Got My Lab Coat On

In the spirit of the moment, I have donned my white lab coat to once again, play my part in the health care debate on the heels of the President’s address. The President, after all, encourages us to make our voices heard; twice, in paragraph 25. But, he also intimates that the debate is over in paragraph 24 and that all of the arguments have been made in Paragraph 4. It’s confusing.

It’s also confusing, in light of the deluge of regulations that have come out of the administration that concept of national standards for insurance companies to allow for interstate purchase of health insurance cannot be accomplished by regulation (pp 8).

The President now believes individuals as opposed to government bureaucrats or insurance companies should have control over health care (pp 9). Interesting evolution, considering the proposals offered in the campaign and the actual health care bills passed by the President’s party which place those decisions firmly in control of the now eschewed bureaucrats. Perhaps counseling for eschewed bureaucrats should be a part of health care reform, after all bureaucrats need love too.

While rationing by insurance companies is evil, the potential for rationing by a heath feasibility board set up in HR 1 is not potentially evil. Also devoid of evil are the Medicare cuts present in all of the Democratic bills. Confusing, as well, is the general approach to insurance companies. One the one hand insurance companies will, hypothetically, have a larger pool of people to insure; the assumption being that a larger client base will lower costs, without actually lowering unit costs. But on the other hand the President is proposing a variety of regulations, stipulations, fees and subsidy reductions that will, without doubt, raise costs to the insurance companies, although regulations to allow for interstate sale is impossible. Those costs will be passed on! The degree to which tortured logic is applied to meet a predetermined outcome should be banished as the political equivalent of waterboarding.

Based on the most recent statistics the top 10% of American wage earners pay 72% of all taxes, the bottom 50% about 3%. Yet, (pp14) the President once again looks to high wage earners to pay more; “We’re going to make sure that the wealthiest American pay their fair share on Medicare”. Margaret Thatcher famously quipped that the problem with these types of approaches is that “eventually you run out of other people’s money”.

Once again, waste, fraud and abuse are a target for savings. If every politician who used that phrase in the past two years were charged $5.00 for each use we could probably pay for the President’s plan. Common sense Americans ask ; “if you know it’s there what are you waiting for?” Good question; neither party has come up with a good answer. While the President is correct that the debate has been well engaged there are serious questions that the political class has simply not answered.

The President contends that the program is paid for. “Paid for” is a result of financial profiling based on a set of assumptions, there is no other way to do it. Keep in mind, however, that in light of another 465,000 first time jobless claims reported today, the President’s budget assumption is that 95,000 new jobs will be added each month this year and that 3% GDP growth will occur. Both assumptions are belied by the realities of the economy. One must also wonder if the savings from “waste, fraud and abuse” is also nothing more than an assumption that embraces reality only in so far as the number of times it’s repeated!

The President includes what he calls Republican ideas. This is an exercise in the lowest common denominator meets cut and paste as the President clearly and completely rejects the philosophical and economic basis of those ideas. While the President claims to care not for the politics of the issue (pp30) his attempt to pacify Republicans is exactly that, no more than an attempt to mitigate the politics of an issue that has been firmly rejected by 60% of Americans. His tortured inclusion of Republican ideas is, unfortunately, no more than an effort to justify future application of reconciliation in a Senate that will not pass the President’s proposal with 60 votes.

The President, consistent with the Speaker’s position has essentially said to his own party “please follow the signposts to the cliff, upon arrival would you please just jump off, I’ll wave to you on the way down.”

The President renews his commitment to make the case for reform. Mr. President, with all due respect, a new shade of lipstick for this pig won’t sell. You’re not talking about reform, your talking about revolution. We face the nearly omnipresent potential of “solving” one problem and creating dozens of others, not the least of which is additional debt, new bureaucracies, rationing from afar and a massive expansion of government.

 I’ll be taking my lab coat off now…………..till next time.