Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Principles on Progressive Options to Finance Health Care Reform

From our friends at Citizens for tax justice…

Majority of Americans Support Tax Increases to Pay for Health Care Reform...
Congress Feeling the Pressure to Deliver Real Health Care Reform

A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found 57 percent of respondents were willing to "pay higher taxes so that all Americans have health insurance that they can't lose no matter what," compared to 37 percent who said they were not willing. This is particularly interesting because 77 percent of respondents also said that they were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their own health care. A significant number of Americans seem ready to pay higher taxes to improve the health care system as a whole, even if they think they personally do alright in the current system.

What types of tax increases would most people prefer? A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that the sort of tax increase respondents would favor the most to finance health care reform was the most progressive option offered in the survey: raising income taxes of Americans with incomes of over $250,000 a year.

Several progressive proposals would accomplish this. One is President Obama's idea to limit itemized deductions for high-income taxpayers. Another is CTJ's proposal to expand the Medicare tax (PDF) to make it a more progressive tax that applies to investment income as well as wages.

...But Lawmakers Will Not Get the Message If We Don't Speak Up
Organizations Urged to Join Statement of Principles on Progressive Options to Finance Health Care Reform

Despite the apparent support for a progressive approach to financing health care reform, some lawmakers have told staff of CTJ and other organizations that they haven't heard enough from people who support this approach. As one Hill staffer recently put it, "You people are outgunned" by the lobbyists for business groups that oppose any tax increase that could conceivably impact the wealthy investor class.

The very first step (among many) in addressing this problem is for organizations around the country to join the statement of principles formulated by Rebuild and Renew America Now (RRAN), the coalition of advocates, religious organizations, unions and think tanks that are educating Congress about progressive ways to finance health care reform. The deadline for organizations to sign has been extended to Thursday, July 2.

Lawmakers need to see that there are several organizations in every single state that support this progressive approach. The sign-on process is being organized by the Coalition on Human Needs. Click here (PDF) to see the letter with the current list of organizations that have signed on, and click here to add your organization.

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