"Once abolish God and the government becomes the God." -G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Paul Krugman's Laughable Closing Arguments for ObamaCare

If this is what passes for knowledge in left wing circles, making Joe Biden vice-president is starting to make a lot more sense. Between Barack Obama and Paul Krugman, I'm beginning to think Obama's Nobel Prize was the more deserved and less ridiculous of the two. If this guy ever approaches me at a cocktail party, please slip me some cyanide. Or get Keith Olbermann to interrupt us and steer me away for an innane converstation about watching baseball with his dad.

Let's dissect the arguments and conscience of this liberal, shall we? Paul writes:
One way or another, the fate of health care reform is going to be decided in the next few days. If House Democratic leaders find 216 votes, reform will almost immediately become the law of the land. If they don’t, reform may well be put off for many years — possibly a decade or more.
Great opening. Except it sets up a choice that is completely false, between a bad piece of legislation that is highly unpopular or no reform at all for decades. This is the dishonesty that Americans are sick of in this debate. There doesn't have to be any delay. The Republicans have ideas for health care reform. We could vote on these tomorrow if Democrats were willing to open their minds to free market principles and govern from the center. But they won't, because they are religious zealots who worship at the altar of the Big G (as in Big Government). Also, even though it would become the law of the land, the "health care" part wouldn't kick in for four more years. The tax increases, however, would be immediate.

Paul continues:
As it happens, Reuters published an investigative report this week that powerfully illustrates the vileness of our current system. The report concerns the insurer Fortis, now part of Assurant Health, which turns out to have had a systematic policy of revoking its clients’ policies when they got sick... This was illegal, and the company must have known it: the South Carolina Supreme Court, after upholding a decision granting large damages to the wronged policyholder, concluded that the company had been systematically concealing its actions when withdrawing coverage, not just in this case, but across the board.
So we have an example of one insurance company engaged in illegal and unethical behavior. Damaging, isn't it? Not hardly. A lawsuit was filed on behalf of the wronged policyholders to redress their grievances, and they won in court. In other words, the system worked! Assurant Health payed a hefty penalty and got the bad press to boot, probably sending their customers shopping for a competitor. That's free enterprise. What would be worse is to put Assurant Health in a public pool subsidized by our tax dollars as they fleeced even more Americans who were required by law to buy their lousy coverage. That's ObamaCare. Or imagine a single-payer, government monopoly in which there is no market for dissatisfied customers and all grievances run into a wall of unaccountable, unelected bureaucrats. That's the dream of Obama and the Left. They hope this bill is the first step toward that goal.
But this is much more than a law enforcement issue. For one thing, it’s an example those who castigate President Obama for “demonizing” insurance companies should consider. The truth, widely documented, is that behavior like Assurant Health’s is widespread for a simple reason: it pays. A House committee estimated that Assurant made $150 million in profits between 2003 and 2007 by canceling coverage of people who thought they had insurance, a sum that dwarfs the fine the court imposed in this particular case. It’s not demonizing insurers to describe what they actually do.
Paul contradicts himself here. He already wrote that Assurant had to pay huge amounts of damages. The court fines might have been "dwarfed" (and we don't know because he doesn't reveal the actual numbers), but the damages awarded to the wronged policyholders were substantial. I'm sure this ate considerably into Assurant's profits. How much did they make the next year? They actually lost a lot of business. Isn't it much easier and cheaper to publicize the misbehavior of a few unethical companies and allow the courts to work out the merits of the allegations rather than demonizing every one of them, attempting to fix what isn't broken, and making a federal power-grab for roughly 1/6 of the American economy? It shouldn't take a Nobel Prize in economics to answer that question.

Beyond that, this is a story that could happen only in America. In every other advanced nation, insurance coverage is available to everyone regardless of medical history. Our system is unique in its cruelty. And one more thing: employment-based health insurance, which is already regulated in a way that mostly prevents this kind of abuse, is unraveling. Less than half of workers at small businesses were covered last year, down from 58 percent a decade ago. This means that in the absence of reform, an ever-growing number of Americans will be at the mercy of the likes of Assurant Health.
Believe me, Paul, the stories that happen in other countries are much worse. There's a reason the richest, most powerful people in the world come to America for their health care. Talk to the Brits and Canadians or the Russians if you must. And nobody's flocking to Assurant Health now, I promise you. This is like saying that anyone who invests in the stock market is at the mercy of the Bernie Madoffs of the world. There will always be some bad apples, but we're adults and we can make our own decisions.

The reason fewer small businesses are insuring workers is because they can't afford it. The goal of health care reform should be getting costs down by increasing choice and competition, allowing small businesses to pool together, and passing tort reform. Once costs go down, more people will obviously be able to afford health insurance and the rate of uninsured will logically follow. That makes more sense than forcing people to sign up for government mandated coverage, subsidizing insurance companies to the tune of billions of dollars, and then magically hoping premiums will drop. Why would they? ObamaCare increases the demand for health insurance, and as we all learned in economics 101, high demand causes prices to go up. Your solution is way more cruel and ineffective than the free market could ever be.
Can we afford this? Yes, says the Congressional Budget Office, which on Thursday concluded that the proposed legislation would reduce the deficit by $138 billion in its first decade and half of 1 percent of G.D.P., amounting to around $1.2 trillion, in its second decade.
The CBO score is based on budget gimmicks and trickery that everyone who isn't a kool-aid drinking Obama apologist understands by now. They put the "doctor fix" in a separate bill which adds almost $400 billion to the true cost. They are budgeting for only six years of expenses while adding ten years of revenue. And $500 billion is coming out of an already bankrupt Medicare (in other words IOUs). It's like building an entitlement program on quicksand and hoping no one notices until it sinks halfway down.
The United States is the only advanced nation without universal health care, and it also has by far the world’s highest health care costs.
But we have better care for the most part AND lower taxes. That should stand for something, right? Besides, nothing in ObamaCare guarantees costs will go down. Can you point to anything specific? Even the CBO has said that individual premiums will rise, making health care more expensive than ever and squeezing out the middle class.
Can you imagine a better reform? Sure. If Harry Truman had managed to add health care to Social Security back in 1947, we’d have a better, cheaper system than the one whose fate now hangs in the balance. But an ideal plan isn’t on the table. And what is on the table, ready to go, is legislation that is fiscally responsible, takes major steps toward dealing with rising health care costs, and would make us a better, fairer, more decent nation.
This plan is closer to hell than ideal. It's doubling down on the status quo. It's killing consumer choice and competition. It isn't close to fiscally responsible unless you believe in magic dust and tooth fairies. But then again, none of that really matters to Paul. He gives himself away like all leftists in his last sentence. It would make us "fairer" and "more decent," he says. In other words, we must act because it feels good, even if kills us later. Spoken like a naive child who fails to understand that nothing is less decent or fair than offering a free lunch today only to ask for an outrageous sum in the future.

A vote for Obama's version of health care reform is a pledge to donate a pound of flesh come judgment day. Congress should resist the president's empty and costly promises to stand with the will of the people and vote "No" on this poorly written piece of legislation.

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