Taxes, Spending and Healthcare
As Bill Kristol knows all too well, social spending programs, once they get started, tend to be pretty popular. The odds of deep sixing, for example, national healthcare after it’s up and running is essentially zero. And once it’s up and running, taxes will follow because most Americans would rather see their taxes go up than their healthcare services go down.
Of course, this mostly applies to broad-based programs. Smaller ones are still hard to get rid of, but not impossible. It’s the bigger ones that become third rails. Both Obama and the GOP are smart enough to know this, which is why Obama wants to swing for the fences and congressional Republicans want to become the Party of Nyet. If they don’t stop him now, they never will.
What struck me was that Kevin ignores another possibility: healthcare services go down and taxes go up. Right now healthcare spending is going up at an astonishing rate. The following graph shows what happens when you have two growth rates that are different,
If we assume Kevin is right that the program is impossible to get rid off, and people would rather see their taxes go up, but if we also factor in that people are still going to want to eat, have a roof over their heads, clothes, and so forth, then there will be but one option: reduce both the quantity and quality of healthcare services.
We see this problem in England and Canada. In Canada it is against the law to pay for eggs for fertility treatments. England has instituted mandantory wait times. Then there is this story of a man who smokes wont get treatment for his ankle. Or this story about the man in England who had to pull his own tooth with a pair of pliers. Even the French might soon be facing this problem.
And lets also keep in mind that Medicare may have very will been one of the reasons for the high growth rates for healthcare spending. Expanding government healthcare programs to cover the entire public will likely add fuel to the fire with the end result quite possibly being both lowered quality and quantity of care.