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An Obamacare Report Card

The grades are bad so far—and likely to get worse

Feb 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 22 • By CHRISTOPHER J. CONOVER
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Promise #2: No New Taxes on the Middle Class. Candidate Obama promised on September 12, 2008: “I can make a firm pledge under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.” Using official estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation, the House Ways and Means Committee projects that Obamacare will increase federal revenues by $1.058 trillion between 2013 and 2022. Only 30 percent of this total will be raised from taxes that exclusively target taxpayers earning over $200,000 (singles) or $250,000 (married). The remaining 70 percent will be borne by households at all other income levels. Tax Policy Center figures show that such households do not account for more than half of all federal taxes. So even if we generously assume such households will bear a similar share of the myriad levies to be imposed on health insurers, medical device manufacturers, and drug manufacturers—levies which will be passed onto consumers—that still leaves at least 35 percent to be borne by families at or below middle-class incomes. 

And these figures do not include the hundreds of billions of dollars in new revenue that will have to be collected by states to pay for their share of Obamacare-induced growth in Medicaid. Nor do they include the impact of “taxation by regulation”—i.e., the tens of billions of dollars in higher premiums that young Americans are being forced to pay under Obamacare’s modified community rating rules in order to subsidize predominantly higher-income people who happen to be older. In short, President Obama’s promise at best was 65 percent true and more likely 50 percent or less true. Grade: F.

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