I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Health Care Reform, Just Another Way To Raise Taxes

On Wednesday the Gather homepage posted a poll that asked if you would be willing to pay more in taxes for Universal Health Care. Out of the almost 200 respondents, a shocking 57% answered yes. I assume that most of the people answering yes have an amount that would be too high to pay in taxes for health care, social security, welfare, or even national defense. The poll did not mention how much you would have pay in taxes for the coverage, which is not that different from many of the health care plans being touted by some of the presidential candidates.

Democratic Senator Barack Obama released the “details” of his plan recently, during which he mentioned that it would provide an average of $2500 savings for each individual covered. He plans to make the government, businesses, and consumers share in the cost. Allow me to translate that last statement. Each and every one of us will be footing the entire bill for this health care coverage. The government has no means of making money to pay into the system. They rely on tax revenues from all of us to pay the bills. Businesses pay their taxes, for everything not just health care, by incorporating their taxes into the price of their product or service. Their customers pay their taxes by buying their product or service. If the business tax goes up to help pay for health care then so will the price of their product or service. Lastly the consumer is privileged to pay whatever cost is left.

Former First Lady Hillary Clinton was first on the scene in 1993 during her husband’s first year in the White House. She was the point person for the Health Care Reform plan that the White House tried to push through Congress. Her website states that she wears the “scars” of fighting for health care reform. Her reform was ultimately defeated after “aggressive opposition”. Keep in mind that her version of reform was defeated by a Democrat controlled House and Senate. Her own party rejected her plan in 1994 and was one of the reasons for the Republican takeover of Congress that same year. She has not offered a new plan, so we can only surmise that she will reintroduce her original health care reform plan.

Former Senator John Edwards offer the most details of his health care plan, calling for, among other things, all Americans to contribute to drive down the cost of health insurance, and to expand Medicaid. He also talks of tax credits and using “innovative” ways to control health care costs. I admit that I am leery of any politician that says they will “find innovative ways to control health care costs”. In my skeptical mind, that simply means higher taxes. A brief look at history will show that most attempts by the government to “control” the cost of a product or service, usually drives the price of that product or service up in the long run.

Proponents of this Universal Health Care, or Socialized Medicine, point to Canada and to Cuba as shining examples of how well Socialized Medicine does work. A simple Google search provided a few major media stories that show a different story. Canada offers free health care for all, but you just have to wait in a little line to be seen. One doctor spoke of a letter informing a patient of an electrocardiogram in 3 months, a significant wait for someone with a heart condition. An added statement on the letter is frightening. It added: "If the person named on this computer-generated letter is deceased, please accept our sincere apologies." Controversial filmmaker Michael Moore’s recent movie “Sicko” is a look at health care and points to Cuba as having world class health care. Mr. Moore neglects to point out that when Cuban dictator Fidel Castro needed surgery he had a Spanish surgeon flown in to perform the surgery. If Cuba has the finest health care available, why would the leader of that country need to fly in a surgeon for his own surgery?

One aspect of each plan posited that is the same is that in order to pay for the reform, taxes will need to be raised. None of the candidates have mentioned how much taxes will need to be raised to pay for their plans. Obama mentions that he will rollback the temporary tax cuts for the wealthy. He does not inform us of what the criteria is for being considered wealthy. Wealth is a relative term. For a person who makes $20,000 a year, anyone who makes more than they do could be considered wealthy by comparison. I find it amusing that the last time a presidential candidate publicly admitted that they were going to raise taxes if elected, it was 1984 and the candidate was Walter Mondale. For the record, he lost 49 out of 50 states in the general election to President Ronald Reagan.

Health care in the United States is by no means perfect, but what country in the world has better health care? There is room for improvement in any system, but creating a socialistic system of health care is not the answer. Every time the government tries to “reform” something, we all end up paying more in taxes and the “reform” is worse than what we had in the first place. The Medicare reform plan that was passed a few years ago, more than doubled in cost before the ink on the bill was dry. Why does anyone believe that this government plan will be any different?

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