David Kirkpatrick

March 1, 2010

Health care reform won’t help self-employed tax issue

As a self-employed freelance writer, I completely understand the pain of the odd taxes and hoops of red tape the IRS has put in front of the self-employed sole proprietor. Too bad none of the reform ideas floating around include helping those smallest of businesses.

From the link:

By a quirk in the tax code, self-employed workers who buy their own health insurance essentially pay an extra tax on their premiums. They’re the only taxpayers in the system who pay taxes on premiums, which count as a business expense for corporations and pretax income for employees. Because self-employed workers have no corporate employers to match their payroll tax contributions to Social Security and Medicare, they pay double the rate of wage and salary workers in a levy known as the self-employment tax equal to 15.3% of their net earnings. That’s on top of regular state and federal income taxes, and the income they spend on health premiums is not exempt.

The nation’s 9 million self-employed—sole proprietors with few or no employees, contract workers, and freelancers—constitute about 8% of the total U.S. labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (The Census Bureau counts 22 million sole-proprietors, but it’s not clear how many of those may be payroll workers as well.) “You correct this, think of the widespread health benefit you would give to so many people,” says Kristie Arslan, executive director of the lobbying group National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), which represents the self-employed in Washington.

February 5, 2010

Is the Tea Party movement heading toward third party status?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:06 pm

Cato’s John Samples thinks so. To me the Tea Party movement feels much more nativist/conservative than it does libertarian. For some reason, for years now people seem to love to call themselves libertarian. Several years ago a friend of mine who is a pretty doctrinaire liberal — he once said at a gathering he felt he didn’t pay enough taxes (!!?!!) — considered himself a libertarian. So I think there’s a lot of confusion out there on just what makes one a libertarian. Particularly when separating Republicans from libertarians.

From everything I’ve read, the Tea Partiers talk a pretty good fiscal conservative line, but a great number also talk a very strong social conservative line as well. If that doesn’t define your basic small-tent GOPer, nothing does. And setting the Tea Party rhetoric aside there is quite the disconnect between what the movement purports to believe in, and what it seems to actually support.

The easiest example is government spending on health care: Tea Partiers are vehemently against health care reform, or what has been framed as “Obamacare,” but at the same time want Medicare — quite the “socialist” medical care program by Tea Party definition — left alone. Either you are against government involvement with health care or not. The existing hypocrisy sounds more like Baby Boomer-aged Tea Partiers who are just fine with government subsidized health care as long as they are the recipients of all that government largess.

Needless to say, Samples sees a purity in the Tea Party movement that just isn’t there.

Here’s Samples’ take from the link way up there in the first graf:

It is not Republican; it is not even conservative. It has no interest in debating the merits of No Child Left Behind, abstinence-only sex education or George W. Bush’s rationale for going to Iraq. Replacing a “spend and borrow” Democrat with a “spend and borrow” Republican is not the goal of the Tea Party movement.

This movement is simply saying: “We are fine without you, Washington. Now for the love of God, go attend a reception somewhere, and stop making health care and entrepreneurship more expensive than they already are.”

Machiavelli once said a republic stays healthy by returning to its first principles from time to time. The Tea Party movement is trying to get our nation back to its first principles to prevent our decline. For their trouble, they have been denounced by many in the media and the Obama administration.

But they will continue to fight. They still believe in the promise of America. That faith may spread as Election Day approaches in the second and perhaps final year of what is supposed to be the Age of Obama.

What began as angry town meetings and grew into a political movement may end as a third political party in 2012. Maybe then Washington will finally listen.

January 20, 2010

Teeth gnashing and hand wringing over health care reform

(Update — bold emphasis added because it seems it takes a sledgehammer to make a fiscal point right now.)

I’m sure there’s a lot of both going on behind the Democratic Party scenes. There’s a lot of both going on publicly along with plenty of finger pointing, blaming and dissembling among the left blogosphere. The simple fact is health care reform in its current Congressional form has not, and almost certainly will not, pass because of Democratic ham-fisted policy making. But the GOP is behaving shamefully and shamelessly as an opposition party with no alternative ideas and zero compromise on a very necessary evil.

Yes, health care reform is a very necessary evil. Honest libertarians can be excused from the argument, but fiscal conservatives are lying to themselves or everyone else when they deny health care reform must occur at some point in the near future. Health care as a percentage of income is becoming unmanageable and health insurance costs are killing businesses both large and small.

