Gee, do you think Team Hillary is getting antsy about the Bernie Sanders' early state poll momentum, and the dramatic narrowing of her national lead? And yes, I do mean dramatic:
Why Hillaryworld is suddenly savaging Bernie for his la-la-land spending agenda, including universal healthcare: pic.twitter.com/eseVMS6oM8— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) January 13, 2016
Just about a month ago, her national lead hovered around 30 percentage points; today it's down to single digits, with Bernie ahead in New Hampshire and dead even in Iowa. Time to break out the heavy policy artillery:
Clinton camp's argument in a nutshell: Sanders afraid to release single-payer plan because it contains a "massive tax hike" on middle class.— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) January 13, 2016
Socialist Bernie Sanders -- whose proposed tax-and-spend binge makes President Obama's unprecedented debt accrual look like child's play -- ought to be saluted for performing a valuable public service. By turning up the heat on his liberal rival, he's forced Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment to unequivocally acknowledge, on the record, that implementing a single-payer government-run healthcare system would require battering middle class Americans with massive tax increases. And what would taxpayers get in return? The nightmare of an even more bloated, unresponsive healthcare system that's owned and operated by our incompetent federal bureaucracy. "Medicare for all" may sound appealing at first, until one realizes that even with all of the taxes and service cuts (imposed to pay for Obamacare), that program is on a rapid and inexorable path to insolvency. That's arithmetic, not politics. It's also worth noting that the federal government administers healthcare for veterans, and for many Native Americans.
The former system is a corrupt, disgraceful mess, as evidenced in appalling detail during the recent VA scandal. Lengthy wait lists for care were systemically covered up by bureaucrats determined to cook the books, in order to preserve funding and bonuses; hundreds of thousands of veterans died while awaiting care, an internal review determined. And for those who finally do get access (wait lists haven't improved, despite yet another large injection of taxpayer money) allegations and instances of substandard care are rampant. Whistleblowers were punished. Problems were deliberately whitewashed for political reasons. And abuses were wrongly downplayed, including by Hillary Clinton herself. Such is life when politicians control healthcare. The latter system is, bluntly stated, an abysmal, inhumane failure. The Left would like to replicate these disasters on a national scale, and raise everyone's taxes substantially to (partially) pay for it. In other western welfare states, socialized healthcare is a way of life -- as are high taxes, strained, impersonal, abuse-riddled systems, and harsh government rationing. Medical innovation is partially or largely outsourced to the United States, as are many military needs. This is not an example America ought to emulate. Liberals absolutely love the idea, though, which makes Clinton's attacks a bit puzzling. Sure, her general point that gargantuan government programs don't get funded by fairy dust is true, but her party's base has long been wedded to fiscal fantasy. Plus, she's opened herself up to some...unhelpful flashbacks and charges of hypocrisy, happily furnished by Team Bernie and other detractors alike:
"Since when do Democrats attack one another on universal healthcare?"
Outstanding. Hillary's big plan, by the way, is to further soak the rich with even more tax increases -- including within a specific area of taxation she and her family have gone to great lengths to avoid paying themselves -- and to build upon the (weirdly unappreciated) "success" of Obamacare. On that score, please review these four news items from the last week alone:
(1) Obamacare customers are gaming the system, buying coverage only after they find out they’re ill and need expensive care — a trend insurers warn is destabilizing the fledgling health law marketplaces and spiking premiums for everyone. Insurers blame the problem on lax rules that allow more than 900,000 people to sign up for coverage outside the standard enrollment season — for instance, when they change jobs or move — without sufficient proof they are eligible. No one knows precisely how many might be manipulating the system, but the plans say they run up much higher medical bills and then jump ship, contributing to double-digit rate increases and financial losses.
(2) "In an interview with CNBC's 'On The Money,' a top hospital executive warned that while the Affordable Care Act survived a repeal attempt, it's locked in a tough game of numbers — and few of them are favorable. 'Premiums are going up, deductibles are higher and that's a problem,' Dr. Kenneth Davis, Mount Sinai Health System president and CEO said. His comments differed from the sentiments he expressed barely a year ago, when he spoke favorably of the law's benefits to CNBC. "What it's all about is that not enough healthy people have signed up," Davis added. Part of the reason, he said, is that because penalties embodied by the so-called individual mandate are "rather minimal."
(3) Recently, the Obama administration said 11.3 million Americans had signed up for 2016 health exchange plans by late December. That's better than administrations cautious estimate that enrollment would top out at 10 million this year, and open enrollment does not end until January 31st. Health care observers, however, see the milestone differently. "That's still significantly lower than what experts had initially expected at this point in time in exchange implementation," said Caroline Pearson, senior vice president with health care consulting firm Avalere. "We had anticipated, based on the Congressional Budget Office estimates, that perhaps 21 million people might be enrolled in 2016." Avalere researchers say keeping up with exchange plan costs is a challenge for many Americans..."Many middle income people continue to suggest that exchange plans just aren't affordable for them," Pearson told CNBC. "Even with the subsidies, they simply can't make the monthly premiums work in addition to all of the out of pocket costs." Yet while consumers see high prices, insurers are seeing high costs on exchange plans. Obamacare enrollees tend to be older and use more medical care.
(4) On Monday, the free-market nonprofit Freedom Partners released the 2016 Obamacare Premium Increase Tracker, a tool which uses a wide range of market data to predict health care premiums in all 50 states under Obamacare this year. According to the tool, 49 out of 50 states will see an increase, and 28 states will see premiums rise 10 percent or more. "Our data are conclusive: The Affordable Care Act has driven up costs across the board, with people in 49 states seeing premium increases on the individual market this year," Nascimento added. "President Obama has chosen to look the other way, but the millions of Americans being crushed by the costs of Obamacare don't have the same luxury." Health care premiums will rise in every state but one—Mississippi—but that lucky state will only see a minuscule drop of 0.2 percent. The rate hikes range from 1.0 percent (Indiana) to a whopping 47.7 percent(Minnesota). No fewer than seventeen states will see rates increase by an average above 20 percent.
One last point: Single-payer advocates like to say that their preferred policy is popular with the American people, citing certain poll outcomes as evidence. Public opinion realities are much more complicated, however. Most Americans support the goal of helping everyone access healthcare, but strongly differ on how to achieve that goal, and on whether the government should do so -- or even remotely posses the competence to make it happen, for that matter. As with Obamacare, once government-run healthcare's irredeemable flaws are raised and debated, public opinion quickly turns sour. Hillary Clinton's critique of Bernie Sanders helpfully hands a potent Democrat-led talking point to single-payer opponents. I'll leave you with, ahem, this:
Bernie loves single-payer healthcare...which crashed & burned in his own liberal state due to eye-popping costs : https://t.co/7vgSGnFfai— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) January 13, 2016