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Sacrificing jobs on the altar of health care

It's not exactly television, but...

Heathbumper I've heard of whistling while you work, but I think Max Baucus takes it too far. Baucus, the Montana Democrat who chairs the Senate finance committee and will have a lot to say about the final shape of any healthcare reform, says the new taxes Democrats are contemplating to pay for it are ``interesting, they're creative, some are kind of fun.'' I guess, if you think bankruptcy, layoffs and unemployment are kicky.

Those are the inevitable results if Congress goes ahead with the main idea being kicked around: the so-called play-or-pay provision that would require almost all businesses to either provide health insurance for their employees or pay a tax penalty of up to 8 percent of their payroll.

Much of the debate around healthcare reform has floated in the philosophical stratosphere -- whether it amounts to socialized medicine, whether it will lead to rationing, whether it's moral to force young, healthy workers into insurance plans to bring down premiums for everybody else.

But before we even get to that, shouldn't we ask a more fundamental question? At a time when American businesses are going bankrupt at a rate of 240 a day, when the unemployment rate is 9.5 percent and headed north, does it make sense to impose any new taxes on business? What if play-or-pay leads to a third option: taking your ball and going home? Read my full op-ed column in Tuesday's Miami Herald.


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