Dear John: Why Are You Raising My Taxes?
[I’m doing my part in Sady Doyle’s Dear John twitter campaign here, because I’m not a Twitter user.]
So, John, now that you’re the Speaker of the House, you seem all exercised to get this Smith bill, limiting the application of public funds for abortion, passed. I have a bone to pick with that – or several, in fact, because I oppose it in every way. As a taxpayer in one of the most heavily taxed income brackets, states and municipalities in the US, I affirmatively want my tax dollars to help ensure that this common, safe medical procedure remains accessible. And I don’t want you and your colleages to try to redefine rape and incest to erode that. I’m a movement progressive, to the left of just about everyone in the House, let alone the Senate, so you and I are going to disagree about just about everything.
But I’m also an employer. I’m a partner in a law firm, and we’re not so big. You conservatives are supposed to be all for small businesses, because we drive all the growth and employ Americans and mom and apple pie and all that. I’m all for mom and apple pie, and I’m for employers paying for health benefits. So I want to ask you why you’re determined to mess that up.
You see, John, as you may know from the healthcare reform debate, employer-sponsored health insurance is one of the things that the United States does differently from other developed countries. We don’t have any kind of a national health system, and we don’t rely on a national insurance system, instead using the public sector as a gap filler for folks who don’t have coverage though work.
Coverage through work! Where to start with the problems with that? The idea is sort of full of holes, right? People change jobs, that creates issues that have to be fixed by legislators with stopgaps like COBRA. Not everyone is employed — wow, is everyone not employed right now. And some people’s families can’t take advantage of their benefits because of these pesky restrictions on recognizing their relationships — restrictions you’re for. But we’re not going to change this system of employer-sponsored coverage any time soon, are we? For all your crying, the HCR bill just tinkered.
We started down this road a long time ago, in the 1950s if memory serves, giving employers tax breaks for offering employees compensation in the form of benefits, instead of pay. So, when my partners and I offer a plan that covers their health care, we the employers get a tax advantage. That may be less of a good idea than having a government system, especially in industries where US companies face competition from companies in countries where the workers’ healthcare is subsidized by taxes, but at this point you and your allies consider any rejection of that plan blasphemy and socialism and all that.
So here’s the problem, John: I want to cover my employees’ abortions. It’s medical care, and if they need it, they ought to have it. That’s not your view, but it’s mine, and I’m a partner here and you’re not. Free enterprise means I can run my business as I see fit, yes? But this Smith bill would strip me of my tax advantage if I buy a plan for my employees that covers abortions.
You’re trying to raise my taxes! Some other firm, perhaps my direct competitor, may see it your way, and buy a plan that doesn’t cover abortions. It’s their firm and that’s their business. This is my business, and I want to offer a plan that does provide that coverage, but the Smith bill you’re trying to pass would drop my tax deduction if I did that — not the deduction just on the sliver that is abortion coverage, but for the whole plan! You’re letting other businesses keep their tax break, if they align their benefit package with your ideology, but you’re trying to raise taxes on my business if we don’t.
John, because of this burr in your saddle about one of the most common surgical procedures in the US, you’re threating to raise my taxes, and you’re interfering with this small business’s relationship to its employees. What is it that your core values are again? I thought you were supposed to the the party of not raising taxes and keeping your nose out of small business’s business. Apparently, when push comes to shove, you’re really the party of imposing your moral judgments of people who think differently from you and live in parts of the country with very different attitudes from your constituents. That’s like being against mom, and apple pie!
Some “conservative” you are.