Taxation: Not Exactly a New Idea

Taxation: Not Exactly a New Idea

The health care debate is over, but Republicans are still peddling their lies. It is hard to find the energy or will to refute all of them. Still, one of their talking points appears in the media with such regularity that it ought to be addressed.

It is: Never in the history of the Republic have Americans been required to purchase a product (to wit, health care insurance).

They could try saying that forcing taxpayers to subsidize corporations is illegal. But once you put it that way, it becomes obvious that while it should be illegal, it’s actually anything but.

In fact, the US government has been funneling money from me to large corporations for my entire taxpaying life. Do the names Halliburton, Boeing, Raytheon or Blackwater ring a bell? I can’t imagine why in some people’s minds being mandated to buy health care is somehow worse than being forced to buy the products and the services of military contractors. If I have to buy health care insurance at least I get … health care. On the other hand, when my money is spent against my will on a war I don’t support, the result is hundreds of thousands dead Iraqis. I admit that I do find one of these uses of my hard-earned dollars a tad more objectionable than the other. Why is it that Republicans and Tea Partiers seem to think that only they are entitled to feel angry about how the government spends money?

The US government has created a kind of shadow government with its use of contractors. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was passed in 1966 as a way of holding the federal bureaucracy accountable to the people. The contractors hired by the government, however, allow our executive branch to circumvent FOIA. Contractors, unlike bureaucrats, are not accountable to the taxpayers bankrolling them.

Anyway, I have no desire to defend Cigna or Aetna or Humana. They stink. But they haven’t gone on a murderous rampage on my dime. Nor have I been paying their employees to rape the women in their midst. To their credit, they have, on occasion. been known to pay my medical expenses.

What this week’s “health care reform” does is set up yet another tax – it is no more (or less) objectionable than that. If the subsidies that are part of the bill turn out to be insufficient, this tax may turn out to be a very regressive one, and that is troubling. But the answer to the problem of regressive taxation in the guise of insurance mandates is single-payer insurance; will the people who claim that mandates mean the “end of freedom” please do the honest thing and start advocating for that?