Grover’s right: Bed-tax bill is all about passing the buck

Say what you will about Grover Norquist — and I know many of you have had plenty to say about him in the past, none of it good. But I don’t think there’s any question his organization, Americans for Tax Reform, is right about one particular element of its statement regarding Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to have the Department of Community Health, rather than the Legislature, decide whether to continue imposing the hospital bed tax (or “hospital provider fee,” in the current Georgia political vernacular).

Here’s the statement, obtained by my AJC news-side colleagues. I’ve put the seemingly unobjectionable part in bold-face:

Gov. Deal’s decision to shift taxing authority from the legislature to the Department of Community Health does nothing to improve the hospital bed tax. Instead, it is a step in the wrong direction, attempting to absolve the governor and legislature of any potential blame for the looming tax increase.

The hospital bed tax remains a job-killing tax hike that will increase the cost of health care for Georgians and drive up the national debt. Thankfully, many Georgia legislators have taken a stand against the bed tax; Americans for Tax Reform applauds their resolve in the face of silly gimmicks on behalf of tax-and-spend special interests.

Now, you can believe the bed tax is needed, or you can believe it isn’t. You can applaud Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge or consider it the root of all evil in American politics. But I don’t know how you can disagree with Norquist that Georgia’s Republican lawmakers are trying to pass the buck by giving authority to levy the tax/fee to the DCH board.

If our legislators believe they have no option to balance the budget other than levying the bed tax, that the budget can no longer be cut and tax increases are necessary, then let them come out and say that and defend it — and stop talking about “cutting government” in all their election campaigns.

If they think it is right to make this tax, pitched three years ago as a temporary solution during an abnormally sharp recession and budget crunch, into a permanent tax — which is exactly what it would become once the Legislature no longer had to vote on it periodically — let them make that argument.

Otherwise, I think it would be appropriate for Norquist’s group to rate a vote or gubernatorial signature for the pass-the-buck bill as a vote or signature for a tax hike. And then Georgia’s voters can use that information to decide if their lawmakers did the right thing, which is all the ATR pledge is supposed to do anyway.

– By Kyle Wingfield

125 comments Add your comment

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 15th, 2013
9:44 am

I know one lawmaker that’s doing the right thing -

District 28 state Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, commented on the bed tax legislation at length.

“Second, we have to find ways to control the rising cost of health care rather than continue to fuel the cost increases with more tax dollars. We need to put the consumer back in the driver’s seat when it comes to health care. Consumer dollars are the most efficient dollars in the market place. They’re selective, informed and frugal, which leads to a competitive and efficient market. Such a market provides for the best allocation of resources, drives innovation and lowers cost. Tax dollars tend to have the opposite effect on the marketplace.

Right on, my man.

We need more voices like that.

Del

January 15th, 2013
9:47 am

Road Scholar

January 15th, 2013
9:48 am

Our Governor and legislative body has no vision or cahunnas! Passing the buck again.

Thy cannot even organize a health exchange based on free market policies and programs. So much for being business friendly!

Whirled Peas

January 15th, 2013
9:51 am

Now there is the ultimate oxymoron. A temporary tax.

We need to put Grover Norquist on Mount Rushmore.

Politico

January 15th, 2013
9:57 am

Kyle

Regardless of how this issue finally plays out; Deal and the vast majority of elected officials “working” at the Gold Dome will be reelected.

They know this and those who will vote for them know this, so there shouldn’t be much that goes on that shocks many people.

Just like Murphy and his boys. Only major change is the D to an R…. Some are even have the same individuals

Bob Loblaw

January 15th, 2013
9:59 am

@Aesop: “We need to put the consumer back in the driver’s seat when it comes to health care” means that sick people that can’t afford the doctor/hospital bill will just stay sick. If they’re really sick, they’ll infect others and they’ll show up for the most expensive care available, when they are at their sickest point and not pay for any of it.

Whether or not a state agency levies a fee or the Governor does, the Governor is still responsible. Grover wants GA to “be nice” to the federal budget and not draw down legally permissible funds to pay for Medicaid. Seriously, that’s his position.

