Thomas Jefferson understood that for our democracy to survive, the United States needed a free press to keep government and elected officials accountable. Indeed, Jefferson was such an outspoken proponent of free speech and a free press that he once wrote, “Were it left to me to decide whether to have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Today, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence is probably rolling over in his grave knowing that the journalism profession is failing the people they were meant to serve.
Agree or disagree with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), aka Obamacare, the media has failed to educate the American public on what the bill contains and how it will affect your life. Moreover, Obamacare was sold to Americans as legislation that will not raise taxes.
When then US Sen. Barack Obama campaigned for the Oval Office in 2008, he told a New Hampshire audience, “I can make a firm pledge – under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.” In 2009, now President Obama told ABC News that the law (PPACA) “is absolutely not a tax increase.”
Today we know that the President either broke his campaign promise or he was simply wrong about the legislation he was championing. But is anyone in the press calling him out? Doesn’t the media have an obligation to hold the President and every elected official accountable for the statements they make either in office or on the campaign trail?
If newsrooms and newspapers had asked their junior reporters or college interns to actually read the bill, they could have reported the facts instead of partisan speculation on the legislation’s content. This should have been the highest priority for the media – educating the public and, dare I say, elected officials who eventually voted on a bill they never read. The press failed to uphold this fundamental standard of its profession.
It is important to recognize that not all journalists and media outlets neglected their responsibility. New media outlets and citizen journalists in the blogosphere reported facts that the mainstream press neglected to mention. To this very day, the public will only find the truth from new media and nonprofit news outlets.
What you will learn from this alternative press of non profits and citizens is that Obamacare contains multiple tax increases. When called out, politicians try to spin the truth by calling them fees or penalties, instead of what they are ….. taxes.
It should be the job of the media to cut through the political spin and present the public with the facts. Jefferson believed that, if both sides of an issue are presented to the people, the public will ultimately make the right decision. Unfortunately, they aren’t getting the facts from the network news broadcasts or newspapers with an editorial bias like the New York Times.
Here are the facts on some of the tax increases that weren’t supposed to exist.
The Individual Mandate Tax was originally referred to as a “penalty” by Obamacare proponents. We know that this provision requires married couples to pay a higher base tax of $1,360 per year, or 2.5 percent of adjusted growth income, starting with a lower base tax and rising to this level by 2016. The mainstream press ignored this better-known fact, siding with the administration and referring to it as a “penalty.” Even with the Supreme Court identifying this mandate as a tax, some in the old guard media refuse to say the “T” word.
A direct threat to the middle class is the Health Savings Account (HSA) Withdrawal Tax Hike. This provision increases the additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from these accounts. Currently the rate is 10 percent, but increases to 20 percent beginning in 2013.
The most onerous tax is a 2.3 percent excise tax on most medical devices, including wheelchairs, pacemakers and prosthetic limbs. The cover for the administration has been that the tax is directed at the manufacturers, not the consumer. Duh! Whom do they think is going to pay the extra cost? The consumer!
This tax and the majority of hikes are (politically) conveniently set to go into effect next year and in 2014. That’s right – after Election Day.
Overall there are over 20 new taxes that will go into effect as a result of Obamacare. Many of them will impact seniors and families making less than $250,000 a year. This fact exposes another broken campaign promise from President Obama.
It is not for me or the press to pass judgment on the President or any elected official. But the press should be responsible for ensuring that the public is aware of false statements and broken promises, especially when they have the potential to profoundly impact our lives, such as Obamacare.
In this particular case, being an informed citizen is a matter of life and death.