The economic news has been contradictory in the last few weeks. The bad news started the cycle with real gross domestic product decreasing at an annual rate of 2.9 percent. Good news followed with solid job growth and the lowest unemployment in five years, 6.1 percent.
Regardless of whether the economic news is good or bad overall, many people think the economy is stuck in low gear. While people at the upper end of economic ladder have seen their incomes substantially increase, those in the lower- and middle-class have seen their incomes stagnate for the last several decades.
If we want robust economic growth for both the short- and long-term, then a bold plan is needed that combines stimulus with investment in physical and human capital. The right plan would lift everybody, especially those people who have not seen economic benefit for decades.
The country anxiously awaits leadership that will provide such a plan. Neither party has produced this.
In my previous blog entry, I quoted Michael Scherer, the Washington Bureau Chief for Time Magazine. He said, “Health care, especially in this country, is an enormously expensive laborious undertaking, and… no one’s figured out how to do it economically and efficiently.” As I also said in my previous blog entry, this is just as true as the “earth is flat” or “the sky is red.”
In response to Scherer’s statement, one expert, Neil Buchanan, had this comment, “Yeesh. ‘No one’ has figured out how to do this, as long as you exclude every advanced nation on the planet other than the U.S.”
Buchanan is an economist and lawyer. Tax policy, budgeting, deficits, debt, Social Security, and health care reform are included in his areas of expertise, and he supports a single-payer system.
It is time to set the record straight and realize that we can have economic and efficient health care with a single-payer system, and to realize we do not need to live in a world where the earth is flat or the sky is red.
Which statement is true?
- The earth is flat.
- The sky is red.
- “Health care, especially in this country, is an enormously expensive laborious undertaking, and… no one’s figured out how to do it economically and efficiently.” – Michael Scherer, Washington Bureau Chief, Time Magazine on “Now with Alex Wagner” on May 22, 2014 (at about 5:45 minutes into the video).
- None of the above.
The correct answer is: “None of the above.” The earth is nearly spherical; the sky is blue, and there are at least 19,000 people who know how to make health care efficient and economical in this country. It can be done with a single-payer system, and legislation has been proposed that would implement single-payer, H.R. 676.
It is downright frightening that a Washington bureau chief would make such an egregious error.
President Obama has been almost giddy, with good reason, about the success of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. After a rocky start, the president celebrated the numbers: more than 11 million people now have insurance because of the Health Insurance Marketplace, his expansion of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Supporters of Obamacare should be cautious, however, because the ACA is doomed to fail, though it will succeed at the same time. To understand why, it is necessary to review the health care mess we had before the ACA, why the ACA will not solve this mess, and what can be done to make health care truly available and affordable to everybody.
Before the ACA, we had a deny-care system instead of a health care system. The health insurance companies were virtually unregulated and used their independence to enroll people who were unlikely to need medical care, to refuse payment of claims, or to drop coverage, often on minor technicalities, and to move individuals to policies with high deductibles and co-pays to reduce their payouts. The insurance companies’ goal was to avoid paying claims by denying care.
Yesterday (4/22/2014), in the case on affirmative action, Schuette v. Coalition, the Supreme Court rule that voters could outlaw the use of race in college admissions. Michigan passed a voter-approved change to its constitution that banned the use of race in college admissions.
According to the SCOTUS blog writeup about the decision (emphasis mine):
Those two Justices [Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas], however, would have gone considerably further, and declared that no policy that takes race into account can be upheld if it is not a direct remedy for intentional racial discrimination — in other words, they would allow race-conscious programs of dealing with policies that have a more negative effect on minorities, even if that is not intended.