One of the main criticisms opponents of health reform have been wielding is that it is simply too expensive. “The costly government-run health care plan put forth by President Obama and Speaker Pelosi is just the latest in a long line of expensive Democratic experiments,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH). Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has said that, “unfortunately, the path we are taking in Washington right now is to simply spend another trillion dollars of taxpayer money to further expand the role of the federal government.”
However, as a new report from Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) pointed out, “many of the lawmakers who argue that the health care reform legislation is ‘too costly are the same lawmakers who supported the Bush tax cuts,” which cost almost $2.5 trillion over the decade after they were first enacted (2001–2010). Comparably, the health care reform plan proposed by Democrats in the House costs about $1 trillion over ten years. And while the Democratic plan goes toward reforming a broken health care system, “a staggering 52.5 percent of the benefits [of the Bush tax cuts] will go to the richest 5 percent of taxpayers.”
Both Boehner and Hatch voted for the Bush tax cuts across the board. So as CTJ put it, “their own voting record demonstrates that health care reform is not a matter of costs, but a matter of priorities.”
And those priorities seem very misplaced, considering this new analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which shows how much of the last economic expansion flowed to those at the top of the income scale:
Two-thirds of the nation’s total income gains from 2002 to 2007 flowed to the top 1 percent of U.S. households, and that top 1 percent held a larger share of income in 2007 than at any time since 1928, according to an analysis of newly released IRS data by economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez. During those years, the Piketty-Saez data also show, the inflation-adjusted income of the top 1 percent of households grew more than ten times faster than the income of the bottom 90 percent of households.
Plus, we’re talking about tax cuts that significantly contributed to skyrocketing deficits versus a health care bill that is required by the budget framework to be deficit neutral (through savings within the system or raising new revenues), so those supporting the former but opposing the latter because of costs are doubly hypocritical.