Dear Mr. President
Andrew E. Busch
August 1, 2009
Dear Mr. President,
I understand that the White House is very concerned that debate over health care is taking an ugly turn, what with dissent and all. Indeed, just yesterday the White House issued the following statement:
There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to email@example.com.
As a patriotic American, I am determined to assist. I want to report some serious disinformation on health care reform that is circulating on the web. Here are the some of the fantastic claims, explicit and implicit, I have recently uncovered:
The House health care bill will cost $1 trillion over ten years. Everyone knows government programs always cost more than is estimated. In fact, most of the estimated cost occurs in the last few years of the ten, so it is also clear that the second ten years will cost much more than $1 trillion, even if the first ten-year estimate proves to be correct.
The public option won’t drive private insurers out of business. With unlimited subsidies at its disposal, as well as the government power to impose unlimited regulations on the competition, how can anyone believe that? Besides, this is not a purely hypothetical case. Tennessee tried a public option, and so many businesses dropped private insurance that around half of all the people on the public option were not previously uninsured but were previously insured people who had been dropped.
There will be no rationing. Once government assumes the cost, rationing will be the primary alternative to national bankruptcy. Someone needs to tell these people that it is not NICE to pretend otherwise. (NICE is the acronym for what amounts to Britain’s rationing board, a completely predictable product of its government-run system.)
An individual insurance mandate will help ensure that we have universal coverage. As a stout opponent of an insurance mandate during the 2008 campaign, I know you are well aware of the weaknesses of such a mandate. This, too, is not hypothetical. Mandates have been tried in Massachusetts and have been plagued by high rates of noncompliance.
Everyone will get to keep their insurance if they like it. Well, only if they never change jobs and their employer never changes insurance carriers (or drops insurance altogether). According to the House plan, it seems likely that once you give up your current insurance, your next insurance plan will have to be government approved.
The taxes imposed will not hurt the economy. Who are they kidding? A big increase in the payroll tax on small businesses and workers? Even more confiscatory taxation on upper earners, with a significant income tax surcharge that will double in a few years if cost savings aren’t achieved (as they surely won’t be)? This might be related to something I read somewhere about there being no tax increases for anyone under $250,000. The cigarette tax and cap-and-trade have already done that one in, and there is increasing recognition even by liberal analysts that there is no way the health care program can be paid for over the long term except through big new taxes on everyone.
The government that has designed the nearly bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid programs will do a better job this time. Are we children?
In the end, we will wind up with universal coverage and better care for less cost. And soon we will be swimming with unicorns in rivers of chocolate.
And here’s the biggest whopper: A program that offers massive centralization of power, reduced freedom for individuals, government by enlightened “experts,” and naked redistribution of income is necessary to preserve the America we love. As it turns out, the America many of us love is beloved precisely because it hasn’t been turned yet into some lifeless imitation of a European social democracy run by bureaucratic ninnies in which utopian egalitarianism runs roughshod over liberty, opportunity, and individual responsibility.
The addresses where I was assaulted by these claims include www.healthreform.gov; www.whitehouse.gov/issues/health_care/; and speaker.house.gov/issues?id=0004. Mr. President, I hope you will track down these purveyors of nonsense, these con men, and expose them to the American people before it is too late.
Andrew E. Busch
Andrew E. Busch is an Adjunct Fellow of the Ashbrook Center, Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College, and Ann and Herbert W. Vaughan Visiting Fellow at the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.