Sen. Ben Nelson has gotten a lot of attention for breaking his promise to oppose taxpayer-funded abortions in the government health care bill. But that isn’t the only promise broken by the Nebraska Democrat. During his 2006 reelection bid, Mr. Nelson signed the important Taxpayer Protection Pledge sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform. The pledge encompasses two promises: to oppose any increase in marginal income-tax rates and oppose any reduction in income-tax deductions or credits. By voting for the Senate health care bill on Christmas Eve, Mr. Nelson violated both parts of his pledge.
The list of new taxes in the Senate version of the health care bill is very long. Anyone who does not buy “qualifying” health insurance must pay an income surtax. The Medicare payroll tax will increase and an excise tax will be imposed on comprehensive health insurance plans. Deductions for health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts and health reimbursement accounts are ended. The tax on early non-medical withdrawals from existing health savings accounts will be increased from 10 percent to 20 percent, penalizing them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts. Corporate income taxes also will go up with everything from an employer mandate tax to taxes on innovator drug companies, the elimination of tax deductions for employer-provided retirement prescription drug coverage, and on health insurers. That’s only a partial list of tax hikes in the Senate bill, and the House version also will increase the top marginal income-tax rate.
Mr. Nelson is having serious trouble explaining his flip-flop in support of abortion, but he faces an equally difficult time trying to justify his vote to raise taxes. Many Democrats face similar problems. Gone with the wind are President Obama’s campaign pledges to cut net government spending, as well as his promise that if people like their current health care plans, “We’re not going to mess with it.”
All these broken promises prove one thing: Democrats know they don’t have a mandate to fundamentally change America’s health care system. If they did, they wouldn’t have to deceive voters about their real plans.