Healthcare: Bush vs Children

George Bush must just hate children.  And who can blame him?  Those bastard knee-biters might cost him his soaring popularity amongst the common folk.  He’s threatening to veto a bill to expand and sustain health care coverage for poor children:

The bill would ensure that health coverage continues for some 6.6 million children currently enrolled in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP. It also would make about 3.2 million more children eligible for the program that is meant for low income families unable to afford insurance, but who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Now, a few Republicans are opposing this (but at least on the Finance committee its a small number) :

Sen. Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, called the proposed cigar tax increase “ridiculous.”

But you can kind of see where he is coming from.  Even though we are talking premium cigars, a $10 tax is a hefty increase from 5 cents!  But Bush’s objection is coming from that deep dark place that makes Rove tremble everytime George talks in public (emphasis mine):

In Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday, Bush reiterated his opposition to the bill, saying it would expand the government’s role in health care and undermine the private U.S. health care system.

The bill would sustain coverage for the kids already eligible, and expand to those who are unable to afford insurance.  How is helping children whose families are too poor to afford insurance undermining private insurers?  Do they have some vested interest in keeping poor kids uncovered?

In the meantime the Democrats are hitting the right note on this:

“We are going to fight (for) this,” Reid said. “This is important.”

The looming battle is one “that is likely to play a role in next year’s presidential election.”.  The Democrats are coming out strongly on the right side, with some Republican colleagues joining them.  Bush’s actions only further hamper the Republican field.  When Republican candidates talk about the danger of expanding government’s role in health care they’ll take on an unmistakable and unshakable air:  George W Bush’s heir.

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8 Responses

  1. Smoking is pretty gross, but what is disturbing is what they might place such an outrageous tax increase on next. For example, what if they increased taxes on gasoline by 50%? Or milk? Or butter? Or bullets?

    The problem with government is it does this sort of incremental movement, what I like to call “legislative creep.” And then, the first thing you know, it’s a huge mess.

    I think part of the problem with this stuff is the entire health insurance industry, not so much that people don’t have it. I think breaking the AMA’s cartel hold on doctors would go a long way to decreasing the costs associated with health care. Think about it – you don’t file an insurance claim when you get your oil changed and your tires rotated. Why should you have to bill insurance when you sprain your ankle or want to get a wart removed? Or your teeth cleaned or etc etc etc.

    Interested to hear your thoughts.

  2. Interesting question. Why not just oppose it when those items come up? I mean, creep is something to guard against, but unless the thing in and of itself is suspect, I do not see anything to oppose.

    If you think about it, none of these taxes represent creep, unless they in some new way push the boundry of what can be taxed (or by how much). Which is why the VA driver fees are so interesting (only applied to VA residents, excessive amounts). It is also why, despite my disagreement with Trent Lott’s position, it is sensible. He’s arguing it is excessive. But it isn’t a wholly new proposition, and hence not pushing us towards a new form of taxation.

    Why should you have to bill insurance? I suppose it is a question of cost and such. Personally I think health care costs, from visits to medicine, shouldn’t be something citizens in a modern society have to worry about. There’s plenty of other stuff to trade and buy and free-market our hearts out over. Health needn’t be one of them.

  3. The reason to oppose (pretty much all) legislation is because it is almost impossible for the average joe on the street to keep abreast of what the government is doing, let alone holding his representatives and senators accountable for doing what they were elected to do (represent average joe’s desires and interests). So, on a philosophical level, I think that is a great reason to oppose legislation as a solution on principle. Of course, I also have serious problems with taxation of any kind – I mean, let’s be clear, whose benefit is this for? Where’s the money going? (contractors, my friend, contractors . . . )

    Re: the insurance question … Ron Paul spoke at length about this at the Spartanburg event, and it was pretty interesting. I mean, it’s rare that you actually hear a politician who was a medical professional with an opinion on the matter.

    I understand the arguments about providing health care to all and I agree, it isn’t something that people should be worried about. The problem is, in order to do that, the government (or someone) must take from some to give to others, period. And the government has shown that it has a very, very poor track record of doing that job with any efficiency whatsoever. I think it is so poor that we ought to completely disqualify government as a tool to achieve these kinds of social goals. If you reduce the tax burden (and basically eliminate it), reduce (or eliminate) inflation, then you enlarge the middle class and empower more people to provide better lives for themselves.

    It occurred to me last night at dinner, in conversation with my wife, that Paul was right – free markets are the great enabler of the middle-class. And that was precisely what Marx railed against the most – the Bourgeois. Right? Clearly the idea of centralization has failed, and failed miserably. The temptations of graft and theft are too great. Ergo, change course, limit government to its necessary functions (providing for national defense / border security is about all I can think of), and watch the people take care, and much better care, of themselves.

  4. “We should remember that HMOs did not arise because of free-market demand, but rather because of government mandates. The HMO Act of 1973 requires all but the smallest employers to offer their employees HMO coverage, and the tax code allows businesses- but not individuals- to deduct the cost of health insurance premiums. The result is the illogical coupling of employment and health insurance, which often leaves the unemployed without needed catastrophic coverage.

    While many in Congress are happy to criticize HMOs today, the public never hears how the present system was imposed upon the American people by federal law. In fact, one very prominent Senator now attacking HMOs is on record in the 1970s lauding them. As usual, government intervention in the private market failed to deliver the promised benefits and caused unintended consequences, but Congress never blames itself for the problems created by bad laws. Instead, we are told more government- in the form of “universal coverage”- is the answer.”

    http://www.ronpaullibrary.org/document.php?id=355

  5. So, the above point is that it is government regulation, mandates, and general involvement that has pushed the healthcare system to it’s current status.

    A true free market will deliver the most services to the most people at the lowest prices. Every single layer of bureaucracy only adds to that cost.

  6. Bret,
    That is a horrible reason to oppose legislation. It is a great reason to support methods to bring joe average in on more of the decision making process, afford joe the time to spend learning and participating, and create a transparent government. (I know Paul supports at least that last part).

    Disagreed. The government makes mistakes in tax law and enforcement, to be sure, but it has not utterly failed. Too many measures are a success.
    For example, providing funding for medicaid, public schools, the arts, university research via federal grants. All of this money comes from … taxes!

    Why did this occur to you? It makes no sense without some sort of context or proof to suggest it. Just saying “Hey, free markets enable the middle class” doesn’t say much by itself.

    Marx railed against many things. While I am not a fan, one thing he did say has rung true, that the haves throughout history merely exchange places. The have-nots never seem to get a break.

    Zack,
    You have *zero* proof that a “true” free market will deliver the most services at the best prices. All you have is a legislative record that tells of one solution that was put into place (probably in very bad faith), and when it failed, nothing was done to correct it. Its like a carpenter who misses the nail and then throws away the hammer. Just because an attempt to work on healthcare is failed here, doesn’t mean any legislative attempt will fail. In fact, looking to other countries with universal coverage, there is much *actual evidence* to suggest there is a way to solve the problem and get down to the business of helping people.

  7. Marx railed against many things. While I am not a fan, one thing he did say has rung true, that the haves throughout history merely exchange places. The have-nots never seem to get a break.

    But in a Free Market at least I get a chance to make my own breaks.

  8. Alexia,
    Out of curiosity, do you think there ever been a free market (and if so, where, and if not, why not)?

    The problem with the free market is that, while yes, you can make your own breaks, there are zero limits on competition. A free market is not a market in a vacuum. There are other people, and corporations, thrown into the mix. If they are more powerful or less scrupulous than you, then what is your recourse? The market doesn’t magically take care of everyone. There is no “market” to do so. Just an absence of rules. An absence of regulation.

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