Pretzel Logic

This is an amazing contortion:

According to Phil Klein of the American Spectator, Christina Romer, head of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, had this to say today about the Senate's proposed excise tax on high-end health insurance policies:

"Part of the idea of how that is going to work is precisely because it does empower consumers. It empowers each of us to have an employer-sponsored plan to call our HR office and say, "ËśWould you negotiate harder? Would you think about (whether this) is the most efficient plan out there, because I don't want my plan paying an excise tax.' So I think that's something that is very much empowering consumers."


  1. Brian Dunbar:


    I am not a consumer of my company's benefit plan. I am a user. And the idea of thousands of cube dwellers and line monkeys calling their HR rep and having that conversation is just .. surreal.

  2. Jeff:

    Here's what I would like to ask Ms. Romer in reply.

    My family has a high deductible plan ($6,000/year) with a Health Savings Account. We feel this plan is a great way for us to save money on our monthly premium and we save money on income taxes, since HSA spending is pre-tax dollars. This is exactly the type of behavior seem to be encouraging ('Would you negotiate harder? Would you think about (whether this) is the most efficient plan out there,'), but the current legislation in the House and Senate outlaws my high deductible plan and HSA account.

    So what is the goal? Efficient, consumer driven health care or government control?

  3. Allen:

    Good reply, Jeff.

    I'm curious, does Ms. Romer think people call their HR department all the time and complain about the crappy, fee-riddled 401k choices their given?

  4. Charlie B:

    Real world to Ms.Romer,

    Since most employers kick money into employee health care, the employer is already more than sort of motivated to keep health care costs as low as possible.

  5. Scott:

    And the winner is Charlie B!

  6. Mesa Econoguy:

    Christina Romer - Garff B. Wilson Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley

    That's about all you need to know.

    [Gasp! That's so closed-minded!]

  7. Dr. T:

    Christina Romer, who never had a reputation as a decent economist, has become a whore for the Obama administration. She is paid to put out whatever plan Obama wants, regardless of its sensibility or effects on the national economy. Thus, we get idiotic statements such as the one cited today, where Ms. Romer tried to defend the indefensible.

    Of course, Ms. Romer is one step above Paul Klugman: he doesn't get paid to shill for the administration; he gives it away.

  8. epobirs:

    Ms. Romer,

    When government feels it need resort to extortion to get non-criminal citizens to behave in a desired fashion, it is time to give thought to the next election cycle.

    The list of person I'd like to see hold office another term, along with their appointees and cronies, is getting shorter by the week. Increasingly, I'm feeling more and more that elections are a failed mechanism because nobody who would seek office belongs there. Perhaps it is time to start drafting people into public office as a form of national service. Give them a minimal living stipend with an exit bonus based on their job rating by a public survey. More points are given for not breaking stuff as compared to creating new anything.

  9. the other coyote:

    When I first saw the proposal to tax really good health insurance, it occurred to me that what Obama & Co. want is for you to buy health insurance, but only the health insurance they approve of (i.e., it can't be TOO good or pay for TOO much -- I guess because that would be unfair to those who don't have it so good?)

    I wasn't a big believer in the "Obama is a Marxist" and "socialized medicine" meme, but this scheme has me wondering. There is no other logical explanation for why you HAVE to buy health insurance but will be taxed on health insurance that is too expensive (read: too good).