July 23, 2024

Taxing Cadillac Health Plans un-American

MIT professor Jonathan Gruber says that a plan to tax so-called “Cadillac” health care plans isn’t a tax at all. But what else could it be given Gruber’s own analysis of the Senate plan:

It would reduce the incentives for employers to provide excessively generous insurance, leading to more cost-conscious use of health care and, ultimately, lower spending. In other words, it "bends the curve." It would also be progressive, in that it would take from those with the most generous insurance to finance the expansion of coverage to those without insurance.

Admittedly I’m a mere public school simpleton, so there may be linguistic and economic nuances of which I’m incredibly ignorant. But where I’m from, if the government is going to “take from” one person and “finance the expansion of X” to another, that’s a tax. Dr. Gruber can pussyfoot around the wording until Judgment Day, but a tax is a tax is a tax. This all-to-common tendency on the part of liberals ne progressives to obfuscate rather than clarify is one of their more aggravating habits.

Call it what you will, the Senate plan Gruber endorses is un-American. Our Founding Fathers came to this country in order to live life on their own terms instead of kneeling to the government authority of their day. The notion that each man worked to provide for himself and his family and expected no assistance from outside that family is an integral part of the American story and perhaps THE essential element of our nation’s success.

(This is not to say that settlers didn’t work cooperatively and give charitably but rather that such group interactions were performed voluntarily and out of self-interest and so were in harmony with the idea of individualism.)

It is entirely noble of Democratic politicians to seek to provide medical care to the poor. Yet it is ignoble in the extreme to use the power of government to force charity from their unwilling fellow citizens.

Consider a land owner with a single apple tree on his property. He plants the seed one spring day in the hope that some years hence it will bear fruit. In the intervening years the man nurtures the plan, bringing it water from his well in drought and fertilizer in the proper amount from his stables, covering it against the cold and picking worms from among its leaves when they come. A decade passes and the man receives the first yield from the tree: 100 perfect Golden Delicious apples.

What claim does the government have on 40 of these apples? By what right does it deprive the man and his family of the fruit of his labor?

Of what concern is it to the government that the man’s neighbor to the left failed to plant a seed at all for fear of having to work to cultivate his own tree? Why should the government consider the neighbor on the right who planted a seed from the self-same core as the hard-working individual but through neglect or incompetence or drunkenness failed to raise a producing tree?

I am not immune from envy, though I try to steel myself against its soul-corroding effects. A health care plan costing $25,000/year would be a significant improvement for my family over our current coverage. But it is not my right to demand that a man in a more prestigious position or with greater wealth give me his plan so that we might be equal.

Such a demand flies directly in the face of every principle on which this country was founded. Moreover, a government that would enforce such a demand using its confiscatory and police powers is not one that bases its actions on the authority granted it by the Constitution.

Wisdom might indicate to such a man that his cup overfloweth and that Christian charity is called for. But if such mercy is not in the man’s heart, it is neither for Congress nor the president to force him to yield. This is, above all else, the singular principle that lies at the heart of what it means to be American. Destroy it and you destroy America.


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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