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March 22, 2010

We Can Repeal This

A lot of people claiming that we can never repeal this bill. They cite the examples of Social Security and Medicare.

It will be difficult to repeal it, just due to the fact that it's going to be hard to overcome a Democratic filibuster to repeal -- I may be wrong, but Republicans have never had 60 votes in the Senate, ever. (Well, who knows, maybe after the Civil War or something.)

But if this bill is as unpopular as I think it is, we can probably repeal this.

It's important to point out the differences between this bill and Social Security and Medicare. Those bills had bipartisan support... partly because they each had a bipartisan constituency. Everyone gets old, Democrat and Republican, conservative and liberal. While seniors might tend this way or that, it's never been the case that one party dominated the elderly.

On the other hand, Obama's bill is aimed with laser-like focus on heavily-Democratic constituencies at the expense of every other constituency. There are niche groups that will be aided by the bill (maybe) which may be considered a bipartisan constituency, but those groups are small.

Obama's bill is simply an method of giving the poor raises by rescinding raises from everyone else.

Make no mistake, this bill is intended to make the Haves pay extra to cover the Have Nots. In some cases it does so directly -- taking $500 billion from seniors with Medicare to give health insurance to younger people. In most other cases, it will do so indirectly, in much the same way that our Medicare system of below-market reimbursements impels drugstores to raise prices on everyone else in order to not take a bath on its Medicare clients. Obama's bill contains a lot of legally-required cross-subsidization and encourages a lot more economically-necessary cross-subsidization.

On the net, everyone who has insurance now -- through Medicare, or through their employment, which is really part of their wages, paid instead to a third party to purchase an insurance plan -- will have to give up part of their weekly check to buy a pricey policy for someone they don't know.

This is not the sort of bill that becomes "unrepealable" as Social Security and Medicare would. Social Security and Medicare paid their benefits to everyone who became elderly; there was something in each program for everyone. Sure, there were a lot of people who did not get out of these programs what they paid into it, but they got something out of it. Even if some richer seniors only got 80% back or so, well, eight cents on the dollar isn't a deal you'd normally take but it's also not so horrible a deal you'll get riled up enough to change your political behavior.

That has always been the secret of how the progressives shift income from the middle class to the poor -- they establish programs which have benefits for the middle-class, too, even if those benefits are less than what the middle class actually pays into the system. The middle class at least feels like it's getting something out of the deal, and, well, if they're not quite getting out of the deal as much as they put in, they shrug it off in the interests of being nice and helping the needy and so on.

But this bill doesn't do that. There is, in fact, no benefit for the 85% of the country that have part of their salaries diverted into a third-party insurance plan. There is nothing for them but additional taxes and additional rationing of their care so that part of their salaries -- I am stressing, a health insurance plan is just a part of your salary -- can be paid to someone else.

On top of that, the plan will add trillions to the deficit, as even with all those new taxes and rationing of care and impounding people's salaries to give them to someone else, it still isn't paid for.

I just don't see this like Social Security or Medicare. Those benefited the middle class, and furthermore benefited everyone, eventually (assuming they didn't die earlier in their lives). This bill benefits only a discrete, easily-identifiable fraction of the population at the direct and unambiguous expense of everyone else.

I just don't see this plan ever becoming popular with those being forced to hand over larger and larger parts of each paycheck to perfect strangers. People are never going to be unsure whether or not they're the ones Taking or they're the ones being Taken From.

And the Taken From is 85% of the country.


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posted by Ace at 05:45 PM

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