October 2, 2008

Joe Biden scoffs at Sarah Palin's assertion that John McCain's plan to give every family a $5,000 tax credit to pay for healthcare will actually be adequate and shows how the numbers just make no sense at all.

Gwen, I don't know where to start. We don't call a redistribution in my neighborhood Scranton, Claymont, Wilmington, the places I grew up, to give the fair to say that not giving Exxon Mobil another $4 billion tax cut this year as John calls for and giving it to middle class people to be able to pay to get their kids to college, we don't call that redistribution. We call that fairness number one. Number two fact, 95 percent of the small businesses in America, their owners make less than $250,000 a year. They would not get one single solitary penny increase in taxes, those small businesses.

Now, with regard to the -- to the health care plan, you know, it's with one hand you giveth, the other you take it. You know how Barack Obama -- excuse me, do you know how John McCain pays for his $5,000 tax credit you're going to get, a family will get?

He taxes as income every one of you out there, every one of you listening who has a health care plan through your employer. That's how he raises $3.6 trillion, on your -- taxing your health care benefit to give you a $5,000 plan, which his Web site points out will go straight to the insurance company.

And then you're going to have to replace a $12,000 -- that's the average cost of the plan you get through your employer -- it costs $12,000. You're going to have to pay -- replace a $12,000 plan, because 20 million of you are going to be dropped. Twenty million of you will be dropped.

So you're going to have to place -- replace a $12,000 plan with a $5,000 check you just give to the insurance company. I call that the "Ultimate Bridge to Nowhere."

Actually, I'm curious how even McCain/Palin can claim that $5,000 could cover anyone adequately. God forbid you have a pre-existing condition. $5,000 wouldn't even cover my family for half a year.

The Obama campaign's Rapid Response department issued the following fact check on McCain's healthcare plan:

Tonight Sarah Palin said: "[John McCain] he has a good health care plan that is detailed. I want to give you a couple details on that. He is proposing a five billion dollar tax credit for families so they can get out there and purchase their own health care coverage 5,000 tax credit, that is budget neutral. That doesn't cost the government anything as opposed to Barack Obama's plan to mandate health care coverage and have this universal government-run program, and unless you are pleased with the way that the Federal Government has been running anything lately, I don't think that is going to be real pleasing for Americans to consider health care being taken over by the Feds. But a $5,000 health care credit through our income tax, that's budget neutral, that's going to help, and he also wants to erase those artificial lines between states so that through competition, we can cross state lines, and if there is a better plan offered somewhere else, we would be able to purchase that. So affordability and accessibility will be the keys there with that $5,000 tax credit also being offered." [Vice Presidential Debate, 10/2/08]

The Facts: McCain's health care plan would raise taxes on middle class families. Obama's plan is not government run and would maintain the existing system.


· McCain's Campaign "Acknowledged" That His Health Care Plan "Would Have The Effect Of Increasing Tax Payments For Some Workers." "Though Senator John McCain has promised to not raise taxes, his campaign acknowledged Wednesday that the health plan he outlined this week would have the effect of increasing tax payments for some workers, primarily those with high incomes and expensive health plans. ... Douglas Holtz-Eakin said in an interview that for some, Mr. McCain's health care tax credits would not be large enough to compensate for his proposal to eliminate the tax breaks afforded to workers with employer-provided health benefits." [New York Times, 5/1/08 ]

· 20 Million Americans Would Lose Employment-Based Health Insurance Under The McCain Plan. "A study coming out Tuesday from scholars at Columbia, Harvard, Purdue and Michigan projects that 20 million Americans who have employment-based health insurance would lose it under the McCain plan. ... According to the study: 'The McCain plan will force millions of Americans into the weakest segment of the private insurance system - the nongroup market - where cost-sharing is high, covered services are limited and people will lose access to benefits they have now.' The net effect of the plan, the study said, 'almost certainly will be to increase family costs for medical care.'" [Herbert, New York Times, 9/16/08 ]

· Because McCain's Health Care Tax Credit Is Indexed To "Regular Inflation," Which Is Lower Than Annual Increase In Health Care Costs, After Four Years "The Number Of Uninsured Would... Creep Upward." "Eliminating the tax exclusion, they wrote, 'would greatly reduce the number of people who obtain health insurance through their employers.' They put that figure at 20 million, and calculated that it would be offset at first by the 21 million who would be able to afford individual coverage using Mr. McCain's tax credits. Within a few years, however, the trend would reverse, the study asserts. That is because, according to Mr. Holtz-Eakin, the McCain health care tax credits would be indexed to 'regular inflation,' presumably the Consumer Price Index, which is typically lower than annual increases in health care costs. Unless costs can be substantially reined in, the credits would therefore enable fewer people to afford coverage each year, leading to an eventual rise in the number of uninsured. ... The estimates in Health Affairs are comparable to those made in July by the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, which projected that 1 million people would gain coverage after one year under Mr. McCain's plan, that almost 5 million people would gain coverage after four years, and that the number of uninsured would then creep upward." [New York Times, 9/16/08 ]

