Saturday, June 30, 2012

David Brooks – Writes a Column for the New York Times and Doesn’t Even Understand Basic Tax Concepts

It’s Okay Though – He is a Conservative, Not Much is Expected

The New York Times has an admirable goal.  It wants to balance its editorial pages with commentary from intelligent and thoughtful Conservatives.  The problem, finding intelligent and thoughtful Conservatives.

The most recent effort of the Times has been a gentleman named David Brooks.  Here is Mr. Brooks writing on health insurance policy.

Mr. Brooks - Funny, He
Looks Smart
Liberals tend to argue that major structural changes can be made within the framework of Obamacare. Republicans tend to believe that the perverse incentives can only be corrected if we repeal Obamacare and move to a defined-benefit plan — if we get rid of the employer tax credit and give people subsidies to select their own plans within regulated markets.

Personally, I think the Republicans’ defined-contribution approach is compelling. It’s a potentially effective way to expand coverage while aligning incentives so that people make cost-conscious, responsible decisions. But the truth is neither I nor anybody else really knows what works. We’re going to have to go through a process of discovery. We’re going to have to ride the period of rapid innovation that is now under way.

Let’s leave aside the contradiction that in the first paragraph Mr. Brooks calls the Republican plan a “defined benefit plan” and in the second paragraph it is a “defined contribution plan”, and attribute that to just sloppiness (a crime this Forum is also frequently guilty of).  Let’s also leave aside the fact that defined contribution and defined benefit plans are really terms for retirement plans and not health insurance plans.  We will even let slide the idea that Republicans want “regulated” markets when in fact it is unregulated markets that Republicans are pursuing.  Regulation is an anathema to them.

But notice how Mr. Brooks talks about getting rid of the “employer tax credit”.  While there are tax credits in the ACA for small businesses, what we really have today is an employer tax deduction for the employer’s portion of the cost of providing health insurance.  Even H & R Block rookies know the difference between tax credits and tax deductions.  Apparently Mr. Brooks does not.

The Conservative mantra in this case and most others, “it doesn’t matter; facts don’t matter; only our ideology matters and it is right no matter what the facts”.

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