Should Republicans Embrace Universal Healthcare?
Voters have been primed to blame the rich for their woes and expect medical insurance as a right, so the next logical step will be to morph ObamaCare into a vessel that achieves those goals: socialized medicine.
The Republican alternatives of self-reliance and invisible hand manifestations are like a Beethoven concerto played for a strip club audience demanding heavy metal to accompany overt gyrations by a near-naked entertainer.
Can Republicans entice the majority without selling their souls, not to mention the future of our great Republic, or will they allow further slide into the unsustainable, inefficient transfer-of-wealth Democratic vision?
To get logically to where I believe Republicans need to be on this issue, let us consider the status quo.
Government employees have great medical insurance. Lawmakers have legislated the best insurance for themselves, but all "public servants" have also been ordained to deserve superior insurance. While teachers, for example, complain about being underpaid for their nine months of work each year, they happily accept their twelve months of excellent health insurance.
As union members, many government employees, including teachers, overlap the second group with generally great insurance. It isn't a coincidence that unions, as big Democratic supporters, received special exemptions from ObamaCare.
In addition, Medicaid has been expanded by Obamacare, and while this insurance has never been championed as the best in the land, it does provide free coverage to an increasing number of people.
Uninsured hordes, a growing Democrat constituency, have used emergency rooms as their primary care system, depleting these resources and inevitably forcing healthcare providers to overcharge those who do have the means to pay for their services, i.e. the insurance companies. Despite ObamaCare's claims to the contrary, this doesn't seem destined to change in the immediate future.
Who pays for all of these people to have healthcare currently?
The free market producers, either directly through their taxes or indirectly through inflation on their hard earned dollars, pay for all of those mentioned above.
Furthermore, employers have carried a significant share of their employees' burden for so long that most employees have no clue as to how much their personal contributions in premiums and co-pays have been subsidized.
Similarly, President Obama and his ilk apparently never comprehended that the net paid for insurance by employees wasn't the full amount. The inevitable result has been for registrations to be dominated by those receiving huge Obamacare subsidies or free care through expanded Medicaid.
In short, producers already shoulder the burden of universal health care in our country, and that bill just ballooned. As "reward," they receive increasingly harsh criticism from liberals for their "greed."
Republicans should take us to a position where everyone shoulders the burden for healthcare with a national sales tax which would require everyone to contribute to his own healthcare and, like European Value Added Taxes, also collect from noncitizens in the country, whetherhere legally or illegally.
Assuming healthcare to be 17% of the economy, that level of taxation could theoretically provide 100% coverage, if administered along the lines of corporation self-funded insurance with similar efficiency.
I would propose, however, that 9 to 11% would provide most essential coverage and allow for reasonable co-pays to keep frivolous doctor visits minimized, giving users some responsibility for their personal medical choices.
Supplemental insurance coverage, like programs offered for Medicare recipients, would be available for those who prefer higher levels of care and are willing to pay for it without unnecessarily burdening those who prefer to avoid doctors if possible in order to save money.
Republicans would be able to claim the high ground on the issue of providing insurance for everyone, which is the theoretical utopia President Obama's minions claim none of the Republican free-market alternatives address.
Requiring everyone to participate, including those in government or on government programs, should resonate with those already footing the bill without alienating anyone who truly believes in universal coverage, creating a unique coalition.
It should be noted that when dissatisfaction with Obamacare shows up in polls, it includes a substantial percentage that would prefer universal coverage, a fact ignored by conservative pundits.
President Obama famously declared he never realized how complicated insurance could be. If the most powerful man in the world had no clue before enacting groundbreaking legislation in the field, how can Republicans expect the average working man to comprehend such complexity, especially in an era of rapid career change and involuntary job hopping?
The simple reality is that the employer based system of healthcare in an age of temporary employment cannot be depended upon.
There will always be unintended consequences for any government policy, and among these would be an immediate suppression of consumer spending and temporary reallocation of resources. That could eventually lead to a financial world that considers the long-term with greater emphasis than the next quarter, which would not be all bad.
However, consider unquestionably positive ramifications for our economy.
First, taking the onus off business for employee healthcare should free them to compete against corporations of other countries where socialized medicine has already taken that direct burden away from businesses.
Second, these companies will have less reason to outsource jobs, potentially adding to their domestic employment rolls.
Third, startups with fresh ideas and the greatest prospects for growth will more easily attract the best and brightest to their cause.
These factors would put more shoulders to the wheel of growing our economy out of our problems, or at least reducing them to a more manageable relative size.
Would taking the lead in the race to the inevitable ensure Republicans of a forty-year rule like FDR's New Deal brought Democrats?
Definitely not. Republicans, after all, seem to relish tearing each other down for the sake of perfection.
However, it could usher in a resurgence of a Reaganesque reality where political compromise between seemingly incompatible goals could be possible and yield greater prosperity and freedom.
Republicans do not, as Democrats proclaim, hate people who need a helping hand, nor do we want anyone to suffer needlessly. We simply believe that "fair" does not translate to "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" regardless of personal efforts.
Providing universal healthcare financed with taxes on the goods purchased by the people covered would mean that the wealthy man who buys a luxury yacht or Rolex watch would still pay more than his "fair share" based on his actual healthcare requirements, but it would be a more equitable tax of his voluntary consumption as opposed to an involuntary tax of his productivity.
Republicans could accept this as a fair compromise, especially if most people whose healthcare they already pay indirectly through government are forced to pay at least most of their own way.
Lest this be maligned as a heartless attack on the poor, subsidies for the truly needy would still be available, but increasing the level of personal responsibility for healthcare expenses in conjunction with employment expansion made possible by greater domestic productivity of businesses unburdened from providing healthcare for everyone would make that a smaller segment of our population, which after all was the stated goal of the War on Poverty.