Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Americans Outraged by Democratic Health Care Bill (If They Are Republican)

The latest Gallup poll gives some indication of the reaction of most Americans to the health care bill the Democrats have rammed down the throat of the revolted American people. They are outraged. At least, the Republicans are outraged. Democrats rather like it, but of course they would, wouldn’t they? Independents seem pretty evenly divided.

The Republicans made a calculated gamble that they if they presented a united front of refusal the bill would probably fail, and they would benefit. This was a reasonable bet: Intrade betting was offering worse than even odds of passage until early March, and later in the month odds dripped below 50% twice.

The gamble failed. What now? A crusade for total repeal and return to the status quo? Not bloody likely. Too much of the bill is simultaneously popular and consistent with things Republicans have already advocated.

Plan B: a cynical panderfest. Republicans have always stood for smaller government, so they propose to spend more on Medicare and have bigger subsidies for student loans. They have stood for fiscal responsibility, so they propose to cut taxes, cut taxes, cut taxes and cut taxes without cutting spending.

Now, the Platonic ideal of a Republican leader could argue, justly, that the new taxes on high income households will discourage investment and hard work and violate the idea that Medicare should be structured as social insurance rather than a redistributive levy.

If we eliminate that, however, we eliminate a big chunk of the funding for the program. The Platonic ideal leader would refuse to worse the deficit and make our children effectively pay for our benefits.

That leaves two choices: greatly reduce access to affordable health insurance, or raise taxes on middle-income households. That's the honest argument to make when Republicans run on "replace and repeal".

It will be interesting to see if the Republicans propose either, or something more expedient.

5 comments:

Steve Muhlberger said...

I think you know the answer already.

hudebnik said...

Not bloody likely. Too much of the bill is simultaneously popular and consistent with things Republicans have already advocated.

When, in recent memory, has "consistency with things Republicans have already advocated" stopped Republicans from opposing something?

hudebnik said...

BTW, in a discussion of health-care reform elseblog, one of the more conservative participants pointed out that House Republicans did propose a health-care reform bill last fall. So I downloaded and started reading the bill.

It promised to reduce health care premiums and expand coverage -- it had no idea how, but promised a cash reward to any state that figured it out.

It promised to cover the high-risk patients that private insurers won't touch, using state-by-state "reinsurance" pools, giving private industry the profits while taxpayers cover the losses -- with a budget of $30 billion over ten years, which comes to about $100/patient/year.

It went on like that. Here are more details.

hudebnik said...

Correction: $25 billion for all the "high-risk" patients in the US for ten years.

Will McLean said...

Steve:

If the Republicans surprise me by being more true to their stated principals than I expect I promise not to complain.

Hudebnik: I expect both parties to be willing to be inconsistent when it suits their purpose. Inconsistent and supporting an unpopular change to current law, not so much.

The proposal to reduce premiums actually has some merit. One of the things that drives up insurance costs is state insurance mandates, some of which, like requirements that insurance cover in-vitro fertilization or hair prosthesis, are not really essential. So there is scope for states to reduce premiums with the political will and the right Federal incentives.

So that idea might actually do some modest good.