A Toast to ReidCare's Demise

The senator shows how not to advance health care reform


In a democratic polity, no movement can achieve its agenda in one stroke without compromises. But any compromise along the way ought not to drag its intended beneficiaries through hell.

Yet that's exactly what ReidCare would have done. Advocates of universal health coverage who hold their fellow humans dearer than their ideology should thank Sen. Joe Lieberman, the man most responsible for killing ReidCare, rather than hissing "mass murderer" at him.

It is no secret that the left wants a single-payer health care system in the U.S., a la Canada and Europe. If it had its druthers, it would abolish the private health insurance market today, impose a general health care tax, and use it to finance universal health coverage. But since it can't pull that off without triggering another civil war, it has to settle for incremental approaches to reach that end.

But ReidCare—the brainchild of the Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid—was the worst proposal yet on the table. Even though it's not going anywhere anymore, it has exposed the zealotry and heartlessness of the left on this issue.

ReidCare abandoned the controversial public option that couldn't obtain the 60-vote filibuster-proof majority, in lieu of a Medicare buy-in. One can agree or disagree (as I do) over whether the public option—a government-run health insurance plan that would compete with private plans—would really succeed in lowering health insurance costs. But at least it constituted a serious attempt to give Americans, who will be forced to buy coverage through an individual mandate, affordable options from day one. The Medicare buy-in didn't even pretend to do that.

As its name suggests, it would allow 55- to 64-year-olds to buy into Medicare, a program that is currently reserved for seniors 65 and older. But Medicare already faces a projected deficit of $50 trillion to $100 trillion over the long term. It is on track to go bankrupt in eight years even without ReidCare. With ReidCare, its demise would have been greatly expedited.

No one, however, expects the left to be exercised over the fiscal lunacy of the buy-in idea. Indeed, as far as it is concerned, the faster people are crammed into Medicare, the better it is because the fiscal hole this will create will have to be plugged with higher taxes that could ultimately be applied toward universal health coverage. Nor should anyone be surprised if the left shed no tears for all the underpaid Medicare providers who would have been driven out of business if Medicare expanded its market share. This too is a necessary prerequisite for government-run health care.

But what the left should care about is what the Medicare buy-in would have done to the program's target group: the 55- to 64-year-old uninsured. ReidCare will raise Medicaid eligibility to 150 percent of the poverty level—which means near-free health care would be given to all couples, young and old, who make up to $21,855. But what about couples in this age group making, say, $22,000? They won't qualify for Medicaid. The Medicare buy-in, likely their best option, would have cost them around $15,200, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office of a previous proposal. Individuals making over 150 percent of the poverty level, or $16,500, would have had to pay $7,600.

In other words, come 2011, when the individual mandate will kick in—if Democrats succeed—the uninsured working poor in the 55-to-64 age group would have had to fork over a whopping 50 percent to 70 percent of their income to buy into Medicare. Sen. Reid planned to help these folks with subsidies … by 2014. But what were they supposed to live on until then? His good intentions? How could he and his comrades in good conscience believe it is right to force people to buy coverage now—under threat of fines or jail, mind you—while leaving any relief to the vagaries of politics years from now?

If Americans are dying due to lack of insurance, as Ezra Klein, the writer who called Lieberman a mass murderer, believes they are, can Klein imagine how many more would be driven to starvation, ruin, and possible death if ReidCare confiscated a big chunk of their wages every year in order to achieve universal coverage? An individual mandate is bad enough. But an individual mandate that doesn't come with help attached—how can they possibly accept that?

If the left wants to take an incremental yet principled way forward, now that the Medicare buy-in is all but dead, it ought to take guidance from the school choice movement. Many free-market advocates (like me) believe the best way to improve education is to get the government completely out of the business of running schools. But they also understand that they can't simply will away public schools overnight. Hence, they have accepted all kinds of half-way measures, including school vouchers, education credits, and charter schools, that give at least some parents a way out of their dysfunctional public schools. Over time, the hope is that these market-based reforms will prove their efficacy over government-based solutions and lead to a fully privatized system.

But here's the thing: If the entire school choice movement were suddenly stopped in its tracks so that not another voucher was handed out or a charter school opened, choice advocates could still live with themselves secure in the knowledge that the partial changes they did make helped many and left no one worse off.

Could ReidCare advocates honestly have said the same? No. What the Medicare buy-in idea reveals is that the left cares little about who it tramples in its health care battle so long as it can keep marching toward socialized medicine. Americans can sense this triumph of ideology over humanity, which is why they are abandoning Democratic reform efforts in droves. If Democrats want to win them back, instead of ramming something through the Senate as they are hoping to do, they ought to pause till they recover their moral compass. Otherwise, they will have a hard time finding their way back to Capitol Hill next November.

Shikha Dalmia is a senior analyst at Reason Foundation and a biweekly columnist at Forbes. This column originally appeared at Forbes.

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  1. A Toast to ReidCare's Demise

    Skaal! Salud!

    To your health, Mr. Reid. Thank you for showing such utter incompetence.

      1. Nice pic of crayon.

  2. In other words, come 2011, when the individual mandate will kick in?if Democrats succeed?the uninsured working poor in the 55-to-64 age group would have had to fork over a whopping 50 percent to 70 percent of their income to buy into Medicare. Sen. Reid planned to help these folks with subsidies ... by 2014. But what were they supposed to live on until then? His good intentions? How could he and his comrades in good conscience believe it is right to force people to buy coverage now?under threat of fines or jail, mind you?while leaving any relief to the vagaries of politics years from now?

