RUSH: Matthews, Virginia, this is Joe. Welcome, sir, to the EIB Network. It’s great to have you with us.
CALLER: Great to be on your show. Thank you very much.
RUSH: You bet.
CALLER: After your segment, though, giving kudos to the president and his speech, I’m not sure I can criticize him, but I do have some criticisms as a conservative.
RUSH: Wait a minute, now. Wait, wait, wait, wait a minute. I made it plain I was not going to talk specifics in my opening comments. I was going to wait for specifics for you all to weigh in because once I say something about it there’s nothing left to be said. You want to go get specifics. I talked some specifics about the war, but the domestic stuff, I had some problems with it, but I was going to wait for the program to unfold and let you all have your say before I shut you up.
CALLER: Okay. Here’s my specifics.
CALLER: He rolled on climate change. He rolled on the workers program; we’re going to have amnesty, and he rolled like his father did on taxes. We’re going to get taxed on health benefits. Now, any one of those things is a show in itself but let me tell you about the taxes. If you’re a producer, like I am — you know, I go out and work and I produce things — and say my salary is middle class, which I am, and I get health benefits as part of my salary —
CALLER: — they’re going to get taxed because I’m not going to make a little more than the 15,000 he’s going to give us a write-off on. Well, if it’s a family of four, let me tell you, health benefits are more than that. Let me just go ahead and buy my own insurance. I’d like to do that.
RUSH: Well, that’s the plan, and if you do you’re going to get a deduction for it, just as the standard exemption for kids is.
CALLER: Yeah, but my company provides health, and that company provides health more than $15,000, and that’s going to get taxed. So there I am. I’m being taxed get again.
RUSH: Hold it a second. You’re not going to be in both circumstances. If you go buy your own health insurance, you’re not going to be enrolled in an employer health care plan.
CALLER: Yeah, but I’m not going to get that salary, either. You recognize that health benefits are part of your salary.
RUSH: Well, I do.
CALLER: Yes, you do.
RUSH: But it’s not part of your take-home pay, so you never see it.
CALLER: Well, no, no, no, no. It’s part of your take-home pay. You don’t get it cash, but it’s part of your take-home pay.
RUSH: No, it’s not.
CALLER: I don’t have to put out that bill later on.
RUSH: Take-home pay is what your paycheck is. Other benefits, you never see. It costs the employer that much to hire you, but you have no choice over the expenditure of that money you never see.
CALLER: Well, let’s look at it this way. If I were offered a job, say, by a company that gave me full health benefits and that was in addition to my salary of a hundred thousand dollars —
CALLER: — and another company gave me a hundred thousand dollars salary with no health benefits and I had to fork it out of my own pocket, which job would I take?
RUSH: Well, that’s a very interesting question.
CALLER: You bet.
RUSH: It provides an incredible insight.
CALLER: You bet. That’s because a lot of people don’t consider health benefits and all the other ancillary things to your salary, as being salary. See, that’s the baloney part of it.
RUSH: Here’s the problem that we face, particularly with health care — and, by the way, I must tell you that if a Democrat had proposed this plan last night, the Drive-By Media and every one else, would just be all over it. You know, we keep clamoring in this country for new ideas.
RUSH: Nobody wants Hillary Care. Do you want national health care run by the government?
CALLER: Absolutely not. I would just like to do this by myself in the marketplace.
RUSH: Well, ba-da ba-da ba-da, that’s the Bush plan!
CALLER: Well, not quite.
RUSH: Yes, it is. It exactly is, and the Democrats are saying it’s dead on arrival precisely because it would involve the free market and market forces; it would take the employer relationship out of it for those who opted out of it. There’s no requirement that you do either. It’s up to you to choose. My gosh, freedom, how about that, a little liberty thrown in? In fact, the Democrats are today talking, “How can they destroy the employer-based health care?” Well, you’re going to, because you’re going to have the government run the whole thing.
CALLER: Yeah, well, I don’t want the government to run the whole thing, and getting into the free market is still not part of his plan.
RUSH: We can’t sit here and complain and moan about, “Gosh, there’s no new ideas about health care and Social Security,” and then have a new idea come along, a genuine new idea, and the Democrats aren’t even willing to debate it!
CALLER: Well, of course not. They’re not going to debate any of this stuff unless it’s Hillary plan or a government plan.
RUSH: Yet you will call here and you want to dump on Bush.
CALLER: I’m not dumping on him.
