Barack Obama offers incremental reform: regulation of insurers to prevent discrimination against the less healthy, subsidies to help lower-income families buy insurance, and public insurance plans that compete with the private sector. His plan falls short of universal coverage, but it would sharply reduce the number of uninsured.
Mr. McCain, on the other hand, wants to blow up the current system, by eliminating the tax break for employer-provided insurance. And he doesn’t offer a workable alternative.
Without the tax break, many employers would drop their current health plans. Several recent nonpartisan studies estimate that under the McCain plan around 20 million Americans currently covered by their employers would lose their health insurance.
First McCain said he would elimine the entire tax deduction for health insurance, in order to pay for his new tax credit. This would have paid for itself, but it would have done so by raising taxes on a lot of people.
Then McCain decided he was keeping part of the deduction after all. While he would be raising taxes on a very few people, he’d be lowering them for most. Of course, that would also have meant running much bigger deficits.
Now McCain is saying, no, no, he’s not going to increase the deficit with his health care plan. Instead, he’s going to pay for it by cutting Medicare and Medicaid–which, at the levels he’s discussing, might seriously weaken the program.
I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
I’m with you, Jonathan. The McCain campaign’s lousy decisions just get stranger by the second.