Thursday, July 23, 2009

Health Care Reform & The NBA

Simple analysis gives us information that most NBA players are President Obama supporters and left leaning Democrats. Heck, even Czar Stern is a huge Democrat if his past party donations tell us anything. Of course, there are Republicans in the mix. Famously, Greg Anthony was the head of the Young Republicans at UNLV back in his college days. But unlike the PGA Tour, players in the National Basketball Association are largely Democrats and big time President Obama supporters.

Let's take a look at a well done NBA video with players and Phil Jackson commenting on the Inauguration of newly elected Barack Obama:

The sappy music, the famous Shepard Fairey Obama Art in the background and Antwan Jamison's tear jerking reminiscence make this video great.

Now let's turn to Obama's policies. Specifically, the recent Health Care Reform that President Obama spoke about last night (7/22/09) on TV. Debate on the actual design of the legislation has come a long way over the past few months (even though the ideas have been around for waaaay longer than that) but here is what has been discussed:

Employer Mandate: No, this has nothing to do when your Employer makes you go out to dinner with other men in your company. It has to do with penalizing those Employers who don't offer health insurance for their Employees. These tax penalties would be used to help subsidize the health insurance costs of individual care (meaning, those that have to go through medical underwriting hell to land their own individual policy with a private carrier).
WOULD THIS AFFECT THE NBA? Heck no. NBA'ers have awesome coverage at 100% for the rest of their lives so The Association nor Teams would have to pay anything.

Health-Care Benefits Tax: Health Insurance premiums paid by Employers for their Employees are currently seen as normal business expenses and are not taxed. This idea would tax Health Insurance premiums paid by Employers for their Employees and the taxes would fund whatever type of plan the Administration comes up with to cover the 47 Million who are currently uninsured.
WOULD THIS AFFECT THE NBA? Yes, but only on the Employer (NBA/Teams) end as they are the ones paying for the Health Coverage of their players. These tax costs would obviously trickle down to NBA player salaries. What, you think the Owners are going to suddenly be able to absorb this tax burden in times like these? Puh-lease.

Surtax On The Wealthy: Now this is the direction the Health Care Reform legislation is headed. Last week, House Democrats put forth this idea which was supported by President Obama in his speech last night. Here's how the Surtax breaks down: If your household makes over $350K/year (or $280K/year as an individual), you will start by paying a 1% tax for the program. This percentage slowly climbs until you make over $1 Million/year where your tax will jump to 5.4% of your income.
WOULD THIS AFFECT THE NBA? Oh hellllll yes Gina! I have no time to crunch salary numbers but I would guess that 70% of the NBA players make over $1 Million per year. Ouch.

Just for fun, lets go back to the NBA'ers in the Inauguration video above and see how much they would have to pay if, hypothetically, the plan was passed and the 5.4% tax was in play for the entirety of the 2009-10 season (NBA Salaries attained HERE):

Caron Butler: $9,780,970 in '09-'10 salary = $528,172 of Health Care Reform Tax
Amare Stoudamire: $16,378,325 in '09-'10 salary = $884,430 of Health Care Reform Tax
Chauncey Billups: $12,100,000 in '09-'10 salary = $653,400 of Health Care Reform Tax
Rashaard Lewis: $18,876,000 in '09-'10 salary = $1,019,304 of Health Care Reform Tax
Antwan Jamison: $11,614,095 in '09-'10 salary = $627,161 of Health Care Reform Tax
Ray Allen: $18,776,860 in '09-'10 salary = $1,013,950 of Health Care Reform Tax
Stephen Jackson: $7,650,000 in '09-'10 salary = $413,100 of Health Care Reform Tax
Carmelo Anthony: $15,070,550 in '09-'10 salary = $813,810 of Health Care Reform Tax
Chris Paul: $13,758,000 in '09-'10 salary = $742,932 of Health Care Reform Tax
Mo Williams: $8,860,000 in '09-'10 salary = $478,440 of Health Care Reform Tax
Phil Jackson: $10,300,000 in '08-'09 salary (couldn't find '09-'10 salary) = $556,200 of Health Care Reform Tax

Grand Total of Next Season's Contribution for these listed NBA'ers? $7,730,899!! We're well on our way to the expected $544 Billion in tax dollars needed to expand the US health care system.

Hopefully these guys are on the phone with their accountants. Would a hit to the paycheck cause Obama-supporting NBA players to suddenly change their minds about their President? I sure as heck hope not. Will the Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls feel great about having President Obama sit a few rows back at their games? Hummm....

Even if those wacko "Birth Certificate" conspiracy theorists try to knock him down, the historical significance of President Obama cannot be stated enough. But isn't it funny when the honeymoon period wears off, support numbers go down, and tough decisions have to be made that policies, and not fluffy idealistic speeches, affect Americans? No President is ever perfect and nor are we as U.S. Americans. But if this Reform goes through and rich people's paychecks are docked some pretty significant dollars, will we hear a peep from any NBA players? Probably not. They spend $2 Million dollars a year on Bentleys.

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