I'm watching the state of the union address and trying not to grind my teeth.
I'm expecting that the most interesting part of the speech will be the health care proposal. Based on the advance info, it's a terrible proposal, but I think it's massively significant that Bush feels a need to have a health care proposal. 12 years after the crash and burn of the Clinton health care proposal, the demand for change seems to have outweighed the ghosts of Harry and Louise.
The one part of the Bush proposal that I agree with is that it doesn't make sense for employer-provided health insurance to be fully tax exempt, with no limit. It costs the government a huge amount of money, and mostly benefits the wealthy and middle-class. I'd be happy to limit it if the funds went to something that was actually going to expand coverage.
But it's nuts to think that everyone is going to buy health insurance on the individual market. It's way too expensive for low-income families (and a tax deduction doesn't help those who don't owe income taxes) and out of reach for anyone with a pre-existing condition. One of my friends who lives in Massachusetts says that the plans there are costing 2 -3 times more than estimated when the individual mandate law was passed. Health insurance has to involve risk pooling or it's just a way of smoothing out spending over time.
- Urban Institute analysis of the plan.
- Ezra Klein at TAPPED on the plan.
- Paul Krugman's column and further explanation. (You can find these copied out from the select wall at Economist's View which also has a roundup of other comments on the plan.)
Ok. I was wrong. The proposal to reduce gasoline usage by 20 percent in the next 10 years is more interesting than the health insurance. I have no idea how he thinks we're going to achieve this.