NY Times Columist Nicholas Kristoff writes today that we have a President who is more strategic: “Most presidents are tacticians, but President Obama is a strategist. His budget suggests that he aspires to be an echo of Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, harnessing his charisma, vision and political capital to transport America to a different place.
The absurd system of health coverage we now have is a historical accident from World War II. Because of wage controls, employers competed for workers by offering health insurance as a fringe benefit — and so we’re stuck today with a system in which the loss of a job is compounded by the loss of health insurance.
Titanic ambitions encounter titanic opposition, and opponents of health reform are already rehearsing the arguments that they successfully used in the past:
We have the best health care in the world, and you want to create a socialized bureaucracy? You want to wait months for a necessary operation, as in Canada? And you really want higher taxes to pay for this, stifling the economy and undermining our long-term competitiveness?
So let’s examine those arguments.:
It’s true that the existing system offers top-line medical care. Yet over all, it is preposterous to argue that we have the best medical care in the world….McKinsey Global Institute found that the United States spends about $650 billion more on health care each year than one would expect for a country at its income level. That’s $2,100 per American, and it’s one gauge of the waste of our existing system….Repairing the system is thus not only a moral imperative but also an economic one. So if our health system is broken, is it really so awful that we increase taxes for the wealthiest Americans to make repairs? In 1980, the top-earning 1 percent of Americans accounted for 8 percent of the total income pie; by 2006, they grabbed nearly 23 percent.?”
Right on Mr. K!