Anson Burlingame: Moving forward on health care | Columns

Democrats want health care on the federal government tab and will never raise the taxes needed to actually pay for state-of-the-art health care for all.

Just look at Medicare today costing the federal government some $600 billion per year (only for 50 million Americans) but only direct revenues raised in taxation coming in around $300 billion a year or so. Democrats will never raise taxes high enough to pay for major social programs and keep raising such taxes each year as “automatic” benefits kick in without a vote from anyone. If it costs $600 billion for 50 million people, how much will it cost for 320 million Americans, and what level of direct taxation is needed to achieve that worthy goal of health care for all but not the high taxes?

But the GOP is just as bad coming from the opposite end of solutions. They will scale back federal benefits and let market forces prevail. They won’t acknowledge that such tricks cause death, suffering, grave financial hardships, etc. They also ignore the simple fact that the majority of Americans now think health care is a right. Agree or disagree, that is what the country wants, and it is hard to resist in a democracy.

The now infamous Affordable Care Act quickly became very unpopular because it used government power to force people to buy something. There goes an important piece of freedom for sure. But it has become anything but “affordable” as well. No blue collar worker can afford $3,000 per year premiums and a $5,000 per year deductible.

Clearly something must be done, and bipartisan debate is the only way to get there. So thank you, Sen. John McCain, for forcing such a path down the throats of both parties. I don’t believe that was particularly courageous, but it sure was the next right thing to do. The last thing we need is another single-party health care program.

Remember as well, Democrats, your own Bernie Sanders recently stated “No one knows the cost” when asked how much federal money would be needed to implement his very liberal health care for all legislation. He was honest for sure. That also gives him an out as if no one knows the cost then no one can demand a tax increase to pay for his utopian dreams. But know them or not, huge additional costs to our federal government are sure to come in just like the tide.

Here you go, Americans. Demand health care for all, and politicians will give it to you. But learn to put up with much higher taxes to go along with it if politicians have any sense. As health care costs continue to rise, expect annual, automatic tax increases — again if politicians have any sense. Then vote in those who will lower taxes and try again for something less than health care for all or at least state-of-the-art health care for all.

While the ensuing debate takes place, I hope politicians can realize that only limited health care for all is possible, financially, even in the richest country in the world. Start with paying for preventive care (only) for all along with hospice care for all, not a nickel for personal expense to die with dignity and pain free. Then add in all the treatments possible as well until the taxes on all Americans go so high that the country will have reached that limit of high taxes as determined by the majority.

Remember, if you only increase taxes on some of the people, the others will call for more and more health care. To make this approach doable, all Americans must feel the pain of very high taxes and very limited or nonexistent economic growth, neither of which are part of the American Dream.


Anson Burlingame lives in Joplin.


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