Until the Federal government changes the law, Georgia is crazy not to take the funds to fill a gap that its taxpayers can’t afford all by themselves.

Michael

January 15th, 2013
10:01 am

I am no fan of Grover, but he is right about this one topic. Bu that is what politicians do, pass the blame to others so they can serve another term.

Centrist

January 15th, 2013
10:14 am

Disgusting, gutless move by Republican politicians that only hurts their credibility.

Too bad Democrats have so much less credibility – guess that’s why the Repubs think they can get away with stuff like this.

Over on another AJC blog I don’t read, I see the headline how Democrats are going to push back on issues. Fat chance now that they are such a insignificant minority party that is routinely ignored in Georgia.

Cutty

January 15th, 2013
10:16 am

What state does Grover pay taxes in? When politicians took the oath of office to uphold the Constitution of ATF, then we can talk.

If it was the Center for American Progress or some democratic-leaning organization, I doubt Kyle would be talking about them. Even tho dems and repubs may come up w good ideas. Individual mandates come to mind.

Dusty

January 15th, 2013
10:16 am

Bob Loblaw

You have expressed exactly what we want to do. That is, not draw down funds from the Federal Government. You seem to be against lowering Federal expenses. How can we lower the terrible Federal debt if we don’t STOP taking money from the Feds? Have you not noticed that we have a sixteen trillion dollar debt?

Legal permissable funds? That’s a ;joke. I suppose it is permissably legal to have a sixteen trillion dollar debt but that is a suicide wish for the country. Forget the handouts and remember the debt.

indigo

January 15th, 2013
10:28 am

Ultra conservative Norquist harshly critizises ultra conservative Deal and GA Legislature.

Priceless.

Dusty

January 15th, 2013
10:41 am

Kyle,

I wish you would tell us again exactly how this tax works. The hospitals pay a tax on each bed and then they get a refund somehow from the Feds? Sounds like something that would be added to patient’s bills in the meantime. I don’t quite understand how this works well for anyone.

When will citizens be taxed and refunded for the number of beds they have in house? . Hotels? Tthis sounds like a BId-a-bed or Bungle program. But I don’t blame Gov. Deal fro handing it over to the HealthCcommittee. That’s why the state has that committee. The governor will still be in on the final approval.

Karl Marx

January 15th, 2013
10:43 am

Say what you want about Norquist or the legislature but this tax will not be paid by Hospitals or Patients. This tax is passed on to Insurances companies and paid with premiums we ALL pay.
Just another hidden tax on everybody is all it is.

md

January 15th, 2013
10:44 am

“Until the Federal government changes the law, Georgia is crazy not to take the funds to fill a gap that its taxpayers can’t afford all by themselves.”

Hmmm, might want to think that one through. Those same taxpayers will have to pay the federal taxes so what is the difference? Are you saying taxpayers can better afford a federal tax vs a state tax?

It’s illogical.

Dusty

January 15th, 2013
10:44 am

Indigo,

Is it impossible for you to realize that some people say what they have found to be true? There are some. But you seem surpised.

Jefferson

January 15th, 2013
10:50 am

Until you realize life cost money, you will never be happy,

Cheesy Grits is gone but not forgotten

January 15th, 2013
10:52 am

Americans for Tax Reform

According to an investigative report from the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on the Jack Abramoff scandal, released in June 2006, ATR served as a “conduit” for funds that flowed from Abramoff’s clients to finance surreptitiously grass-roots lobbying campaigns.[28] Records show that donations from the Choctaw and Kickapoo tribes to ATR were coordinated in part by Abramoff, and in some cases preceded meetings between the tribes and the White House.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americans_for_Tax_Reform

They sound like fine Americans

yuzeyurbrane

January 15th, 2013
10:52 am

So what’s news? Deal is a hypocrite. As are, hopefully, a majority of Republican legislators on this particular issue/

Logical Dude

January 15th, 2013
10:54 am

Kyle: “But I don’t know how you can disagree with Norquist that Georgia’s Republican lawmakers are trying to pass the buck by giving authority to levy the tax/fee to the DCH board.”

