Why Waxman Canceled the Health Care Write-Down Hearings


Wax on, Waxman.

In 2003, Congress decided to hand out a subsidy to employers to encourage them to keep paying for prescription drug benefits for retirees—figuring that the subsidy would ultimately cost less than allowing all or most of those folks to end up on the public's prescription-drug dole. This subsidy, Congress decided, would not be taxed.

Under the Affordable Care Act, however, Congress reversed that decision. The subsidy is now taxable. 

And, as we've already seen, that's going to cost big companies a lot of money. In the week following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, a number of high-profile companies took giant write-downs as a result of the law's changes to the tax code. AT&T, for instance, took a $1 billion charge. Caterpillar took $100 million.

Health care reform critics argued that the write-downs showed that the law caused immediate, severe economic effects; boosters replied that the provision in question merely closed a years-old tax loophole. 

Naturally, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman called a hearing. After all, it's widely believed—at least inside the Beltway—that big corporations cannot handle their own accounting without Congressional inquiry meddling help. Now, though, it looks like they'll have to do their books alone: At the last minute, Waxman canceled the show. Why? The Daily Caller's Jonathan Strong reports:

Publicly, Waxman said the investigation showed the companies' disclosures were properly filed. But a new report from committee Republicans reveals the documents Waxman obtained included embarrassing evidence that the health-care law could drive up insurance premiums and force employers to dump employees from their health plans.

"Turns out Obamacare means if you like your health plan you can lose it. The president didn't have to actually strong-arm companies into dumping their employee health insurance because his bill carried financial incentives to virtually guarantee that result," Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Rep. Joe Barton, Texas Republican, said.

Most significantly, documents unearthed by the investigation highlight companies that are considering dumping employees from their current health-care plans in the face of new costs from the health-care law. President Obama repeatedly promised his health-care law would let Americans keep their current insurance if they're happy with it.

A March 3 internal Verizon memo on the impact health-care law said new taxes on insurance companies and health-care equipment manufacturers will be passed onto employers through higher prices.

Facing such increased costs, employers like Verizon "may consider exiting the health-care market and send employees to the exchanges," the memo says.

On the matter of whether or not the health care law closed a loophole, I tend to more or less side with former CBO director Donald Marron. His take is that, yes, the Affordable Care Act closed a tax loophole, but it was a loophole that Congress had decided to insert in order to save money, and closing it will, in fact, result in significant private sector losses compared to what would have happened had the ACA not passed. 

Ideally, of course, Congress would have never passed the Medicare prescription drug benefit to begin with, and thus never handed out the initial subsidy. That way this whole kerfuffle could have been avoided entirely. And the broader point I'd draw from all of this isn't so much that the Affordable Care Act is going to cost big corporations billions—though it certainly is—but that the health care sector is so thoroughly dominated by government regulations and subsidies that exercise far, far too much influence over how decisions about health care and its associated costs get made. So rather than argue over the tax treatment of drug subsidies, we ought to be pushing to get rid of the subsidies entirely

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  1. Did you really have to put up a picture of the evil moleman from planet X so near to lunch?

  2. I wonder how he shaves. I’m never going to be mistaken for Brad Pitt, but if I had to look at that every day, I’d hang myself.

    1. Depilatory cream. Like they use on corpses in an autopsy.

      1. I heard Waxman was the model for the ghoul companion in the new Fallout.

      2. Cause of death… depilatory cream? The Hairless Killer has struck again!

    2. Maybe he gets his face waxed? 😉

    3. How’d you like to have his nose full of nickels? You could retire.

  3. I wonder what the chances are that ugly-as-a-bowling-shoe Waxman is going to be shown the door in November. Is he pretty safe?

    1. We resent that remark.

    2. The guy represents West Hollywood. As long as the GOP keep backing homophobes in other races no gay in their right mind would vote against him.

  4. The definition of “backpfeiffengesicht”.

    1. Yeah, except then you’d have Waxman on your hands. I don’t know if that shit washes off.

      1. He’s is the ultimate stink-palm.

        1. He’s is

          English is hard.

          1. Quiet, you!

  5. Is there anyone left who truly believes that our government is doing anything other than trying to make us all dependent on government? If so, what drug are you taking? Is that drug strong enough to make me forget the Caps debacle?

    1. Like most things in DC, the Caps’ failure is a feature and not a bug.

  6. The irony is that his district encompasses Beverly Hills. I guess attractive people in that area think that if you are hideously ugly then you must be smart.

    1. Politics is Hollywood for ugly people.

  7. You know, a minor could accidentally see that picture…and then you’d be in trouble.

  8. what are those black holes between his nose and his mustache?

    1. They allow him to survive in our atmosphere.

      1. Oh my god, I should not be eating lunch while reading this. I nearly choked to death.

  9. I like the pic. It’s a look that says “OMG! Barney just showed me his cavernous asshole.”

    1. Thanks for somehow managing to make it more horrifying than it already is. You are truly gifted.

  10. Every time I see Waxman’s mug I think backpfeifengesicht.

    1. Ray Pew beat me to it. So I’ll go to my fallback comment.

      Waxman is one of the exremely rare men who are uglier than Chris Mullin.

