I went to a big New Year’s Eve party at a good friend’s home in Kingwood, Texas. My wife took off early to help my friend setup. My daughter and I got there a couple of hours late as I finished up some end of year tax stuff.
When I got to the party a friend ran up to me and said, “You sure told them this time.” Kingwood Texas is a very Conservative part of Harris County (Houston). Fox News is the station of choice in every business unless one complains. We have a concerted effort in this area demanding that they change the channel and respect the fact that Progressives are a substantial part of this community.
My op-ed was to drop in last week’s Kingwood Observer to coincide with the December 23rd Obamacare deadline for those who wanted coverage on January 1st. Instead they printed Senator John Cornyn’s bucket of lies and deception.
The op-ed was a modification of this blog post I wrote a few weeks back. It was modified a small bit to speak to the sensibilities of those in this area.
This guest took exception to the Cadillac Tax.
One of the guests at the party took exception to the article. He was fuming about the Cadillac Tax. He decided to engage me. For those who follow my blog, you know that I love a healthy civil debate with the expectation of either changing someone’s mind or having my own mind changed. I do not believe in debating for the sake of debating to prove some prowess of debating skills or the language.
The guest was an AT&T executive with a Cadillac health insurance plan. Cadillac plans are very expensive health insurance plans that have all kinds of amenities generally (massages, spas, etc.) Companies pay these in lieu of salaries. It is nothing more than a “tax shelter” for executives and to some extent some union workers. What it does mean is there is an unfair advantage for corporations that can purchase these plans. Small businesses and the individual cannot afford themselves that tax break. That is part of the reason for the Cadillac Tax.
Republicans wanted a more punitive Cadillac Tax in the past.
Ironically, Republicans like George W Bush and John McCain championed the Cadillac Tax by another name. They wanted the tax break removed completely, providing every individual a fixed health insurance deduction. Like everything Obama, he took the middle ground. He kept the deduction at a higher level than what the Republicans wanted in the past and taxed the excess at 40%. In effect the tax levels the playing field somewhat. It is a fair tax increase for those who had an unfair advantage.
The guest had never viewed the Cadillac plan relative to what most other Americans received. While at the end of the debate he was still upset at his higher cost in 2018, he understood it. The discussion then progressed to real ideas for entitlement reforms that increased the safety net for most Americans. One of the ladies listening in on the debate smiled and said, “I just love listening to this debate. It is great listening to someone who has the facts down.”
No one left that debate feeling like they lost it. Everyone learned something. For those who are losing a benefit they believed they were inherently entitled to, they understood why. I was able to empathize with that person that would not be on the winning side of Obamacare in the flesh. We both know a change had to come. Ultimately the guest said, “I want everyone to have healthcare insurance. I need to be assured it is done in the best way possible.” We ended the debate agreeing that Obamacare isn’t the end. It needs a lot of modifications. It is best if we work together to make it right.
That was the best New Year’s Eve debate I ever had. I brought in the New Years with a new sense of hope.