Lawrence O'Donnell Outs New Taxes in Health Care Bill

In the news today, the President and Oprah attempt to snag the Olympics from Rio, a Congressman yells something dumb on the floor of the House (not a Republican!), and double standards abound.  

Meanwhile, back on the Hill, there's a humble bill involving the entire health care system of the United States making its way through the Senate.  Lawrence O'Donnell is not usually so honest and brazen about the liberal agenda as he was during this morning's appearance on MSNBC's “Morning Joe”, but one can certainly be thankful that he was.

According to O'Donnell, there are now three new tax brackets in this legislation, a new 35% tax rate on certain private health insurance plans, and half of the health care legislation now being debated is a massive new tax bill.  O'Donnell made the following comparison:
For example, for example, last week in a retaliation toward China, we put a 35% tax, we call them tariffs when it's international, but a 35% tax on Chinese tires. In other words, a punitive tax for their behavior. We're putting in the Senate Finance committee bill - the idea is to put a 35% tax on health insurance plans that are worth more than $8,000 to an individual. Now that's an awful lot of health insurance plans.
In other words, the Senate Finance committee now holds the American public to be as hostile to their agenda as Communist China - and they're going to punish “We the People” with a 35 percent tariff - excuse me, a 35 percent tax - on us for our behavior.

And the reason America is not aware of this impending intrusion into their pocketbooks?  O'Donnell gleefully describes the problem:
And the reason those things aren't being covered is screaming about 'death panels,' yelling 'you lie,' and this stuff. This stuff is wonderfully diversionary and so the whole country has no idea. For example, what the - what half this legislation is. And half this legislation is a very big tax bill, a very big tax bill. New forms of taxation that are being invented have never been used before, nobody's talking about it because of this. It's very helpful to the Democrats and it's very helpful to legislating…
Indeed.  Conflagrations over who insulted whom are entertaining, but provide cover for Congress to invent new and interesting ways to hijack Americans' earnings.  And how much, you might ask, is disappearing into the federal vortex?
When you do that 35% tax the only thing for the insurance company to do is to reduce the benefits by 35%. This is a very serious issue. And it's one - and it's used to finance about one third of the Finance committee bill. We're from a fourth to a third. It gets no discussion. And no amplification, one way or the other.

Many thanks to Lawrence O'Donnell, the self-described practical European socialist.  I could not have said it better myself.  The full transcript is below, and the video is embedded above.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I see in this week's issue of "Time" you also have a piece on health care reform. And that's the other debate this morning. We were showing Tom the clips of Congressman Grayson and his first comments which was the Republicans want you to die quickly, then his apology which involved the word ‘holocaust.’ We're not going to replay them. But, Lawrence O'Donnell, you’re really keyed in to the health care debate and how these things pan out. Is the kind of shrill rhetoric on both sides getting in the way of anything happening?

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: No, I think it's actually very helpful to moving the legislation and here's why.

BRZEZINSKI: Okay.

O’DONNELL: I was down there yesterday in the Senate Finance committee markup. And nobody's covering what happened in the Senate Finance committee markup yesterday. No one covered anything that happened in the Ways and Means committee markup which lasted quite a while and created three new top tax brackets which America doesn't even know about. And the reason those things aren’t being covered is screaming about ‘death panels,’ yelling ‘you lie,’ and this stuff. This stuff is wonderfully diversionary and so the whole country has no idea. For example, what the – what half this legislation is. And half this legislation is a very big tax bill, a very big tax bill. New forms of taxation that are being invented have never been used before, nobody's talking about it because of this. It's very helpful to the Democrats and it’s very helpful to legislating, the more shows like this spend time on nonsense like that –

RICK STENGEL: So tell us what’s happening!

O’DONNELL: I want to – no, I want to – do your homework. Go find it out.  For example, for example, last week in a retaliation toward China, we put a 35% tax, we call them tariffs when it’s international, but a 35% tax on Chinese tires. In other words, a punitive tax for their behavior. We're putting in the Senate Finance committee bill – the idea is to put a 35% tax on health insurance plans that are worth more than $8,000 to an individual. Now that's an awful lot of health insurance plans. When you do that 35% tax the only thing for the insurance company to do is to reduce the benefits by 35%. This is a very serious issue. And it's one – and it's used to finance about one third of the Finance committee bill. We're from a fourth to a third. It gets no discussion. And no amplification, one way or the other.

RICK STENGEL: But there’s been plenty of discussion about the tax on those premium plans.

O’DONNELL: [sarcastically] Oh really?

STENGEL: You and I have talked about.

O’DONNELL: Nothing compared to ‘you lie’, nothing compared to this stuff.

BRZEZINSKI: Okay but Lawrence, Tom Brokaw, Lawrence didn't have to hold up a sign that said ‘die quickly’ to get us to listen to him, did he?

TOM BROKAW: No. But to just back off for just a moment. Whether we're talking about the food fight that is going on or the details that Lawrence is talking about now, the American people, again, are feeling left out of all of this. It is so complex for them, when 50% say they don't understand what the debate is about, I think that's wrong by about half, I think it's 100%.

O’DONNELL: That’s right, I can't find a single citizen that can tell me what they even think it is.

MARIA BARTIROMO: So that’s America’s fault, or the fault of people who are not giving the details about what this will look like?

BROKAW: Well, it’s a combination of all that.  First of all there are a lot systems and a lot of parts to all of these systems that are in play in the House and in the Senate and in the committees. And it's – I'm very dialed in and I'm having a hard time every day kind of keeping up to speed on it. I'm talking to the principals, but at the same time it shifts and changes every day. And there are a couple of issues I think have been lost in all of this about what are – again, what is the end game, what are we going to end up with here. Besides the fact we're going to get more people who are going to have some form of coverage, what are they going to get for the coverage? One of the issues now is that we pay primarily for tests. And we have a very inefficient system in terms of what we pay for, for those who do have coverage. Are we going to have a system that's going to pay for value for performance, are you going to have coverage that's going to take that you go to a doctor and he doesn't order up tests but that they say or she says this is going to make you better or you're not going to have to pay for it. These are the debates.

O’DONNELL: The problem is this legislation is the Afghanistan of legislation.

BRZEZINSKI: That's great.  That’s exactly it.

O’DONNELL: There’s not one member of Congress – the smartest of them – who can tell you what the final bill might look like. So they don't even know the target they are legislating toward. They can't describe it.

BARTIROMO: Why do you think that is?

O’DONNELL: Because the subject is far too complex. And the set of compromises you have to make are endless. So what you're compromising today you're going to be comprising again ten times along the way and you won't recognize it at the end.