Barack Obama’s romp to victory in the 2008 presidential election was halted – if only momentarily – when he told a middle-class plumber in Ohio that “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody." The off-handed comment raised suspicions (among a select few, at least) that the candidate of “purple America” might not turn out to be the moderate pragmatist so routinely portrayed in the press.
A year and a half later, it turns out that President Obama has changed his mind about a lot of things – from the newly-perceived need to continue most of the Bush-era anti-terror policies he once maligned, to his increasing receptivity to taxing those making far less than $250,000. But if the health care overhaul proves anything, it’s that the President’s zeal for “spreading the wealth around” continues unabated.
Sure, the President sought to sell the program based on its purported health care merits and deficit-reducing properties (both laughable propositions). But in the days after the legislation was passed by Democrats over the expressed wishes of the American people, several Democrat politicians have indulged in frank admissions of the bill’s real effect: Income redistribution.
According to Democrat senator Max Baucus, speaking on the floor of the US Senate, the health overhaul is “an income shift” and “a leveling” that will “have the effect of addressing [the] maldistribution of wealth in America.” During a television appearance, Howard Dean characterized the legislation as “a form of redistribution.” And Vice President Biden insouciantly announced that “If you call [ObamaCare] a 'redistribution of income' -- well, so be it. I don't call it that. I call it just being fair.”
Ah, yes. You say “tomato,” I say “tomahto.” But the problem for Democrats is that, increasingly, the American people understand that if ObamaCare goes forward, the inevitable end-game will be large tax increases or health care rationing (or both). It is simply impossible to bring millions of formerly uninsured Americans into the existing health care system and lower costs and leave access to medical care unimpeded.
Certainly, even if the Democrats taxed “the rich” out of existence, there will eventually be insufficient funds to feed the new ObamaCare system, which features a minimum of 31 new federal programs, agencies and commissions, as well as a big new “Health Choices Administration.” Americans aren’t stupid; they understand that the politicians will be coming to them for tax money to sustain the behemoth ObamaCare bureaucracy. Nor are they deluded enough to believe that the quality of their care will be unaffected when the money crunch begins; it will be increasingly difficult to find doctors willing to treat them at the reduced prices that will be mandated by the government in order to “control costs.”
So it’s no wonder that middle-class Americans are angry about ObamaCare. They realize that they – not “the rich” – will primarily experience the “leveling” effects of the overhaul. That’s because the rich and the connected (read: politicians) will be able to approach health care the way they have their children’s education – by opting out of the system imposed on the middle class, and accessing the health care equivalent of private school. Those in the middle class realize they will be the ones ultimately stuck in a massive, “underperforming” health care bureaucracy – simultaneously paying more and getting less.
President Obama’s overhaul has provided subsidized health insurance for the very poorest Americans – and, in any case, the very richest can take care of themselves. But for most Americans, somewhere in the middle, there will be plenty of opportunity to ponder wistfully what might have been had the President and his party had been a little more committed to real health care reform, and a little less determined simply to “spread the wealth around.”