    Well, how is this any different than right now? These people are uninsured now, right? The Reid plan couldn't cover everybody since the Republicans wouldn't let them expand it to do so.

    As for the "fines or jail" bit-jail? Really? I don't think so. In any case, I seriously doubt that any fines would apply to such people, especially in the final bill. (And I also doubt they would really be "fines" anyways-more like a tax increase.)

    I personally don't like the "fines" for not buying insurance, especially without a public option open to all ages.

    1. I knew this article was wrong.


      The individual mandate forces Americans to buy health insurance or pay a fine. Anyone who can't find insurance that costs less than 8% of their income can get a hardship exemption from the individual mandate.

      8% of one's income is a lot different than 70%.

  3. Well said. Unfortunately, the far left of the Democratic Party care as much about people on an individual basis as the far right of the Republican Party does. Which is to say not one bit so long as they get re-elected. Both want to increase government control, generally in different areas but there is a large amount of overlap. Neither party is yet willing to step back and "recover their moral compass" and this will continue until a viable third party arises to force them to do such. Unfortunately, the deck is totally stacked against that and the possibility of an 1860 like upset is highly unlikely. A true voters revolt is now the only way (I'm not talking violent overthrow but instead a crushing defeat for the majority of long time incumbents and the parties leadership.).

    1. The far left wants everybody to have health insurance. That's certainly caring about them.

      Now, you can make intellectual arguments how you think they are deluded, but in terms of "caring", saying the left doesn't care about people is exactly opposite of correct.

      1. they just don't care how those people will be able to afford food, shelter, etc. while forking over half their income for health insurance. how healthy is it to live outdoors and not eat?

        1. You must be talking about moderate corporate whores, not the far left. The far left wants more progressive tax structure and universal healthcare--in short, more economic security for the middle and poor classes.

          1. I'm talking about mandating the working poor spend half their income on health insurance. how does that increase their economic security?

            1. It wouldn't. That's certainly not what the "far left" wants.

              1. No, but they are okay with it if it gets them to single payer.

          2. The far left wants Stalinism.

            1. I'm working on it. Be patient.

          3. Re: Tony,

            The far left wants more progressive tax structure and universal healthcare--in short, more economic security for the middle and poor classes.

            Robbing Peter to pay Paul does not give any kind of security to either Peter nor Paul. You are being delusional.

            1. Your cliches are giving me a headache. You're robbing me of perfectly good oxygen by being on this planet. Slaver.

              1. Re: Tony,

                Your cliches are giving me a headache.

                Take two aspirins and then use your head. If you simply cannot be aware of the basic immorality of what you advocate or propose, you are beyond redemption.

                1. Blah blah, taxes are equivalent to theft, I know.

              2. Making people dependent on government would be closer to your "slaver" comment, Tony.

                Can Universal Food, Universal Clothing and Universal Housing be far behind? Why the hell not?

                1. Ever hear of food stamps?

                  1. Yes, and what a demeaning way to "cure" hunger.

                    When my dad was laid off from work, many years ago, he had to go on food stamps. I quit going to the grocery store with him, as it was wrenching to watch him use those things. It made him look like something he wasn't - a proud working man able to raise three kids, buy a house, and take care of his family on one paycheck.

                    The closest I ever came to that was taking unemployment, but by the time I found another job, I'd barely gotten one check - and besides, I considered that at least getting SOME of my pay back from my previous job.

                    Got that tingly feeling yet, Tony?

                  2. Universal food stamps NOW!

                    1. We're working on Universal Clothing and Universal Shitty Public Housing. Be patient.

          4. yeah, but they are willing to go along with forcing people to pay massive premiums to insurance companies for several year, as long as they thing it might someday contribute incrementally to reaching a single payer system.

            That's the point of the article.
            It's not your ultimate goal, but "the ends justify the means". Single-payer is a worthy enough goal to cause massive hardships for many people in the immediate future.

          5. If you think destroying the entire economy provides "more economic security" for the poor & middle class, you are dumber than I thought, Tony.

            1. Wow talk about begging the question.

            2. Providing universal health car destroys the entire economy? So does every other first world nation on the planet have a completely destroyed economy?

              1. Economies succeed despite governmental meddling. Not because of it.

              2. Median income of US in 2005 (US 2005 dollars): $42,028
                Median income of UK in 2005 (US 2005 dollars): $34,854
                Germany: $36,444
                France: $26,416

                Let's not pretend that these countries are on par with the US economically. They are backwards and poor. Imitating them in the name of progress should be laughable.

              3. Just curious - why doesn't your party support dismantling the malpractice industry to more closely match other countries like the UK and France, where that industry doesn't really exist. That would save a ton of money on defensive medicine here in the U.S.

                I can think of MILLIONS of reasons that democrats don't support malpractice reform. Millions and millions!

                In fact, the house bill explicitly denies certain federal funds from states that have enacted tort reform. Not only does the bill not acieve tort reform, it effective BANS it.

                Can you explain again to me how that is going to save our health system money? 🙂

      2. The left does not want everybody to have health insurance.

        The left wants a state monopoly on health insurance. Promising "Universal" health insurance is rhetoric to get the idiots to support it.

        Once the state controls health care, denying people health care can be used as a tool for political control.

      3. That is total nonsense. They're going to wreck the healthcare system to provide for the small minority of people without coverage? Huh?

        It's about power and control. Live the way we say you should live. If they cared so damned much, they'd be really studying the issue and not trying to seize control over an entire industry.

        1. I do find the self-righteousness of tools like Ezra Klein to be nauseating.
          The only people I tolerate that shit from are people who actually take care of the poor and the sick (as opposed to people who write about politicians who may create policies that may or may not make it easier for someone to receive care).

