Vermont. Or, 'Why #Obamacare will not lead to single-payer.'

Megan McArdle finished up her article on Vermont’s single-payer woes by pretty much saying that, but I already knew it anyway. The basic problem? It’s going to cost at least $1.6 billion a year (or about 59% of Vermont’s current annual budget)… and there’s no way to pay for it except via massive tax hikes.  Megan notes that Vermont’s taxes aren’t actually high at all right now, and that implementing single-payer would immediately skyrocket that state’s rate to the highest in the country. And then she got puckish:


Now, you can argue that people should be glad to make this trade-off, not just for peace of mind, but because they will trade higher taxes for lower (no) insurance premiums. You can also argue that poor people in America should be laughing and dancing and singing all day because every one of them is economically better off than starving farmers in drought-ridden regions of Africa. Neither argument will do you much good, however, because that’s not how people think.

Contra what will be the inevitable progressive counter-argument, Vermonters did not actually vote for higher taxes.  Instead, they voted for single-payer (via the legislature), and even partisan Democrat outlets like Vox have noticed that voters in that state have very little interest in paying for the necessary increases out of their own pocket. Then again, voters were largely not told ahead of time that they would have to make those payments.  Judging from the way that single-payer advocates are dancing around the funding issue, there’s a reason for that: the resulting screaming might have actually reduced the Democratic majority in the Vermont state legislature.

Can’t have that.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

Addendum (it’s a bit more than a PS): Megan McArdle, like myself, has long been frankly dismissive of the argument that the unmitigated disaster that has been Obamacare since its misbegotten birth was planned all along by the n-dimensional geniuses on the Left. Why?  Well, her primary argument is that single-payer cuts across the existing healthcare market…


What made single payer impossible is the fact that tens of millions of voters have employer-sponsored insurance that they basically like, and they would freak out if you told them it was being replaced by a government-run national health-care program. Progressives could spend all the time they wanted talking about how awesome things are in Canada, but it wouldn’t have altered the fundamental political calculus. People are loss-averse; they worry more about losing what they have than they do about some unproven potential gain.

…and that wrecking those markets is not going to make people magically decide to embrace the political party that destroyed private health care in this country. Which is true; but my primary argument is that the Left is simply not collectively skilled enough to create a conspiracy of this size in the first place.

This is a statement that will generate profound disagreement on the Right.  In my opinion, mind you, it will do so because calling our political opponents idiots – an assessment which is compatible with any dispassionate analysis of the passage and rollout of Obamacare – implies that the Right lost to idiots in 2006, 2008, and (sorta) in 2012. People on the Right will instinctively recoil from that implication; and I understand the impulse.  Losing to fools is one of the least pleasant activities known to man. It’s better, in some ways, to say We are fighting an enemy that never makes mistakes, always has the drop on us, and who cannot hope to be defeated without us operating at 110% (because we always operate at 100%).  Then losing isn’t your side’s fault.


The reality, however?  This administration can’t even boot an incompetent Health and Human Services secretary out the door without checking to see if said incompetent has all the pages to her otherwise utterly-forgettable resignation speech. Machiavelli, they are not.


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