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Friday, November 30, 2007

This Time I agree with Krugman's criticism of Obama

Obama argues against mandating that people get health insurance. Krugman explains the logic of mandates

Krugman writes
under the Obama plan, as it now stands, healthy people could choose not to buy insurance — then sign up for it if they developed health problems later. Insurance companies couldn’t turn them away, because Mr. Obama’s plan, like those of his rivals, requires that insurers offer the same policy to everyone.

As a result, people who did the right thing and bought insurance when they were healthy would end up subsidizing those who didn’t sign up for insurance until or unless they needed medical care.

That was quick and clear (how does he do it?).

Mr. Obama claims that mandates won’t work, pointing out that many people don’t have car insurance despite state requirements that all drivers be insured. Um, is he saying that states shouldn’t require that drivers have insurance? If not, what’s his point?

Look, law enforcement is sometimes imperfect. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have laws.

Krugman refers to his earlier opposition to Obama's proposal to raise the FICA ceiling where he argued that increasing taxes paid by the richest 6% of earners is right wing (huh?). That was silly, this is not.

However, I also agree with Kevin Drum that actually explaining how a mandate would be enforced is a major political looser (especially if it is based on the IRS as Edwards' plan is).

I'm sure Krugman does too, preferring a plan which just gives people insurance and pays for it with taxes to an individual mandate, which will amount to a regressive tax even though the relatively poor will get a discount.

I have a plan. Raise taxes but introduce a deduction for people with health insurance so
1) middle class insured people will pay less
2) rich insured people will pay more
3) the uninsured get insurance which is expensive if they are rich or cheap if they are not.

I think increasing the progressivity of the tax code is an excellent policy for many many reasons and also the cure for progressives political problems.

A problem with this is that it makes the 1040EZ more complicated, and people have to demonstrate coverage which would be a hassle.

A worse problem is that Republicans will lie calling a tax increase for the rich combined with a tax cut for the non rich a tax increase. The worst problem is that that journalists will mostly aid the Republicans.

I wish I had an explanation other than the theory that pundits and top journalists are rich and willing to lie to protect their after tax income, but no one has told me of any.

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