The Editors
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Health Care Myths Die Hard

Republicans pushed for a Senate vote to repeal last year’s hard-won health care reform legislation, resurrecting a series of dubious or outright fraudulent assertions: Health care reform will kill jobs—it will not. Reform will bankrupt the nation—in fact, the Congressional Budget Office reports it will shave $143 billion from the deficit by 2019.

While legislative gestures like these make good political theater, they will not succeed in reversing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In fact, they are not intended to. But there is evidence that the various rhetorical attacks on reform are having at least one desired effect—spreading disinformation. In a recent Kaiser Family Foundation pop quiz on reform, only 1 percent of people surveyed were able to respond correctly to 10 questions about the actual impact of health care reform. It is no surprise that Democrats scored best on the quiz—32 percent got 7 or more right. Only 18 percent of Republicans could match that unimpressive performance.

Many respondents still believe (mistakenly) that reform means the creation of a government-run insurance plan and that it will allow undocumented immigrants to receive government assistance to purchase insurance; 40 percent still believe the package includes the Republican-invented, fictitious “death panel” that can make end-of-life decisions for people on Medicare.

These survey results suggest that proponents of reform must do a better job of persuading the public of its benefits. They might begin by more aggressively defending against the mischaracterizations or outright fabrications by those who are attempting to kill this nascent movement toward a health care system that will provide for all with dignity and equity.

Through Arab Eyes

The world has turned upside down again. U.S. policy had imagined that “stability” in the Middle East and Mediterranean Africa came from support for Arab dictators—and unquestioning defense of Israel. Dictators might squelch democracy, but they would “keep the lid on.” Unexpectedly, in Tunisia and Egypt the lid is now off.

Why are we surprised? Because the corporate media—cable and satellite companies, like Comcast and DirecTV—fearing pressure from the Bush administration during the Iraq war and from the Israel lobby at all times, have frozen out Arab voices.

Suddenly our media have discovered that Al Jazeera, the Arab television channel based in Qatar, has beaten them to the punch in Egypt with round-the-clock coverage in Cairo, Suez and elsewhere. Traffic to its English-language Web site increased by 2,500 percent in a single week.

Its journalists cover both sides, but they want to restore the balance lost by the West’s media bias. In 2006 Al Jazeera opened a Washington bureau with Dave Marash, a veteran of ABC’s “Nightline,” as anchor. But viewers in the United States outside of Washington have virtually no access to Al Jazeera broadcasts.

The Web site Aljazeera.com demonstrates both the professionalism of its journalists and their dedication to ideals that Americans share. The American cable and satellite operators have a moral and civic obligation to carry Al Jazeera news. The alternative is to discover again, too late, what is wrong with a one-sided view of the world.

Lower Rate, Fewer Loopholes

Since the U.S. federal corporate tax rate (35 percent) is higher than that of many other countries, business interests claim the rate hinders their global competitiveness. Look for that argument to be made often, and for the current rate to be trotted out to justify a corporate tax cut if Congress takes up tax reform. Businesses would have a valid point if the 35 percent rate corresponded to what corporations actually pay. But it does not.

Legal loopholes allow many corporations to avoid paying the official rate. Some pay almost nothing. In one egregious example, The Carnival Corporation, a cruise line, paid a mere 1.1 percent of its multibillion dollar profits in taxes—federal, state, local and foreign combined—over the last five years (The New York Times, 2/2). To cite another example, one in five of the Fortune 500 companies paid less than 20 percent in taxes; 39 of those paid less than 10 percent. Such figures show that claims of lack of competitiveness due to high taxes is a ruse.

The two biggest loopholes, in terms of lost federal revenue, are deferred income from foreign sources and accelerated depreciation of equipment and machinery. Loopholes also cause problems: a focus on finding deductions can distort business decisions. And because some companies pay much higher tax rates than their peers, depending on the savvy of their tax lawyers, the current system lacks fairness. No tax cut alone would solve these problems.

Any reform worth the name must contain two provisions: a lower tax rate and the closing of loopholes, at least those that are the most significant for raising revenue and establishing peer fairness. A law with both provisions could make corporate tax reform a boon to government and to corporations, a win-win solution for all but the most loophole-dependent.

Comments

Andrew | 2/18/2011 - 4:35pm
I am thoroughly disappointed that a "Catholic" publication continues to post articles like this touting Health Care "Reform" and cheering on higher taxes of those eveil corporations. 

Does anyone really believe that having the federal government make decisions about health care will help the poor?  Of course not, the poor are the ones who will suffer even more as cost rise even faster than without this so-called reform, and the government has to curtail "care" to lower expenses.  Medicare is a complete mess because of this exact problem.  The passage of the Health Care bill alone has already destroyed jobs because corporations have had to lay off or at least refrain from hiring while they try to figure out how much this "free" health care is going to cost.  The poor and middle class suffer.

