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Sunday, December 23rd 2007

The Crystal Ball: Claifornia Taxes Will Pass

A new Fields Poll finds that the majority of Californians support the new health care proposal to increase access which recently passed the Assembly.

The Field Poll found 64 percent of California voters inclined to support the universal health insurance plan outlined in the bill, compared with 23 percent opposed.

The Field Poll also found 63 percent of voters in favor of the state raising its cigarette tax to support the medical insurance plan, compared with 33 percent against doing so.

The poll only surveyed support for one of the actual final proposed funding mechanisms. That is a cigarette tax as cited above. If you remember (here’s my previous post on California’s plan) the other funding mechanisms are a 4% tax on hospitals and a pay or play deal for employers.

But with media coverage like this, would anyone be surprised if voters just put those two other little new taxes out of their mind or weren’t even aware of them at all (I mean, the majority don’t even read the plain language explanations on the ballot in full) when they vote?

So despite whatever campaigns the California hospitals or the Chambers of Commerce roll out, I would expect the funding mechanisms to fall into place.

This Is A Stick Up! Give Us Your Money!

And despite claims that the bill faces a challenge in the Senate, the actual ballot initiatives are probably the most likely place for this plan to be defeated. That said, there’s a slight glimmer in the Senate as the bill will not even be taken up in that chamber until the new year.

Despite a last-gasp effort in the Assembly last week, the Legislature is about to finish the “year of health care reform” without passing a health care plan.

While that outcome had become expected, what was surprising to many observers was the person responsible for blocking action before the new year: Don Perata, the Senate leader and a liberal Democrat from Oakland who co-authored the bill.

Perata announced he would not allow the Senate to vote on the Assembly-approved bill – not until he knows more about how the $14 billion-plus measure would affect existing health programs and the state’s overall finances.


[B]y pushing Senate consideration of the bill into next year, some proponents privately fret that Perata may stall its momentum and kill the measure’s already slim chances of being enacted.

At one point last week, the blunt-spoken Perata said in a TV interview that the health plan was “DOA” – a remark his office quickly said that he didn’t mean literally.

[A] risk of waiting may be that by the time the Senate debates it, presumably sometime next month, the political climate will be much more treacherous. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to call the Legislature into a special session to grapple with a projected $14 billion deficit, and Perata himself is stoking doubts about whether the sprawling health care proposal would widen that gap.

That said, because the new funding mechanisms for the plan are being put to a vote by the people, and thus the bill doesn’t need a 2/3rds majority in the rooms to either side of the capitol, the bill will likely squeak out of the Senate.

In the end, even Republicans expect Perata will scare up the votes to pass the bill sometime in January. But they have enjoyed hearing the senator talk their talk.

“I love it,” said Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines, R-Fresno. “I’d love to see it happen throughout the year.”

The Fields Poll certainly seems to emphasis the political capital California politicians have to implement a plan like this. What’s funny is that, according to the poll, the enthusiasm for the plan is tempered under certain circumstances. It shows the absurdism in the growth of society’s greed expectations of hand outs. The circumstantial evidence for this: the plurality oppose the health care plan if it is funded by a 1% increase in sales tax.

Now true, sales taxes are regressive and place a larger burden on the very population this health care bill is trying to “help.” But if you think the average Californian is thinking that deeply when answering this poll question your faith in humanity is, uh, misplaced. We all know that the “more real” it fells like dollars are being taken out of our pockets the less likely we are to support helping our fellow man. Sure the reality is the costs for the program will be passed onto all in some shape or form, but it’s only when it is obvious enough for them to see it, to feel it’s a reality that they pull their support away.

That speaks wonders to society. It also speaks wonders to the growing expectations of the role of government as a teat to suckle at, as welfare provider. Have no doubt that as income disparity grows we will continue to see increasing clamor from the majority for various forms of wealth redistribution (not to sound like Marx and Engels or anything).

That’s a shame. Just because the majority hawk for such handouts doesn’t make it right.

Now, I’ve said it numerous times on this blog, but I’ll repeat: I personally believe I have a moral obligation to help the less fortunate. My continuing efforts throughout my career do and will speak for themselves. I just don’t think the government has any place forcing such an “obligation” on others.