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Monday, March 11, 2019

Some Socialism Is Apparently Good

Ideas for sprawling new entitlements are popping up right and left. Literally. On the one hand,
Democrats have dominated discussions surrounding parental leave for decades. But Republicans are now poised to introduce a raft of new proposals in the coming weeks, reflecting the party’s effort to win back the suburban women it lost in the midterms. Lawmakers working on new legislation include Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri, Roll Call has confirmed. The bills are the first wave of what GOP pollsters, strategists and advocates of paid leave expect to be a surge of paid leave proposals from Republicans in the run-up to 2020.
Rep. Pramila Jayapa (D-Wash.) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) recently introduced the federal “Medicare for All Act of 2019,” along with 107 co-sponsors. The legislation would overhaul the current healthcare system and replace it with one that empowers the federal government to act as the only healthcare provider. The Jayapa-Dingell plan is even more aggressive than the one proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) during the 115th Congress. Under this proposal, all private and employer health insurance, and Medicare and Medicaid recipients would be funneled onto a federal insurance plan within two years. Private health insurance would no longer be an option.
Republicans are eager to express their opposition to this idea. Understandably so: the idea is losing steam among Democrats. President Trump voiced his opposition already back in October. In February this year, GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney explained:
“Let’s never forget the fundamental fraud that’s at the heart of socialism,” Cheney said while speaking at the California GOP convention Saturday. “Every time you see Kamala Harris’s campaign slogan ‘For the people,’ I want you to remember what her real agenda is — taking power from the people to give it to the government.” Cheney reminded the crowd of Harris’s call to eliminate the private health insurance market and instead create a government-run system, which would overhaul the entire American health care market. “[Harris] fully embraced the socialist wing of their party” the Wyoming congresswoman continued. “She wants Medicare for all to create an all-government health care plan. That would cost $32 trillion in just the first decade.”
I have been highly critical of Cheney's toothless efforts at fighting back against the Democrat socialist agenda. In January I asked if Cheney and the GOP can even save America from the socialist onslaught. In February I referred to her fight as clueless.

However, her ramped-up attack on the Democrat plan and their Medicare-for-all plan inspires a glimmer of hope. She might be coming around to size up the challenge. That is reassuring.

The problem is that while the Republicans put more spotlight on Medicare for All, that other boondoggle entitlement is making headway on Capitol Hill. It is disconcerting to see that deeper layers of the GOP seem to be ready to back it. In fact, President Trump himself inadvertently shed the spotlight on the ideological contradiction at hand, when in his State of the Union speech he lambasted Democrats for advancing socialism, only to endorse paid family leave a minute or two later.

Liz Cheney has been conspicuously silent on the paid-leave issue. If we set aside possible political tactics, the explanation can only be that she does not consider it to be socialism when government takes over the responsibility for the financial security of our families.

However, she seems to think it is socialism when government takes over the responsibility for our health care.

One can not be socialism if the other isn't. In both cases, government makes a promise to provide us with an entitlement; in both cases the promise leads to monopolization of the provision for a need:

* Medicaid for all, as currently proposed by Democrats, legally bans private funding and provision of health care;
* Paid family leave de facto crowds out private savings for the purposes of income security.

In its limited format as discussed in, e.g., last year's bill from Senator Rubio, tax-paid family leave does not crowd out private contingency or life-plan savings. However, once the program is created it will inevitably expand to a point where there is no reason anymore for families to save on their own. On its way to that size, the paid-leave program will also require higher taxes. In the case of the Rubio plan, that would be higher Social Security taxes.

Once families have to pay those taxes, they have no choice but to give up life-plan savings and trust government entirely. At that point, there is no real difference between socialized health care and socialized life-plan saving.

It is good to see that Republicans still oppose socialized health care. The question, of course, is why they oppose it - or, depending on how we want to slice the problem: why they propose paid family leave.

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