Patterico's Pontifications

3/21/2017

TrumpCare Still Sucks

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:30 am

Donald Trump heads to Capitol Hill today to push the passage of a health care bill he doesn’t understand: TrumpCare, which rejects the free market, tinkers around the edges of the problem, and assumes that government central planning is the answer. This bill continues to treat insurance as the primary way to get health care, substitutes lawmakers’ judgments for that of the market as to how to price policies, and sustains an unsustainable path of central planning.

Basically, the First Five Year Health Care Plan has been determined a failure, so Trump will give us a Second Five Year Health Care Plan. Let’s hope it doesn’t take thirteen Five Year Health Care Plans to figure out that central planning of the economy never works.

Economist Bob Murphy suggests an analogy to food, to illustrate how ObamaCare (the First Five Year Health Care Plan) rejects the free market to the detriment of health care consumers. Let’s say the nation decided to deal with the problem of the hungry by saying that everyone had to buy a food plan. If you couldn’t afford it (or might have to give up your iPhone to buy it) the government would subsidize it. The food plan provided that you could go in the store and get whatever you wanted. Pretty soon you’d have shortages of everything, as people ran in to stock up on stuff. The price of food would skyrocket and the “need” for government to subsidize food plans would seem more critical every year.

This seems absurd to us, because we have experienced a (mostly) free market in food. But what if this experiment with food plans had begun decades ago? What if virtually nobody alive remembered what it was like to have a free market in food? If someone like me came along and said: “Dude! I found your problem! It’s these food plans! You just need to have a free market in food!” I would be derided as an ivory-tower egghead. Food isn’t like other commodities! I’d be told. It’s not a luxury item. You need food to live. People aren’t going to give up their free food. And what? You want millions to starve?

And if some narcissistic blow-dried ignoramus came along and told us that the Magic Solution was to institute a New Five Year Food Plan, I’d keep telling everyone the same thing: “We have to have a free market in food. Free markets are the only way you’ll get the costs down. I know you don’t understand this because you’ve had food plans your whole life. But empty shelves and lining up for hours for cheese isn’t normal. There’s a better way!”

Well, there’s a better way for health care, too. In any area not covered by insurance (like LASIK), prices have come down and quality has gone up. Having a third-party payer system, which has arisen because of government distortions in the market, will keep prices high — and subsidies, whether you call them subsidies or “refundable tax credits,” will only make it worse.

Freedom. The market. These are the mechanisms that will drive down the cost of health care and make it affordable. Tinkering with different ways to redistribute the wealth won’t work. It never has and it never will.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

Ivanka Trump To Be President Trump’s “Eyes And Ears” From Office In The West Wing

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:51 am

[guest post by Dana]

Before you jump to defend this, tell me how you felt when President Clinton appointed Hillary Clinton to be in charge of overhauling the nation’s health-care system in the early 90’s? And consider how you think you would be feeling right about now, had Hillary Clinton had won the election and given Chelsea an office in the West Wing, along with a security clearance and government-issued communication devices?

So, now this:

The powerful first daughter has secured her own office on the West Wing’s second floor — a space next to senior adviser Dina Powell, who was recently promoted to a position on the National Security Council. She is also in the process of obtaining a security clearance and is set to receive government-issued communications devices this week.

In everything but name, Trump is settling in as what appears to be a full-time staffer in her father’s administration, with a broad and growing portfolio — except she is not being sworn in, will hold no official position and is not pocketing a salary, her attorney said.

Trump’s role, according to her attorney Jamie Gorelick, will be to serve as the president’s “eyes and ears” while providing broad-ranging advice, not just limited to women’s empowerment issues. “I will continue to offer my father my candid advice and counsel, as I have for my entire life,” Ivanka Trump said in a statement Monday. “While there is no modern precedent for an adult child of the president, I will voluntarily follow all of the ethics rules placed on government employees.”

“Having an adult child of the president who is actively engaged in the work of the administration is new ground,” Gorelick conceded in an interview on Monday. “Our view is that the conservative approach is for Ivanka to voluntarily comply with the rules that would apply if she were a government employee, even though she is not.” A spokeswoman for Ivanka Trump said her role was signed off on by the White House counsel’s office, and the conflict issues were “worked through” with the office of government ethics.

Addressing possible conflicts of interest, Gorelick cautioned:

“The one thing I would like to be clear on: we don’t believe it eliminates conflicts in every way. She has the conflicts that derive from the ownership of this brand. We’re trying to minimize those to the extent possible.”

Gorelick argued that the area is murky because outstanding contracts with third party vendors mean that Ivanka Trump cannot simply close her business — those vendors could continue using her brand. She also can’t sell the business, her attorney argued, because the buyer would have the right to license her name and potentially create other ethical issues.

Instead, Trump will be distancing herself, as much as possible, from the day-to-day operations of the Ivanka Trump brand and convey her interests to a trust.

The trust, Gorelick said, will be controlled by her brother-in-law, Josh Kushner, and her sister-in-law, Nicole Meyer, who will be prohibited from entering the brand into any agreements with foreign countries or agencies. Ivanka Trump has appointed Abigail Klem to serve as president of her company, overseeing the day-to-day operations, and prohibited the company from using her image to sell the brand. The first daughter, however, will retain veto power to kill any deals that would be “unacceptable from an ethics perspective.”

You might be thinking that the the obvious upside of this nepotism is that Ivanka Trump could be a steadying influence on her father, as she helps rein in his impulsive and excessive tendencies. That assumes that her influence would be good, and that the right side of the aisle is okay with nepotism just as long as it benefits our side. But clearly that’s not the only influence she would have on this president if she is also advising him in a non-official capacity from an official office in the West Wing.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana


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