House and Senate negotiators considering new Medicare tax
In the House/Senate negotiations, Democrats want to make three major changes to the health-care bill, all of which cost money. First, they want to weaken the excise tax, which means less revenue. Second, they want to increase the subsidies, which means more spending. And third, they want to extend some version of the Nebraska deal federalizing the Medicaid expansion to all the states. That, again, is pricey. So where does all the new money come from? Martin Vaughan and Laura Merckler report on one new idea:
Currently, the Medicare tax applies only to wages, without any limits. The 2.9% tax is divided in half, with workers and employers each paying 1.45%. The health bill passed by the Senate would raise the worker contribution to 2.35% for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and couples making more than $250,000 a year.
Under the proposal now being considered, people making more than those amounts would also pay the Medicare tax on dividends and other income from investments, the people familiar with the talks said. Income from pensions and retirement accounts, including 401(k) accounts, would be exempt.
A version of this that was previously introduced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow raised more than $100 billion over the first 10 years, so there's significant money to be found here. Why Democrats prefer a new Medicare tax to, say, capping the itemized deductions rate at 28% for taxpayers making more than $250,000 is, however, beyond me. And if you did that, you'd have more than $300 billion in new money to play with.
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