You often hear liberals attack Republicans and conservatives with the argument that they're against welfare and other government handouts to the poor and middle class, but okay with subsidies that go to big corporations and the rich.
It's a bogus argument most of the time, and even this GOP health plan proves it wrong in part since it does give $100 billion to the states to maintain risk pools for the poorest and sickest people. But those left wing critics have a point about subsidies for the upper middle class and the rich in this plan.
First off, the refundable tax credit subsidy for families has a pretty high cut off level that means a lot of families making more than $200,000 per year will get some form of aid. $200K per year may not seem like that much in New York or San Francisco, but there are no geographic parameters on this provision. That means someone who could be the richest guy in a rural town could be getting a subsidy paid for in part by his less fortunate neighbors down the road.
Second, there's a sweet deal for wealthy CEOs in this Ryancare plan as explained Wednesday by CNBC.com's Dan Mangan:
The proposed tax break, buried in cryptic language in the Republican plan, would allow health insurers to more fully deduct the value of their executives' compensation on their taxes. That compensation can be as high as tens of millions of dollars, in the case of CEOs of insurers.
Those deductions currently are sharply limited by the Affordable Care Act, which caps at a maximum of $500,000 the amount of an individual executive's compensation that an insurer could deduct as a business expense. The cap applies to any executive, not just to CEOs.
But it doesn't matter who's getting the subsidies to pay for insurance. The real problem is that if the government is going to be using subsidies at all in this area, why use them to get people insurance? Wouldn't that money go further in the cause of health care if it were used to simply pay for care instead of insurance? And yes, if any taxpayer money is spent at all it should be spent to care for the poorest and sickest among us instead of a backdoor payment to insurance companies.
Maybe conservatives should adopt a new slogan: "Stop the subsidies, save the bill."