      4. "saying the left doesn't care about people is exactly opposite of correct."

        Because, in Liberal-Land, "caring" means creating a new government program. Doesn't matter if the program works or not. Doesn't matter if it wrecks the budget and the ecomony. All that matters is that they had good intentions when they passed it.

        1. Medicare seems to work fine, albeit with a significant cost to taxpayers.

          But the argument here is that the "far left" doesn't "care" about the people, they just want big government, which is totally false-they want big government because they do care about the people.

          A possible winning argument to counter that is that it won't work or costs too much what, but that's different than simply saying they "don't care".

          1. Here in CA the left cares so much it hurts - the rest of us.

          2. Leftist politicians care about getting a vote. They want to be perceived as caring to certain groups so that they garner the support of that group, to further their political career and security.

            If leftist politicians truly cared about the downtrodden, they would spend time with them outside of photo-ops.

            People are animals, and like animals we respond to reward and punishment. If leftists truly wanted to uplift the downtrodden, they would enact programs to reward those whose efforts uplift themselves. Instead they reward abject failure, thus perpetuating that failure for generation after generation.

            But they do not want to uplift their core voting group to develop a sense of self-worth or a work ethic. Because then how could the politician bribe them for votes? A shrinking lower class would hurt democrat voting patterns irreparably.

    2. The so-called far left (actually quite moderate in this country, comparatively) are the only ones who actually care about individuals. If they had their way, healthcare would be universal and cheap. The further you move to the right, the more representatives tend to care only about corporate interests. Meanwhile libertarians are sitting around being pissy bitches and accomplishing nothing, as usual.

      1. The left want the government to control healthcare, so that the health system can be a tool to force obedience to the state.

        Much live in the USSR, North Korea, Cuba, and all systems where there isn't a robust private option... people who don't support the regime, and their innocent families, are denied healthcare as punishment.

        Once the state has a monopoly on healthcare, the state will have to prioritize who gets treatment first and who waits for years on a waiting list... those who support the regime in power get priority. Thus, dissent is crushed.

        1. Yeah, like all that dissent being crushed in the UK, Ireland, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden...get real, idiot.

          1. Re: Vehical Driver,

            The left want the government to control healthcare, so that the health system can be a tool to force obedience to the state.

            Not precisely to squash dissent, VD. Universal Healthcare is a tool to make people dependent on Government, like serfs depended on their lord protector. People may still dissent and protest, just not obtain care from private doctors.

          2. LOL! nice post.

          3. European countries aren't as bad as North Korea, but they definitely limit civil liberties (e.g. free speech) as well. For example, a prominent politician in the Netherlands is facing trial in about a month for hate speech charges.

        2. I had no idea that's what I supported. Thank you for enlightening me.

          Yes, much better to have people's health be subject to the profit motive of insurance companies. FREEDOM!

          1. Re: Tony,

            Yes, much better to have people's health be subject to the profit motive of insurance companies.

            That's a false alternative, Tony. What about just paying doctors for their services directly? Universal Healthcare (i.e. government mandated) is the same as having insurance, with the NEGATIVE side that it would be not-for-profit, that is, inefficient and prone to waste and fraud.

            1. So all nonprofit entities are more wasteful and fraudulent than for-profit entities? I'd love to see some evidence to back up that little article of faith.

              A universal "insurance" scheme benefits from being, well, universal. The risk is distributed, therefore individual costs are reduced. Being nonprofit is certainly not a negative--no need to pay for advertising, multiplied administrative costs, or finding ways not to cover people.

              1. 1. You don't think non-profits pay for advertising? Idiot.

                2. No government program is non-profit. That would be profit neutral. I can't think of a government program that isn't actually profit repellent.

              2. If taxpayers now going to pay for the health insurance entitlements of about 25M new health care consumers, many of whom would rather buy the latest iPhone than pony up for their own insurance, how does that lower costs for taxpayers again? Having a large pool distributes risk. It does not reduce costs on a population basis. But adding a large number of people to the pool who do not pay certainly increases cost.

          2. You say "profit motive" like it's a bad thing. There is nothing sweeter on this Earth than greed. To each as much as they can damn well take, no?

          3. No moron, it is called personal responsibility. Pay for your own health care bills, stop asking me to do it for you.

            1. So, if a poor person needs a $100,000 surgery, he should just die then, right?

                1. You act as if there was no responsibility by the individual to becoming "poor". 90% of the "poor" in this country are uneducated, unmotivated, and self destructive. A compassionate society should provide for those who are unable to provide for themselves (mentally challenged, disabled, elderly). But nobody should be forced to provide for those who are unwilling to help themselves. If that means you dont have money to buy health insurance because you dropped out of high school, have five kids, a drinking problem, are lazy, etc... then so be it. Health insurance is a privelage, not a right.

                  1. Really? Do you have some data to back up your article of faith that one's poverty or wealth is mostly due to their choices and actions?

                    So since this is a moral argument, you're prepared to accept redistribution for wealth not acquired through personal ingenuity, correct? That would include any wealth you accumulate because of who your parents are and other chance factors. You're the one making the moral argument, so you can't have it both ways. No social safety net, and 100% inheritance tax, that okay with you?

                    1. I am willing to redistribute Nancy P.'s inherited weatlth, and Barbara B.'s stolen (by legislation) wealth...

                2. And you wonder why libertarianism isn't more popular.

                  1. And you wonder why libertarianism isn't more popular.

                    No wonder at all.
                    The sad fact is that most Americans are just as fucking stupid and brainwashed as you are.

