Presented to a Joint Hearing of the House Committee on Health Care and the Senate Committee on Health Policy and Public Affairs
By Steve Buckstein
January 26, 2007
Good afternoon Mr. Chairman, Madam Chair, and Committee members.
My name is Steve Buckstein. I’m Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a public policy research organization headquartered in Portland.
Governor Kulongoski wants the state to offer free or highly subsidized health insurance to all uninsured kids in Oregon by significantly increasing the cigarette tax. His “Health Kids Program” passed out of a House committee on a party line vote Friday and now goes to the Revenue Committee.
This, despite my testimony* listing several problems with the concept, including the concern that we would be taxing a group that has less income, less education, less employment and less health insurance than the average Oregonian.
Of course, smokers are also a relatively powerless minority, so they’re an easy target for those wanting to impose the next step in their vision of universal health insurance. We’ll have to see how this morality play plays out.
*Listen to the entire hearing. My testimony begins at 26:30.
Why are your health insurance premiums tax deductible if paid by your employer, but fully taxable if you pay them yourself? This dichotomy has been part of our nation’s tax code for far too long. Now, President Bush is proposing to change it.
The Bush proposal, if enacted by Congress, would allow a federal tax deduction of $7,500 for individuals and $15,000 for families who purchase health insurance. Those same limits would apply to (more…)
Carbon trading programs have recently been implemented in Europe, and proposals for other regional schemes have been discussed in other jurisdictions. Carbon trading is grounded in sound theory, yet it is subject to numerous implementation problems. Market-based carbon trading programs, while providing some level of economic efficiency, suffer from a number of disadvantages compared to other carbon-reduction schemes. The European experience to date provides an excellent opportunity to investigate the costs and benefits of climate policy and establish whether or not Oregon should (more…)
Testimony before the Portland City Council
January 18, 2007
I’m Steve Buckstein, Senior Policy Analyst and founder of Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland-based think tank.
Whether Oregon is a high tax state or a low tax state for business, everyone understands that it’s more expensive to do business in Portland than it is in the rest of the state because of the Business License Fee.
This week TriMet began construction on its next light-rail project which will shut down the Portland transit mall for two years while tracks are laid from Union Station to Portland State University. This is viewed as a great leap forward by government planners, but it’s a step backwards for the rest of us.
The current transit mall is highly (more…)
An influential group of business and political leaders just completed their fifth annual Oregon Leadership Summit last week. Those in attendance agreed that sustainability should be the hallmark of Oregon’s economic future. Last year the rallying cry was about improving public education, but this year the group seemed to have little new to say about how to improve Oregon’s education system.
In another one of its hyper-ventilating editorials on global warming, The Oregonian today criticized the Bush administration. According to the Portland daily, the administration has refused to require the auto and trucking industries to curtail “the greenhouse gas emissions that an overwhelming number of scientists assert are the major cause of global warming.”