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In a New York Times article titled, Health Reform Realities, Nobel Prize winning economist/columnist, (O.K., it wasn’t a real Nobel Prize) Paul Krugman tells us why there never will be a Medicare program in America.
“What?” you say. “There already is a Medicare program in America.”
Yes, that is reality, but reality does not seem to affect the opinions of this Hillary Clinton sycophant, as he does his very best to destroy all things Bernie Sanders.
Here are a few excerpts:
Health reform is the signature achievement of the Obama presidency. It was the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare was established in the 1960s.
Well, so he did remember that Medicare exists, though later you’ll see he forgets.
It more or less achieves a goal — access to health insurance for all Americans — that progressives have been trying to reach for three generations. And it is already producing dramatic results, with the percentage of uninsured Americans falling to record lows.
Obamacare is, however, what engineers would call a kludge: a somewhat awkward, clumsy device with lots of moving parts. This makes it more expensive than it should be, and will probably always cause a significant number of people to fall through the cracks.
He’s right about that. The Affordable Care Act, as we previously have said, is a classic Rube Goldberg machine, with many problems “fixed” by rubber bands and tape.
By contrast Medicare already exists, it’s relatively easy, and we know how to do it. And Medicare for All, would solve the problems Krugman mentions, and no one would “fall through the cracks.”
The question for progressives — a question that is now central to the Democratic primary — is whether these failings mean that they should re-litigate their own biggest political success in almost half a century, and try for something better.
My answer, as you might guess, is that they shouldn’t, that they should seek incremental change on health care (Bring back the public option!) and focus their main efforts on other issues — that is, that Bernie Sanders is wrong about this and Hillary Clinton is right.
In Krugmanland, Bernie always is wrong and Hillary always is right.
But the main point is that we should think clearly about why health reform looks the way it does.
If we could start from scratch, many, perhaps most, health economists would recommend single-payer, a Medicare-type program covering everyone.
He sort of, kind of, almost seems to acknowledge that Medicare for Everyone would be a good plan. But he covers his butt with the mealy-mouth words, “. . . many, perhaps most, health economists . . .”
That way, he himself doesn’t have to recommend it, because . . . well because it’s a Bernie Sanders plan. But he doesn’t want to admit his blind bias, so he invents other reasons why the plan is no good.
Leave on one side the virtual impossibility of achieving single-payer. Single-payer isn’t a politically feasible goal in America, for three big reasons that aren’t going away.
Er, uh, Paul, we already have single-payer in America. It’s called “Medicare.” The main problem: It begins at age 65 (corrupted to 67).
As for political feasibility, here’s a brief history: President Teddy Roosevelt’s platform included health insurance when he ran for president in 1912.
But the idea for a national health plan didn’t gain steam until it was pushed by U.S. President Harry S. Truman. On November 19, 1945, seven months into his presidency, Truman sent a message to Congress, calling for creation of a national health insurance fund, open to all Americans.
Although Truman fought to get a bill passed during his term, he was unsuccessful and it was another 20 years before Medicare would become a reality.
President John F. Kennedy made his own unsuccessful push for a national health care program for seniors.
But it wasn’t until 1965 – after legislation was signed by President Lyndon B Johnson – that Americans started receiving Medicare health coverage.
What does that little history tell you? It tells me that doing the right thing can take time and effort, and if you don’t give up, and don’t make excuses for initial failure, eventually you can succeed, and make America better.
Now, as you read Krugman’s next paragraphs, imagine you are Teddy Roosevelt, or Harry Truman, or Jack Kennedy, or Lyndon Johnson, and Paul Krugman is your political/economics advisor. What would you say to him, when he tells you . . . ?
“First, like it or not, incumbent players have a lot of power. Private insurers played a major part in killing health reform in the early 1990s, so this time around reformers went for a system that preserved their role and gave them plenty of new business.”
Would you say: “But Paul, despite those ‘incumbent players,’ who were around in all the years prior to 1965, and still are around, we do have Medicare today.
“Second, single-payer would require a lot of additional tax revenue — and we would be talking about taxes on the middle class, not just the wealthy.”
Would you say, “But Paul, you just mouthed the Big Lie, the easily rebutted statement that federal taxes fund federal spending. No Paul, they don’t, and you know it.”
“It’s true that higher taxes would be offset by a sharp reduction or even elimination of private insurance premiums, but it would be difficult to make that case to the broad public, especially given the chorus of misinformation you know would dominate the airwaves.”
You might say, “So Paul, not only are higher taxes unnecessary, but there actually would be a huge financial savings for America, via the elimination of private insurance premiums.
The only problem would be the ‘chorus of misinformation’ which you, yourself are supplying.”
“Finally, and I suspect most important, switching to single-payer would impose a lot of disruption on tens of millions of families who currently have good coverage through their employers.
You might say that they would end up just as well off, and it might well be true for most people — although not those with especially good policies.
