Richard Epstein: "10 Reasons to Fear the Health-Care Bill"
On Sunday, the House of Representatives passed a major new health-care initiative that has been hailed by the president and its many other supporters as an achievement that is parallel in magnitude and importance to Social Security in 1935 and Medicare in 1965. In one sense this comparison is all too apt. Both Social Security and Medicare have been deeply flawed from the outset, and their position grows more perilous with each passing day. Both systems have relied on the optimistic view that the growth in the underlying economy could fund their lavish provisions. Both have been constantly forced to increase their taxation base to make good on the ever-expanding set of benefits that Congress introduces on a piecemeal basis.
Supporters ignore the negative effect of this full array of taxation on the ability of the U.S. to attract and retain mobile capital that will see better opportunities for investment outside the borders.
One would have thought that the serious risk of social collapse in these programs would have led lawmakers to think hard about patching up the systems already in place before embarking on the bold enterprise to take on yet another program whose reach is equal to, or greater than, those that are already in place. But no, that did not come to pass. Idealism beat realism. The realists will, however, have the last laugh once the administration seeks to implement its proposals.
Why am I so sure that the new wave will fail? Most of it comes from the childlike innocence of President Obama as he starts to tick off the many ways in which this current package leads to sunshine in America. To listen to him speak, major health-care reform depends on only a few key variables.