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Democrat Reps. Shays, Langevin come up with a *brand new* idea -- and it's as brilliant as it ever was!


Reps. Chris "Has Rafael Palmieri gotten his 300th hit yet?" Shays (Rumored to be "R"-CT) and Jim "I'm such a nobody that not even I've heard of me before" Langevin (D-RI) announced their new plan to solve America's health care problems last week. They're billing their new legislation, called the "American Health Benefits Program," as "the first bipartisan universal health care plan to originate in the U.S. House of Representatives."

Claiming that their plan (which won't be available to the public until later today or tomorrow at earliest) will "cure the health care system," Shays and Langevin want to play up "managed competition" and "shared responsibility" -- awesome, brand new ideas that mean "government control of the market" and "doctors need to take less and do more while taxpayers pay more for their countrymen's health care" -- to make health care "efficient and affordable."

Oh, and they would create yet another government bureaucracy, the Health Benefits Administration, to oversee this program, and to implement and enforce provider rate controls. But hey, don't let a couple simple little things like those turn you off; there's so much more to love about this plan!

For example, under this program, individuals who did not sign up for a plan would be automatically enrolled in one in their region. Further, its estimated $540 billion price tag (a low estimate, as *all* health care program estimates are) would be funded by "employer contributions" -- i.e., as always, a new payroll tax. Hit those nasty corporations where it hurts, and get health care for the people! Yeah!

Only it doesn't work that way, as anybody with the most basic concept of economics can tell you. Just because the federal (or state, or local) government snaps its fingers and implements a new tax on employers doesn't mean that that employer miraculously has more *money* with which to pay that tax. When it comes to payroll tax increases, workers' salaries don't rise in response to the levy, allowing employees to take home the same amount while the business they work for takes a larger financial hit from the new tax. Instead, that money comes straight out of the funds used to pay workers, causing one of two things to happen: (a) wages are cut to make up for the money lost to the new tax, or (b) jobs are cut to make up for the money lost to the new tax.

Capital is a finite resource in business, and countless tax increases eat into that finite total. This is something which those in government -- the one organization which, due to its power to legally take resources at the point of a gun, has the least finite resources of all -- seem chronically unable to understand. When more money has to be given to the government, that money is taken from a different area of a business's operation. In the case of an increased payroll tax, that money can only come directly from the cash set aside to pay workers' wages.

But this is madness! says Langevin, who uses as his rationale for cosponsoring this plan his belief that "We're the only industrialized country [in the world] that doesn't have a universal plan." Very astute, Mr. Congressman. We're also the most advanced, the most successful, with the best health care system, and a great deal of that comes from the fact that we have been blessed with the wisdom to avoid being just like the rest of the world on so many issues, including government-run health care.

In the end, I believe, this entire argument will be moot anyway. Nobody really cares about what two no-names like Shays and Langevin have to say about this issue. Further, this bill will never be subject to a floor vote, because there are myriad Reps with a lot more respect, pull, and seniority than these two who are already queued up to have their versions of socialized medicine heard and voted on.

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