With last week’s passing of conservative icon William F. Buckley, I recalled an incident in the late 1990s when he was tapped to be one of the keynote speakers at a conference that my employer at the time was staging.
It was my job to introduce him, an honor since I had been a fan of his for many years, and I vividly recall being more than a little intimidated, conjuring up images of being delicately carved up by Mr. Buckley’s rapier wit or clueless as to the meaning of his endless cache of $10 words.
In person, he was slighter and craggier than I’d envisioned, but the trademark grin and mischievous eyebrows were in full motion.
He motioned me over and said something to the effect that he had “a question that demanded a rather immediate response.” With my heart pounding, he then inched closer and, in his affected tone, politely asked for directions to the men’s room.
I never cease to be amazed how often an event never quite matches its collective anticipation. In fact, often it’s quasi-disappointing up close.
Sort of like the promise of national healthcare.
Aside from national defense and Tax Code reformation, no issue has been passed around like a Christmas fruitcake more than providing every American with health coverage.
Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have promised to do just that, or at least attempt it, and predictably, both do little to conceal their romance for big government and specifically, big government programs.
And like most government-run programs, it’s the numbers that will probably bring the disappointment — or anger.
Each has proposed to let those uninsured join the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, a blanket policy that covers the roughly 8 million federal employees and retirees and, of course, their dependents.
The most prominent plan under that program is offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, according to those who spend far more hours than I dissecting campaign issues, particularly when it appears that it will slam taxpayers — hard.
That plan runs about $1,000 a month for families, with said families paying $300 of that out of pocket and the rest subsidized by taxpayers. For individuals the cost is about $450 a month.
OK. According to taxpayer advocate groups if you take the 47 million of those who are purportedly uninsured (personally, I have more than a few problems with that number, but that’s fodder for a future column) and try to estimate how many are families and individuals in that demographic, you could conceivably end up with a cost that approaches $150 billion on an annual basis. But remember, that’s also predicated on the 70 percent taxpayer subsidy, which very likely could be raised for those in lower-income brackets.
You also have to consider that those currently paying for health coverage would be understandably miffed if they had to subsidize someone else’s health coverage. That would more than likely serve as an inducement to join the government program. After all, why pay when you can ride on someone else’s dime?
Upon further review I doubt you would need William F. Buckley to offer up one of his classic words to describe this proposal. Most of you will do fine on your own.
Just make sure there are no children around.
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