NYTimes: American Taxes Too Low!

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A New York Times editorial this morning says America isn't collecting enough taxes. The editorial argues that this leaves America unable to compete against other industrialized nations. Where the government's of China, India, and European nations provide their citizens with health care, their companies, free of the cost of employee health care, are able to make competitive products at a lower cost than in the U.S.

It is a staggeringly sound argument. And this real world economic fact of life must be reckoned with. By raising taxes and providing basic and preventive health care, our government will make our American companies more competitive in the global marketplace. This reality, that foreign producing nations gain competitive advantage against American producers by offering government sponsored health care, strikes at the morality of Republican and Libertarian positions on health care.

The position of U.S. conservative economics is that individuals should provide their own private health care with whatever means at their disposal or, do without until it becomes life threatening and requires a public assistance visit to the Emergency Room. For 47 million, or 15% of current Americans, that means doing without health insurance and preventive health care, and waiting for their medical condition and suffering to become so severe as to warrant treatment on the public's tax dollar in the Emergency Room, at 4 to 10 times the cost. It is impossible to find any compassion in this kind of conservative policy.

The whole notion that health care should be allowed to "trickle down" to citizens if the nation's economy is booming, and citizens should just die or suffer when the economy suffers at the hands of government and private industry policy, puts foreign nations on a far higher moral rung than the U.S. In America our founding documents speak of "promoting the general welfare" of its citizens, but, conservatives find ever creative ways to circumvent that goal when it comes to citizen health care.

Sen. John McCain in last night's debate responded to the health care issue much as a Democrat or foreign nation's system would with one important Republican exception. He spoke of our having the highest quality health care in world. But, he failed to mention that the best care is available only to the wealthiest. He also neglected to mention that American hospitals kill 80,000 Americans each year through malpractice and mistreatment, in part, due to the haste required by medical personnel to treat the maximum number of patients as fast as possible, to produce the highest profit margins for the investors and corporate heads.

McCain also failed to mention that small but increasing numbers of western citizens are electing to go to India for major surgical and medical treatment due to the fact that their tourist medical industry provides top notch care at between 3 to 20 times lower cost than would be incurred in the U.S. McCain did acknowledge that the U.S. must bring the cost of health care down but he is short on details as to how to accomplish that little trick.

But, when McCain recommended removing the employer's tax (Medicare), he was saying what the NY Times article is saying, that companies should not bear the costs of health care. But, that is where McCain's ideas part company with what foreign nation's are doing. He recommends that the government give individuals and families tax credits of $2500 for individuals and $5000 for families. In so doing, he straddles the fence trying to get back over on the conservative side. In other words, he is saying take taxes from Americans with one hand, and give a portion back with the other, leaving citizens to come up with their own devices should their health care spending exceed the tax rebate. There is an illogical and non-sensical nature to this proposal. He is a Republican candidate, after all.

The rest of the Republican candidates are anchored in the typical Republican view that health care is essentially a private affair, if you can afford it. Romney says each state should devise their own system or none, but health care should not be a federal concern. While Republicans agree that corporations and companies should not foot the bill for health care, which would make them more internationally competitive, they don't address the humanity issue of 10's of millions of Americans having to do without.

For the past 20 years on average, health care costs have increased 2% more than real wage increases for the poor and middle class. Which accounts, in part, for why the number of uninsured Americans has been rising. Leaving Americans to suffer or die for lack of affordable preventive health care, is by foreign nation standards, unconscionable. Yet, this is precisely what Republicans advocate, not in campaign words of course, but, in the consequences of their policy proposals.

America does indeed, for purely economic reasons, need to relieve American companies of the burden of providing health care insurance, or face the perpetual loss of jobs and opportunities to overseas growing economies and companies. But, the answer is not to leave the American citizen to suffer maladies until they warrant a life threatening stage in the Emergency Room where, if they survive, the cost to the taxpayer will be 10's of times higher than had they been treated before the condition became an emergency.

The Republican view of health care, lacking compassion for suffering, points directly to the need for another kind of health care system. It points to a non-profit system, with the American people as the insurer. And yes, this would mean higher taxes in exchange for a more competitive economy.

Government not-for-profit underwriting (government sponsored basic health insurance), which eliminates the costs of profits to insurance companies and lowers overhead costs, would go a long way to reduce the inflation of health care costs in America. To catch up to the rest of the industrialized world, the single payer system could contract with non-profit medical delivery organizations, clinics, and hospitals first and foremost, provided they are quality delivery organizations, as another method of lowering overall health care costs for Americans. Which would provide incentives for even more non-profit medical treatment centers to be created.

And let's be clear, a single payer not-for-profit health care system, which offers only basic and preventive health care, does not preclude the private medical and insurance industries competing for the plethora of other elective, or more highly specialized medical services, which the wealthier citizenry may purchase. That market will remain, contrary to the scare tactic rhetoric by Republicans that quality care will disappear.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on October 22, 2007 8:09 AM.

Poll: Americans: Hopeful, but Very Critical was the previous entry in this blog.

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