To the Editor:

Dick Durbin remarked shortly after Sen. Baucus unveiled his health care plan, "For months, the debate over health care in the Senate consisted of six people sitting in a room. Now it's been expanded. We have a lot of people who need to become informed, express themselves, and ask for changes if they can."

We all know they were never given that opportunity. This is when Nancy Pelosi made her now famous statement, “We have to pass this bill so we can find out what is in it.”

Because of the recent Supreme Court Ruling and other action by HHS (Nancy Pelosi was correct), we are still learning what is in the law or what it means. First, the individual mandate in Obamacare was not a tax. Now, the Supreme Court rules that it is a tax. Does this mean that congress can now pass any bill, declare that it is a tax and have it stand? Where is the limit on taxing the people’s behavior? The ruling must have been a shock to even the President because a few months ago he very strongly argued with George Stephanopoulos that the individual mandate was not a tax. For months now, Obama has argued emphatically that the congress had the authority to enforce the mandate in Obamacare under the commerce clause of the constitution and that it was not to be considered a tax. However, during the arguments before the Supreme Court they slipped in the idea that the mandate just might be considered a tax. However, he and his staff will gladly accept the ruling and at the same time insist it is not a tax.

Let us not kid ourselves that the mandate is the only tax under Obamacare. According to the House Ways and Means Committee, there are twenty-one tax increases tucked neatly in the pages of the law. Despite the President’s promise that lower and middle-income earners would not see a tax increase, a closer look at the law reveals otherwise. First, anyone not purchasing “qualifying” health insurance will pay a tax. By 2016, a couple will pay the higher of $1360 or 2.5% of adjusted gross income. Second, pretax funds set aside in flexible spending accounts or health reimbursement accounts will no longer be able to be used to buy over-the-counter drugs without a doctor’s prescription. Third, starting January 1, 2013 there will be a $2,500 cap placed on Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts. There is currently no cap on these accounts. Fourth, under current law, you can deduct medical expenses that are in excess of 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. Under the new law, that percentage will be increased to anything over 10% of adjusted gross income before qualifying for a tax deduction. Fifth, the penalty for early withdrawal from a health savings account will incur a 20% penalty rather than the former 10%. Sixth, a new 40% excise tax will be charged to taxpayers who are covered by what is considered a Cadillac Health Insurance Plan. This provision begins in 2018 and will be charged to taxpayers covered by insurance costing over $10,000 for a single person and $27,500 for a family. Seventh, anyone using an indoor tanning bed is required to pay an excise tax. This along with the 150% increase in the cigarette tax is the government’s attempt to control behavior and calling it a tax.

There are other taxes included in this law that may not directly affect those earning less than $200,000, but indirectly could eventually trickle down to them as consumers. A tax on medical device manufacturers, an Employer Mandate Tax, and a tax on health insurers are examples.

At the request of Orin Hatch, The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation performed a distributional analysis on Obmamacare. The excise tax, they projected, would raise about $52 billion in 2019. Of that amount, they estimated that taxpayers earning less than $50,000 would pay about $8.9 billion. About $19.4 billion would come from those earning between $50,000 and $100,000, and finally approximately $17.4 billion would be raised by taxpayers earning between a $100,000 and $200,000. The Heritage foundation puts it another way by saying, “Obamacare tax will hit 3 million 900 thousand middle-class Americans to the tune of $4,200 million.

Justice Robert’s decision may have prohibited President Obama from being able to charge the Court with judicial activism as he had threatened in previous speeches but the Justice did warn the people that, “It is not our job (Supreme Court) to save the people from the consequences of their political decisions.” In other words, if we do not like what our elected representatives do, we should not expect the Court to rescue us. It is the people’s job to make a change in our representation. If this is true, we the people may have the final say at the polls in November. What will our decision be? Will we confirm the Court’s ruling or will we decide to alter our course?

Finally, Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist, sheds some interesting light on what he feels might be psychological ramifications of Obamacare. He opines, “When the government begins to act as parent to its citizens as children, and says ‘we are going to earmark your after-tax dollars…you must spend it on certain things, that [literally means] that you don’t know whether any of your money is really yours because today it could be health care, tomorrow it could be a hybrid vehicle that you are penalized financially for not buying. It takes control of your behavior in the way that a parent would of a child, and it diminishes us in terms of our autonomy and our ability to achieve things… You think that Occupy Wall Street looked like a spectacle? Imagine tens of millions of adult children of Barack Obama deprived of their direction, of their monies, right--99 weeks of unemployment, lots of food stamps, lots of bailouts… Guess what, when the piggy bank ain’t there, these are the people who’ll take to the streets with rocks. Trust me.” Are we not seeing such behavior in the city streets in countries like Greece today?

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