Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mini review: Beating Obamacare

Finished reading: Beating Obamacare: Your Handbook for Surviving the New Healthcare Law, by Betsy McCaughey. I think the book succeeds in concisely and clearly identifying substantial causes for concern about this legislation and what its impacts will be. I think it fails to live to up to its title and subtitle (the word "surviving," incidentally, is something I had to add, as it is on the book's cover but often not showing up online; did someone have second thoughts about the subtitle?). There is little practical advice as to what to do about the health care law, though in fairness that may be because there is little an individual or business can do. The thing is Big Government in action.

Among many disturbing aspects of the laws are: weakened privacy, including your specialists all being able to know about your psych treatment or whatever, and your household income now becoming transparent to employers; and arbitrary powers, such as the Secretary of HHS handing out waivers from legal requirements for politically connected unions and companies, and "Community Transformation Grants" to favored activists whose connection to health care is tenuous, such as anti-fracking groups.

You don't have to have overblown perceptions of "socialism" and "death panels" to be worried about Obamacare, and this book provides valuable insight into what really is wrong with this massive legislative sausage.


Ray Haupt said...

This article about Obamacare gives a good example as to why very large and disruptive legislative issues should be avoided where possible. Smaller bites of the apple could have achieved excellent results with far less bickering and economic turmoil.

The previous article about the Chinese engaging in a carbon tax proposition is equally instructive. They are starting out with a small tax that will over time become more significant. I am at a loss to understand why we cannot do something similar and why must it be even known as a carbon tax?

At this point in time the federal tax on a gallon of gasoline is 18.4 cents and for diesel fuel is 24.4 cents. This rate of taxation is far below world standards. If higher taxes are desired would it not make sense to phase in that extra tax at a slow rate, perhaps an extra penny every 3 months for a decade? Such a plan of action would be simple, easily implemented once Congressional debate has stopped, and would not be economically disruptive as would a large increase.

Gasoline prices vary every day so a one penny tax increase on a quarterly basis would barely be noticed by the typical consumer. Businesses would have time to plan or the very slight cost of doing business. The actual taxation mechanism would be very simple since there is a structure in place now to collect the federal fuel tax from the manufacturer or importer. There would be no complexity added for other distributors who are use to fluctuating prices anyway.

I have little hope that Congress or the President will ever embrace so simple a plan.

Kenneth Silber said...

Fully agree.