RUSH: Yes you are!
CALLER: Yes, I am. I am dumping on him because this is a tax event. I’m sorry, Rush, I don’t agree with it. It’s a tax event.
RUSH: It could be a tax event. Look, let’s run through the details of this, and there are some people that have fears that this is going to end up raising taxes along the line. Any time Washington does anything, that’s a legitimate fear to have!
CALLER: You bet.
RUSH: It’s a legitimate suspicion to have. But the health care system as it is now is out of whack for two reasons. A: the customer, the patient, doesn’t pay for anything, and the patient secondly thus assumes it’s all free. They assume the employer coverage they get as a benefit — even though they don’t see the money — is good. It’s free! Health care is free. Other than the co-pay and the deductible and so forth, it’s basically free.
CALLER: But that’s my example. So if the guy —
RUSH: I was getting there.
CALLER: If the guys didn’t give me my salary increase, in lieu of health plan, what happens then, you see? They have to give me another 20, $25,000 in salary so I can buy it in the market.
RUSH: No, no, no. Then they’re buying it, not you.
CALLER: No, no, no, under his health care plan, I go out in the market and pay for it.
CALLER: I don?t have to pay for it.
RUSH: Yes, you do. One of the underlying theories here is that there are people enrolled in health plans that are far more than they need. They are lavish beyond what’s necessary for normal, everyday health care. Catastrophic is something else entirely.
RUSH: The point here is to get people buying their own health insurance like you buy your own car, like you rent your own hotel rooms, like you shop at the mall — and when you do this, theoretically you’re going to shop price.
RUSH: When you’re paying for it yourself. This will bring competition into the mix and reduce prices, and in exchange for whatever you — and, by the way, health savings accounts will be part of this.
CALLER: There still has to be a transition from the company paying this — paying for health care — to the company paying you the salary.
CALLER: And that’s going to be the tough part to sell.
RUSH: Nothing like this ever happens from a standing start. Of course there’s going to be a phase-in if this thing ever saw the light of day. Look, I’m going to try to explain this to you one more time. I’ve gotta take a break though. Can you hang on?
CALLER: Go ahead. Go ahead.
RUSH: Thank you. Thank you.
RUSH: We’re back now to Joe in Matthews, Virginia. By the way, Joe, your state’s not producing some winners lately here. Jim Webb?
CALLER: Yeah, I know.
RUSH: You see his response last night? My gosh!
CALLER: We just had the other one go into the other column, too.
RUSH: I know.
CALLER: I don’t know what’s going on here in Virginia.
RUSH: There’s no question the Democrats… The governor, Tim Kaine, gave the response to something a year ago.
CALLER: Yeah, right. That was not good.
RUSH: At any rate, look, here’s the way this is going to work. This is the plan as it’s offered — and as you know, if this were ever to be debated — and Fortney “Pete” Stark, and the House committee that is going to look at it, says it’s dead. He’s not even going to conduct hearings. He’s not even going to open the book on it. So this is all theoretical and academic here, but in political sense it may not be. The Democrats are standing in the way of something here, a big idea, new idea. People say, “I’m tired of the same old, same old.” The way this will work is: you go out — you family of four, you go out — and buy your own health insurance, and all of the attached market force results occur. For people who don’t do that — and, by the way, you get a tax deduction for the total amount.
CALLER: No, up to 15 K.
RUSH: No, no, no. Hold on a minute. I’m going to get there in a second. You’re combining two things that are separate.
CALLER: All right.
RUSH: So you get an exemption just like the standard exemption for your kids. Now, for people who don’t do that, Joe, who stay in their employer-funded health care plan, they are the ones who will get taxed on every dollar above $15,000 worst of benefit, but you can’t possibly be taxed on your employer health plan if you don’t have one.
RUSH: If you’ve gone out and bought your own…
CALLER: So at that point we are talking about somebody’s going to have to give me the additional 15K, right, to even it out? The company is no longer going to pay, so they’ll have to give that to me in salary —
RUSH: No, no, no.
CALLER: — so that I can buy my own in the free market.
RUSH: I know what you’re saying, but that’s not —
CALLER: They’re going to tax me on that 15 K. Ha-ha-ha!
RUSH: That’s where the health savings account comes in.