                    1. Nailed it, John Moses.

              1. This is why the only health insurance should be catastrophic.

                Make people pay for non-catastrophic care out-of-pocket and they will self-ration. That is how one can lower health costs.

                I expect that gov't health care will also lead to self-rationing. So many people and businesses will quit providing medical care that the long waits will prevent people from seeking care.

      2. Isn't your point that the far left isn't accomplishing anything, either?

        Heckuva job, Tony.

      3. The only political group that cares primarily about individuals, is, of course, the libertarians. You powermongers on the left and right have lost all credibility as you continue to try to force us into your vision of the collective good.

        1. +1

      4. Everyone wants healthcare to be universal and cheap. There is merely disagreement on how to get there. The leftists have their plans. Let's not get into motive. But saying that socialist single-payer advocates are the ONLY ones who want a society with access to cheap quality healthcare means you are either delusional or simply dishing calumny for partisan reason.

        1. So come up with a better one. The rest of the civilized world has it figured out already. The ONLY reason we don't is because corporations have massive influence over our legislature. We could copy any advanced country's system exactly and have a much better system than we have now. That would at least be progress. And there's evidence to back it up. Where are all the libertarian healthcare success stories?

          Same story as always? You'd be a highly competitive ?bermensch if only those socialist bullies would stop oppressing you!

          1. So come up with a better one. The rest of the civilized world has it figured out already.

            There have been myriad articles and comments posted on this site about how to make a better healthcare system.

            We could copy any advanced country's system exactly and have a much better system than we have now.

            Prove it without wishing away the massive government-caused distortions of the market over the past 70 years.

            Same story as always? You'd be a highly competitive ?bermensch if only those socialist bullies would stop oppressing you!

            Yeah, how unfair of us to note that a free-market healthcare system hasn't been tried. We should just make shit up, like you do.

            1. We've got the closest thing to a free market health system in the advanced world, and it also happens to be one of the worst. So the only leg you have to stand on is "if only it were MORE free!" which you'd have to admit is a statement of pure faith with no evidence to back it up. It doesn't even have common sense backing it up.

              1. Actually, Switzerland's healthcare system is more market-oriented than our own.

                1. By what criteria?

                  And if so, isn't this just proof that you can have market-oriented universal coverage.

                  Btw, one could argue that Japan's system is also more "market-oriented" than ours. They tend to pay very high co-pays (usually 30%), up to an out of pocket maximum that protects the very ill, and of course with subsidies for the poor. Overall, they spend 16% out of pocket, to our 12%.

                  1. Chad & Tony

                    Check out this example of great free healthcare.


          2. Hey Tony......Just a thought since you love the France or Uganda I could care less.

            But please stop assuming that I wish to pay more to the government just because you "think it makes scense".

      5. Cheap? What law of nature will guarantee that? Just because something is "cheaper" does not necessarily mean it is better. Moreover, saying something WILL be cheap, is completely different from actually making something cheaper.

        If writing letters to congress, organizing protests, donating money to private charities, and educating themselves qualifies Liberatarians as pissy bitches, what does that make the spoiled Ivy League brats who major in bullshit and whine about the evil corporations as they smoke overpriced pot in their parents' McMansion? I suppose your criticism is spurned by the Libertarian distrust of government in its myriad of forms, but such misunderstanding is expected coming from someone who believes all people are just machines built to sustain the state. But that's just it? YOU are a robot.

      6. Tony said: "The so-called far left (actually quite moderate in this country, comparatively) are the only ones who actually care about individuals. If they had their way, healthcare would be universal and cheap. The further you move to the right, the more representatives tend to care only about corporate interests. Meanwhile libertarians are sitting around being pissy bitches and accomplishing nothing, as usual."

        So health care would be universal and cheap? How? Do we enslave the doctors and nurses and make them work for free or do we just give innovation and incentives thus returning to the unreachable socialist utopia liberals dream about?

        As for the right caring about "corporate interests" that a statement that is just as true for the left; they just hand money out to a different set of know the green jobs and union run ones. Besides corporations are, like the unions (and as much as it pains me to say, the government), just groups of people working together for a common cause. But in the case of most corporations they actually produce something and create wealth. Government and Unions are just middlemen and as any commercial for discount carpet will tell you "Removing the middleman saves you money!" If you took all the government workers and people on the direct union payrolls and moved them to manufacturing or service jobs they would create far more wealth than they do now. Because right now all their doing is taking money from one group of people and shuffling it around to a different more favored group while lining their own pockets.

        As for libertarians, it was the original group of libertarians, i.e. the Enlightenment thinkers, that fought to make it so you can legally spout out your inane drivel without fear of being arrested for treason. Unfortunately, most Americans have forgotten this and we're slipping backwards, but I suspect there's change in the wind as people sicken of both parties.

        1. How to make health care ~30% cheaper in five minutes:

          1: Take 29 slips of paper, and write the name of each OECD nation except the US on individual slips

          2: Put the slips in a hat

          3: Close your eyes, pick one slip at random, open your eyes, and read the name on the slip aloud

          4: Proceed to clone that nation's health care system EXACTLY.

          The proof is in the pudding, Ben. Plenty of other nations spend VASTLY less than we do for similar levels of care. If you aren't curious enough to look and see how they do it, that is your own damned problem.

          Pro-hint: It starts by covering everyone all the time.

          1. "Pro-hint: It starts by covering everyone all the time."

            Why no means-testing, Chad? Why give health care to those evil wealthy people you so despise?

