Why pick on tanning salons?

Look – I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a frequent or even occasional visitor to the tanning salon. Any tan I have usually ends where my bicycle shorts and t-shirt sleeves start and my eyes often peer out of twin white rings resulting from the protection of polarized sunglasses. However, I’m still going to go to bat for the tanning salon and put it high on the list of problems to fix after the Senate passes its health care bill and it heads to conference.

What does the tanning salon have to do with the health care bill? It’s all in the financing of reform. Both the House and Senate squeeze significant savings from Medicare but the Senate imposes a tax on very expensive health plans and people making over $200,000. In addition the Senate requires payments from a variety of health care industry players. I like the House’s financing approach far, far better – just stick a surtax on households with incomes over $1,000,000 a year to provide almost all the financing in addition to the Medicare changes. It’s simpler and fairer.

The tanning salons came in for a beating at the end in the Senate bill. A small part of the Senate’s plan to finance health reform was to impose a 5% tax on cosmetic surgery. All those plastic surgeons objected and so that tax was eliminated and a new one instituted on tanning salons. This just illustrates why the House financing approach is so much better. When you start picking and choosing among this group and that group it creates resentment and doesn’t look fair. I mean, come on – who has the bigger cash war chest to lobby Congress? The cosmetic surgeons or the small business owners who operate tanning salons?

Let’s talk health risks. No one seems too exercised about the risks of unnecessary elective surgery, by definition cosmetic. And if we want to change behavior with a tax, why not hit up sugary soft drinks? There’s plenty research on their role in our obesity epidemic among kids and the resulting high health costs.

So, let’s stop picking on some of the very small businesses that we are trying to help with reform and fix this problem with the Senate bill. Better yet, let’s go with the House financing plan in conference.


  1. IBXer

    December 21, 2009 at 11:30 am

    No matter what they pass (if anything) it will be a disaster.

  2. AdamL

    December 21, 2009 at 11:32 am

    I don’t think you’re supposed to wear your bicycle shorts in the tanning booth.

  3. Something Clever

    December 21, 2009 at 11:43 am

    “When you start picking and choosing among this group and that group it creates resentment and doesn’t look fair.”

    This is exactly the problem we all face. Government is no longer concerned with the will of the people, it is focused on bestowing gifts to favorites as though it were a monarch holding court.

  4. Louie

    December 21, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    why arentkay Hagan and Brad Miller answering their telephones today?

  5. Louie

    December 21, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    why arent Kay Hagan and Brad Miller answering their telephones today? A lot of unemployed, uninnsured Tar Heels are concerned that there is no public option or Medicare expansion and that we are going to be forced to buy poor quality coverage from BC/BS or the commercial carriers.

  6. Something Clever

    December 21, 2009 at 12:11 pm

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jim Brotherton, Rotating HotIron. Rotating HotIron said: This is Way Funny! Why pick on tanning salons? http://bit.ly/8PaP3Q http://bit.ly/4JqAAo […]

  8. Louie

    December 21, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    thats not an excuse Clever, the Metro is running isnt it??. Governments arent supposed to close, EVER.

    Its kinda pathetic when one staff person cant make it in to answer the phone and take messages.

  9. Something Clever

    December 21, 2009 at 1:06 pm


    Maybe I am wrong, and this is truly just a guess, but have you considered the security requirements? Opening up Congressional offices isn’t like running the local pharmacy on a skeleton crew during a storm. I would imagine that there are a lot of people required in order for the area to be considered secure enough to open. If those folks can’t make it, then maybe no one is allowed to.

    Again, just a guess, but I am not sure if it is quite as simple as “one staff person” making it into the office. Of course, with all the modern technology, it should all be able to be done remotely, so there is no real excuse, unless that is also subject to some kind of crazy security that isn’t staffed sufficiently due to the weather. I just think there is a decent chance that operating Congress may not be quite as simple as other things.

  10. AdamL

    December 21, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Louie, the bills have pretty strict regulations on the types of coverage insurance companies can offer. All of the options will be pretty comprehensive.

  11. Louie

    December 21, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    at least someone at Richard Burr’s office just answered the phone.