Secondly, and I don't believe this can be stressed enough, CORPORATIONS DON'T PAY TAXES!!!!  THEIR CUSTOMERS DO!  Higher taxes means higher prices on food and clothing and almost everything that we buy.  Corporations don't pay taxes.  Oh sure, they write the check to the IRS, but only after they have to raise prices on their products in order to cover the cost of the taxes.  Who does that hurt?  The poor and middle class again.

I hope everyone uses a little common sense and realizes that this author didn't.
C Walter Mattingly | 2/17/2011 - 4:58am

Chris, while there is no way to know for certain, it was theorized by the neocons that the vision of Iraq establishing a democracy where it has been unknown other than in Israel in the region would accelerate a groundswell push from the people, just as has occurred in Egypt and Tunisia. We do know that the image of the two democratic votes which were certified as basically valid by the UN had a very great impact on the region, with even AlJazeera, largely unfriendly to the US for certain, giving it very broad and positive coverage.
You can blame Obama for an overall poor job, but I don't think it justified to blame him for no single payor system. He couldn't get enough democrats together to muster even a simple majority for that, and the American people were set against it. But wouldn't it have been interesting if he had been true to his word and presented this subject on CSPAN to the American people? We likely would have had something far preferable to all than this, which you and I both seem to dislike, and almost certainly not something which might well be judged unconstitutional to boot, in all likelihood destroying the viability of the entire program.

Christopher Kuczynski | 2/15/2011 - 4:17pm

I have seen no evidence whatsoever that our wasteful misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan have had anything to do with events in Egypt and Tunesia!

As for the healthcre legislation, it is indeed bewilderingly complext - the sad consequence of Congress's and the president's lack of commitment to what should have been a single payor system.

Christopher Mulcahy | 2/14/2011 - 2:13pm

In light of the profound wisdom and insight exhibited in his two postings above, I nominate Walter Mattingly for America editorial board.  His insight that our Iraq sacrifice in favor of Mideast democracy may have contributed to events in Tunisia and Egypt is a stunning observation that I have not seen elsewhere, but one that I hope proves to have merit.  Mr. Mattingly's observations about the conflict between promises and reality in the Washington legislative process are similarly insightful.  Thank you.

C Walter Mattingly | 2/14/2011 - 5:30am
America rightly bemoans the fact that very few of the American people know the contents of Obamacare. That truly is unfortunate. And had the president had the integrity to live up to his word, that could have been avoided, and the nation might have had a good health care solution as opposed to the current one.
You may recall the president, time and again in public and private venues, emphatically stated that he would put the important subject of the health care debate before the American people on CSPAN and not replicate the Clinton mistake of fabricating it behind closed doors and spriinging the finished product upon the public. Had the public airing occurred, the public could have seen the debate firsthand and become informed about its major issues over time.  And of course the president, to our detriment, reneged on this committment, instead basically locking Pelosi and Reid behind closed doors and concocting the current 2000 plus page plan full of legalise bewildering to the average citizen, with the least notice possible, then ramming it through against the will or even knowledge of the citizenry through reconciliation. Now we have this fiasco of 26 states suing, the real question of its constitutionality, criticism of its smoke and mirrors accounting, and substantive criticism of favoritism for the many exceptions the administration grants its many (favored?) groupings.
And America here gives this mess, founded upon a president's violation of his word that likely would have avoided these disabling pitfalls, its full-throated endorsement.
Truly perplexing.
E.Patrick Mosman | 2/13/2011 - 10:01am
Regarding Obamacare, the following letter was sent to the Senators and Representative from New York who continue to make similar claims for the law as written.
"If Obamacare is so great for seniors why has the Obama administration granted so many waivers as reported  in the Washington Times:
"Last year, we learned that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had granted 111 waivers to protect a lucky few from the onerous regulations of the new national health care overhaul. That number quickly and quietly climbed to 222, and last week we learned that the number of Obamacare privileged escapes has skyrocketed to 733."
"Among the fortunate is a who’s who list of unions, businesses and even several cities and four states (Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee) but none of the friends of Barack feature as prominently as the Service Employees International Union
"More than 500 of the 733 waivers, we now know, were granted in December but kept conveniently under wraps until the day after the president’s State of the Union address. HHS is no stranger to covering up bad news; in fact, this is becoming a disturbing pattern. Last year, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hid from Congress until after the Obamacare vote a damning report from the Medicare and Medicaid Office of the Actuary showing Obamacare would cost $311 billion more than promised and would displace 14 million Americans from their current insurance."
Why are so many friends and financial supporters of Obama, the SEIU in particular, opting out of Obamacare?
Why are you defending the most job killing, medical care killing and most expensive piece of legislation passed  by Congress? You are no friend of the elderly or the unborn, you are a supported of abortion for the unborn humans and death panels for the elderly."
The CBO recently testified before Congress that Obamacare would reduce the work force by an estimated 800,000 employees in the next decade. There is a discussion of exactly what is meant but there is no doubt that  that Obamacare will not create millions of new jobs as predicted by Speaker Pelosi and echoed by democrats and their media supporters.

