Kevin Drum says a Value Added Tax would be a good way to pay for a universal health care plan. I'll add my voice to that suggestion. A universal health care program would be a highly progressive measure, so progressivity would continue to exist even given a somewhat regressive finance structure. What's more, Kevin's right that "pay or play" finance scheme make for terrible interest-group politics since the costs wind up falling heavily on certain classes of small businesses who, unfortunately, but understandably and with some justice, then wind up furiously opposing them.
All-in-all, I think this is an area where progressive politicians are going to need to figure out a way to get over their taxophobia. The sort of things liberals want to see happen require money, and that's a real political problem. Trying to get around the need to raise this money through taxes — using various kinds of regulatory mandates and "fees" — may work pretty well when you're only talking about a small amount of money, but when big bucks come into play it's probably worth coming up with something straightforward, efficient, and comprehensible and just having the fight.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.