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On Obamacare, sequester and taxes: predictions revisited

Politicians (including former politicians) like to be right more than most people. You see, in politics, public officials live or die by their (very) public opinions concerning the issues of the day.

It is with this somber thought in mind that I reissue a sampling of previously published opinions — with timely updates For Your Information.

Opinion: Prominent liberals will continue to market a new narrative that pushes public sector growth as the key to economic recovery.

Update: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Jan. 31 floor statement concerning the U.S. economy's negative growth in the last quarter of 2012: "Growth went down in the fourth quarter because of reduced government spending, and a reticence in the private sector as government fought over the fiscal cliff. … And that fight came as a result of the Republicans being so unreasonable ..."

Opinion: Obamacare's advocates claimed that health care premiums would decrease for the average American, a near impossibility given the inefficiencies associated with its anti-market bias and huge new bureaucracy.

Update: Today, even Obamacare's most ardent supporters acknowledge that premiums will continue to increase for many Americans. A new MIT study predicts average premium increases in the range of 19 percent to 30 percent in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado. A leading actuarial firm (Milliman) forecasts premium increases in Ohio of between 55 percent and 85 percent. And a Feb. 4 story in Politico cites a new survey that predicts premium increases of up to 169 percent for young, healthier individuals. Remember, Obamacare's stated goals are to shift generational costs from old to young, and poor to middle class. Both might be admirable but are wholly at odds with Obamacare's promise to lower health care costs for everyone.

Opinion: Obamacare's biggest fib promised that Americans who were happy with their health care coverage would be able to keep it. This sounded real appealing on the campaign stump, but was misleading from Jump Street: The entire thrust of Obamacare is to change the way health care is delivered in America. Further, it only makes sense that some employers will drop their health care coverage (and pay a fine) if they can save (a lot) of money by doing so.

Update: To the surprise of no informed person, the Congressional Budget Office now says that nearly 8 million people will lose their employer-based health coverage, nearly double their original estimate. Of course, this number does not count other employers (mostly in food and retail) that will simply shift workers to part-time status in order to avoid the increased cost of providing health benefits for full-time employees.

Opinion: Class warfare is a time-tested, efficient campaign tactic of the left. The calculus is simple: turn the majority against the (economically) privileged minority. And so it was in 2012 in France, where Socialist candidate Francois Hollande's promise of a new 75 percent income tax rate on millionaires helped propel him to the presidency. Only one problem with such tactics: wealth is mobile. (Just ask all those former Marylanders now living in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia.)

Update: Frenchmen may resent confiscatory tax rates more than originally thought. French entrepreneurs are in an uproar. The beloved actor Gerard Depardieu will soon move to Belgium. A chief economist for the insurance group AXA admits major French companies are moving their recruiting efforts to London. And the head of the Radical Left Party now wants to abandon the levy as a failed policy. All of which makes me feel better about ordering croissants for breakfast.

Opinion: President Barack Obama's 2011 sequester plan (across the board spending cuts evenly divided between domestic and defense) was always meant to scare pro-defense Republicans away from meaningful budget cuts. Indeed, few GOP'ers are enthusiastic about slashing $42.5 billion from the Pentagon this year.

Update: The president may have overplayed his hand. House Republicans are still smarting from the January fiscal cliff deal; they fully understand their opportunities to leverage this president are few and far between. But the sequester provides just such an opening in the form of cuts worth $85 billion this fiscal year. So, it's not just defense contractors crying bloody murder. Congressional liberals have joined the fray. For the rest of you, fret not: this unpleasant trip to Budget Cutting Land may (finally) force this president and Congress to recognize that 800-pound, out-of-control entitlement gorilla in the corner.

Opinion: An unreconstructed Democratic monopoly in Annapolis would tax (and spend) Maryland back to the Stone Age.

Update: It's now 42 new taxes (and fees) and billions of dollars later, with a loss of 35,000 tax filers, equating to $1.7 billion in lost state revenue. Enough said.

Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s column appears Sundays. The former Maryland governor and member of Congress is a partner at the law firm King & Spalding. His email is

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