What constitutes a “windfall” in an industry that averages a paltry 3.3% profit margin — free donuts on Fridays? Whatever it is, or rather whatever it is after Congress pounds insurers and providers with previously-proposed excise fees and taxes, Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues want it:
House Democrats are floating the idea of a windfall-profits tax on the private health insurance industry as a way to finance their healthcare overhaul, and to drum up support among members of a divided caucus.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the windfall profits tax idea “very preliminary,” saying she’s asked House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) to look at how much the tax could raise.
“I have asked Chairman Rangel to see what is in it for us,” Pelosi said. “There’s more that the insurance companies could contribute to this health care reform. They’re going to get 50 million new consumers, many of them subsidized by the taxpayer. They can put more on the table.”
As Peter Allen once sang, everything old is new again. Jimmy Carter wanted to pay for his pet energy programs with a windfall-profits tax on the oil industry. That produced no real revenue at all, though, and Congress finally dumped it during the Reagan administration.
Even without all of the fees, givebacks, and taxes Congress has proposed for the health-care industry this summer, there aren’t any windfall profits to be had in an industry with an average 3.3% profit margin. Even if there were, the taxes on producers always get passed to consumers. And if Pelosi & Co rely on mythical “windfall profits” taxes to fund ObamaCare, we can be guaranteed that this program will massively impact the budget when the revenues never materialize.
It was bad enough when Barack Obama turned into Jimmy Carter. Now Congress wants to turn into Carter, too.
Update: The NRCC has a new microsite to get signatures on a Fire Nancy Pelosi petition:
In 2008, Nancy Pelosi received 204,996 votes to win reelection in her home district. We need your help today to collect at least 204,997 names on our “Fire Nancy Pelosi” mobile petition. You can put us one step closer to our goal by signing the petition right away.
Nancy Pelosi fired? I’d call that a windfall … for rational thinking and competent policy.