LA Progressive reminds:
Did you know Obama’s health care bill contained a $20 billion a year tax on the richest Americans? I didn’t until I stumbled onto a mention of this the other day, although writing about politics is my life and I knew enough to be angry at the gutting of a national public option. I asked a dozen other friends, half of whom work in health care or health care policy and most of whom are fellow political junkies. None of them knew either. If those who follow these issues intensely don’t know about something that all of us would cheer as a step toward getting the wealthiest to pay their fair share, most American voters sure aren’t going to know either.
That's right. I had totally forgotten about the .9 percent increase in the Medicare tax, effective January 1, 2013. Here's something else important about it: It's not just on earned income. For married couples earning $250,000 or more (singles are $200,000), the Medicare hospital tax increases by .9 percent on all earned income above the cap for employer and employee alike (.45 percent each). But for people whose earnings consist primarily of capital gains, they, too, will pay an additional tax on those capital gains at a rate of 3.8 percent. That means people like Mitt Romney and others whose earnings are primarily capital gains and dividends will be subject to an additional 3.8 percent tax over and above the usual capital gains tax, but only on amounts which exceed the $200,000/$250,000 cap.
Now, LA Progressive is a bit angry that this hasn't been more widely publicized, but I can understand why it hasn't. I remember the debate over it at the time and how completely irrational the right wing was about having to kick in a few extra dollars to help fund subsidies for low-income insureds and keep Medicare solvent, so I downplayed it, too. After all, there was plenty of good in the bill even if it wasn't perfect, and there was far more heat than light at the end of the health care debate as it was.
However, in the cold light of 2011, that Medicare tax looks pretty darn good. When you consider the debates raging on today, it's amazing they were able to get anything through that taxed even one penny of capital gains and dividends. I wonder whether the resolve on the part of Republicans to repeal the PPACA has more to do with the idea of paying even one extra penny of taxes, or universal health care?