Ezra Klein's Claim about the Shutdown
By David Henderson
This [the shutdown of well under half of the federal government] is all about stopping a law that increases taxes on rich people and reduces subsidies to private insurers in Medicare in order to help low-income Americans buy health insurance. That’s it. That’s why the Republican Party might shut down the government and default on the debt.
Ezra Klein, whom many people respect as a blogger, in part because of his alleged command of the facts, wrote this yesterday.
Although Klein may be right because he follows these things more than I do, I don’t think he is. The increased taxes on “rich people,” by which term I’m sure he means “high-income people,” have been in place all this calendar year. Now it’s possible that the House Republicans tried to repeal those taxes in the last few days, but I don’t think they did.
As Alan Reynolds pointed out last week:
Even if such “defunding” could have magically attracted the 67 Senate votes needed to override a veto, it would not have undone the mandate to buy insurance, premium subsidies through refundable tax credits, planned cuts in payments to Medicare providers, or any of Obamacare’s numerous new 2013 taxes-including the extra 0.9 percent payroll tax and 3.8 percent surtax on investment income for couples earning more than $250,000. Rhetorical opposition to “funding” did not even include opposing Obamacare taxes.
But I’m willing to be corrected. At the time Klein posted, which was 2:45 p.m. EDT, did the latest House Republican bill include repeal of those increased payroll taxes and income taxes? If you answer yes in the comments, please provide a link.
Moreover, what I do know is that the bill the House sent to the Senate last night did not at all do what Klein claims.
Here’s what The Hill, which I’m sure Klein pays attention to, reported this morning:
Before that, the Senate rejected a House amendment delaying the entire healthcare law for a year, Boehner pushed through a second series of amendments to delay only the individual mandate and scrap subsidies in the law for members of Congress, their staff and political appointees.
Led by Reid, the Democratic majority in the upper chamber swatted down each House volley like a tennis player hovering at the net.
Get it? What it came down to was removing the requirement for individuals to buy health insurance and stripping away subsidies that Obama had granted, with no legal authorization, to Congressmen and staffers, people who could hardly be called “low-income.” In other words, it had nothing to do with what Klein claims.
I wonder if Klein will issue an update.