          2. Chad,
            If we had the prevalence of obesity and diabetes of France or even the UK we would be spending a lot less as well.

            What you do not seem to understand is that having 3rd parties pay for care is what got us into this expensive mess.

            If people paid directly for the professional time, equipment, and supplies that they use, then they would self-ration. They would be more into preventing problems if they knew they would be paying for problems down the road. And doctors could afford to charge 50% of what they currently do because they would actually be paid every time for services rendered, as opposed to part of the time.

            I have a wealthy friend who refuses to get an MRI of his painful hip. Why? Because he has a HSA and the $800 would essentially come out of his pocket. He doesn't think the MRI would be all that helpful, so he forgoes the test. That's self-rationing. And it's the only thing that can fix this situation. If Mr. Stranger taxpayer were picking up the tab, why would anyone bother self-rationing in this way? Hell, give me an MRI every month!

            Further forcing other people to pay for our care will only increase utilization further, and drive costs through the roof and more and more people fight to get all the handout care they can demand.

            The best solution for insurance reform would be to limit health insurance to catastrophic coverage only. Force people to pay for their care and they will self-ration appropriately. Health care utilization will drop precipitously. And the taxpayer money wasted on healthcare could be used to pay off the national debt and prevent this country's eventual insolvency.

  4. @Tony - Do the individuals the far-left care about include those who make more than $250K/year?

    1. Yes, just like tapeworms care about you and your intestines.

    2. Those poor little rich folks! Why can't they ever get a break?

      1. In other words: No.

      2. Classist cunt.

      3. In TonyWorld, people making $250K a year = might as well be a billionaire and just as evil.

        Wealth envy just makes people resentful and demanding of handouts. It doesn't accomplish anything useful.

        1. I don't classify anyone as evil based on their wealth. It's just that the rich have been getting all the handouts for a long time.

          1. We used to tax wealthy people at 90 percent, Tony. I'd hardly call that a handout.

            It's Dems and their chintzy insistence on "rolling back" the tax cuts (which is like rolling back a price decrease, i.e. utter bullshit semantics/Orwellian Newspeak) to the 39% level. What, we can't live without taking another nickel on the dollar?

          2. it's just that the rich have been getting all the handouts for a long time.

            Fuck me with a barbed-wire wrapped pogo stick.... but you are, without a doubt, one of the dumbest pig-fuckers on this pathetic little rock that we call a planet that I have ever encountered..
            Do you not have the slightest clue as to who is paying the majority of extortion fees err..taxes in this country?
            Nooo...No, I didn't think so.
            Why do I get the feeling that all of those cock-sucking sessions at the local ACORN office have fried what little cognitive ability that you may have ever possessed?

            Never mind.... just keep on telling your mommy to tie you shoes for you and I'm sure that everything will be fine...

          3. Tony, I make a fair amount of money, and currently my real fed+state actual tax rate on income (ie, not including property or sales taxes, etc which also take a bite out of every dollar) is 42%. That's set to jump up 4% more with the end of the "Bush Tax Cuts" this year. So, I'm approaching 50% of every dollar I earn going to the government before I even have a chance to pay my property and sales tax.

            So I'm curious.... how is that a handout for me? Why can't I pay at the lower tax rate that most people do? You seem to be implying that the government is doing me a favor by letting me keep any money at all above the national average of income. Is that your position? Because I'd be really happy to work a 40 hour work week and have weekends off, and not have to work nights and holidays.

            I must have missed class the day that they taught about the "tax loopholes." Please enlighten me what those are. Because the government publishes tax data and it is unambiguous that the heavy lifting of this country is being born by the top 3% of earners, far disproportionate to their actual income. Show me data that proves that this is not the case before you say that strong earners get unfair tax advantages in the United States.

  5. More comic gold, Tony. Don't dare to presume to speak for the interests of the middle classes. We know what's good for us, and it's certainly not higher taxes to support so-called universal health care. The real goal of the left is the destruction of the middle class. You can't do anything about the rich, nor do you actually want to, but it's those pesky middle class people who are the problem for you. What you're counting on is that the former middle class, once poor, will become your clients and dependent upon government services. Plus, when you eliminate the middle classes, you eliminate the hope of exiting from poverty through hard work, sacrifice and education.

    Universal health care is a perfect tool for achieving this goal as it will push many middle class families, particularly the struggling lower-middle class ones, into poverty.

    And no, the left doesn't care about individuals - it cares about groups. Leftists always champion group rights above individual rights.

    1. Thanks for telling a "far leftist" what he believes. I wouldn't support any policy that further punishes the middle class. I'm for more economic egalitarianism--in part because it would reduce entitlement costs. Imagine that.

      Universal healthcare as "far leftists" envision would reduce the individual financial burden. That's the entire fucking point. If it didn't do that, there's no way I'd support it.

      1. The massive inflation required to pay down the astronomical debt which "universal" healthcare would incur would seriously increase the individual financial burden.

        1. The whole point is to make the individual financial burden less. That means more tax revenue, less debt. You're just being myopic and thinking about the single dimension of paying for a government program, without factoring in the savings it results in.

          1. Tony... Wake the fuck up! There IS NO SAVINGS.

            Economy after economy after economy has crumbled and been destroyed by *exactly* the kind of dumbass thinking you're engaging in. Repeat after me: Government has no ability to rationally calculate the production and distribution of goods without prices, profits & losses.

            The information IS NOT AVAILABLE. It's why the USSR used the Sears Catalog... It's also why every single time throughout human history one of your idiotic socialist utopia schemes have been tried, they fail - killing millions of people in the process.

