Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Trump Chumps and Trump Champs The Rich Get Richer

James Comey got his just desserts for the wrong reasons yesterday.
That, as Forrest Gump would say, is all I have to say about that.

Well, almost all I have to say:  I have to say firing is more than that pathetic scum bag of an FBI director deserves; President Obama, bless his soul, should have fired Comey the first time Comey injected himself into the Presidential election with his remarks about how incompetent Hillary Clinton was.
Grackle got no boss. Comey, however, did.

But the American Health Care Act.  Really, this time the Republican talent for naming seemed to have failed them. It should have been The Great American Really Terrific Health Care and Tax Relief Act Which Is Way Better than Obamacare Act.

But I quibble.
Yeah, I know. I'm with you.

Warren Buffet noted that he paid--I don't know, 4 million dollars in income tax--and on line 62 of his return--Who knew there was a line 62? Who even reads his own return?--there was a charge of $40,000 for his share to pay for Obamacare. He was happy to pay it, he said.

But what that meant was the new All American Republican Act, which does away with line 62 is simply a tax break voted through by the Republican House of Representatives for themselves. Line 62 tells you the rich really were paying for the health insurance of the poor, just as Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz said and they don't want to pay for the poor, not one bit.

So here's something to consider:  I do not have the official government numbers on this, so I am relying on Professor Google, but far as I can see, there are about 500,000 physicians actually engaged in patient care as the greatest part of their job in this country of 300 million people. (This does not include nurse practitioners, radiology techs, other ancillary personnel engaged in the care of the American public.) But, just for starters, 500,000 doctors caring for patients.

There are somewhere on the order of 10 to 30 times that number (5 to 15 million) people who work in, or are substantially supported by the American health insurance industry. This includes the CEO of Aetna and the CEO of Blue Cross all the way down to the humble billing clerk in a doctor's office who does nothing but submit bills and keep track of payments, to the people you talk to on the phone about why the company refuses to pay for your hip replacement, to the actuaries who deny you coverage because you once visited an emergency room when you had an allergic reaction to penicillin so now you have a "pre-existing condition" which means they don't want to insure you, to the marketers who devise the ad campaigns, to the health insurance lobbyists.

I'm all for free markets, except when I'm not.

See the distinction: Health insurance is not health care.

If we had Medicare for all, all these people would lose their jobs. No longer necessary. Fifteen million people made obsolete.

A friend once rejected my argument we should legalize drugs the way they've done in the Netherlands and Portugal and treat drug addiction as a public health problem. "Oh, you can't do that," she said, "The entire economy of the inner city in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Detroit would collapse overnight. Lot of people make their living on drugs."
This is a variant of the old saw we said at the cancer hospital: More people make their livings off cancer than die from it.
Trouble is, the healthy rich people have to pay for the sick, poor people. Not fair!

And the same is true of our health insurance industry: Apart from the employment it provides, the jobs, the money, the sustenance to the economy, it is a worthless part of our national life. We only tolerate it because we are afraid of what would happen to all those people who pay for their homes and automobiles and restaurant meals with the money that comes in through the companies.
I love my Medicare.

So there you have democracy in action: We pride ourselves here in the USA on our courage to engage in capitalism, where the markets drive decisions ruthlessly and out of that the most efficiency is generated. But, in fact, in the health insurance and health care economies, we cling to a system of dreadful inefficiency which, if markets really prevailed, would collapse just as soon as Medicare for all got put into place and all the customers voted with their feet to flock to it.


  1. Actually, Buffett's line 62 (which reflects his ACA - aka Obamacare - tax was $680,000. He indicated he was glad to pay it - but Congress just voted to save him that tax - a 17% tax reduction for a multibillionaire. He suggested looking at how many members of Congress had incomes above $250,000 - and thus would be voting for their own tax savings - a bit self serving, especially since it came at the expense of less wealthy people's health care!

  2. Anon,
    Ah! I got the numbers wrong. I looked at line 62 and saw no mention of the ACA, but your points and his are the salient ones--this is a tax bill first and only marginally a health care bill.
    Mad Dog