· Wall Street Journal: McCain Plan Would "Allow Health-Insurance Companies to Escape State Regulations They Don't Like." "Sen. McCain also would let people buy health insurance across state lines. That would allow health-insurance companies to escape state regulations they don't like, such as rules allowing for appeals when companies deny coverage and rules requiring insurers to cover people with various conditions or to cover particular types of treatments. The companies would likely gravitate to the states with the regulations they most favored. The result is that health-insurance companies would all operate out of states with few regulations, effectively stripping state rules built over decades, [Elizabeth] Edwards said. 'We can expect all our health-care policies to be written in states where little is required of them.'" [Wall Street Journal , 4/19/08]

· Commonwealth Fund Study: McCain's Plan Would Cost $185 Billion In The First Year While Obama's Plan Would Cost $86 Billion in the first year. According to a report by the Commonwealth Fund, "McCain's plan would reduce the number of uninsured Americans by 1.3 million over the coming decade at a total cost of $1.3 billion. Obama's plan would reduce the ranks of the uninsured by 34 million at a cost of $1.63 billion. During the first year of implementation, McCain's proposed plan would dent the federal budget to the tune of $185 billion, while Obama's plan would require $86 billion." [Washington Post, 10/2/08 ]


· Washington Post: McCain Repeats "Canard" That Obama's Health Care Plan Would Turn The System Over To The Federal Government. "John McCain raised an old Republican canard, repeated often in the primaries, when he claimed that Obama's health care plan would eventually turn the health care system over to the federal government. The Illinois senator proposes helping individuals purchase health insurance through a system of subsidies and tax credits. He is also in favor of mandatory health insurance for children. But he is not advocating a state-run health system, such as the one that exists in Britain and some European countries. Under the Obama plan, individuals will still be free to choose between different types of health insurance, and will be able to choose their own doctors." [Washington Post Fact Check, 9/26/08 ]

· Fact Check.org: "Obama's Plan Wouldn't 'Force' Families Into A 'Government Run Health Care System.'" "Furthermore, Obama's plan wouldn't 'force' families into a 'government-run health care system.' His plan mandates that children have coverage; there's no mandate for adults. People can keep the health insurance they have now or chose from private plans, or opt for a new public plan that will offer coverage similar to what members of Congress have. Obama would also expand Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program. His plan certainly expands government-offered insurance - and McCain's doesn't - but it's not a solely government-run plan, as McCain implied. And if Obama's public plan turns out to be similar to what federal employees have, as he says it would be, we're not sure how "a bureaucrat" would stand 'between you and your doctor.'" [Factcheck.org, 9/5/08 ]

· Joe Klein: When McCain Says Obama Favors A "Government-Run Health-Care System, He's Not Telling The Truth." Joe Klein at Time wrote, "When McCain says, for example, that Barack Obama favors a government-run health-care system, he's not telling the truth - Obama wants a market-based system subsidized by the government..." [Time, 9/17/08 ]

· McCain Has Repeatedly Suggested That His Democratic Rivals Are Proposing A Nationalized Health Care System And That Suggestion Is "Incorrect." The New York Times wrote, "Senator John McCain has been repeatedly suggesting that his Democratic rivals are proposing a single-payer, or even a nationalized health care system along the lines of those in countries like Canada and Britain. The suggestion is incorrect. While both Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York are calling for universal health care and an expanded role for government, they stop well short of calling for a single-payer plan." [New York Times, 5/3/08 ]


· Obama's Plan Would Maintain The Existing Private System And Give Consumers The Option Of Buying Insurance From The Federal Government Along The Lines Of Medicare. Obama "would maintain the existing private system, providing government subsidies or tax credits to help the low-income uninsured afford premiums." Obama would also "give consumers a new option to buy insurance from the federal government, with policies along the lines of Medicare." [New York Times, 5/3/08 ]

· Commonwealth Fund Study: Obama's Plan Has The Best Chance Of Making Health Care More Affordable, Accessible, Efficient And Higher In Quality; McCain's Plan Would Only Cover 2 Million Of the Projected 67 Million Uninsured While Obama's Plan Would Cover 34 Million. "An analysis of the two starkly different approaches to reforming the U.S. health care system offered by John McCain and Barack Obama suggests Obama's plan has the best chance of making health care more affordable, accessible, efficient and higher in quality. The report, released on Thursday by the Commonwealth Fund, sized up the presidential candidates' plans for dealing with a health care system which has left nearly 46 million people uninsured and many more underinsured." [Reuters, 10/2/08 ]

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