The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


The Daybook

POTUS Events: Focus on Health Care

President Obama descends Air Force One, June 12, 2009 . (The Associated Press)
By Sarah Lovenheim
President Obama travels to Chicago this morning. At 11:15 a.m., he attends the annual American Medical Association conference, where he's expected to deliver remarks on health-care reform.

In the afternoon, Obama returns to Washington. He meets with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at the White House at 4:15 p.m.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs will not hold a press briefing in Washington today. He will gaggle on Air Force One instead.

Check out our Federal City Digest for a rundown of other noteworthy events around town.

Posted at 8:37 AM ET on Jun 15, 2009  | Category:  The Daybook
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WHAT!!! - Taxing health-care benefits.

Of course my first reaction is NO WAY - Obama PROMISED not to do that for the first time in history, like John McCain wanted to do. Then as the numbers tumble out and the costs unveil, the scope of the tangible loss in standard of living and quality of life become inevitable without reform, then I think again.

I forget sometimes that we are now back in the business of governing this country. That grays matter again. That common good is back in the formulation of public policy and I need to think about what it really means for everyone when we deal with this problem.

First, it is impossible to have a future based on betting you won't have an expensive medical event. It's all expensive to some degree. There is no economy of scale for the uninsured. Fear rules every medical question, often leading to decisions based on surviving the threat, not reversing it.

Second, paying for the program(s) is the elephant in the room, now or later. Better to ask now what color, shape and appetite this elephant has or will have.

Third, the relationship that benefits have to income is not imaginary. Our family plan costs about $14,000 a year through an employer. The union accepted lower wages to improve this benefit several contracts ago - while other aspects of our compensation were reduced. That was an investment they made because the membership CHOSE this type of compensation as a value over salary, holiday pay and sick time.

That type of responsible vision needs consideration in this new reform math, but there are reasons to include some range of appliable taxes to these benefits. Finding a jumping-off point at the higher middle / upper income range would seem workable, and fair - if it is an employer paid benefit.

Medical cost anarchy is unacceptable at every level and in every expression of cost vs benefit. Getting to yes on a sustainable standard is imperative. The future of every American family can be undone by medical events - the economic results should be known long before the health crisis has been mitigated. This roulette style of management and withholding of benefits and profit-based behavior surrounding actual life and death issues is appalling and beneath our collective dignity. We need adults in the room - we need fair-minded delineation, and we need the ideological fallacy machinery turned off.

R Brian Donnelly
Tuxedo, NY

Posted by: nofearpsalm23 | June 15, 2009 10:34 PM

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