6.29.2009

A Cure That Prolongs the Pain, Redux


I've never let my lack of expertise keep me from opining on today's hot topics, so why stop now? If I may make a few quick points concerning Washington's current health care debate:

* First and second, per Greg Mankiw's column in this past Sunday's New York Times, there are two costs that many people who are for Obama's health care plan fail to take into account (or, perhaps, naively think will not be borne): 1) anything that is publicly provided actually does have to be paid for (i.e. by all taxpayers), and 2) any time you force a lower price than the market is willing to sell for, you'll have shortages (remember long lines at the pump in the 1970's?).

* Third, per David Brooks' column in last week's New York Times, taxing health care benefits is probably the most prudent way to go, in terms of fixing the system's distortions and controlling costs. Funny, Candidate McCain ran on this and was vilified by Candidate Obama; let's hope President Obama flip-flops, listens to what his own advisors have been saying all along, and throws his support this way.

Much of the American public appears to not understand just how easily unintended consequences can rear their ugly head (job-creating legislation can destroy jobs, saving a car company can destroy the car industry), or how taxing something can actually be the fairest, easiest, and most effective way to reform (taxing health care, taxing carbon). Congress, with a few exceptions, sure doesn't seem to get that. 2010 and 2012, it seems, can't come soon enough.
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