One gets the sense that Congress’s trying to craft a healthcare bill is like trying to play the piano in mittens.
Why should it be so difficult? Because Congress is trying to command and control the actions and interactions of millions of people. That can’t be done — which means it’s not possible to agree on how it should be done.
And so the leftwing media and the Democrats blame President Trump, as always. What do they expect him to do, if his predecessor couldn’t even slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet? Don’t they know that market forces are even more powerful?
Have you ever seen Grand Central Station at rush hour? Thousands of people running for trains and rarely, if ever, crashing into each other.
Now picture Congress trying to legislate the paths of all those frantic people: Citizen 011-22-3333 should head 2 degrees left, at a speed of not more than 3 mph but not less than 3.34 mph, for 16.7 feet toward track 26; whereupon said party should vector right 4.85 degrees toward track 27 (to miss the oncoming commuter); but immediately pause for .8 seconds to allow small woman carrying baby barreling along to pass uninterrupted….
Only Congress and the Kremlin would think they could manage that from Central Headquarters by legislating today how all those people should catch their trains next week, next month, next year!
It can’t be done. And neither can all the actions and interactions of patients, doctors, hospitals, and a myriad other health professionals be prescribed years in advance and miles away by Washington legislators and bureaucrats. They are trying to legislate what only the market can produce. This can only end in tears.
In their saner moments, Republican legislators recognize this. Democrats, who are essentially socialists, cannot.
That is why it is so difficult for Congress to pass a health-care bill: Most Republicans want something entirely different from what most Democrats want. Democrats want socialized medicine, but socialized medicine — socialized anything — is a politically lascivious way of pleasing voters: Candidates can always promise to increase benefits — viz., food stamps or disability payments.
Many (but not all) Republicans, on the other hand, want a free-market health care system, or at least a freer market, with government intervention (i.e., government assistance — health stamps?) for people who can’t afford adequate health care.
Because there really is no common ground, Democrats will attack everything Republicans propose, as Republicans attacked Obama’s attempt to socialize the system.
In a freer-market health-care system, people who have the ability and the financial means to look after themselves (i.e., most Americans) would be allowed to do so. But that means the country needs a competitive marketplace where competition can work its magic, the same way it does in the market for houses, automobiles, food, or beer. People should be allowed to buy policies that cover only what they want, with whatever deductible amount they choose.
They should not be required, as they are now under Obamacare, to buy coverage they don’t want or for events that will never occur to them. Women don’t need insurance for prostate cancer. Men don’t need maternity coverage. Those kinds of requirements, imposed by Democrats, have nothing to do with insurance. They are really just hidden taxes: They force A to pay for something he will never use so that B’s insurance premium for that good can be lower.
But unlike the market for, say, beer, there’s a free-rider issue in health care: people who don’t buy insurance when they’re well but expect Cadillac care when they get sick. They’re a problem, and they will get some care. But if they are scheming shirkers, they should also pay a price for free riding — perhaps forfeiting their drivers’ licenses.
What’s the value of the health stamps poor people should receive? That also would be a hot political issue but more manageable because it can be designed so there’s really only one variable — the dollar amount to assist in buying insurance. This much is certain, however: A free-market system combined with health stamps would provide quality health care to those paying the freight and be cheaper and more efficient than the socialized system we’ve been suffering under since Obamacare was enacted.
But Democrats and Republicans will never be able to agree on these matters. And without an Econ 101 lecture from a stern Donald Trump — and the threat of expelling recalcitrant students — nothing good is likely to come from Congress.
And so… spring will turn to summer without a replacement for Obamacare, and summer to fall, and then we will be headed into a long, cold winter of discontent, and then congressmen really will put on their mittens.
And when they sit down to play, we won’t be able to tell the difference.
Email Daniel Oliver at Daniel.Oliver@TheCandidAmerican.com.