            There is no middle class in North Korea, Tony. There's Kim Jong Il, about 20 of his closest friends and grinding poverty.

            Everything you've talked about on these boards hurts the middle class by making it completely non-existent. And what's worse is that you don't seem to grasp that it's exactly the same ideas that have brought us to the position we're in now as a nation. Your ideas have had a staggeringly large influence on public policy over the last 100 years, and look where they've gotten us?

            Sometimes, I just wish it were possible to beat the stupid out of people like you... grr.

            1. Your grand theorizing notwithstanding, every advanced country in the world has more universal, cheaper, high-quality healthcare WITH more government involvement.

              1. You know what else those countries don't have? The same 70 years of market distortions that we do, or their own innovations in the form of new drugs and new technologies, or the same non-healthcare-related cultural factors which affect health outcomes.

                1. Weren't you the one accusing me of making shit u?. This is nothing but the standard list of unproven libertarian excuses not to favor a change in the healthcare status quo.

                  1. Yeah the employee healthcare tax credit, insurance mandates, Medicare, AMA monopoly licensing, violent crime rates, obesity rates, smoking rates, alcohol and drug abuse rates, traffic accident rates, teenage pregnancy rates, reporting differences in infant mortality and the fact that the vast majority of all healthcare-related innovations come from the U.S. are all figments of my imagination. Right, hack.

                    1. Silly Jordan, none of those things have anything to do with health care prices. It's all just adverse selection and people getting denied for pre existing conditions. Along with the plebs inability to take care of themselves, we need government control to mandate they buy insurance covering alcoholism, yoga classes, and in vitro fertilization.

              2. "high-quality" healthcare ...

                ... where the cancer survival rates are far lower than here in the US.

                ... where MRI machines arrived on the scene 15 years after they arrived in the US

                1. It's kind of beside the point that we have better technology if it costs an arm and a leg to have access to it.

                2. Japan has more fancy gadgets than we do per capita AND does more private medical R&D per capita.

                  Clearly, there is nothing incompatible between universal coverage and good technology.

                  (And honestly, our advanced technology is largely because of our incredibly generous NIH funding...but that's the evil gub'ment).

              3. Government good, private sector bad.

                Blather, rinse, repeat.

              4. At only triple the income tax! Imagine that!

            2. The problem, Sean, is that markets do not have the ability to rationally calculate prices, either.

              Once this sinks into the fat between your ears, things become a lot clearer.

              1. The problem, Sean, is that markets do not have the ability to rationally calculate prices, either.

                Ladies and gentlemen:

                May I present to you.... yet one more ignorant fuctard who lacked the wit to get anything more than a F+ in Econ 101!!*

                *Provided, of course, that he didn't spend the entire semester underneath the professors desk.

      2. If you want to reduce entitlement costs, Tony, why not encourage ways to get people OFF entitlements?

        Or would that fuck up your plans?

        1. Because I believe that a proper civilization doesn't let its poor, elderly, and infirm die in the streets. Call me crazy.

          1. Tony, I would say the one thing that pisses off most of the conservatives I know is the large number of people who are scamming our entitlement systems, and honestly, it does need to be addressed.

            Unemployment is being abused like crazy. I personally know people who are:

            1: Close to retirement, collecting unemployment, and have no intention of ever working again.

            2: Working a few hours on the books and lots of hours off the books (for the same employer) so they can keep their unemployment benefits.

            3: Are members of a rotating pool of temps, who go on and off unemployment in such a way that it maximizes the government checks. The employer gets cheap labor, the workers get a few months of paid vacation every year.

            BS like this does need to stop, and Democrats would make a lot of political progress if they knocked it down.

            1. Damn it Chad.
              Just when I had written you off as an utterly hopeless tardlet... you post the above commentary.
              Despite the fact that I have recently ingested the better part of a bottle of Southern Comfort, I can't muster any disagreement with your observations RE: those who are gaming the system.

              May your journey towards the truth be rewarding.*

              *Honestly. No snark intended.

              1. He's better than Tony, but to bring up Chad's favorite argument; the kind of progressive he represents is not likely to ever be in charge.

                1. Chad can't reanimate Lenin's corpse, but he is trying as hard as he can...

          2. Tony,"I believe that a proper civilization doesn't let its poor, elderly, and infirm die in the streets. Call me crazy." Well if you did believe that a proper civilization does let its poor, elderly, and infirm die in the streets. They would call you Libertarian.

            1. Way to set up an implicit false choice between government run welfare and letting people die on the streets. Great job, retard. Civilization encompasses much more than the state.

              1. Tim, or could you be Burrow Owl? "recently ingested the better part of a bottle of Southern Comfort"? "Great job, retard." Dialogue encompasses much more than then aspersions.

                1. I'm sorry if I don't really feel the need to maintain a civilized dialogue with someone who names him/herself "rather crazy than libertarian". Nor do I imply that people who disagree with me want others to die on the streets, as that is part of such people's conception of a proper civilization.

                  1. Tim, I can't tell you how many times I have sparred with you. I swear you are such a little bitch but I mean that in the nicest way.

                    1. Tim, may I add I am mirthful that you "don't really feel the need to maintain a civilized dialogue". I prefer a wicked dialogue (and I suspect you do too)

              2. What, those aren't the only choices? lol

                1. TLG, of course not but I knew someone like Tim would come along and play. "But for every man there exists a bait which he cannot resist swallowing." Though every once in awhile I converse with someone who makes me think: "It's not an easy life, but it's worth it."

                  1. I rather liked "Civilization encompasses much more than the state", as it sums up why liberalism is such a poor choice.