 
ed gleason | 2/12/2011 - 5:24pm
Wall Streeters pay 15% on their capital gains stocks while workers pay at a  35% rate. the Steeters laugh at the Republican Tea Party types that do their bidding. laughing on the way to the Hamptons in limos...  If you suggest this is disgusting they shout Class War.. and some of our posters here buy this baloney.
Charles Erlinger | 2/12/2011 - 3:36pm
Regardless of which political point of view you take on the PP & AC Act, predicting the economic effects of its implementation in its present form would seem to be foolhardy, and believing the predictions would seem to be imprudent, especially if you have to base practical decisions on them.  Even if we had a store of historical data to analyze, attributing cause and effect would be an error-prone endeavor.  Also, you have at least four broad groups on which the economic effects would have to be measured, namely, the health care consumers, the health care providers, the insurance companies and the government (consumers again, but this time as taxpayers).  One reason this is all so complicated is that the objective of broad, if not universal, health care has to be force-fitted into the insurance business model.  The insurance business model owes it structural rationale to the intersection of actuarial science and underwriting selectivity, along with pricing responsiveness to the forces of supply and demand modified by competition, ethical pressures and regulatory constraints.  If the problem only involved consumers, providers and insurance companies, or consumers as both taxpayers and health care consumers on the one hand, and the government on the other, the complexity would be somewhat reduced, but even then attributing cause to particular economic effects would still be a quite formidable task.  If, over the decades, the nation would have taken as a continuing objective the improvement and broadening of health care, using a strategy of incremental steps paid for as we went along, and continuously evaluated as to efficacy, sorting out, as we proceeded, which care might reasonably fit into an insurance business model and which might have to be accomodated in some other way, we might have been better off by now.  And eventually we might have to revert to something like that kind of a strategy, assuming that as a society we still place value on providing health care for all.
E.Patrick Mosman | 2/12/2011 - 12:09pm
"The two biggest loopholes, in terms of lost federal revenue, are deferred income from foreign sources and accelerated depreciation of equipment and machinery."
Corporate income earned in foreign countries is taxed where and when it iis earned and where the earnings are used to operate the localcompany.When the earnings are repatriated to the parent company in the USA the foreign taxes paid are a credit against US texes due. There may not be a mighty windfall in closing the so-called loophole.
Accelerated depreciation is a financial tool to encourage companies to invest in plant, equipment and machinery which in turn creates jobs in a number of industries.
Another job killing proposal.

E.Patrick Mosman | 2/12/2011 - 12:00pm
"The two biggest loopholes, in terms of lost federal revenue, are deferred income from foreign sources and accelerated depreciation of equipment and machinery."
Corporate income earned in foreign countries is taxed where and when it iis earned and where the earnings are used to operate the localcompany.When the earnings are repatriated to the parent company in the USA the foreign taxes paid are a credit against US texes due. There may not be a mighty windfall in closing the so-called loophole.
Accelerated depreciation is a financial tool to encourage companies to invest in plant, equipment and machinery which in turn creates jobs in a number of industries.
Another job killing proposal.

Eva Weber | 2/11/2011 - 9:52pm
It not the polititians or the corrupted insurance companies whose lying, distorting and deceiving is most appalling in defeating any reform of our out of control health care.  Samefully, it is our bishops. the conservative media, and foremost that of the EWTN network, the exclusive Catholic network.  Even today they claim, that our tax money would be used to pay for abortions, although this claim has been proven  to be an outright lie.  Just about every day the network will still insist on the same lie in various of their programs.  If you tell a lie long enoug, the people will eventually belief it.   Then they intimidate the people with the threat of death panels.  Well, our private insurance companies had all along death panels, refusing coverage for life saving procedures to members in good standing.  Thousends of people they let die every year for an imporved bottom line.  And not people with no hope of recovery.  And they continue this with the help of Catholic media and bishops and paid off organizations.  "The devil is the father of lies," which makes those hypocritical Catholic missleaders, and pundits the children of the devil. 

