As health care issues heat up on the campaign trail, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) can’t seem to get his plan straight. Last Sunday, the senator admitted that his health care plan would increase taxes. On Friday, the campaign inadvertently called McCain a liar. And yesterday, in an interview with a local NBC affiliate in Florida, Gov. Sarah Palin again disagreed with McCain and explained that their health care plan “doesn’t increase anyone’s taxes”:
Q: Obama campaign calls Sen. McCain’s health care plan radical. That there could be a chance your Medicare could be in dander if not taxed then in some way cut. Explain John McCai’s health care plan.
PALIN: Maybe it’s radical because we don’t want the government to control it all we want the private sector we want through competition for American families to be able to afford health care. Doesn’t cost the government anything and certainly doesn’t increase anyone’s taxes.
Well, it either does or it doesn’t, and both McCain and the Wonk Room agree that it does.
Everyone also agrees that McCain’s health care plan is radical, and, despite Palin’s best attempts to pivot the argument in her favor, most observers aren’t buying her spin. In fact, today’s New York Times reports that numerous business groups and associations oppose McCain’s proposal to replace the current tax exemption for employer-sponsored health care benefits with a one-size-fits all tax credit.
The officials, with organizations like the “U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the National Federation of Independent Business, predicted in recent interviews that the McCain plan, which eliminates the exclusion of health benefits from income taxes, would accelerate the erosion of employer-sponsored health insurance and do little to reduce the number of uninsured from 45 million”:
- R. Bruce Josten, Chamber of Commerce: “To some in the business community, this is very discomforting. The private marketplace, in my opinion, is ill prepared today with an infrastructure for an individual-based health insurance system…There are huge questions about the $5,000 per family being an insufficient amount in terms of being able to purchase the same coverage.”
- John J. Castellani, Business Roundtable: “One of the things we don’t want to do, is jeopardize 170 million Americans who do get insurance through their employers.”
- Helen B. Darling, National Business Group on Health: “The last thing you want to do to the average working person, especially when you’re bailing out big financial companies, is take something they hold near and dear partially away.”
Recent analyses of McCain’s health care plan suggest that 20 million Americans could lose their employer-sponsored health care coverage (while 21 million would pick up subprime health insurance plans in the individual insurance market).
UPDATE: Appearing in Jacksonville, Florida Palin said, “our health care plan will give millions of middle-class families access to better health care without costing them a dime.”