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#366587 - 11/25/0901:37 PMRe: What to do about healthcare? Can it be fixed?
Yes, it could be a federal sales tax imposed in addition to what the states impose, or it could be imposed instead of the federal income tax (either in part or altogether). A few states have no state income tax. I know Texas, Tennessee, and Washington don't. I'm pretty sure there are a few others. How they fare under this way of collecting revenue, I don't know. I recall some favor the idea of abolishing income tax in favor of a national sales tax.
Please help me understand that a national sales tax wouldn't fly very well. Is this because everybody would be required to help fund the services from which they benefit instead of getting something for nothing and shifting the entire burden on to someone else? It's only fair that everybody share the financial burden for services they use. This would be more fair than an income tax since everybody doesn't work, right. Much of what the legislators propose or do doesn't fly with a given subset of the population. Whether that is a national sales tax to fund health care, a tax to fund wars, the wars themselves, etc., not everyone will be accepting of it.
Regarding the burden to the poor, it is true that this wouldn't be adjusted for income. The wealthy, though, would still continue to pay the majority of taxes from an absolute dollar perspective. The thing I don't understand though is that this is no different from what the states (states that have sales tax) currently do. These state sales taxes are not adjusted for income. Perhaps drop the previously mentioned tax on the basics (food, clothing, a few others – electronics are not necessities), etc., or tax them at a lesser rate, or tax only certain items. I don't know. Some states do levy sales tax on food. I thought the state in which I reside did, but it is actually a local tax, not a state tax. However, everyone would be forced to rethink their priorities regarding spending, wealthy and poor alike. I never quite understood this practice of placing the majority of the tax burden on society's producers. It penalizes and basically discourages success.
I can appreciate Driz's comment about using tax dollars for what they are intended, as things cost money and we can't continue to borrow as we do. These wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) have consumed nearly 1 trillion dollars. The fact that they (mainly Iraq) have manifested into what they have is incomprehensible. The nagging thing is that if we stop SPENDING, whether it be unwanted wars, money losing government sponsored enterprises, inefficiently government run monopolies, etc. the country would be on better economic footing and some aspects of a national health insurance plan might be less contentious.
Regarding the economic impact of a national sales tax and it stifling spending. One, it sounds like something W advocated after the terrorist attacks for everybody to go out and shop and everything will be fine. Right. Sure. Two, actually, the price of the goods, sans what taxes add, might actually decline to offset the economic burden now added by the tax. The manufacturers/retailers are not going to continue to price goods (things like deodorant, televisions, etc.) at the same/current level putting it out of reach for consumers. The final cost (good + tax) will likely be similar or the same as it would have pre-national sales tax, but to not rethink the pricing in the wake of such a tax would have too big an impact on their revenues. The exception might be something similar to gasoline where there really aren't current viable alternatives for nearly all consumers. Three, the majority of spending would continue to be driven by the upper middle class and wealthy, therefore I wonder how significant the economic impact would actually be. Keep in mind had everyone lived within their means (all income levels), we wouldn't be in much of the economic trouble in which we currently find ourselves. The stimulus was poorly conceived and poorly executed. It, like the bailout before it, are doing little to help “main street” and the foundation of this country.
I agree that the proposed health care plan is not supposed cost more money in the long run. This may be accomplished, but I'm not hopeful. I also think that to try and accomplish this, the government will employ any means necessary. I think it is overly optimistic to think that this health care plan is a magic wand and everybody will be healthier and things will be all sunshine and roses. You are discounting the human factor (e.g. overeating, eating inadequate foods, substance abuse, laziness) and the evil entities that market the products tied to some of the aforementioned examples.
I'm a little more optimistic about the debate of this proposed health care bill. I would have thought that you would be similarly optimistic given how far this concept since there have been multiple bills) has advanced.