May 30, 2007
POLITICS: The Next Mondale
"It's foolproof, I tell you! What's the downside?"
In 1984, Walter Mondale famously promised to raise taxes. He lost every state but Minnesota, and when he resurfaced to run for office again in 2002, he lost Minnesota as well. Now, Barack Obama is apparently looking to follow in Mondale's footsteps. He's offering a Hillary-style "universal" health care plan that he admits will be enormously costly:
With savings from healthcare efficiency, Obama's campaign estimated it would cost $50 billion to $65 billion a year to cover the uninsured. That sum could be raised by allowing President Bush's tax cuts for upper-income taxpayers to expire, the campaign said.
That cost estimate is too optimistic, [health policy analyst John Sheils, senior vice president of the Lewin Group, a top healthcare consulting firm] said. "If you want to have universal coverage, it's $100 billion to $115 billion," he said.
(Predictably, John Edwards blasted the plan for not going far enough - "Edwards spokesman Mark Kornblau said Edwards' plan, estimated to cost between $90 billion ... and $120 billion ... annually, is "truly universal.""). So where is Obama planning to get that kind of cash? Not by selling motivational books, but by soaking the taxpayers:
The experts [in a memo released by the Obama campaign] also said Obama could pay for his plan mostly through steps that the candidate has already said he would take -- allowing President Bush's tax cuts on dividends and capital gains and on those making more than about $250,000 a year to expire in 2010 instead of acting to make them permanent.
The rest of the $65 billion funding could come by raising taxes on inheritances worth more than $7 million. Many Democrats want to repeal Bush's elimination of taxes on estates worth more than $1 million. Obama wants the exemption to be higher but has not yet said exactly where it should be set.
Got that? More taxes on income, capital gains, dividends, and a hike in the estate tax. Assuming that all those tax hikes are enough to come up with $50-65 billion according to Obama's own estimates, which one would assume are probably as lowball as he thinks he can get away with - if they don't raise enough revenue or the program is more expensive, he will keep digging. And that's just to pay for one program - remember that any time he proposes anything else from here on, he has to come up with money from somewhere else besides these tax hikes, having already spent them.
Hey, it worked out well for Mondale, didn't it?
There are several ways to see this, and frankly, none of them are good.
1. As an employer, I really wonder why I have to be responsible for paying medical insurance for my employees. Payroll is my second biggest expense in my business.
2. A uniform health plan covering all taxpaying legals (whatever term you use anyway) is a good thing, but I doubt there is anyone who can figure out just what the government can and should cover for everyone.
3. It will raise taxes a lot fo course, but in the end, will it lower out of pocket medical insurance costs for companies (and ask GM just what that does to their bottom line?)
So the real good is maybe we can talk about it. I just don't have a clue what the solution is. I do know this: I liked the old method, where the doctors got rich, and insurance companies didn't have a layer of poobahs who do nothing but get lots of premiums and say no. The old way was simple capitalism, which is the best system around.
“This is looking more and more like the Bush administration's domestic version of Iraq: a big risky gamble, based on wishful thinking and nonexistent administrative competence that will end in disaster?”
-May16th Kausfiles from slate magazine.
Dead on analogy for this debacle. The only way Bush can cement his legacy as the dumbest president in history is with Domestic Iraq. He wants to mess up our country like he has messed up our foreign policy.
Most of us are paying between $500 and $1,000 a month to cover our health care costs (when you include your employers contribution).
Shouldn't that expense go down if universal health care is implemented. If so, let the Bush tax cuts expire. But my fear is if the program is run anything like the Iraq war -- we better keep our private insurance.
You and others who think all we have to do is soak the rich and all problems will be solved are sadly mistaken. There are 300 million people in this country and the overwhelming majority are in the middle class and are not rich. Government (just like retailers) have figured out it is all about volume. Easier to raise huge sums by taking tens of thousands from millions of middle class people than by taking millions from hundreds of rich people.
Beyond that, most people fail to understand that the most expensive thing is that which is "free." People with a clue understand that "free" just means cost will go up exponentially for whoever does pay the final bill. Look at the affect of government grants and student loans on the cost of tuition. When the end user isn't paying the cost goes through the roof. Additionally, quality of service is guaranteed to decline. You get what you pay for and if you're paying nothing don't be surprised to find it sucks.