RUSH: The health savings account does that in a way, but you’re not going to be equally compensated. Your health savings account is going to be based on your health care expenditures not so much what the sum total of your employee benefits package is. Look, Joe, I wish you could hear you the way I hear you. All you’re concerned about is what somebody is going to give you — and if you’re going to consider the value of your health care plan from your employer to be income, then you’ve gotta accept the concept that it is taxable, which it isn’t now! And I have predicted that it would become taxable for many, many moons now — a little Indian lingo there. What you are illustrating — and I don’t mean this personally or even negatively. The big problem with this is we have become a nation — so many of us have become a nation — that expects, and now even demands, that government do things for us. That’s one of the problems I had with the domestic portion of the speech last night.
All State of the Union speeches do this, but the first half of this speech was: the government’s going to do this for you so you don’t have to do it; the government’s going to do that; the government’s going to do this. It’s going to make sure you drive less. This creates expectations and demands on the part average citizens, not just people who are in entitlement programs. That’s why it’s tough to reduce these things. We’ve got a health care system that everybody whines and moans about, while at the same time they think it’s free — other than the co-pay and the deduction. Always have to throw that in there. And when anybody starts talking about taking away, the worst health care plan, we have, they scream, “You can’t take my health care away!” The concept of doing something on your own for yourself can enrage people, when the concept has been established for decades that somebody else is going to do it for you and that it’s somebody else’s responsibility — like your employer or like the government. The real problem that that anybody who wants to propose a plan like this is going to have, is that when people are told, “You know what? Go do it yourself.”
“How dare you tell me that! Do it myself, what do you mean? Do you know how expensive it is? What do you mean go do it myself?” and that worries me about the softness and the passivity of the country.
I know and I understand., I mentioned this yesterday when talking about this: Going out and buying health insurance isn’t cheap. Who has the money lying around to do that? You still have to spend it before you get the tax deduction. Hello, health savings accounts. But you have to understand what this is about. Folks, you’re going to have to do one of two things: Either stop griping about how expensive health care is (while it’s apparently free to you) or roll your sleeves up and understand: to get prices down, it’s going to take a little (ahem!) self-involvement, responsibility.
Now, I don’t want there to be any confusion out there in my analysis of this health care plan that’s dead on arrival. I know there are tax increases in it. I told you this yesterday when I played this cruel trick on you. Yes, there are tax increases in it. As I understand it, the impetus behind the program is to get as many people as possible buying their own health insurance so as to introduce as much market force into health care pricing as possible. Now, not everybody is going to do it, and those that don’t are going to face a tax increase. Any amount of health care benefit they get from their employer over $15,000 will be taxed. I don’t know at what rate, but it will be taxed. So, yeah, there’s going to be a tax increase, and the purpose of this is to balance whatever tax deductions the government’s getting. You know government never does with less! You never hear about government willing to do with less! So if we’re going to offer tax exemptions for those of you who go out and buy your own health insurance, they look at it as, “Oh, we gotta get that money back somewhere.”
But the tax increase, or the new tax on people that stay in there employer-paid health plans is designed as an incentive to get you to go out and leave that plan and buy your own, and I’m just commenting on the fact that I don’t know about the likelihood of that, simply because so many people have come to think of it as free, or as a benefit. You may object to my use of the word “free,” but what is a benefit? It’s an add-on, a bennie, a benefit. How many of you pay for benefits, do you think, in your own mind? I’m just thinking about attitudes here! Forget the economics of the reality. We deal with attitudes here, and when you hear people clamoring for health insurance, health coverage, I’m guarantees you they’re clamoring for something they don’t want to pay for, and one of the reasons they don’t want to pay for it — and I don’t blame ’em — it’s so ridiculously expensive, and it’s so ridiculously exclusive.
If you have a hangnail, you’re going to have tougher rates. If you’ve had a heart attack, good luck getting insurance. It’s just… (sigh) I don’t know. People think the whole system is rigged and that’s why the benefit aspect of it is attractive. Plus, that whole employer benefit system has been in place for so long that uprooting it and changing it? Whew! And those of us who understand market forces understand for every one of us that do, there are 10,000 that don’t, and so when you start trying to sell this on the basis of market forces to bring prices down, it’s going to go right over their heads. That’s not what this is about. They don’t care.
“I want my health insurance, Mr. Limbaugh! Don’t tell me market forces and reducing prices. I want health coverage so I don’t have to worry about it!”
It’s going to be a tough sell; I don’t think this is going to go anywhere, but it’s a “new idea,” and everybody is always clamoring for new ideas rather than the “same old, same old.”