Letter to the Editor

Reader shares letter to president with others

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Editor's Note: The following was submitted by a reader as a letter that has been sent to President Barack Obama.

I have an idea, which I think is superior to anything that I am hearing come out of either party in Washington.

This idea would provide immediate (possibly less than 30-60 days) stimulus to:

* Every individual making less than $250,000 per year,

* All businesses who employ workers in the United States,

* Provides immediate funding to state and local governments for infrastructure projects or locally determined budget ideas, and

* Can be fully implemented in weeks because it would initially be handled as a reduced liability the accounting structure of both businesses and state and local governments.

The basics of the idea are simple.

First, we immediately head toward nationally funded capitalistic health care.

By this, I mean that all businesses would be required to provide all full-time employees with health care plans. These plans can and should include reasoable and median employee cost participation, along with normal deductible and out-of-pocket limits. Additionally, these companies would receive tax credits/payments from the federal government equal to 75 percent of these costs. Furthermore, most one-half of the savings that these companies and local governments realize must immediately be passed on to all employees who make less than $250,000 per year in the way of immediate wage increases. Since, this is primarily a publicly financed program, pre-existing conditions would always be allowed. Companies who fail to pass on these cost reductions to their employees would be subject to fines that were a significant multiple of (say 10 times) the costs that they should have passed on to employees. Additionally, large companies such as Wal-Mart, which employs a large number of part-time employees, must provide health care as well if their employees are not eligible for care on a family policy of another employer. Small companies who employ part-time workers would contribute proportional costs to local insurance cooperatives and would be reimbursed by the federal government proportionally as well. Employees, such as single mothers, who might work multiple part-time jobs that add up to full-time hours, would be able to purchase full health insurance through these localized insurance cooperatives by paying only the equivalent of an employee's share at a major employer through payroll deduction. This would allow them to get the same quality of care at the same costs as full-time workers employed by major corporations. This plan could be implemented relative quickly because it does not require major industry overhauls of the insurance or health care industries. Not only this, all current capitalistic principles such as competition, remain in place. Furthermore, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts would be appropriate to help fund this program going forward. The timing of the expiration or these taxes reductions could be postponed or moved forward as appropriate relative to the whatever timing that the economic recovery circumstances dictates.

This plan has all of the following benefits:

* Provides immediate competitive advantage to companies with American workers, thus encouraging investment here in the USA,

* Provides health care to all working Americans, regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time,

* Encourages employment,

* Deductibles and out-of-pocket limits help prevent abuse,

* Provides immediate business stimulus,

* Provides immediate cash to the public to encourage spending, especially those lower and moderate incomes,

* Does not require overhaul of insurance industries,

* Still provides incentives for companies to keep costs low, therefore minimizing overall costs to the public,

Provides a mechanism to force insurance companies to continue care of pre-existing conditions, and

* State and local governments who are cash strapped as well would benefit similarly to businesses.

Perhaps most importantly, by tackling a major issue such as health care and actually finding a way to stimulate the economy would, in my mind, provide more confidence to the American consumer than what most would agree as a partisan spending program regardless of the merits of many of the projects.

Based on a number of approximately 300 million Americans and an individual cost of $5,000 per worker, this is a $1.5 trillion cost and a cost to the government of $1.13 trillion annually (based on the 75 percent participation). The 2010 individual tax code could be adjusted as necessary to make additional withholding to minimize deficit spending. Meanwhile, all American businesses would get a competitive advantage and a one- or two-year stimulus while virtually all Americans would immediately get a raise. It is essentially both the tax breaks for business that are supported by Republicans and the infrastructure and social programs as supported by Democrats as rolled into one. It provides an advantage to American businesses without modifying treaties or appearing to be protectionist in nature.

Gary Parker,