Without reform health care in the United States will continue to bankrupt people at higher and higher levels of income, and cause untold suffering and early death for the uninsured. And at a point in time looming very soon it will simply bankrupt the entire nation. I’m no fan of too much government influence anywhere, but after looking over the arguments (and sorting through the hyperventilated crap from both the left and the right) I am convinced reform at the federal level is now a necessary evil. Any fiscal conservative who looks at the numbers honestly will come to the same conclusion.

Some funny (interesting, not hah hah) facts about the situation on the ground now that Brown has taken over Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat: the oft pointed out irony that Kennedy’s old seat will end his signature legislation; the fact the Massachusetts electorate already has a state run plan along the lines of federal health care reform so scuttling the current reform efforts causes them no significant pain; that the new GOP senator voted for the Massachusetts plan, but has declared opposition to essentially the same plan on the federal level; the heaviest opposition to health care reform is found amongst voters who either are already in, or soon will be, the massive federal subsidy of Medicare or Medicaid and basically fear their benefits being harmed in some way. Talk about wanting to selfishly eat your children. No health care reform equals a potentially very bleak future for everyone middle aged on down.

September 3, 2009

The health care debate is officially out of hand

Filed under: Politics, Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:02 pm

Everyone needs to take this “discussion” down several notches. At least one grumpy old person now really has something to yell about.

From the first link:

California authorities say a clash between opponents and supporters of health care reform ended with one man biting off another man’s finger.

Ventura County Sheriff‘s Capt. Frank O’Hanlon says about 100 people demonstrating in favor of health care reforms rallied Wednesday night on a street corner. One protester walked across the street to confront about 25 counter-demonstrators.

O’Hanlon says the man got into an argument and fist fight, during which he bit off the left pinky of a 65-year-old man who opposed health care reform.

A hospital spokeswoman says the man lost half the finger, but doctors reattached it and he was sent home the same night.

(Hat tip: the Daily Dish)

August 19, 2009

The health care debate and the GOP

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:12 pm

The health care debate has devolved into posturing on one side and avoidance on the other, but two facts remain: in order to keep the nation solvent, health care — particularly the presently government funded pieces — must be rethought; and by sheer force of will the Democrats can muster the votes to press some type of reform through within the next two years.

The words and actions of the GOP, not the protesters but the elected officials, have gone beyond marginalizing the party to essentially removing the Republican opinion from the sausage-making for whatever bill does hit the floor and pass. Remarks like Senator Chuck Grassley’sreiterating Sarah Palin’s outrageous scare tactics give Democrats the ability to ignore someone who should be a strong advocate for the GOP at the committee level.

The end result is some version of health care reform is very likely to pass before the midterm election in 2010, and that reform bill will contain very few, or more likely zero, Republican fingerprints.

It’s great for an opposition party to oppose the policies from across the aisle. It’s a lot better for the opposition party to challenge and improve those policies.

From the first link:

Given hardening Republican opposition to Congressional health care proposals, Democrats now say they see little chance of the minority’s cooperation in approving any overhaul, and are increasingly focused on drawing support for a final plan from within their own ranks.

Top Democrats said Tuesday that their go-it-alone view was being shaped by what they saw as Republicans’ purposely strident tone against health care legislation during this month’s Congressional recess, as well as remarks by leading Republicans that current proposals were flawed beyond repair.

July 9, 2009

Paying for health care reform

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:16 pm

Make no mistake about it, the Obama White House will accomplish some measure of health care reform. There are simply too many of the major players sitting at the table and willing to deal for nothing to make it to Congress. The big two health care questions are: how much service and how will the bill get paid?

Looks like in the early go the paying-for-it part is already a little sticky.

From the link:

Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has said repeatedly that health reform would be paid for with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.

Baucus and others have made some progress through savings in Medicare, Medicaid and other programs.

On Wednesday, for instance, Vice President Biden said hospitals would reduce costs by $155 billion over 10 years. But nothing is final until that deal between the White House and business — and a similar one reached with drugmakers last month — is written into legislation.

And on the revenue side of the equation, there is still no apparent consensus.

This much is certain: Lawmakers must find ways to raise a lot of money.