The Obama administration is signaling to Congress that the president could support taxing some employee health benefits, as several influential lawmakers and many economists favor, to help pay for overhauling the health care system.
In television advertisements last fall, Mr. Obama criticized his Republican rival for the presidency, Senator John McCain of Arizona, for proposing to tax all employer-provided health benefits. The benefits have long been tax-free, regardless of how generous they are or how much an employee earns. The advertisements did not point out that Mr. McCain, in exchange, wanted to give all families a tax credit to subsidize the purchase of coverage.
At the time, even some Obama supporters said privately that he might come to regret his position if he won the election; in effect, they said, he was potentially giving up an important option to help finance his ambitious health care agenda to reduce medical costs and to expand coverage to the 46 million uninsured Americans.
As I noted at the time, many of Obama’s economic advisers are big supporters of removing the tax deductible nature of employer based health insurance, so perhaps this shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. Continue reading
President-elect Barack Obama is poised to move swiftly to reverse actions that President Bush took using executive authority, and his transition team is reviewing limits on stem cell research and the expansion of oil and gas drilling, among other issues, members of the team said Sunday.
“There’s a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for Congressional action, and I think we’ll see the president do that,” John D. Podesta, a top transition leader, said Sunday. “He feels like he has a real mandate for change. We need to get off the course that the Bush administration has set.” Continue reading
In one sense the answer to the question is obviously yes. Both Obama and McCain favor federal funding for embryo-destroying research, and so far as I call tell there is no daylight between them on the subject of what types of research they would like to subsidize. And while McCain has occasionally made noises to the effect that he might possibly drop his support for ESCR, he hasn’t done so yet. Politics, however, is about not only the positions that one holds but about how those positions will be implemented. And on that score there is a very clear difference between Obama and McCain when it comes to federal funding for embryo-destroying research.
Federal funding for embryo-destroying research can come about in one of two ways. It could be enacted by congress, either with the President’s support or over his veto, or it could be enacted via executive order. Senator Obama has pledged that, if elected, he would immediately sign an executive order granting funding for embryo-destroying research. McCain has not made such a commitment, and the view among ESCR’s main supporters in the congress seems to be that he would wait for congress to pass a bill rather than acting on his own.
This difference is potentially decisive. Continue reading
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