That one weird voice of reality in the Democrat debate
The Democratic debate was pretty well summed up by President Trump with one word: "BORING."
And why not? The socialist froth was amazing. Candidates fell all over themselves, each trying to outdo the next on pushing the most socialist ideas, the most political correctness, the biggest virtue-signalling. Each promised to deliver the most of what the late unlamented Hugo Chavez called the "sea of happiness." Nobody would be left unhappy without free stuff, no one's interests would be trampled save for those of the evil corporations. It was groupthink writ large with each candidate pushing the next one more leftward. Any dissenter from this dynamic, any promoter of a spark of real-world common sense, whether on how to pay for mega-mega-mega government programs, or how it was that government bureaucrats with a monopoly grip on health care would be so much more loving and giving to taxpayers, would be met with stony silence. The way to the Democratic nomination, apparently, is all in how to out-left-wing the next guy.
But there was one exception, one voice of the real world, one voice of common sense that weirdly stood out like a Martian among the mud gnomes. In a must-read analysis by Jeff Greenfield, it came from an obscure candidate named Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, who brought up what amounts to a booby trap, "a landmine" for frothy leftist Democrats promising everyone the moon.
The moment came when the ten participants were asked, by a show of hands, who would dispense entirely with private health insurance. Only New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Warren signaled “yes.” That's when Rep. John Delaney, one of the least visible of the 24 announced candidates, weighed in.
After pushing back on the idea of taking something away from Americans that most are reasonably happy with, Delaney said this:
"Also it’s bad policy. If you go to every hospital in this country and you ask them one question, which is how would it have been for you last year if every one of your bills were paid at the Medicare rate? Every single hospital administrator said they would close. And the Medicare for All bill requires payments to stay at current Medicare rates. So to some extent we're basically supporting a bill that will have every hospital closed." And then he finished with a stinger about his electrician father on union health insurance: "He’d look at me, and he’d say 'Good job, John, for getting healthcare for every American, but why are you taking my healthcare away?' ”
Delaney was bringing up something important because it's likely to grab voter attention, particularly among independents: That when we all get that vaunted free governmnt health care -- private hospitals are going to collapse.
What Delaney described was how the signature shortages of socialism work, which come every time the government tries to control an entire industry. It happened in Venezuela. It would happen here, too. Hospital after hospital will go bankrupt, disappearing as if in a puff of smoke. Socialism is always a great thing for the elites, but for the ordinary people out there, well, no more hospitals, take a number and wait in line for the next appointment two years down the road 500 miles away in some big city. Socialism in action, the way it works, every time you try it.
As John Merline has noted many times in his columns, having insurance is not the same as having actual care. Claiming full coverage and a "right" to health care is something that thrills Democrats, but as to whether anyone can get actual treatment under their socialist proposal, well, that's a different story. There's a reason Canadians and Brits of means come to the states for their treatments.
We already have seen how rural hospitals have imploded with the advent of Obamacare in 2010 for this very reason. Now, we can have the same nightmare writ large as virtually all private hospitals, which must subsist on double-entry bookkeeping, go the way of the rural hospitals.
Some of the Democrats - notably Cory Booker - complained about "corporate consolidation" in his district, as proof that corporations were evil and of course he claimed to be against it. But what the coming hospital implosion amounts to is exactly what Booker (who knows nothing about economics) complained about - consolidation. Under any socialized single-payer health care, which near-front-runner Warren advocates, what's euphemistically called consolidation will be turned up to 11. Hospital after hospital will shut down after each becomes forced to live on Medicare payments alone, which are government-dictated and which don't cover costs. Then poof. Boom. Implosion, and more implosion. No more hospitals. Oh, but health care is free.
Sound like a nice bargain? One can only hope that voters, even Democratic voters, will demand answers on this. Sometimes, the real world intrudes in debates. What it shows is how out of touch with reality the Democratic candidates in this coming race really are.