Where I’m at: Chicago (t-minus 5 days)
What I’m doing: tax stuff, moving preparations
Why I’m posting: significance of today
Well, it’s an historic day today, like it or not. Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the Senate-passed health reform bill along wholly partisan lines. I’m not sure what to think of yet, despite this having been a hot-point of debate for many months. On the one hand, I like expanding Medicaid while reducing Medicare. I like 32 million more Americans potentially receiving health coverage. I like automatic coverage of children under age 26. I like offsetting the cost by raising capital gains taxes (which I separately support as part of my proposal for a new tax system, which I call the “Tax Well.”). On the other hand, I think the hundreds of billions of dollars in deficit reduction estimated by the CBO is a bit optimistic since the gains will come almost immediately and the expenses will come 4-10 years down the road (and the U.S. has a way of spending money rather than saving it). I hate all the abortion debate. And I generally am wary of increasing government size.
But it’s to that last point that I’m posting. Most folks may miss the fact that as part of the health reform bill, the House tacked on an education reform bill that provides billions in additional Pell grants, and generally reflects a move away from educational loan subsidies (to companies like Sallie Mae, whose “private sector” operations I loathe. Sorry, AIG, but private companies don’t accept government money). The goal is to save $61 billion (CBO estimate) by eliminating the middle man and giving education loans directly to students.
Some may (and have) derided the education bill as increased government involvement. But since the government started helping fund educational loans in 1965, we’ve seen a dearth in the number of highly-educated individuals needed to fill the jobs of tomorrow (now, the jobs of today) and the government has paid hundreds of billions in subsidies to get “private” creditors to give educational loans. Sallie Mae is perhaps one of the most corrupt private companies in American history, next to Enron, and we fed that with increasing subsidies.
So when people argue that the health bill will lead to greater government intervention, I can’t help but think…”well, good.” The middle man here might be employers, or insurance companies, or any number of “private” companies whose independent, non-governmental bona fides are largely ceremonial, if not outright lies. In short, if the government wants to get more DIRECTLY involved in something it was already inextricably involved in, that probably benefits all of us in cost-savings by eliminating waste. I could be wrong, but I thought that waste was what government minimalists hated all along.
Hey, if we can buy “factory-direct” mattresses, let’s start eliminating lots of middlemen. Comments, as always, are appreciated.