Cynicism On The Excise Tax

"Unions get a special two-year exclusion from the [excise] tax," comments Megan McArdle. "Presumably, the unions plan to go back and get their exclusion extended every few years." Tyler Cowen agrees with her, commenting that this will "increase the rate of unionization ... and increase union support for Democratic candidates, a win-win, no?"

I'm not about to pretend that the union deal was anything but interest group politics. But I will observe that people seem much more upset about interest group politics when the interest group in question is a liberal one. This bill is thick with transition periods. The insurance regulations don't hit until 2014. The individual mandate doesn't fully present until 2016. The Medicare Commission takes a long while to get off the ground. Exchanges aren't open to larger employers until 2017.

Moreover, the structure of the excise tax is one long transition period for everybody: At $24,000, it will hardly be noticeable. It will affect fewer than 3 percent of the plans in the market. But that $24,000 grows more...