An alternative to popular faith

On March 20, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial, “The ObamaCare Crosswords” said, “The Congressional Budget Office estimates ObamaCare will cost taxpayers $200 billion per year when fully implemented and grow annually at 8% . . . Soon the public will reach its taxing limit . . . medicine will be rationed by politics. . .

On March 22nd, the Chicago Tribune editorialized, “The health care reform legislation would raise, not lower, federal deficits by $562 billion . . .(there is time) to craft a more sensible compromise that extends health care coverage to more people without breaking the bank.”

Which bank? Do you mean the federal government, which has increased its debt in the past 30 years an astounding 1,400%, from $800 billion to $12 trillion, yet never has had, and never will have, any difficulty whatsoever in servicing its debt? Or do you mean the taxpayers, already suffering, but whom debt hawks will require to send additional money to a federal government that neither uses nor needs the money?

The Tribune’s solution: “Our choice would require insurers to take all comers but give them a big new customer base: American who now don’t have health coverage but who don’t need an overhaul this expensive in order to get it.” And who are these Americans? They fall into two main categories: Lower income people who can’t afford health insurance and people who have pre-existing health problems.

To assist the former would require insurers to lower rates, thus increasing premiums for everyone else. To cover the later would require insurers to accept greater risk and provide greater payouts, thus again increasing premiums for everyone else.

The strange belief that a federal government, which repeatedly demonstrates it has the unlimited ability to create money without inflation, suddenly would have difficulty servicing additional debt, has caused otherwise intelligent people to lose their ability to reason. Though our government continuously has proved it can service a debt of any size, taxpayers are limited in what they can service. So, why do respected media editors prefer tax increases to federal debt increases, especially when increasing federal debt stimulates the economy?

Contrary to media demagoguery and popular faith, taxpayers do not pay for federal spending. When the government spends, it merely reaches out and credits the bank accounts of its creditors. There is no limit to the government’s ability to activate these credits, which are not in any way affected by tax receipts. If all federal taxes were eliminated today, the federal government’s future ability to spend would not change by even one penny.

The confusion comes because the federal government is unlike you, me, companies and state, county and local governments. We all must obtain money to spend money, and we are limited in our ability to obtain money. By contrast, the federal government creates money out of thin air, with no limits. Taxpayers are not involved in the process.

Astute politicians are aware of the disconnect between taxes and spending, which is why Vice President Cheney, in an unguarded moment, famously said, “Deficits don’t matter.” But politicians, knowing the public believes taxes pay for spending, and not wanting to appear imprudent, go along with the myth.

We could have a health care program in which doctors, nurses and hospitals are well paid, pharmaceutical companies are incented to create new drugs, and all Americans receive optimum health care. Instead, wrong-headed budget concerns have taken precedence over human health concerns, leaving us with a crazy-quilt, inadequate health care bill.

The current plan is to take money from Medicare, from doctors, nurses and hospitals, from employers and from those who currently pay for health insurance. What a terrible, unnecessary human tragedy we have created, all because of ignorance about federal budgets.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell