Pay Up! Utopia Ain't Free, Ya Know

David Harsanyi
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Posted: Jul 17, 2009 12:01 AM

If government-run health care holds such wondrous possibilities for the nation, why don't we all "invest" in this magical cure? Why only the rich?

President Barack Obama once promised to spread the wealth. How about spreading the responsibility, as well? Let the everyday citizen feel the cost of these gazillion-dollar legislative miracles.

The House's plan for health care reform is a good start. If passed, it would begin levying an extra tax on families earning $350,000 or more -- for the benefit of society, of course.

We can do better. Much better.

Don't misunderstand me; detesting the rich is an enormously rewarding pastime -- those sleazy pinstripe-sportin', carbon-spewin' degenerates.

So it's no surprise that according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll, the majority of us support increasing income taxes on the wealthy to pay off the gargantuan cost of health care "reform."

The number is sure to ratchet up in the future. As Myron Magnet at the Manhattan Institute recently pointed out, in New York City only 1.2 percent of the taxpayers will pay 50 percent of the income taxes, while half the households will pay no income tax at all.

The tax base is shrinking nationally. In the United States, the top 20 percent of earners pay 70 percent of all federal taxes. For many, there is no risk in supporting pricey Utopian experiments in Washington. The other half pays. Certainly, this brand of governance offers little in the way of the celebrated "sacrifice" the president keeps going on about.

Republicans were a major reason for this untenably skewed equation, as they cut taxes as reliably as they increased spending. Democrats, now on a hyper-spending binge for the ages, won't raise taxes on the vast majority of Americans, either.

As eternal tools of Satan, we understand that the wealthy normally attain their largesse via human misery, corporate plundering and the raping of the environment, but they also tend to be smart. They tend to calculate their taxes and make up any losses by investing less, opening fewer businesses, hiring fewer people and spending less money.

The National Federation of Independent Business claims that the congressional health care plan could cost 1.6 million jobs -- most of them small-business jobs -- and decrease wages across the board.

The nonpartisan Tax Foundation's new study claims that the health care reform surtax would mean that 39 states would end up with a top-tier tax rate of more than 50 percent, a surefire way to kick in stagnation.

But if Americans truly have fallen in love with the idea of expansive federal government, so be it. Let's all start chipping in to pay for the costs associated with Hope.

As Joseph Thorndike, a historian with the Tax History Project, explained to USA Today recently, a broadening of the tax base would be healthy for the nation. "If you ask people to pay something then they have an ownership stake in it," Thorndike said. "The narrow, soak-the-rich approach is real short-sighted politics."

Washington, as we know, is about free lunches rather than measured policy. Health care reform is free ... no, no, even better, the president claims it will save you money. (Which is true if you subtract, for starters, the trillion dollars needed just to implement the plan.)

There is, of course, another radical -- and, many claim, mythical -- solution in dealing with the tremendous burden of government: cutting spending and dependency rather than nurturing them. But then again, most of you are past such jejune thinking.

These days, Democrats suggest that the American people are clamoring to see rationed health care out of Washington.

There is a way to find out just how much we value the idea.

Would a proposal that forced every taxpayer to shell out the true cost of this legislation ever get out of committee -- or any politician's mouth, for that matter?

If voters believe that health care reform, as the president maintains, would offer savings and an improved level of medical care, surely they would be willing to take a stake in the game.

Let's all ante up and see.