Briar-patch politics

If the Republicans and “centrists” want to put an excise tax on high-end employee health packages, more power to them.

If the concessions exacted by Republicans and “centrist” Democrats as the price of passing health care finance reform include taxing very-high-end employer-provided health care plans, I may have to rethink my basic belief that “Congress” is the opposite of “progress.” I’m not sure why a cost-control measure that is also a progressive tax should count as a bow toward the right, but if that’s what those folks want they’re more than welcome to it.

On the other hand, I also can’t see why it’s “centrist” to insist that families whose incomes are near the median should be hit with a mandate to buy insurance but not given any subsidy to make that mandate affordable. I also can’t see why it’s good politics. Here’s hoping that Obama, Waxman, Pelosi, and Kennedy hold out for 400% of poverty as the upper bound for subsidies.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: