That Business Health Tax? Obama 'Decided Not to Decide' How Much It Is -- Yet

October 27th, 2008 6:19 PM

The Oct. 26 New York Times took on Sen. Barack Obama's elusive health insurance mandate for employers -- the "play-or-pay" rule that would force businesses to pay a new tax if they didn't contribute a "meaningful" amount toward their workers' insurance. In the debates, Sen. John McCain asked more than once how much businesses would be fined, and Obama declined to say.

Now we know why. Just 'cuz.

“We made a decision even before the plan was rolled out not to decide,” David M. Cutler, a Harvard economist who speaks for the campaign on health care, told the Times. “It’s not that there’s a decision out there that we’re not telling. It’s literally that we’ve decided not to decide.”

The Times's Kevin Sack visited Massachusetts, one of the country's experimental labs for universal health care, and talked with employers about the $295-per-employee penalty they pay for not contributing to their workers' health benefits. Sack reported that amount would likely be peanuts compared to a new federal tax. 

Not too surprisingly, the state government has come calling again -- asking businesses to "contribute" more. And business owners fear it could happen on a federal level, too.