Now they tell us: NYT says Health Care Bill "attacks wealth inequality" to end "age of Reagan" 

If you thought the health care bill was just about, well, health care, guess again! It's about income redistribution as much as anything:

For all the political and economic uncertainties about health reform, at least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago.

Over most of that period, government policy and market forces have been moving in the same direction, both increasing inequality. The pretax incomes of the wealthy have soared since the late 1970s, while their tax rates have fallen more than rates for the middle class and poor.

Nearly every major aspect of the health bill pushes in the other direction. This fact helps explain why Mr. Obama was willing to spend so much political capital on the issue, even though it did not appear to be his top priority as a presidential candidate. Beyond the health reform’s effect on the medical system, it is the centerpiece of his deliberate effort to end what historians have called the age of Reagan.

Obviously, there's quite a bit of cant in how the Times' economic reporter is framing the tax and inequality issue. I would bother pointing out the counterarguments, but I think the New York Times' liberalism on such matters is widely accepted. (Cafe Hayek takes apart the claims on inequailty here.) But the broad point that the health care bill is really about income redistribution is revealing in and of itself.

Also, there's this admission from the Times:

By 2019, 95 percent of people are projected to be covered, up from 85 percent today (and about 90 percent in the late 1970s). Even affluent families ineligible for subsidies will benefit if they lose their insurance, by being able to buy a plan that can no longer charge more for pre-existing conditions. In effect, healthy families will be picking up most of the bill — and their insurance will be somewhat more expensive than it otherwise would have been.

So the bill, which we've just been told really about income redistribution, will subsidize the affluent and make insurance more expensive if you're healthy. One, why is subsidizing health costs for people who have the money a good thing? And two, making insurance more expensive for everyone who is healthy certainly redistributes income, but it is a very different thing than the supposedly noble goal of taxing the rich to give to the poor.

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Mark Hemingway

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