Canada with its much maligned socialized health care system is number 6 in the world in quantity and quality of health care delivered to all its citizens.  The USA is number 19!!!  Yet this nation of ours is number one in spending per capita.  Where are those funds going?  Certainly not for services to the people who need care, but for the obscene profit of those insurance companies and the stockholders.  And most likely to pay off those holier than thou Catholic leaders, acivists and organizations, whose energy is defeating gospel teachings with their actions.  And who pocketed the $180'000'000.- plus millions the industry spent to defeat health care reform.  It most likely lined a bunch of Catholic pockets. 

It is incoceivable that such collaborators are believing in an after life.  But they will have to face one anyway. 
C Walter Mattingly | 2/11/2011 - 7:57pm
Memories are short, but perhaps readers will recall that one of the hopes of the Neocons in the aftermath of the overthrow of Saddam was that even a flawed democratic regime replacing the genocidal Butcher of Bagdhad in a geographic area that had only Israel as a democracy would create a pressure on those authoritarian/dictatorial regimes, some of whom like Egypt reasonably friendly to US interests, arising from the groundswell of the people to demand similar progress toward democracy. As the US could hardly attack their own allies, flawed as they might be, without further endangering the spread of Islamist Fundamentalism, only such a pressure would have the desired effect without necessarily leading to another Iran. Tunisia and now Egypt seem to at least suggest their hopes may be materializing. It is a high stakes game though. And will it spread to the worst offenders, Iran, Libya, and Syria? Time will tell.
Tom Maher | 2/11/2011 - 6:35pm
RE: Health Care Myth Die Hard

The weekly Rasmussen Health Care poll of Feb. 7, 2011 shows that 58% of likely voters are in favor of repealing the Health Care law.  The Rasmussen Health Care poll has consistanly found a strong majority of likely voters in favor of yhr repeal of the Health Care law since March 2010.

The 2,400 page Health Care gives plenty of substanitive resons for repeal of this law.  There is no need to invent reasons. 

In essnece the Health Care law is imposition of hugh new financial burdens on everyone and every institutions - individuals, famlies and employers and states.  This is why as of Febrauary, 26 atates are suing the federal govenment over the constitutionality of the laws numerous new mandates and penalties suchas the requirement that everyone under penalty of fine must purchase or be given by the state Health care insurance.  Narurally many people object to this as a very bad deal not in most peoples interest.  Most Americans were always oppossed to this Health Care law.  

The 65 seat net gain in the House of Representatives by Republicans in the November election is no myth.  This gain shifted control of the HoUse to Republicns by a solid majority.  This was the largest gain in House on 75 years.  This was no accident.  The first order of business by these Republicans in response to the will of the voters was to vote for repeal of the Health Care law. 

 Interestingly the Republicans identified the Health Care bill as a job killer as well they should.  The increase cost on employers for health care mandates has made employers relunctant to fire more workers .. With unemployment likely to remain at over 9% into 2012 due to sluggish economy the extra buden of the cost of health care on everyon eis ceratin to be a real issue.  Who was  it that said 20 years ago "Its the economy stupid".  Higher Health Care costs in a economy of high unemploymnet is a gift to the Republican in the 2012 Presidential election.

As it now stands with 23 Democratic Senators who voted for the Health Care law up for reelection it is highly likely the Senate, the Hosue and the Presiency will go to Republicans in 2012 in which case the Heallth Care law will be repealed.  
Christopher Mulcahy | 2/11/2011 - 5:42pm

Any normal citizen knows the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was hastily drafted by people who can’t add and subtract.  It is an obvious Trojan Horse.   No predictions about its future are meaningful. 


The Arab media are even worse than our own when it comes to propagating globaloney.   They can be counted on to ascribe all events to Western conspiracies.  


Tax breaks are created by congress to motivate corporations to do certain things, like buy new equipment and machinery.  This creates jobs and modernizes our manufacturing base.  Tax free interest accompanies the purchase of municipal bonds in order to motivate individuals to lend money to government entities at lower than market interest rates.   Does anyone think eliminating these inducements to investment will benefit America? 

Mike Evans | 2/11/2011 - 4:01pm
1) the deliberate misinformation campaign on health care reform is well financed and widely promoted by selfish interests in the corporate, neocon and tea bagger  world. Much stronger corrective voices need to be heard from media and pundits.
2) Again we are unable to engage the Arab world because we fail to understand them in any demonstrable way. We cannot speak their languages, understand their religiousity, hear their pleas for justice and a way to participate in their own governance. We are totally inept.
3) The loophole business is designed specifically for multi-national corporations to avoid taxes everywhere in th world. They are cryiing in their beer and drowning us with petulant concerns over oil extraction taxes, adequate reporting of sales and revenues in each state or country, and any responsibility whatever to their employees and customers.

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