  12. Louie

    December 21, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Harsh Realities of the Senate Bill from FDL

    The Senate health care bill is an ungodly mess of errors, loopholes, and massive giveaways. When the American people find out what’s actually in this bill, they will revolt. Here’s why:

    Forces you to pay up to 8% of your income to private insurance corporations — whether you want to or not

    If you refuse to buy the insurance, you’ll have to pay penalties of up to 2% of your annual income to the IRS

    After being forced to pay thousands in premiums for junk insurance, you can still be on the hook for up to $11,900 a year in out-of-pocket medical expenses

    Massive restriction on a woman’s right to choose, designed to trigger a challenge to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court

    Paid for by taxes on the middle class insurance plan you have right now through your employer, causing them to cut back benefits and increase co-pays

    Many of the taxes to pay for the bill start now, but most Americans won’t see any benefits — like an end to discrimination against those with preexisting conditions — until 2014 when the program begins

    Allows insurance companies to charge people who are older 300% more than others

    Grants monopolies to drug companies that will keep generic versions of expensive biotech drugs from ever coming to market

    No reimportation of prescription drugs, which would save consumers $100 billion over 10 years

    The cost of medical care will continue to rise, and insurance premiums for a family of four will rise an average of $1000 a year — meaning in 10 years, you family’s insurance premium will be $10,000 more annually than it is right now

    Here’s the Fire Dog Lake Petition Link, if you are interested in signing.

  13. […] Look – I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a frequent or even occasional visitor to the tanning salon. Any tan I have usually ends where my bicycle shorts and t-shirt sleeves start and my eyes often peer out of twin white rings resulting from the …Read Original Story: Why pick on tanning salons? – The Progressive Pulse (blog) […]

  14. Lou Meyers

    December 21, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    With this rotten economy and suffocating health care costs, many tanning salons, on the precipice, are hanging on by a thread of hope that things will turn around. Now this! —- A small business “Pearl Harbor” initiated by our own government! — Sen. Harry Reid sacrifices Mom and Pop to the AMA gods at the alter of corruption — the United States Capitol!

    The House must stand up to the Senate and eliminate this insult to the working class and small businesses or it’s going to be a PR nightmare for the Administration — who needs to get out in front of this as well — ASAP!

    The indoor tanning industry is already heavily regulated in many states and has done a tremendous job in educating the public concerning the dangers of UV overexposure. Legions of informed tanners have cut their skin cancer risks by gradually developing their tans —- without burning —- in these controlled environments. And burning is, by far, the primary contributor to skin cancer —- this is well documented. Now, under this bill, tanners will stay at home and risk burning in their home tanning beds —— or scorch out in the sun while small businesses offering a smarter tanning process will go under. This will kill jobs and further erode the tax base. The cosmetic surgery tax wouldn’t have —— try giving yourself a facelift or nose job at home. The medical industrial complex just keeps rolling over this Congress. So much for real health care reform —- so much for the little people!

  15. TT

    December 22, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Have a melanoma removed from your face like I did and you’ll
    truly think twice about tanning beds and basic sun bathing
    for that matter.
    Don’t pay any attention to the comments about a “safe tan”
    There is much more to having skin cancer than avoiding sun
    burns….tanning beds can be deadly.

  16. Lou Meyers

    December 22, 2009 at 9:28 am

    No one mentioned a “safe tan”. It’s a smarter way to tan.

    Sorry about your melanoma. My father in-law had several of those removed. He grew up on a farm — he’d never been in a tanning bed.

  17. Aftercancer

    December 22, 2009 at 10:38 am

    There is no smarter way to tan and in fact countries are beginning to ban use of tanning beds, particularly to teenagers.

    Tanning causes cancer. If were are really trying to protect health and save money on health care expenses then the least we could do is tax them but I’d rather see them done away with altogether.

  18. Louie

    December 22, 2009 at 11:09 am

    see Donna Smith’s piece on Common Dreams today. Apparently there is an x-mas present in the Senate bill for gun owners!!!! No public option or Medicare 55+ Go figure!

  19. Lou Meyers

    December 22, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    In North Carolina, parental permission is already required to tan for teenagers under 18. And the parent must be present at sign up.

    Would we even exist without sunlight? People are going to tan — they always have and they always will. Should we just stop living — is that the answer?

  20. […] begin to match Botox-manufacture Allergan when it comes to giving the Senate grief, says Adam Searing at the Progressive Pulse. “I mean, come on – who has the bigger cash war chest to lobby Congress?” If the […]

  21. melynda

    January 29, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    tanning has saved my life!! took me out of my depression ! the health system i go to sure in the hell didnt help me with all the pills, and counceling but,i feel 120percent better now because of the tanning salon.believe it!!

  22. melynda

    January 29, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    pick on somthing a little more scarier than our little tanning salon owners!!

  23. […] should be a far more inviting IRS target. And some progressive writers, such as political blogger Adam Searing, have seconded that […]

  24. […] much wealthier cosmetic surgery industry. And some progressive writers, such as political blogger Adam Searing, have seconded that view:When you start picking and choosing among this group and that group it […]

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