Kevin Drum on the new details in John Edwards’s health plan:
First, do we really want the IRS enforcing healthcare mandates? That’s not what the IRS is for, and Americans are (rightly) suspicious of using the IRS as a quasi-police agency to enforce whatever federal law the current administration feels like using it for. This is probably not a constructive road to go down.
Second, a Rube Goldberg enforcement program like does nothing except highlight the absurdity of individual mandate healthcare plans in the first place. If you’re really this serious about getting every man, woman, and child in the country enrolled, why go through all this? Why not just do it like Medicare, where the funding mechanism is the existing tax system and everyone is enrolled automatically? It amounts to the same thing and it’s cheaper, easier, and less intrusive.
Third, this is a political loser. Do we really want to treat people who don’t sign up for healthcare like deadbeat dads and Chapter 11 refugees by garnishing their wages? Unless I’m way off base, this is just not going to go over well. Republicans will have a field day with it.
Yup, like I observed back in February. Politicians try to propose these public-private mashup plans because (1) incremental change feels like less of a risk, and (2) some genius advisor always convinces them that they can gimmick the incentive structure to avoid outraging every major interest group. It. Can’t. Happen. Adding another layer of bureaucracy without fixing the underlying mess will just increase the opportunities for sick people to die broke.
More than that, it’s hard to believe that the Edwards camp even let that first point out the door. The IRS as a healthcare enforcer? Whichever advisor proposed that gem should be beaten, fired and blackballed.
Look, Medicare works great. So does the VA. Presumably our country have a deep enough field that we can put together a panel of non-morons to figure out what works best with public systems around world and the ones that we already have, and recommend how to make them work here. Instead we get these weaselly plans that are less than useless because they either die in utero from not exciting anybody enough to beat the hysterical opposition, or they fail in execution and sour the country on Democratic health plans.
Grow some balls and propose single payer. The chamber of commerce, which is getting beaten to shit by the crappy private system, will stand behind it and insurers will go apeshit one way or the other. We might as well make it a fight worth winning.