Rather than a post-partisan olive branch to congressional Republicans and the American public, President Obama’s latest health-care speech was a declaration of war. He’s more than willing to use a 51-vote reconciliation majority to jam through a roughly $2 trillion health-care plan that amounts to a government takeover of nearly one-fifth of the economy. He’s prepared to stick Uncle Sam right in the middle of the age-old relationship between patients and doctors, and doctors and hospitals, all while subjugating the private health-care insurance system to the status of a government-run utility -- without bending the cost curve downward.
More spending. More tax hikes on investors, businesses, and individuals. New government boards to control prices, ration care, and redistribute income. The Obama administration is basically taking a giant government leap backwards that the country doesn’t want to take.
One of the most galling features of this plan is a taxpayer-subsidized government-insurance entitlement for people earning up to 400 percent above the poverty line, or nearly $100,000 for a family of four. In other words, a middle-class health-care entitlement that will add millions of people to the federal dole. It’s all too reminiscent of the political dictum of the old New Dealer Harry Hopkins: tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect.
The spending has been well chronicled by congressman Paul Ryan, who baffled President Obama at the so-called health-care summit with his cogent analysis of a ten-year cost of $2.3 trillion that sets a floor, rather than ceiling, for the likely expense of this entitlement package. Obama had no rebuttal.
On taxing, let’s not forget that the current health-care payroll tax of 2.9 percent will be expanded to cover all forms of investment and capital formation, on top of the repeal of the Bush tax cuts. The anti-growth consequences are incalculable. As the late Jack Kemp used to say, you can’t have capitalism without capital.
The White House says job creation is priority number one. But you can’t have new jobs without healthy businesses. And healthy businesses require investment. However, by taxing investment more we’ll get fewer jobs, reduced real wages, and slower economic growth.
And how stupid is it for the president to support a six-month payroll-tax cut for small businesses in the name of job creation while imposing a 1 percent permanent increase in that very same tax to fund the massive new health-care entitlement. Talk about self-defeating.