Earl Weaver, the long-time manager for the BaltimoreOrioles, was an irascible, compact man, who was wont to splice in an expletiveor two particularly when questioning an umpire's judgment.
In one memorable game following a series of what hedeemed as questionable calls against his team, he trotted out of the dugout,inched a nose away from the home plate umpire and snarled, "Tell me. Doyou get any f...ing better or is this it?"
Needless to say he spent the remainder of the game in thelocker room.
Just 40 miles from where Weaver once plied his trade,U.S. taxpayers may soon be asking the same question of the currentadministration, that is, if it's going to get any better - particularly withregard to quantum leaps in their tax rates.
Complementing the various bailouts and stimulus phases, apotentially catastrophic cap and trade bill, the appointment of nearly twodozen "czars," the takeover of car companies and the creation of evenmore oversight agencies, are the recent health care proposals currently beingrammed through by House and Senate Democrats.
In essence, the legislation - known as America'sAffordable Health Choice Act of 2009 (1,000 pages for the House version and600-plus for the Senate) - aims to extend health coverage to 37 million moreAmericans over the ensuing decade, and allow 97 percent of legal Americanresidents to have health insurance by 2015.
It will be funded of course by more taxation, this timeon a tiered surtax structure estimated to bring in some $544 billion over thenext 10 years, about half of the $1.1 trillion price tag that is required.
It works like this: The surtaxes for individuals would beat 1 percent of modified adjusted gross income of between $350,000 and$500,000, 1.5 percent for incomes between $500,000 and $1 million, and 5.4percent for incomes over $1 million. The surtax rates for taxpayers in thefirst two categories would double to 2 percent and 3 percent respectively, ifthe government does not achieve its health reform savings goal by the end of2012 and we all know what an admirable track record the government has when itcomes to savings). However, if by some divine intervention, it exceeds the goalby $175 billion by the end of 2012, the surtaxes on those earning less than $1million could potentially be eliminated.
Meanwhile, as lawmakers convene to ultimately vote onthis proposal, an analysis conducted recently by the Tax Foundation shows 39U.S. states - would see top tax rates exceed the 50 percent mark should the healthsurtax hit 3 percent.
Those states hardest hit would include my home state ofNew York at nearly 57 percent. Other hard-hit states include Oregon at justover 55 percent, and Hawaii at just under 55 percent. According to thefoundation, the lowest tax rate under this plan would be roughly 45 percent,and that would be in the nine states that don't levy taxes on wages.
In addition, all but employers with payrolls under$250,000 would be mandated to provide health insurance. So basically smallbusiness would be screwed under this plan, but that's fodder for a futurecolumn. Businesses that eschew health coverage would pay an 8 percent payrolltax to help subsidize coverage in a new Health Insurance Exchange that thegovernment would set up. Yes, another newly created entity under the Obamaadministration.
As the Tax Foundation and others have succinctly pointedout, attempting to fund the administration's El Dorado of health care reform byramming through surtaxes on their definition of "wealthy" would, inthe not-so-longer term, truncate spending and investment as well as give CPAsand tax lawyers plenty of future income in untold billable hours as clientslook for ways to reduce their tax liabilities. Should that happen, care to takea guess on how quickly "wealthy' gets redefined?
No doubt today Earl Weaver would be asking lawmakers ifitis going to get any better.Only this time it's the proponents of this monstrosity who should be sent tothe showers.
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