The 800lb Gorilla

Lets state the obvious.  In a perfect world, all of us want every person in America to have the best healthcare in the world, at the lowest cost, or free if they cannot afford it.

I think that’s a truth.  Yes there might be those extreme libertarians to whom nothing is a right and everything is a privilege. Regardless, a wealthy and generous nation such as the United States wants this for its people.

The Gorilla in the Room – we are generous, but in financial terms we are not wealthy.  That may come as a shock to people, but we as a nation are broke, living on our credit card.

In Episode 70 – Jeff pointed out that Eric Cantor made the very simple argument that sums up Republican opposition to health care.  But unfortunately, this argument can only be whispered.  It was only mentioned once in the healthcare summit.  “We just can’t afford it” is what Representative Cantor said, talking about covering 30 million Americans.

Take away the controversy around government run, socialism, death panels, cross state competition, insurance exchanges, tort reform, and any other buzz word you want to put in.  We can’t pay for it!  We can cook the books and even make it look like we are better off for about 10 years, but in the end, the expenses crush our budget and explode our debt.  Just read the actual CBO report.

The United States, based on our current spending, cannot offer every one in the country health insurance without increasing taxes to an enormous rate on every American, and/or slashing entitlements and/or cutting the defense budget in a time of war.

What we can do apparently, is expand coverage to 30 million people, then kick the can down the road 10 years, making it someone else’s problem to pay for it.  I reference David Brooks from Thursday’s New York Times, referencing the deal cut with Union leaders to protect the high end health plans.

The Democrats (and the Republicans) conveniently neglected to mention the fact that they had just gutted the long-term revenue source for their entire package, the excise tax on high-cost insurance plans. That tax was diluted and postponed until 2018. There is no way that members of a Congress eight years from now are going to accede to a $1 trillion tax increase to pay for a measure that the 2010 Congress wasn’t brave enough to pay for itself

Fast-forward 8 years.  Lets think about the Congress sitting down and passing a $1 Trillion tax increase to start to pay for the famous “out-years” of this plan.

Because we are broke, if we tackle healthcare, it has to be in incremental steps, and it has to include spending cuts that take effect today.

When the Republicans say they want incremental changes, it’s just a politically safe way of saying that we just can’t afford to extend healthcare to all Americans.  It’s an inconvenient truth, but a truth none-the-less.

At some point, we have to draw lines in the sand on debt and spending in order to bring America back to a state where we can afford health care for all Americans.

If not now, then when?

What do you think?

Guest Blogger – Jeff Hine



3 responses to “The 800lb Gorilla

  1. OK – before I get attacked for poor use of idiom. I’ll say it – “poor use of idiom”. Better said “Elephant in the Room”. Though I could argue that according to Wiki – 800lb Gorilla refers to an “immovable force”. The immovable force of “debt and spending” – I’ll correct myself with this comment instead of engaging in photoshop blogging.

    I think everyone got the point though. Dying to see who focuses on this rather than tackling the message.

  2. I think this is on the mark. Good article.

  3. I think this comment dovetails with your article. It’s no shock that people want as much as they can get but don’t want to pay for it. The problems come when mechanisms are in place that inhibit people’s ability to perceive the true costs. When that happens, people make bad choices. The pain and the gain must be seen clearly. When that happens, people make pretty rational choices.

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