The BoTax

Although health care reform will eventually save the US government billions of dollars, the “wrinkle” is that the savings won’t start being realized until the system has been in place for a while.  In an effort to offset the more immediate cost of the system, the Democrats are considering a tax on cosmetic surgery and other elective procedures like botox treatments:

The White House and Senate Democrats have turned to a proposal to tax breast implants, tummy tucks, wrinkle-smoothing injections and other procedures as they search for ways to pay for costly health care overhaul plans.

And here’s the almost parody-worthy pushback from the cosmetic surgery industry:

“The common misconception is that this is going to tax wealthy, suburban Republican women,” said Dr. Phil Haeck of Seattle, Wash., the president-elect of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. […]

In addition, he said the tax would be especially hurtful in tough economic times that have prompted many newly jobless women to look for ways to make themselves more marketable to prospective employers. He said, “They’re competing with people 10 to 15 years younger than them and they want to look better.”

Don’t we all.  But wanting isn’t needing, and facelifts aren’t cancer treatment.

It’s hard to believe that in the same country where some enjoy such extravagant wealth that they feel they *need* luxuries like cosmetic surgery and would be hard-done-by if such treatments were taxed, others die for lack of basic health insurance.   Something’s wrong with this picture.  No, not wrong — obscene.

24 Responses to “The BoTax”


  1. 1 J. A. Baker Friday, November 20, 2009 at 8:07 am

    It does speak to the fucked up priorities we ‘Murkins have, don’t it? 😕

  2. 2 Janus Friday, November 20, 2009 at 11:19 am

    “Obscene” is the correct word for it, JJ.

    The cosmetic industry is a luxury. Tax it accordingly. Maybe then, people will stop worshipping at the altar of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition?

  3. 3 JJ Friday, November 20, 2009 at 11:43 am

    JAB – No!!! I didn’t mean that to come across as being a blanket statement about all Americans. It’s certainly no fault of yours or the rest of the 52% who voted to make health care happen. It’s the ones who’ve been fucking around and holding healthcare back all these years that are to blame for this sorry state of affairs.

    But wow, watching from this safe distance, it’s sometimes almost surreal what goes on just a short drive away 😦

    We’re pulling for you up here, you guys will get it done!

  4. 4 JJ Friday, November 20, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Janus

    The cosmetic industry is a luxury.

    So I’ve always thought, but apparently cosmetic surgery is now considered another job-seeking tool 😯 and I’m sure Canada’s not much different from the US in that respect — the big difference is, everyone here already has health care.

    As much as I don’t like the government taxing us to death on everything we touch, taxing cosmetic surgery to help pay for universal* health care seems pretty reasonable to me. The argument that it would be a hardship for job-seekers is ludicrous.

    *ETA – “Universal” isn’t exactly what they’re getting, but using that term loosely.

  5. 5 croghan27 Friday, November 20, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Would cosmetic surgery include that done on burn victims, and those disfigured by accident – or even our returned soldiers?

    I have little sympathy for someone who wants bigger lips, tits or a nose job – but someone who’s face has been blown off, even if they are in no danger of dying, needs some reconstructive cosmetic surgery.

  6. 6 J. A. Baker Friday, November 20, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I didn’t mean that to come across as being a blanket statement about all Americans. It’s certainly no fault of yours or the rest of the 52% who voted to make health care happen.

    I didn’t mean to give you the impression that I thought you were slagging all Americans, JJ! 😳

    It’s just that stories like this make me shake my head in embarrassment that my countrymen can be so fucking shallow.

  7. 7 JJ Friday, November 20, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    croghan – No, absolutely not, it would just be elective cosmetic surgery like face lifts, botox, tummy tucks etc. The surgery that burn victims and injured soldiers need is a necessity, it’s not considered elective.

  8. 8 JJ Friday, November 20, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    JAB

    It’s just that stories like this make me shake my head in embarrassment that my countrymen can be so fucking shallow.

    I’m pretty sure that shallowness isn’t peculiar to Americans… it only stands out because most western nations have some kind of public health care. But you guys will change all that, starting tomorrow I hope!

  9. 9 Jasper Friday, November 20, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    “It’s hard to believe that in the same country where some enjoy such extravagant wealth that they feel they *need* luxuries like cosmetic surgery and would be hard-done-by if such treatments were taxed, others die for lack of basic health insurance. Something’s wrong with this picture. No, not wrong — obscene.”

    You don’t understand the American spirit JJ. Many poor and low income families do NOT want the riches money. I grew up in a low income family (7 children), we DO NOT WANT other peoples money! If they invested, started a business..whatever.. good for them.

    Money isn’t evertyhing, that what you liberals have to learn. Many of those rich people provide JOBS!

    Do not take up treasure of worldly things…

  10. 10 J. A. Baker Friday, November 20, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Money isn’t evertyhing, that what you liberals have to learn. Many of those rich people provide JOBS!

