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Were I to run for a serious elected office, among my policy positions would include:

(1) Eliminate all favorable employer tax treatments for health insurance. In other words, raise the taxes employees and employers pay on the income they pay their workers. The obvious reason to do this, and even the hated GWB proposed it a decade ago, is to put the individual/non-employer-based health insurance market on equal footing with the employer market. Further, the enormous implicit subsidies this provides to health insurance “consumers” both increases the use of scarce health care resources which drives up costs and limits accessibility to others in a world where policymakers and health activists utterly refuse to think of expanding access on the supply side. The second thing this does is target taxes to the rich. Go read Picketty and others who worry about inequality – the sorts of programs they advocate to make income distributions more equal and tax systems more progressive are things like free college and inheritance taxes. Both of these would utterly fail to achieve their goals. On the other hand, it is surely the “rich” who disproportionate benefit from the deductibility of health insurance from income taxation. People who work are richer than people who do not. And the more you earn in the labor market, the larger your health insurance benefits are to be. But, go see how folks respond to proposals to “tax health care”, which of course is the bastardization / telephone game we get in any conversation people seem to have.

(2) Eliminate all tax deductions for charity. Again, think of this from a progressive tax system perspective. Who benefits from these sorts of programs? The rich and wealthy and high income folks are the ones making the largest charitable donations, and therefore benefit the most from the tax system here. Furthermore, a considerable share of tax free funding is ending up NOT benefiting the poor. I just gave money to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and while I find this to be a worthy cause, my taxes are lowered and rich, old white guys are better assured of having nice walking trails and bird habitat to enjoy in their long retirements (also long retirements that poor people, who pay into social security, also do not get to enjoy, but that is a story for another post).

To be quick, what we have here then is that we should raise taxes on employer provided health care, we should raise taxes on charities (indeed, I would eliminate them entirely, for more reasons than the above) and in doing so we would make the tax system more progressive, we would put a dent into our annual budget shortfalls, we would reduce the distortions and resource misallocations that happen by treating different “goods” differently, and based on our understanding of health insurance and charity, these proposals would very likely NOT have an adverse impact on people’s access to health care (it would improve it) or the amount of actual, real, charitable activity that happens in the US.

But to advocate these positions, ironically, seems to paint one as a dogmatic, anti-government ideologue. I kid you not. Go ask some people what they think of reducing the favorable tax treatment to charities and study their responses. What’s going on here? YMMV on the various stories, I’ll share mine in the future.

EDITED TO ADD: Note that I understand the challenges with the post title. You can absolutely be a free-market dogmatist and have a wide-ranging series of views on various forms of taxation, so perhaps a better presentation would have been something like being an antigovernment dogmatist not being free-market, these are not the same thing.

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