Father of Reaganomics Supports Single-Payer

This was quite interesting, not to mention completely unexpected:

Paul Craig Roberts served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration earning fame as the “Father of Reaganomics” and he supports Single Payer.

The current health care “debate” shows how far gone representative government is in the United States. Members of Congress represent the powerful interest groups that fill their campaign coffers, not the people who vote for them.

The health care bill is not about health care. It is about protecting and increasing the profits of the insurance companies. The main feature of the health care bill is the “individual mandate,” which requires everyone in America to buy health insurance. Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., a recipient of millions in contributions over his career from the insurance industry, proposes to impose up to a $3,800 fine on Americans who fail to purchase health insurance.

The determination of “our” elected representatives to serve the insurance industry is so compelling that Congress is incapable of recognizing the absurdity of these proposals.

The reason there is a health care crisis in the U.S. is that the cumulative loss of jobs and benefits has swollen the uninsured to approximately 50 million Americans. They cannot afford health insurance any more than employers can afford to provide it.

It is absurd to mandate that people purchase what they cannot afford and to fine them for failing to do so. A person who cannot pay a health insurance premium cannot pay the fine.

These proposals are like solving the homeless problem by requiring the homeless to purchase a house.

There’s plenty more to the article at the link above, but what struck me while I was reading it was how sad it was that I was surprised – to the point of shock – at hearing a staunch supply-side guy voice these sentiments. In fact, this entire post of mine is partially for shock value: if you’re a liberal reading this, you’ll get a sense of “wow, a convert! Who’d-a thunk?” And if you’re a conservative reading this, it might shock you enough (hopefully) that you at least re-assess your views. But the “sad” part is why should either of those reactions happen?

I’m no lover of Reagan or his policies – especially Reaganomics. I think they were detrimental to our country and ultimately, provably wrong on a number of their fundamentals. But that’s kinda beside the point. What I’m realizing is that it should NOT come as a shock to anyone that a person who supports Reaganomics (obviously, he helped invent them) would support single-payer. That’s how effective the right-wing noise machine’s media and language war has been: that all of us, liberal and conservative alike, don’t even question the framing that single-payer is somehow not only socialism, but is an area of “big-government intrusion.” For the conservative or Republican, it’s a straight-up opposition: single-payer=big government=socialism=bad. But even for the liberal, the framing still exists, though the thought process is more along the lines of: single-payer=big government=not-really-socialism-but-arguably-headed-in-that-direction, we admit=we-really-think-this-time-it-will-be-OK. Wow, that’s inspiring (not).

No wonder the Republicans, despite being disgraced and out of both favor and power, are winning the ideological war of words on this fight, and why the Democrats, despite huge majorities, a popular President and widespread disenchantment with the GOP way of doing things, are acting like they have to compromise and cave-in before the battle has even really been joined. If everyone more-or-less accepts the framing that this is big-government intrusion – which is always bad – then health care reform, (especially the public option, which, after all, is only single-payer’s poor cousin) has got a long, hard road ahead of it, if in fact it is still breathing at all.

But just step back for a moment – if you can – and look at it the way Mr. Roberts obviously did: dispassionately. Remember that he’s no flaming liberal. He’s a staunch Republican, who’s justifiably proud of his own contributions to history, and probably still thinks they’re just fine. But from his pro-business, anti-tax perspective, he understands (once he removes the veil of propaganda) that the single largest thing that’s killing American business’ competitiveness in the world market is the crushing burden that American businesses have to pay to secure health insurance for their workers. In addition to writing this article, Roberts has also had a hand in founding Republicans for Single Payer. Check it out. Seriously.

It doesn’t benefit anybody – literally – except the health insurance companies (and, I suppose, their shareholders). Businesses operate under this crushing “tax” (for though it’s not officially a tax from the government, make no mistake, anything which you HAVE to pay in order to stay in business (either literally or in essence – and health care certainly falls into that category) amounts to a tax, whether you pay it to Uncle Sam or to United Healthcare). If they don’t offer insurance, they are less competitive and less able to attract top talent. And consumers? With the cost of health care increasing annually at approximately four times the rate of income growth, they’ve been on the losing end of a bad proposition for years now. They can’t use that money to go to night school and get more education (and be more useful to the workforce), or to stay financially secure so that they can be more productive.

You’ve heard of win-win situations? This is a lose-lose situation for everyone…unless you’re a health insurance company (or drug manufacturer, etc.). And, in the end, it is America that is losing. Seems like Roberts can recognize that taking the burden and confusing labyrinth of forms and data away from every business in America would liberate that engine of growth – small and medium-sized businesses – in a way that little else would/could in America right now.

if Paul Roberts can understand and support this – all without sacrificing his Reaganomics principles – why can’t the rest of us? Single-payer isn’t in opposition to strong and successful business and industry growth. Indeed, it would be one of the bes things to happen to it in quite some time, as Mr. Roberts obviously realizes. Why can’t the rest of us?