            2. Another brilliant set of dialogue. You must tell me where you went to school so we can honor it as the birthplace of such intelligence.

      3. Tony-"Universal healthcare as "far leftists" envision would reduce the individual financial burden. That's the entire fucking point. If it didn't do that, there's no way I'd support it."

        If that's really the fucking point then why not just send every american a check for $400 or whatever, every month to pay for healthcare?

        The administrative costs would be almost no existant.

        The legislation to enact it would take 2-3 pagees not 2-3 thousand.

        And you wouldn't have to create 50 new beauracracies to administer it.

        Oh Yeah, there is one downside


        Fuck you Progs and your "care about the people" bullshit. Its all a power play. Either you're in on it or your just a useful dumbfuck tool.

        1. should be


  6. Incidentally, fines for not having insurance isn't functionally different than implementing a tax credit for having it. I wonder why they didn't just go that route.

    1. Because negative reinforcement works waaay better!

  7. Assume for a moment that the "left" really does care more. Since their solutions often result in institutionalized problems and unintended consequenses at least equal to the problem they intend to cure, you have to assume that they are stupid, since they try to cure A with B, but B just creates more A, or problem C, which they then try to cure C with more B, which creates problem D. Now do this with an alphabet that doesn't ever end.

    Meanwhile, there are now 50 tenacles today that institutionalize the problem, tomorrow there are 55, in 2012, 75.

    Today, its "nationalized health care will create 100%, cheap health care access." Tomorrow, after health care rises 100% in like 5 years, they'll say Solution X (say, price caps) will finally produce cheap health care. After it rises again, it will be some other "solution" to the problem they created.

    Meanwhile, the number of tenacles grows and becomes interconnected, making it impossible to ever undo the actual damage.

  8. Tony, just a couple of days ago, you said that it was a bad bill, with no public option and no medicare buy in. But that you still supported it because otherwise there would be less chance of getting single payer in the future.

    In other words, YOU are exactly what Dalmia is talking about. you are totally willing to sacrifice the near term interests of individuals to the long term interests of your ideological goals.

    You admit that the insurance mandates would harm people. But you still FOR THEM because you think that the end justifies the means.

    1. It's the classic hole those who support faulty policies stumble into: The Ends Justify the Means no matter what. Whether this means "securing" oil in Iraq through a costly amoral boondoggle, or "providing healthcare" to everyone through imposing an unsustainable burden on middle class taxpayers, the troublesome means are rarely part of the considerations that lead us to chains and destruction.

    2. Yeah, but... Ezra Klein said Lieberman's a mass-murderer! What are we missing here? It must be true!!!

    3. I've said multiple times that if the bill isn't a positive step then I wouldn't support it. Big change can only happen incrementally, and the Dems losing this political battle would be far worse for health reform than even a bill that makes things only 1% better. I'm pretty sure the bill will make an incremental improvement.

  9. Tony: (12/15/09)
    Since I'm in favor of medicare for all, no bill likely to pass will make me happy. As long as it's not just a pure giveaway to the insurance lobby, I support a bill that gives Democrats a perceived political win. Keeping Republicans out of power is more important than getting a perfect health bill. But that's just me.

    The left is extremely vocal about their disappointment. But we have to balance that with the fact that a huge political loss for Obama might doom healthcare reform even more for far longer.

    Tony. Advocate of forcing people to pay thousands in insurance premiums, because somehow, that might make it less hard to pass single payer later on.

    1. Holy shit. Tony from just up-thread:

      Universal healthcare as "far leftists" envision would reduce the individual financial burden. That's the entire fucking point. If it didn't do that, there's no way I'd support it.

      What a hack.

      1. I'll bet Tony agrees with Ezra Klein about Lieberman's mass-murdering record...

    2. Favoring a program and being cognizant of political realities are not mutually exclusive. Yeah, I fully admit to wanting single payer as soon as we can get it. You know, so that whiny brats like you can be financially better off in the long run. If the bill is nothing but a corporate giveaway, I'll consider it a failure. If it actually makes progress, I say we take what we can wrest from the hands of the corporate whores in congress.

      1. Except that we'll all be poorer and not at all better off, you douchebag.

        1. Then it will have been a very poor bill. The entire point is to lower costs, both for individuals and government. If it doesn't accomplish that, then I'll protest the bill alongside you.

          1. Do you seriously expect this to come in under-budget, Tony?

            How much was Medicaid supposed to cost, originally?

            1. How much would medical coverage cost you if Medicaid didn't exist?

              1. I don't want you to pay for my health care. Why do you want me to pay for yours?

                1. BTW, Tony, I refuse to take Medicare.

                  In fact, even though I *could* qualify for lots of handouts, I refuse to take them. Because - and you'll doubtlessly find this a disgusting notion - I am not entitled to anything but defense and basic infrastructure. NOBODY is entitled to anything beyond those basic, Constitutionally-mandated items.

                  Government was not designed to be a one-stop shop for all your needs, despite your tortured bastardization of the phrase "general welfare".

                  My entitlement footprint is as close to zero as I can make it. How big is yours?

                  1. The Libertarian guy, "My entitlement footprint is as close to zero as I can make it." Interesting but how old are you?

                    1. I'm 46. Why?

                    2. I just wonder about what "qualify for lots of handouts" would include.

                    3. Income levels. I don't make much, but I'll be damned if I live on the dole like Chad wants.

                    4. The Libertarian Guy, "I refuse to take Medicare" and I HAVE refused to take medicare are two different matters. I have read your posts and think you are sincere. Chad, "If the bill is nothing but a corporate giveaway, I'll consider it a failure." Perhaps, if it is a failure, it may reflect that the Democrats are not sincere about health care either.