  11. Well I think he’s dreamy!

  12. Please don’t post a picture of Waxmans ugly mother fucking face, especially before lunch.

  13. He looks like a cross between a chipmonk and a fruit bat, but way uglier, (and probably not as smart).

  14. Democrats win the ugliest mother fucker in congress contest…and the prize in the adminstration division goes to Janet N. Is it my imagination or does the DOJ attract the homeliest women in the county?

    1. Clinton tried to put Kimba Wood in at DOJ. And she was pretty hot back in the day. But other than her, that is about it.

    2. Are you saying I’m a dyke? Is it the hair?
      OMG, it’s the hair, isn’t it!

  15. “Health care reform critics argued that the write-downs showed that the law caused immediate, severe economic effects; boosters replied that the provision in question merely closed a years-old tax loophole”

    Boosters also noted that the core problem was the GINORMOUS tax loophole that allows taxpayers to keep some of their money. Once that loophole is closed Jessca Alba and all hotties in the world will acknowledge the singularity (literally) and beg to be Waxmans’ love slaves.

  16. How many dicks do you suppose have been up those nostrils? Do numbers go high enough?

  17. I’m partial to this Waxman classic: “If someone is so fearful that they are going to start using their weapons to protect their rights, it makes me very nervous that these people have weapons at all.”

    1. Stupid, ugly, morally repugnant, has done tremendous damage to the country, Waxman pretty much touches all the bases. It is hard to think of someone so completely and thoroughly horrible as him. At least Nixon was smart. At least J Edger Hoover had a boyfriend.

      1. He’s right up there with Joe McCarthy. McCarthy gave us “McCarthyism.” Maybe we should speak of a “Waxmanism,” where a member of Congress gets pissed off because you don’t kiss his ass, then forces you to come to a hearing with tons of documents which cost thousands of dollars to gather and review.

        1. I think he is pretty similar to McCarthy. But, he has had a much longer run. And it is unlikely that he will ever get his the way McCarthy did.

    2. Spoken like a true asshole that wants the state to protect him from the consequences of being an asshole.

  18. ATT should shut down ALL Los Angles offices and tell Waxman elections have consequences.

  19. 31 comments and not a single one about the substance of the article.

    Libertarians are so shallow – obsessed with looks!

    Of course, when confronted with a pic of Harry Waxman’s mug, it’s pretty hard to get past that and concentrate on anything else.

    1. So? It’s pretty much common knowledge that Pelosicare and everything associated with it is all part of the same shit sandwich.

      Might as well have some fun at the expense of one the assholes who brought it to you. Especially an unusually odious example like the Wax-man!

    2. “31 comments and not a single one about the substance of the article.”

      Why bother?

      Everyone already knows that anything that Waxman is doing has no substance to it.

      Never has.

      Never will.

  20. I dunno…

    The Medicare Part D process seems to have worked out pretty nicely so far. It’s come under cost estimates and all of the users seem happy.

    Part D left out onerous “negotiations” by the government on drug pricing, so that’s nice.

    1. It’s come under cost estimates and all of the users seem happy.

      Of course the “users” are happy, they get free stuff. This is like stating that “most rapists are happy with their rape”

    2. The users are always happy, until they start to come down. Then they start scrambling for another fix.

  21. So rather than argue over the tax treatment of drug subsidies, we ought to be pushing to get rid of the subsidies entirely.

    Yes, but sometimes things like this are unavoidable. One analogy is to the EITC. The Earned Income Tax Credit is government spending. But it’s better and cheaper for the government to essentially subsidize low income jobs than to just have people go on welfare.

  22. C’mon, Suderman, you know the whole point of a show trial goes out the window if the Hangin’ Judge starts looking bad.

    1. Starts?

  23. Did power corrupt Waxman, or was he born that way?

    1. He was kind of normal looking, until he come into possession of the One Ring.

  24. At least Waxman has the decency to look like what he is inside. Can’t be said of, say, John Edwards or Mitt Romney.

  25. Why Waxman Canceled the Health Care Write-Down Hearings

    Um… because he’s an insufferable, power-hungry douche?

    1. No, technically that would be the reason why he called the hearings in the first place. But you’re spot-on with your analysis.

  26. 31 comments and not a single one about the substance of the article.

    I’ll bite. Pig Vomit thought he can gain a political advantage by shaming these companies but soon discovered that they were obeying the law, probably a law he had a hand in writing.
    Then he said, “Never Mind!”

  27. He’s a self-caricature.

    I’m afraid to picture a real caricature.

  28. i think Waxman got to look that way due his habit of chasing parked cars when he was a young tyke.

  29. There is a medical study which demontrates that the each dollar in Prescription Drug Benefit costs reduces Medicare expense by 39 cents more than than the costs of those benefits.

    Thus each dollar for drugs replaces $1.39 of expense that would otherwise be incurred for other related treatments.

    Making prescription available can and does reduce aggregate medical expenses.

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