    Jasper, if money isn’t everything, then why are you so opposed to the Ken Lays of the world giving up 1/10,000th of 1% of their ill-gotten gains for the betterment of others?

  11. 11 Janus Friday, November 20, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    “Would cosmetic surgery include that done on burn victims, and those disfigured by accident – or even our returned soldiers?”

    Good point, croghan. But there is a difference between reconstructive surgery to repair the body and cosmetic surgery that merely makes it somebody’s idea of “prettier.”

  12. 12 JJ Friday, November 20, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Jasper

    You don’t understand the American spirit JJ. Many poor and low income families do NOT want the riches money. I grew up in a low income family (7 children), we DO NOT WANT other peoples money!

    So all that charity that gives the church its tax-exempt status comes from where and goes to whom?

  13. 13 JJ Friday, November 20, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    JAB – Jasper is a perfect example of people who’ve somehow been trained to work against their own self-interest by those who use them for their own benefit.

    I have no idea why some in the middle class are so defensive of the people who put the screws to them on an ongoing basis. While I think it’s a bad idea to tax businesses too much, I don’t have any problem with taxing people on completely unnecessary luxury toys as long as the revenue is used to provide basic benefits like health care.

  14. 14 JJ Friday, November 20, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Janus – Yeah, exactly, and that’s why they specify “elective” cosmetic surgery. Not all cosmetic surgery is elective, some of it is necessary to recovery from illness or accident (or war).

  15. 15 Shade Friday, November 20, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Actually the stuff for burns victims and soldiers would probably fall under public health insurance. I can’t be a 100% sure though, but it seems likely to me.

  16. 16 CK Friday, November 20, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Taxing cosmetic surgery to help pay for health care reform. Seems like a no brainer to me. I’m all for it.

    I understand the problem with job search when over a certain age: I went through it last year. I ended up finding my job in an industry where it doesn’t matter: social services.

    If one is above a certain age and job seeking, the idea is to stay away from types of industries that only cater to the youth, like the advertising business, for example.

    So while cosmetic surgery is considered to be a job search tool and for those who can afford the luxury, then they can afford to pay the taxes on it.

    My next question: While unemployed, we had only my husband’s revenue while I waited 6 weeks for my pogey. I can tell you that we were barely scraping by to pay for the necessities, like rent, our utilities and groceries. And I live in Montreal where cost of living is relatively cheaper than most places in Canada and U.S.: how does an unemployed person in more expensive place afford cosmetic surgery?

  17. 17 JJ Friday, November 20, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Shade – I would think so: they have government health care, so injuries they got while doing their job (working for the government) would be covered, including restoration surgery.

  18. 18 JJ Friday, November 20, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    CK

    how does an unemployed person in more expensive place afford cosmetic surgery?

    They don’t — it’s bullshit — Unless they’re a professional working some high-paying career, and got a big severance package when they got laid off. Otherwise, cosmetic surgery wouldn’t even be a consideration for the average unemployed person who gets laid off with holiday pay and booted out the door. (Or even the average working person, come to think of it.)

  19. 19 Shade Friday, November 20, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Also I’d like to throw in my support to call it the BoTax if it goes through.

  20. 20 Phatbiker Friday, November 20, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    If they tax penis enlargment surgery, all hell will break loose. Limpdick and Beck will be outraged.

  21. 21 Reality Bites Friday, November 20, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    If they tax breast and penis enlargement would the amount vary by size or would it be a flat tax?

    On a more serious note, there does seem to be a moralistic aspect to this that I don’t like. There are plenty of other non-necessities that could be taxed, or more widely-spread taxes, but this seems to be a matter of “let’s think of someone who won’t dare complain too much and will be laughed and and mocked if they do”

    Tax the bloody insurance companies.

  22. 22 JJ Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    RB – Good point, and you’re right — it does smack of, if not “moralizing”, definitely judgmentalism. And definitely an easy target!

    I agree that the damn Insurance companies should be the target, however, the Democrats don’t have the jam to push their luck that far. More than a few of them are just as owned by the insurance companies as the GOP — I’m surprised they even got health care reform as far as they have.

  23. 23 JJ Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Phatbiker – I wish some congressman or senator would propose an amendment to ban federal funding for Viagra — it would go nowhere, but the response to it would have immense entertainment value.

  24. 24 Reality Bites Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    I wouldn’t imagine many insurance plans cover Viagra. The one at my office specifically exempts drugs treating hair loss, weight loss and wood loss.

    The plan at my last company did cover Viagra and friends for people with underlying medical conditions known to cause erectile dysfunction such as diabetes.

    Good news for diabetics, not so good for other men. But it IS a drug that would be taken recreationally by men who don’t really need it if they could get it for little cost. If you need cholesterol, asthma, hypertension, diabetes medicine, the doctor performs tests to justify it. Viagra, as far as I know, is pretty much described by taking the patient’s word for it.

    Hell, if my doctor required you to attempt sex with someone you find attractive in his presence, I’d be going for Viagra tests once a week!


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