But getting voters to believe that would be a very steep climb.”
You might say, “Paul, if by ‘disruption,’ you mean that people would receive free medical care rather than having to pay for much of it, I’d guess most people would opt for ‘disruption.’
‘As for “especially good policies,” what says that Medicare for All would not supply policies that are even better than those “especially good” private policies?
‘And Paul, getting voters to believe it wouldn’t be such a steep climb if columnists would disseminate lies about the program. I’m referring to you, Paul.
“Now Paul, do you have any other phony and cowardly reasons why our next President should not fight to achieve Medicare for All”?
“There are many items on the progressive agenda, ranging from an effective climate change policy, to making college affordable for all, to restoring some of the lost bargaining power of workers.
“Making progress on any of these items is going to be a hard slog, even if Democrats hold the White House and, less likely, retake the Senate.
“Indeed, room for maneuver will be limited even if a post-Trump Republican Party moves away from the scorched-earth opposition it offered President Obama.
“So progressives must set some priorities. And it’s really hard to see, given this picture, why it makes any sense to spend political capital on a quixotic attempt at a do-over, not of a political failure, but of health reform — their biggest victory in many years.”
Would you say, “Paul, it’s a good thing you weren’t around to advise President Lyndon Johnson, who during his term:
–Passed the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968
–Appointed the first black justice to the Supreme Court (Thurgood Marshall)
–Passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Higher Education Act
–Established the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts
–Created Head Start, food stamps, Work Study, Medicare, and Medicaid
–Continued NASA’s Apollo 8 program, with the first manned flight to the Moon
–Passed the Immigration Act of 1965
“Paul, would you have told President Johnson to’get some priorities’ and not to ‘spend political capital on quixotic attempts’?
“Well Paul, maybe you would have, if you were talking to Bernie Sanders and were more interested in lifting Hillary Clinton than in lifting America.”
Thankfully, Krugman and his ilk were not around to advise Lyndon Johnson, or if they were, Lyndon didn’t listen.
And that is exactly what you should do with Krugman: Don’t listen, and especially don’t listen to the Big Lie.
We have Medicare today. We could have Medicare for All, tomorrow.
We just need the right leader — and no Krugmans need apply.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Ten Steps to Prosperity:
1. Eliminate FICA (Click here)
2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D plus long term nursing care — for everyone (Click here)
3. Provide an Economic Bonus to every man, woman and child in America, and/or every state a per capita Economic Bonus. (Click here) Or institute a reverse income tax.
4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone. Click here
5. Salary for attending school (Click here)
6. Eliminate corporate taxes (Click here)
7. Increase the standard income tax deduction annually Click here
8. Tax the very rich (.1%) more, with higher, progressive tax rates on all forms of income. (Click here)
9. Federal ownership of all banks (Click here and here)
10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99% (Click here)
The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.
10 Steps to Economic Misery: (Click here:)
1. Maintain or increase the FICA tax..
2. Spread the myth Social Security, Medicare and the U.S. government are insolvent.
3. Cut federal employment in the military, post office, other federal agencies.
4. Broaden the income tax base so more lower income people will pay.
5. Cut financial assistance to the states.
6. Spread the myth federal taxes pay for federal spending.
7. Allow banks to trade for their own accounts; save them when their investments go sour.
8. Never prosecute any banker for criminal activity.
9. Nominate arch conservatives to the Supreme Court.
10. Reduce the federal deficit and debt
THE RECESSION CLOCK
Recessions begin an average of 2 years after the blue line first dips below zero. A common phenomenon is for the line briefly to dip below zero, then rise above zero, before falling dramatically below zero. There was a brief dip below zero in 2015, followed by another dip – the familiar pre-recession pattern.
Recessions are cured by a rising red line.
Vertical gray bars mark recessions.
As the federal deficit growth lines drop, we approach recession, which will be cured only when the growth lines rise. Increasing federal deficit growth (aka “stimulus”) is necessary for long-term economic growth.
•Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.
•Any monetarily NON-sovereign government — be it city, county, state or nation — that runs an ongoing trade deficit, eventually will run out of money.
•The more federal budgets are cut and taxes increased, the weaker an economy becomes..
•No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth.
•Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia.
•A growing economy requires a growing supply of money (GDP = Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports)
•Deficit spending grows the supply of money
•The limit to federal deficit spending is an inflation that cannot be cured with interest rate control.
•The limit to non-federal deficit spending is the ability to borrow.
•Liberals think the purpose of government is to protect the poor and powerless from the rich and powerful. Conservatives think the purpose of government is to protect the rich and powerful from the poor and powerless.
•The single most important problem in economics is the Gap between rich and the rest..
•Austerity is the government’s method for widening the Gap between rich and poor.
•Until the 99% understand the need for federal deficits, the upper 1% will rule.
•Everything in economics devolves to motive, and the motive is the Gap between the rich and the rest..