by Conor Clarke
Democrats in the House of Representatives unveiled their version of a health care bill yesterday afternoon, and the Congressional Budget Office released its preliminary analysis of the costs and benefits. If you sympathize with the case for universal health care, it's an occasion to be happy: the CBO says bill will leave 97% of the legal population insured by 2019. (I haven't read all of the summaries, much less the bill, so I'll happily outsource further thoughts to my former colleagues Jonathan Cohn and Ezra Klein. If you are a masochist, the full bill is here.) But the million dollar question -- excuse me, the trillion dollar question -- is who's writing the checks. The CBO says the bill will increase the deficit by $1,042,000,000,000 over the next ten years.
The House's answer is a surtax on the wealthiest Americans. The tax will affect families earning more than $350,000 a year, with rates ranging from 1% to 5.4%. On Monday, I posted some data about the decline of effective federal tax rates for the top 1% of families over the past fifteen years, and I think that is still helpful context for this discussion. The House's surtax will affect only the top 1.2% of families.