|Free healthcare clinic at the LA Sports Arena last weekend. This is a safety net?|
As commentators and political observers begin to expect a second Obama administration, they begin to visualize what a second term might accomplish. Some, like Paul Krugman and Dean Baker, state the obvious right up front. Here's Krugman:
First, despite years of dire warnings from people like, well, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, we are not facing any kind of fiscal crisis. Indeed, U.S. borrowing costs are at historic lows, with investors actually willing to pay the government for the privilege of owning inflation-protected bonds. So reducing the budget deficit just isn’t the top priority for America at the moment; creating jobs is. For now, the administration’s political capital should be devoted to passing something like last year’s American Jobs Act and providing effective mortgage debt relief.
Dean Baker is onto the same point exactly, while delivering a smackdown to faux center-left columnist Ruth Marcus:Second, contrary to Beltway conventional wisdom, America does not have an “entitlements problem.” Mainly, it has a health cost problem, private as well as public, which must be addressed (and which the Affordable Care Act at least starts to address). It’s true that there’s also, even aside from health care, a gap between the services we’re promising and the taxes we’re collecting — but to call that gap an “entitlements” issue is already to accept the very right-wing frame that voters appear to be in the process of rejecting. (My emphasis.)
Contrary to what Marcus and the Serious People want people to believe, there is no spending problem, there is a problem of out of control health care costs. The United States pays more than twice as much per person for its health care as the average for people in other wealthy countries, with little to show in the way of health outcomes. If we paid the same amount as any other wealthy country we would be looking at huge budget surpluses, not deficits.
The deception here is simple and extremely important. Honest people would talk about the need to reform the health care system. That addresses the health care cost problem that the country really does face. Marcus and the Serious People would instead want to leave the broken system intact and just have the government pick up less of the tab. (Emphasis mine.)
|Almost 5000 lined up on a Monday to get wristbands to get in the Arena on Saturday.|
I'm a broken record on this. We pay about double what other advanced countries pay, and they get better outcomes than we do for their money. That doesn't make us an exceptional country, as the Republicans keep chanting, it makes us and exceptionally backward country for all the wealth we apparently have. Let's go to the chart:
The Y axis shows the healthy outcomes and the X axis shows the cost. The size of the bubble shows the total amount of the costs per capita that come from the private sector. All of western Europe does a better job at a lesser cost than the U.S. does.
The bottom line on healthcare is go Medicare for all, full stop. How to pay for it? Raise taxes, mostly on those who can afford it. And because we then can lower costs overall, our budget woes begin to get solved. It's also fine to raise the Medicare taxes a bit, too. It'll more than come out in the wash.
While we're at it, mandate that the money businesses and governments save on employer-provided healthcare goes straight to the workers. And, hey, Republicans, that way the money employers used to spend on healthcare becomes income, and can then be taxed, like some of you, like John McCain, and yes, Simpson Bowles, wanted to do. And we fix the declining incomes of the middle class, and, while we're at it, chip away a bit at income inequality. What's not to like?
Also, a healthier America is a more productive America, and, fat-cat job creators, that means more profits. I'm not kidding, it's the way it works.
How would it work? Check out here, here, here, and here.
Would Americans support it? Yes:
More on Social Security later.
Note. First, Obamacare would be gone. Happy now? Second, we don't have a Medicaid problem anymore. It's now called Medicare...