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Liberal Watchdog Groups Unveil Plans To Fund Healthcare Reform

NJToday.net — Wednesday, July 8, 2009

HIGHLAND PARK—On Tuesday, New Jersey Citizen Action, the NJ Health Care for America Now (HCAN) Campaign, and Citizens for Tax Justice released a new report laying out options for paying for quality, affordable health care reform that includes a public health insurance option.

The report, titled Two Proposals to Pay for Health Care Reform Without Hurting Struggling Families in New Jersey (click here for full report), discusses reforming the Medicare tax and limiting itemized deductions for the wealthiest Americans. It includes comprehensive, New Jersey-specific information on the limited impact of these proposals on the New Jersey population.

The report recommended that the Medicare tax be extended to cover investment income such as capital gains and stock dividends. The Medicare payroll tax, at a rate of 2.9 percent for most lower- and middle-income Americans, is the one important tax that is dedicated to health care, but it completely exempts wealthy investors. The Citizens for Tax Justice report also backed President Obama's proposal to limit itemized deductions, a reform that would affect only 1.3 percent of taxpayers but could raise more than $260 billion over the next ten years.

"The proposals we're discussing would be good policy even if Congress was not trying to raise revenue to pay for health care reform," said CTJ director Robert S. McIntyre. "They make our tax system fairer and more rational. And they would mainly affect the wealthiest Americans, who received the bulk of the benefits of all the tax cuts enacted over the past several years."

Ev Liebman, director of organizing and advocacy at New Jersey Citizen Action, said new revenue is needed for two reasons. First, Liebman said, current revenues cannot pay for affordable, quality health care for all. And second, Liebman said, it is time that the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.

"Americans see the unfairness in the current system," Liebman said. "They know that the wealthiest Americans — people who make up the top one to five percent in income brackets — aren't paying their fair share. That's what this debate is about."

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