Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: A Slip of the Tongue?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Slip of the Tongue?

Given the way that John McCain has run his campaign, the last thing we ought to expect at this point is straight talk. But would you believe it? That's exactly what we got from Douglas Holtz-Eakin, an economic advisor for the candidate, in a piece from CNNMoney. You're forgiven if you believe it must be a mistake of some kind. Talking about McCain's plan for health tax credits, Holtz-Eakin answers criticisms that younger people will abandon employer health insurance systems:

"Why would they leave?" said Holtz-Eakin. "What they are getting from their employer is way better than what they could get with the credit."

Well, yes, precisely. A different criticism of the plan is that McCain will start taxing employer-funded insurance and counter-balance that with a $5,000 tax credit. The problem with that is the fact that a family's health insurance usually costs over $12,000. If you lose the employer insurance, the $5,000 isn't going to get you very far. Holtz-Eakin claims that people won't want to leave the current system (and he's right--why would they?) but he ignores the fact that, without tax incentives, many employers are likely to stop providing the coverage they now offer as a benefit. Like it or not, many people (the common estimate is 20 million) will find themselves without coverage whether they like it or not. Let's see how far they get with a $5,000 tax credit. As Holtz-Eakin insists, they'll find that what they used to have was "way better than what they could get with the credit."

On a side note, it's annoyed me for awhile when McCain keeps insisting that he isn't going to raise anybody's taxes. Yes he is--he's going to tax us on income that isn't currently taxed, so even if our rates don't go up, our tax bills will. But I guess admitting that would require some sort of straight talk that doesn't slip out by mistake."


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