Heck, even a broken clock is right once a day.

And for this article, it sounds more like a praise article for Norquist instead of a piece that should be critical of the governor and legislature. I mean, did Norquist himself come to Georgia and review all the tax policies that the governor and legislature pass the buck on?

Come on, Kyle, be critical of the government and their ability to raise taxes by calling them fees, or pass the buck on who should pay what, and sticking it to the unsuspecting taxpayer when they are at the worst possible situation (yes, in a hospital, where the patient really has very little say if they want to be there or not.)

By using this article as a defense of Norquist, it makes you look like you’re swooning to stardom instead of looking at the whole picture. Well, it also looks like you’re using it as a cover so that you don’t have to take so much heat for directly criticizing the government.

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

January 15th, 2013
10:58 am

Jefferson: Until you realize life cost money, you will never be happy
———-

Is that why Obozo’s moocher base seems perpetually angry?

Cheesy Grits is gone but not forgotten

January 15th, 2013
11:00 am

Is that why Obozo’s moocher base seems perpetually angry?

No didnt you hear. Since he was re elected we get everything free.

We just have to show our “I voted for Obama twice” card.

Good times

Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

January 15th, 2013
11:05 am

Stupid tax passed around like a bad burrito, get rid of it. Taxes, despite what the Dems constantly preach, always wind up on the backs of the consumers. They claim it is an effort to get money from the Medical giants or the insurance companies, but they always wind up being passed on to the poor sucker, that has to visit the hospital, and needs a $4 aspirin.

As Mike Crane says above, consumers spending their own money make the most informed and efficient choices. How do we treat the poor, who don’t have the money to shop around? I think we need to rethink what we are doing now. Maybe give the money to the family involved instead, rather than funnel it through the sieve we now use, where the government, the hospital, the medical labs, and the doctors all take as many bites as they can as it passes through. Yes, many of the families might cheat and use it for something else and not get the care they need, many would be poor managers of the money, but it would not be any worse than what is happening now, and it just might ‘bend the cost curve” as Obama once boasted.

Politico, yeah Deal and the GOP will be reelected, because in politics it is always the lesser of two evils. The party that fleeces only one pocket and wastes some of it, or the party that fleeces both pockets and wastes more of it.

Dusty

January 15th, 2013
11:05 am

Cheesy,

I see you have been doing research (as part of your job) way back to 2006 about Abramoff. But we were not talking about Abramoff and what he did with the Chocktaw and Kickapoo tribes and the ATR back then.

So you found a tibbit against Norquist’s organization Whoopee! Maybe you will get a Pulitzer for your efforts. Somebody has to dig in the mud, I suppose. Seems you are suitable.

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

January 15th, 2013
11:06 am

Since he was re elected we get everything free.
——–

That’s what his chump supporters thought. What they got (the few who have paying jobs) is a smaller paycheck.

Tax hikes on Obozo’s moocher base–priceless.

md

January 15th, 2013
11:06 am

“Until you realize life cost money, you will never be happy,”

Yet some are happy buying the generic version vs the designer brand put on the credit card…..

OakhurstDawg

January 15th, 2013
11:10 am

Kyle: Duh. Did you really need Grover for this?

Of course Deal’s trying to dodge the issue. Grover has forced the GOP into a dogmatc stance on something that should be negotiable based on ever changing conditions.

Deal’s bed has been made for him, so to speak. Now he must lie in it?

JamVet

January 15th, 2013
11:11 am

Is that why Mitt’s moocher base just got crushed at the polls?

Keep up the excellent work at getting that successful message out there bb!

You are invaluable…

nathan's political arsonist

January 15th, 2013
11:16 am

norquist is only relevant to the remaining few who will listen. but he’s right on this one. the spinless governor and legislative leadership have to take this one on themselves, or they should all be retired on 11-4-14

Dusty

January 15th, 2013
11:16 am

wow, cheesy,

You were trying to be sarcastic about the” I voted for Obama twice Cards” but it is too close to the truth to get a laugh.

