Nevertheless, don't overlook what the Beltway's great swap meet of votes and favors did to the U.S. tanning-bed industry.
The health-care bill originally included a 5 percent tax on cosmetic surgery procedures — the so-called "bo-tax." This tax on breast implants, tummy tucks, teeth-whitening and wrinkle-smoothing injections was proposed in an effort to raise money to offset the cost of the benefits in the legislation.
Drug makers, doctors and those who receive these treatments protested that the tax was "unnecessarily punitive on people who have merely decided to enhance their appearance," according to an industry spokeswoman.
As it was written, the measure would not tax people who had these procedures to correct deformities or repair injuries.
So the horse-trading, deal-cutting and vote-swapping began. Before long, the bo-tax was history, and in its place was a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services.
Let us be clear: Research shows that the overuse of tanning beds can lead to skin cancer, so taxing these facilities to help pay for medical insurance and other services from which skin cancer patients will benefit is logical and fair. Of course, owners of tanning businesses and their customers don't like it, but figuring the costs vs. the benefits, the taxpayer will come out ahead.
On the other hand, taxing tanning-bed services rather than taxing cosmetic surgery is not fair and does not make sense. There are class implications to this new arrangement: Middle- to low-income groups are the most frequent users of tanning beds, and more affluent residents are those who are more likely to get nipped, tucked and enhanced.
Additionally, the tax does not pass the economic logic test. The bo-tax was estimated to bring in approximately $6 billion a year. The tax on tanning beds will generate half that.
To make it fair, government must treat both industries the same.
Since the revenue raised by both will be used for the general good, as well as for the likely needs of those paying the cost, the fair and logical choice would be to retain the tax on tanning beds and restore the bo-tax.
If Congress had done that from the start, no deal-making, vote-swapping or horse-trading would have been necessary.