich. (This belief is probably eroding.)

The obvious example is the estate tax. We're seriously discussing eliminating a tax that only impacts the richest 2% of families. That discusson couldn't happen except for the two observations above.

(But, back to my original statement. If I had a vote in Congress, I'd be willing to accept indexed capital gains if I could get the simplifications I listed.)
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Old 01-11-2010, 05:13 PM   #32
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So, now we are looking for "health insurance cheats"?
Soon we will be looking for salt cheats.

NYC asks food manufacturers to hold the salt - Diet and nutrition- msnbc.com

No offense to those who love government meddling in their lives.

But if I got to pack a salt shaker to where I eat out.

ILLLL DOOOO IT
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