Monday, January 19, 2015

Can We Have Our Economic and Health Care Cake and Eat It Too?

Would you eat your cake and eat it too?

John Heywood (1497-1580), Proverbs

Tomorrow President Obama will give his fifth state of the Union address. Obama will say, we can have our health care cake and eat it too, namely, we can provide the best economic and health care in the world by raising taxes on the rich, erasing income inequality, and helping the middle class by lowering health costs while providing world class health care.

You can , in other words, have your health care cake, access to some of the best health care in the world. You can have the best of both worlds, and eat it too, at an affordable price.

Republican critics assert: you can’t have it both ways: “free” health care from government and world class health care delivered an innovative private sector handicapped by oppressive government regulations.

At issue politically are the middle class, who comprise the majority of American voters. Control them, make them dependent, and you control government.

As shown by the midterms, voters mistrust government by 60: 40 margins, with the main issues being the health of the economy and the health of health care.

The public is waiting to see what Republicans offer as an alternative to ObamaCare. That opportunity may come if the Supreme Court rules against subsidies on federal health exchanges. Americans are waiting to see the trade-offs and the opportunity costs between the ACA and a GOP alternative plan,

In considering these alternatives, Americans should compare health care results in Europe and the United States.

Most observers agree the 28 nations of the European Union - Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxenbourg, Malta, The Neitherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden,and the United Kingdom– do a better job of offering universal coverage at lower costs and with equal or better health results in terms of longevity.

Most would also agree more universal health care coverage and more generous social welfare programs comes at a cost – higher taxes than in U.S.(roughly 50% to 35%), higher unemployment ( 12% to 6%), slower economic growth ( - 0.1% v. + 3.5%), greater public unrest over high immigration rates , hardening of class divisions, more isolated immigrant minorities, lack of upwards social mobility, and lower growth rates of innovation, entrepreneurial, and technological with economic stagnation.

President Obama seems to prefer the European model because of its “fairness” and its emphasis on big government solutions, but his policies, while they have helped U.S. economic recovery, and aided the upper 10% of the upper classes and the lower 10% on the economic ladder, do not impress the American middle class, who have suffered income losses from $53,000 to $47,000 with decreases in their net worth, with higher taxes, increased health care costs and health plan cancellations, and diminished wage gains, and the majority of whom (57%) still feel we are in a recession.

Tomorrow night we shall see how many Americans wish to buy President Obama’s version of the American economic and health care cake.

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