I’m usually not one for watching the early versions of the presidential debates. At this point the field is far too crowded with also-rans and never-wases, not to mention an alarming number of recycled hopefuls.
It’s rather like the start of a marathon.
No one except true running junkies really pays attention until the last few miles when the pretenders have long since been weeded out.
But if the early debates on the Democratic side are any indication as to a common theme, we’re going to be inundated for the next 17 months with the candidates’ proposals and theories on how to pay for a national health care system.
While their viewpoints on other issues may vary slightly, it’s pretty much unanimous that all have the Bush tax cuts in their crosshairs. Eliminating them, of course, would free up the funding to implement a government-run health care system.
Take, for example, the plan put forth by the charismatic contender from the Land of Lincoln, Sen. Barack Obama. Obama may have attended Columbia and Harvard, but his grasp of economics appears more on the level of a GED.
He claims that his plan for a national health care system would carry a price tag in the neighborhood of $50 billion a year.
Now to me, at least, that doesn’t sound like all that much in order to ensure health coverage for everyone. (Now I’m not picking on Obama per se; I’m only using his plan for illustrative purposes). Yet his campaign insists that his plan would actually save $200 billion a year while simultaneously streamlining the system, making it more efficient.
I realize that Obama’s tenure as a senator is not all that long, but by now he should know that the terms “government” and “efficiency” are natural enemies.
Not long ago, I heard a story about a woman who had accidentally shattered a fluorescent light in her bedroom, releasing its poisonous contents on the carpet. After calling the home center where it was purchased for advice, she was told to call a poison control center. The center in turn referred her to a government agency, which subsequently transferred her to another bureau. When it was over, she had spoken to five different parties and the cleanup ended up costing her over $2,000.
If that’s the procedure for a cracked bulb cleanup, can you imagine the scenario for, say, open-heart surgery under a government health care system?
Yes, it’s an inarguable point that the current health care system is replete with cases of inefficiency and fraud.
But the only three Democratic candidates who will probably matter as we grind down to the 2008 election, Obama, John Edwards and Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, together harbor the absurd notion that a government controlled program will reduce costs and raise efficiencies.
To test that theory, I urge any of them to smash a fluorescent light on a rug and watch the fun begin.
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