ObamaCare is nothing but a present for the Obama card holders along with unemployment extensions and a vacation trip over the cliff. He keeps your Christmas stockings full. I see you writing thank-you notes here quite often.

Better watch it. You may say something truthful while knocking conservatives.

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

January 15th, 2013
11:17 am

Mitt’s base works for a living and are the folks who make the real economy run. Cheering the fact that they’re a minority just shows your liberal fascism.

Bob Loblaw

January 15th, 2013
11:26 am

I’m not against lowering Federal expenditures. However, Federal law states that we can draw down more money to pay for Medicaid using this method. With a $500M hole in the Medicaid budget, where do you want to raise these funds from? Are you ready for higher state taxes to pay for more Medicaid? Because that’s the answer.

If the Federal government wants to lower its expenses, then it should change the law. You think its a joke? Its a joke to sit there on your broke rear end and not take funds that by the way, Georgians paid a portion of and instead raise taxes on yourself.

Dusty

January 15th, 2013
11:27 am

So Gov. Deal is “passing the buck” for turning a hospital tax issue over to the Health committee? Do you folks realize that HOSPITALS have something to do with health?

Deal is trying to run the state government in a democratic manner.
That means he does not make all decisions by himself. Get it?

A state government. run in a democratic manner . Please refer to your dictionary for the meaning of “democratic”. It means we don’t have just one man making all the decisions for the people of this state. The governor uses elected representatives to help him. decide what is best..

He is using proper procedure whether you like it or not.

Cheesy Grits is gone but not forgotten

January 15th, 2013
11:28 am

That’s what his chump supporters thought

No. We really do get everything free.

We just have to make sure there are no Romney folks around ( They are usually at work anyway )

We have secret handshakes and signals to make sure word doesn’t get out.

Why just this morning I got my IHOP breakfast for free.

If you had voted for Obama ( most of us did more than once ) you’d be getting free stuff too.

JDW

January 15th, 2013
11:29 am

“Georgia’s Republican lawmakers are trying to pass the buck ”

No way…passing the buck! Next thing you know they will shirk their duty on managing transportation and have a SPLOST vote…O’ wait :roll:

Only thing these guys can stand behind is keeping us safe from microchips.

md

January 15th, 2013
11:31 am

“With a $500M hole in the Medicaid budget, where do you want to raise these funds from? Are you ready for higher state taxes to pay for more Medicaid? Because that’s the answer. ”

Going to happen anyway as the fed funds do not cover the cost of additional administrative costs, unless one thinks we can add millions of individuals and service them all at no additional costs. The states are balking at the additional individuals because of two main issues. 1) Higher costs associated with adding millions more that will NOT be covered by the feds and 2) once these folks are added there will be no turning back the clock, it will be forever………..

Dusty

January 15th, 2013
11:38 am

Bob Loblaw

You still don’t get it.

The state is broke. The Feds are broke. When you have no money you stop spending it because you don’t have it.

We are already up to our necks in DEBT. CAN’T YOU REALIZE THAT?

Also, you do not borrow money to pay debts. That make you in double debt.

Stop spending as much as possible. We are so spoiled in the USA that we no longer know how to economize . But we better learn before someone forcibly shows us how. LIke when the Chinese want their money back.

Until you get those facts in mind, you are no help to the country.

Jefferson

January 15th, 2013
11:39 am

lil barry, you are full, jack. Now stay quiet, you won’t.

Dusty

January 15th, 2013
11:48 am

Cheesy,

Your Obama card is good for all pro-[Dem lobbyist work. Free meals! Go for it!

But try Burger KIng. It is better than IHOP. I know and I pay for mine..

Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

January 15th, 2013
11:48 am

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/15/3183497/cuba-acknowledges-51-cholera-cases.html

How can this be happening in Cuba, the place Michael Moore said had some of the best healthcare in the world? A socialist utopia with single payer coverage, has no comments about this outbreak. I guess a bed tax might help them afford some sanitation!

md

January 15th, 2013
11:50 am

I think the Chinese have written off that debt. After we started manipulating our currency (as we complain that they do it), they took action instead. They have been buying gold heavily and steadily for several years now in an attempt to alter the gold market, which was always our game.

They also want to eventually get the yuan onto the market as a world reserve currency, which shouldn’t be a problem once they become the world’s number 1 economy. After they do all that, the dollar will be vulnerable and our little life of luxury may very well be threatened.

It’s only a matter of time especially if the dems keep racking up debt.

Bob Loblaw

January 15th, 2013
11:50 am

@Dusty:

1) It is a federal law that requires GA to care for the Medicaid patients currently enrolled. In short, GA has no choice;
2) This law and the expenses associated with it have created a $500 million hole in this year’s budget. In short, the federal law requires this hole be filled, somehow;
3) There is federal law that allows GA to draw down federal funds to fill the hole.

Until you get those facts in mind, you’re not knowledgeable enough for the discussion, let alone any “help to the country” as you put it. Your debt matter is one to take up with the Feds, not with GA. GA will balance its budget. If the feds change the law, then you’ll see fewer Medicaid patients getting care, which apparently is the cut you’re looking to make in the debt.

Hillbilly D

January 15th, 2013
11:50 am

In my opinion, whether the bed tax is a good thing or a bad thing is immaterial, what matters is that the Legislature needs to vote it up or down. That’s their job, isn’t it?

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

January 15th, 2013
11:58 am

That’s right, Boblaw, we conservatives do want fewer people on the dole.

The liberal fascists (Obozo chief among them) want more on the dole.

Conservatives are for freedom. Democrats are for Democrats in power.

Politico

January 15th, 2013
12:02 pm

Hillbilly

Now you know the current legislature doesn’t want to be seen as voting on taxes and surely not raising any..

Purdue taught them well to obtain revenue increases via “fees”.

The end result is they get the increase in revenue but can tell their constituencies that they didn’t raise “taxes”.

It is a semantics game that has worked and will continue to work..

Hillbilly D

January 15th, 2013
12:05 pm

Politico

I didn’t say that’s what I thought would happen, just what should happen. The Legislature works the same way it’s worked for my lifetime and probably longer than that. They have perfected the game over the years but that’s to be expected, I guess. I have no illusion that it’s going to change.

As long as there is one party rule, which we’ve had for over 150 years, we’ll always have these problems.

Politico

January 15th, 2013
12:10 pm

Hillbilly

I agree and said earlier that it reminds me of Murphy and his boys..

I just find it amusing that their are people buying into this “fees” game….

Regardless of how one votes, it isn’t too hard to see what they are doing..

They know the “core base” will accept the “fee” more than a tx, even though it produces the same end result

Politico

January 15th, 2013
12:12 pm

Dusty

January 15th, 2013
12:12 pm

Bob Loblaw

I did not make the Fed law on Medicaid and I do not make the state of Georgia pay for my medical care. Until we make people think of themselves as self supporting individuals, as we once were, we will continue to have debt or forced government direction in all aspects of our lives. I don’t want that.

Until you realize that independence comes in all forms for Americans, you will sink into a communistic, socialistic for\m of government. I fight against that because I want us to continue to be a free country. That may be simplistic to you, but it is the basis of my argument.

Dependents are not free. Debt holders are not free. So keep switching the debts of dependency from one source to another until it won’t work. I wish to keep us stable by sensible means, not pie in the sky or copying Cuba .

Hillbilly D

January 15th, 2013
12:19 pm

Debt holders are not free.

My Grandpa always told me that no man who has debt is ever free. That would cover the vast majority of folks in the modern world. He learned that lesson the hard way (as did many adults in post WW I/Depression America) and he drilled it into my head, regularly.

md

January 15th, 2013
12:19 pm

The big difference between a fee and a tax per se is that a fee is applied to the actual users, while only sales taxes work the same way.

I have no problem with fees for services as that is the way it should be.