A good test of political traction is when the opposition tries to re-frame the issue. With health care, President Obama and his liberal foot soldiers such as Mitchell Bard, writing in today's Huffington Post, play the obtuse card, which they do with more grace than intelligence.
Bard mixes churlish rhetoric with a premise that forms his counter-argument for Republicans (and, centrist Democrats, which he is forced to include in his diatribe) who are making credible arguments against the so-called 'public option.' He makes the following assertion, which would be laughable were it not so thoroughly specious:
...when you argue for a public option, with people being given the chance to keep what they have (with private insurers) or opt for a new public option (especially for those who don't currently have any insurance) that would compete with the private companies, then the Republicans say that the private insurers would be driven out of business because they can't compete with the public plan. But if the government-run plan would be so bad, why would the private insurers lose to it?
This argument posits an inverted learning curve which amounts to an insult to the common man. Indeed, the problem of competing with the government's 'public option' has nothing to do with a de facto dual on the battle field of health care insurance, but rather the fact that when it's funded by effectively limitless deficit spending, the feds can set artificially low prices to strangle private carriers into submission.
You might recall that the anti-trust laws were written to mitigate the influence of inadvertent or overt market dominance by economic powerhouses that gobbled up small companies or merged with other giants, and which translates into hegemonic pricing. Bard and his arch leftists shrug their shoulders and look surprised when this patently uncompetitive aspect of the public option is raised, but since there's no cogent rejoinder it, it perfectly illustrates their true motivations.
It's not about the most optimal way to provide health care services--because a truly competitive model is the most effective way--but rather, it underscores the left's concurrent disdain for capitalism and their infatuation with power. Indeed, liberals have a deep distrust of markets because, they correctly assert, they are aren't perfect; but, rather than understanding that they do perfectly dovetail with human nature--read incentives and disincentives--and, as such they produce the best outcome for the most number of people, they prefer the universal mediocrity of government-run systems.
Bard and his legion of liberals routinely assert that "the American health care system is not working," which is a curious assertion since fully 80 percent indicate they're satisfied with their current plan. What we have is an expense problem, and as they would learn in an off-the-shelf high school economics class, you reduce expense by increasing the marginal cost to the consumer.
That means you provide each American with a refundable tax credit, you allow health insurance plans to market across state lines, and consumers purchase the plan that's right for themselves and their family and allocate their resources accordingly. If you price the tax credit appropriately, they'll be obliged to pay for a larger percent of services with discretionary income, but the marginal cost will be suppressed by cross-state competition. Several independent studies have shown that when you increase the per unit cost of service, utilization is inhibited but there's no measurable adverse effect in clinical outcomes. Coupled with tort reform, which would reduce the incentive physicians understandably have for over-utilization of expensive testing, and you're on track to control costs.
But, rather than supporting a plan that expands choice and reduces costs, the left is touting the new CBS/New York Times poll (which Bard quotes), which found that 72 percent of respondents supported a government-sponsored insurance plan. But, as with most polls, they don't tell the entire story: it's always a question of the cost and relative quality, and other polls show that when timely access to specialists and testing is compromised, and when life-style exclusions are imposed (no knee replacements for the overweight, which is the case in Great Britain), respondents' support drops significantly.
We all enjoy choosing a DSL carrier for our home computers, vetting car manufacturers to find just the right one for our budgets, and even reading cereal boxes to pick one that appeals to our individual tastes. Why would we willingly allow the government to design, price, and implement a one-size-fits-all health insurance plan?