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O'Reilly Wonders if Pitching In to Help the Uninsured and Poor is "Worth the Toll"

Reported by Julie - February 24, 2010 -

On last night's (2/23/10) O'Reilly Factor/Talking Points Memo, O'Reilly must have weighed the options -- hmmm, should I push the fear thing, or maybe the Americans are taxed to death thing, or, hey, there's always the evils of income redistribution . . . no, I think I'm going with fear, with a little bit of the good old GOP "taxed to death" and "income redistribution" theme thrown in. Discussing the cost of healthcare reform -- which Obama predicts will be $1 trillion over the next ten years although "some analysts" believe it could be double that -- O'Reilly punted facts, and instead predicted gloom-and-doomily, "Higher taxes are coming." With video.

Not surprisingly, O'Reilly cited a right-wing "tax reform group," Americans for Tax Reform, as the source of the "fact" that President Obama's healthcare plan will raise "$750 billion with a B" in new taxes over the next ten years. Does it surprise anybody that, according to SourceWatch, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) " . . . is ostensibly a group that pushes for lower taxes. It has close ties to the Republican Party and has frequently allied itself with the tobacco industry." In fact, part of its funding comes from R.J. Reynolds, Philip Morris and the Tobacco Institute. And for a group focused on reducing taxes, it seems odd that on its website there's a link to Daniel J. Flynn's report on liberal bias in higher education. Given that Flynn is the author of "Why the Left Hates America: Exposing the Lies That Have Obscured Our Nation's Greatness," and has appeared on Fox News, he sounds more than a little like a dream guest for Fox & Friends -- there's your "unbiased, fair and balanced" authority for O'Reilly's stats.

O'Reilly, in a curious sleight of hand, then went on to talk about some states taxing car accidents, taxing 911 calls and taxing citizens for police and firefighters responding to an emergency. (Call me stupid, but don't our taxes already pay for these essential services? And is Fox now going to blame President Obama because a village in rural Illinois raises taxes to cover new streetlights?)

O'Reilly said incredulously, "President Obama wants to tax tanning salons (oh-oh, watch out, Boehner) . . . and you can expect higher taxes on everything that might not be good for you, like Frosted Flakes, Haagen-Dazs and gummy bears." In fact, the tanning salon tax will raise $2.7 billion over ten years -- and despite the fact that salon owners bemoan Americans' vitamin D deficiency to spin their services as a health aid, FDA studies show that people who use tanning beds in their teens and 20's have a 75% higher risk of developing melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Given that the FDA discourages sunbed use due to the health risks, a tax which might prohibit artificial tanning doesn't seem out of line.

And as for taxing Frosted Flakes . . . try as I might, I couldn't find the "luxury tax" on bad food that O'Reilly was referring to -- at least not one that included gummy bears. Yes, there has been talk of a soda tax, due to childhood obesity (soft drink consumption represents 7 percent of the average person’s caloric intake, according to a report by the NY Times). Cigarettes and alcohol have already been hit with "sin taxes." As noted by Steadfast Finances, ". . . [W]hy should junk food be any different? It’s well known that sugar stuffed goodies or chocolate covered yumyums are contributing to the obesity epidemic. Why should food that possesses little nutritional value but contributes to the cancer/diabetes/heart disease epidemic be immune from taxation? . . . After all, this sin tax will target the majority of people who are, or likely will be, posing a greater risk to the sustainability of government sponsored health care (e.g. Medicare)."

O'Reilly lamented New York State's sales tax on goods purchased out of state, and warned ominously of higher tolls on roadways, higher fees on licenses, registrations and inspections, "and just about everything the government can think of. So big government expansion President Obama wants will affect every American." By the way, as reported by News Hounds Ellen, check out this post featuring Jon Stewart on progressivism and . . . yes, taxation.

"The question then becomes is the health care entitlement or increased aid to the poor or more money to the Pentagon worth the toll, pardon the pun, it will take on working Americans . . . We are taxed to the max right now . . . those taxes are going up and nobody's gonna tell you that. . . Obamacare . . . will bring relief to Americans who don't have health insurance but it will also punish working Americans who are barely getting by . . . A big part of this is government control, the ability to spread the wealth around . . . ."

Uh, hey, Bill -- I hate to rain on your parade, but many of those "working Americans who are barely getting by" are also among the millions of people without health insurance, who will benefit far more from gaining health insurance than they would be harmed by paying an extra dime for a can of Coke. Cutting out or cutting down on junk food doesn't severely impact life expectancy -- the inability to obtain affordable healthcare does.

So, uber-rich O'Reilly questions whether providing healthcare or increased aid to the poor is worth it. For those of us who live below the $250,000 tax bracket -- most of us well below -- hell, yeah. Those above it, like O'Reilly -- who obviously needs another lesson from kindergarten about sharing -- apparently don't think it is. After all, we have all this evil "income redistribution" which is the crux of the issue, and -- if you listen to O'Reilly -- it means he's gonna be in the poor house while the poor sail away in his yacht. But take a gander at these statistics, from CommonDreams.org: "From 1980 to 2006 the richest 1% of America TRIPLED their after-tax percentage of our nation's total income, while the bottom 90% have seen their share drop over 20% . . . But, many people ask, don't the very rich pay most of the taxes? Just federal income tax. And they pay less than 23% of their incomes in federal income tax. If state and local taxes, social security tax, and excise taxes are included, the lowest-earning half of America pays 24% of their incomes in taxes . . . Through 30 years of deregulation and financial maneuvering, the richest 1% have taken $10,000 a year from every American family. That's socialism in reverse . . . our economy allows a tiny percentage of us to take an inordinate amount of money from society, at an increasing rate . . . The result is a system in which one man (hedge fund manager John Paulson in 2007) can make more money than the total of the salaries of every police officer, firefighter, and public school teacher in Chicago, while another man stands hungry in the cold. And any attempt to fix the system is called socialism."

The question remains: Bill, who's really un-American?

O'Reilly rolled out a little GOP rehabilitation, claiming, "We [I assume Republicans, since he and Fox speak for them] have put forth common sense solutions to getting healthcare premiums down but they're not included in the President's latest bill . . . things like tort reform and interstate insurance competition. President Obama . . . believes in income redistribution . . . is that healthy?"

Hmmm, healthy . . . yes, Bill, I believe that's what's known as a no-brainer -- it's way healthier than consigning tens of millions of Americans (as reported by Think Progress in September 2009, over 46 million Americans were uninsured) to inadequate or unavailable healthcare. Don't worry, as the facts above show, you'll still be able to live in your ivory tower, and you'll still be the richest guy in the room. And the beauty of it is, you can still have all that and the guy in Brooklyn doesn't have to die because he can't get medical care.

I'm all in with the blogger at Steadfast Finances, who wrote, "At present, the likelihood that higher taxes will become a necessary evil to pay for government sponsored health care is gaining ground. Personally, it really doesn’t bother me all that much. If called upon in the future, I’m willing to pay a slightly higher tax rate so uninsured Americans can have access to life saving drugs or little Danny falls off his bike and breaks his arm. No problem, happy do it, just play me a patriotic song and tell me I’m doing my part for the good ol’ Red, White & Blue. Heck, I’ll might even enjoy it . . . ."

I would never hold out hope that O'Reilly would enjoy it -- but for a guy who prides himself on being patriotic, it might behoove him to shelve his whining.