NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

November 9, 2013

Paying the piper on Obamacare

So, there I was on Oct. 31, handing little chocolate bars to children on my porch, then going back to my computer to order books from Amazon before it started collecting the Massachusetts sales tax on Nov. 1. I wanted “Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims” for my grandchildren and the new Krauthammer book for myself; then I added two inexpensive paperbacks from the wish list that I use when I need to increase my order to get free shipping.

Amazon recently increased the amount one has to spend for free shipping, so I probably won’t be using it as much now that I won’t get my taxpayer-activist satisfaction from avoiding the sales tax. That’s the bright side of the state taxing my Amazon purchase: more business for the local bookstores. The dark side is the money will be wasted.

In fact, it isn’t really needed. I saw Gov. Deval Patrick on “Meet the Press” last Sunday, talking about appearing with President Obama in Boston to compare Obamacare with Romneycare. Patrick assured the national audience that “now we have virtually universal coverage ... It has not broken the budget.”

Easy to say, when in your first term you increased the sales tax rate from 5 percent to 6.25 percent. And yet ... a Monday RedMassGroup posting reminded us of a 2011 news item from the Boston Globe: “Gov. Deval Patrick approved a record $9.6 billion last July for the state’s health insurance program for the poor — sufficient, he assumed, to last a year. But the program’s costs quickly outpaced expectations, forcing the governor to approve an additional $329 million in October and then seek $258 million more, which lawmakers approved last week. And even that may not last, with six months remaining in the budget year ... With Massachusetts confronting an estimated $1.5 billion shortfall in the coming budget year, Patrick has said he is committed to financing the program, known as MassHealth ...”

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