                  2. Call us back when you are 70 and sick.

                    1. I won't be doing that. Got the do not resuscitate order, living will, all that. Even have the burial plot, although I don't need it as cremation is part of the will.

                      Not gonna cost you a dime, Chad.

                  3. At this point in my life I pay in way more than I get out in direct cash entitlements.

                    But then again I do enjoy the thousands of benefits of organized civilization, so for what I'm paying I'm getting a decent deal.

                    Few judges or political scientists would share your view that the American government is as limited and impotent as you claim it is. If it were I'd be advocating that we shop around for something more useful.

              2. Less.

                Hospitals and physicians subsidize the cost of providing care to Medicare patients by negotiating private insurer rates at 200% of Medicare rates or more.

  10. It brings a warm holiday glow to my heart knowing that liberal politicians can provide universal health care while reducing costs, maintaining innovation, keeping good qualified health care workers, paying down the national debt, helping the elderly and giving every little girl a pony. They believe they can do all of this despite decades of real world experience that shows how expensive and bloated pretty much every government run program becomes after just a few years. It's not about control or the immense amount of pork to be handed out to their favored pet projects...For shame that you would even think it!! It's about the children and the ponies.

    As we enter the holiday season and think about giving, let us all be thankful that we are able to give, and give and give, to such a wondrous program. Surely our hearts overflow with joy as our wallets are emptied. And years from now while your on a multi-year waiting list to get a simple hernia procedure perhaps you should once again think about the ponies. Because since vets aren't covered by this bill it might be better to be a pony for at least they'll get timely health care at market driven prices.

  11. Yes, the left cares about you if you are looking for a cradle to the crave nanny state that takes care of your most basic needs.

    NO, the left doesn't care about you, if you want to keep the fruits of your labor, want to keep the right to self defense (ie bear arms), or are a white male (ie evil).

    1. Just like their doppelgangers on the far-right, who want to run our lives according to their beliefs.

      Tony is no better than Rick Santorum.

      1. I don't want to run your life. I want your life to be more free than it is, actually. But I define freedom in a meaningful way, and not the simplistic and dishonest way you guys do as being merely 'freedom from government.'

        1. Freedom from an institution is the only kind of freedom. "Positive" rights contradict freedom.

        2. Bullshit, Tony. Higher taxes on "the rich" (despite what you believe, there is no way to tax ourselves into prosperity), higher energy prices for everyone (poor folks included, especially so), the creeping tendency towards forced vegetarianism... I could go on, but it might make you all wet and frisky.

          1. Not to mention the threat to our precious bodily fluids.

        3. Do you define "progress" as progress towards state-enforced social, financial, and educational equality? Because instead of progress advancing the human race, that seems to be the code word definition of "progressive."

    2. 90% of leftists politicians are corrupt. The other 10% are like parents who will spoil a child shamelessly in order to feel better about themselves, only to drive the household to bankruptcy and produce a sullen, bitter offspring who expects everything for nothing, and is locked into a bad life having never learned self-sufficiency or a work ethic.

      And the 10% are frequently replaced by the 90% in different election cycles.

      It is not possible to charity someone into prosperity. To prosper, you need a sense of self-worth. That comes from working hard and uplifting yourself. Not from being provided a string of handouts from people who are forced under fear of imprisonment to provide you with free money.

  12. I'm sorry, but what type of freedom is it, when 60-70% of your earnings are paid in taxes? Or even worse, that your hard work goes to subsidize someone elses bad health choices?

    I'm not a total hard ass, I think there should be a limited safety net, but there should be tough rules for those that take advanatage of it.

    Cash assistance, you'd better be doing something, at least pick up trash on the highway,

    healthcare assistance, you'd better be slim, and trim (also no drugs for you, that's for people with money)

    No free ride for anyone.

  13. "what type of freedom is it, when 60-70% of your earnings are paid in taxes?"

    A Democrat's.

  14. I think you can make a decent argument about public goods to support a basic social safety net, and even argue that when everyone is able to participate with some basic level of, say, education all individuals in society are more free.

    That's because when such programs are confined to real poor people they actually purchase the goods they are intended to purchase, schooling, health care ect, rather than just let some middle class family defer health costs in the name of going on vacation or buying an SUV. They don't look at poverty from a absolute standard of living point of view, or from a view about what level of goods will enable people to move up on their own. It's all about income inequality, and that doesn't end without socialism.

    The problem is that none of the left's plans have ever been mere social safety nets; Medicare, SS, Single payer, the health plan, public schools subsidize a whole lot of non poor people at the expense of the rich and future generations. Neither do they recognize that at most lack of education and health care are primarily income problems, exasperated by poor government policies in the case of U.S. health care; and aren't usually content to give people health or education vouchers (I'll note Chad likes ed vouchers). They have to control the provision of such goods, because they think they are smarter and more moral than everyone else along with the fact that control is politically expedient and helps them hold onto their cushy job.

    This is one of the left's favorite tactics, claiming to like markets so long as they are "regulated" and have a "social safety net" while enacting socialist programs, middle class entitlements, and regulations that have nothing to do with preventing harm caused by force or fraud. Laissez faire meaning anything goes and "greed is good" have always been caricatures of libertarian thought advanced by lefties and corrupt business interests.

  15. Wait. Is this bill actually dead?

    Please tell me I can breathe easy.

  16. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there's more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I'm not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It's just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight...the Bible's books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on

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