Obama: Hey, maybe we should tax health-care benefits

I dimly recall a promise being made during the campaign that people who make less than $250,000 a year wouldn’t be paying any new taxes. Did I imagine that? It’s all a jumble in my mind with Joe the Plumber’s tax problems and the fact that Joe the Plumber’s first name isn’t really Joe and the scandalous revelation that Joe the Plumber doesn’t have a plumber’s license.

I think I did imagine it. The richest one percent is going to pay for everything from now on, right?

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said Obama expressed a willingness to consider changing the existing tax exclusion. The decision would probably anger liberal supporters such as labor unions, but such a tax change would raise enormous sums of money as Congress and the White House are struggling to find the estimated $1.2 trillion needed to pay for health-care reform over the next decade.

“Yeah, it’s something that he might consider,” Baucus told reporters after the meeting between Obama and Democratic lawmakers. “That was discussed. It’s on the table.” Obama had summoned about two dozen senators to the White House to keep up the pressure to enact a comprehensive health-care overhaul this year…

Private-sector businesses spend about $518 billion a year on their workers’ health insurance, benefits that are not taxed. If workers had to pay taxes on their health coverage, it would raise $246 billion in revenue each year, according to the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation…

Nevertheless, the issue represents treacherous politics for Obama, given his attacks on Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who advocated a similar approach during the campaign.

Am I misunderstanding or would this be a tax aimed specifically at people who don’t need or use government health insurance? If you’re already getting benefits from your employer, you’re opting out of ObamaCare, no? Or is the whole idea here that once ObamaCare’s in effect, businesses will cancel their private insurance and force employees to opt into universal health care? In which case, er, where’s all the revenue from taxing health benefits coming from? I’m missing something.