Bush vs Kerry:
"Tax cuts for the very well-off versus health insurance"

With just 104 days left until the presidential election -- perhaps the most important in my lifetime -- it's time to talk about what Kerry plans to do, should he be elected the 44th President.

Health insurance, or lack thereof, has been a looming crisis in America for well over ten years now, but legislators have done little but make things worse by kowtowing to the interests of the powerful pharmaceuticals and insurers. A single-payer system would be a good solution, but given the inherent difficulty of completely overhauling our health care system, John Kerry has proposed a good start by rolling back Bush's tax cuts for the rich. The inimitable Paul Krugman writes:
John Kerry has proposed an ambitious health care plan that would extend coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, while reducing premiums for the insured. To pay for that plan, Kerry wants to rescind recent tax cuts for the roughly 3 percent of the population with incomes above $200,000.

George Bush regards those tax cuts as sacrosanct.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that if these cuts are made permanent, as the administration wants, they will cost $2.8 trillion over the next decade. The Kerry campaign claims that it can pay for its health care plan by rolling back only the cuts for taxpayers with incomes above $200,000. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, which has become the best source for tax analysis now that the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Policy has become a propaganda agency, more or less agrees: It estimates the revenue gain from the Kerry tax plan at $631 billion over the next decade.

What are the objections to the Kerry plan? One is that it falls far short of the comprehensive overhaul our health care system really needs. Another is that by devoting the proceeds of a tax-cut rollback to health care, Kerry fails to offer a plan to reduce the budget deficit. But on both counts Bush is equally, if not more, vulnerable. And Kerry’s plan would help far more people than it would hurt.

If we ever get a clear national debate about health care and taxes, I don’t see how Bush will win it.