An amazing piece of healthcare analysis by the University of Chicago’s Gary Becker. The whole analysis deserves reading, but a few key points:
Washington will have difficulty producing a stranger bit of public policy than raising investment taxes to pay for healthcare reform. Remember, the consensus critique of the U.S economy is that it’s been plagued by too much consumption and debt. O.K., fine. So the answer is penalizing savings and investment? Really? Pure Bizarro economics for that and a number of other reasons:
Healthcare reformers in Washington are asking America’s creditors to take a leap of faith. The plan is supposed to cut future budget shortfalls. But it depends on politicians following through on cuts and taxes, a deficit commission imposing additional discipline, and untested reforms working as expected. Owners of U.S. government debt shouldn’t bank on it.
Brazil’s threat of tariff retaliation over U.S. cotton subsidies is only the latest eruption of rising protectionism around the world. President Barack Obama isn’t doing much to quell protectionist sentiment in the U.S., either. His passivity could prove costly.
Well, let’s see: It costs $75 billion more than the Senate plan. It delays the one sure-fire cost-control measure, the tax on high-end plans. And it gives the federal government new authority to block insurers from increasing premiums. That last one is particularly wrong-headed. The policy thrust of ObamaCare was supposed to be to reduce costs by changing how healthcare was delivered, not through rationing. But price caps are nothing more than rationing. As Cato’s Mike Cannon puts it:
Labor unions are balking at President Barack Obama’s move to pay for healthcare reform by taxing their gold-plated health benefits. So Democrats are considering also taxing investment income. Not only would that approach make reform more costly and potentially worsen the U.S. fiscal deficit, it could politically doom the whole plan.
This compilation of opinion from the great Igor Volsky at the Wonk Room
– Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY): “Normally you’re just dealing with the Senate and they talk about 60 votes and you listen to them and cave in, but this is entirely different,” he said. “I’m telling you that never has 218 been so important to me in the House.”