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Friday, August 12, 2016

The real Goldwater effect

Looks like Jay Cost at the Weekly Standard discovered Medicare on Thursday, tweeting, "Medicare is a massive transfer of wealth from the young and poor to the old and rich."

The history of Medicare and its sibling, Medicaid, trace back to the 1964 presidential election, the worst shellacking for a Republican candidate not running against FDR.

Neoconservatives love to talk about Barry Goldwater taking one for the team in 1964, and setting up Reagan in 1980, 16 years later.

It's revisionism.

While no doubt, Goldwater gave Reagan's political side national exposure, the fact is Reagan already was making his move, and the boost given was minor. Goldwater took 41 percent of the vote in California. Two years later, Reagan took 57% to knock off the incumbent, Pat Brown, who had beaten Nixon four years earlier. I don't think LBJ schlonging AuH2O helped Reagan.

But let us suspend reality for a moment to ask this:
If Reagan is the gain from Goldwater, what was the cost?
First, Lyndon Johnson got a mandate. Elections have consequences. His 22-point landslide gave him an enormous mandate. After the 1964 election, his party had control of the Senate 68-32 and a 295-140 edge in the House. That's right, there were twice as many Democrats elected in each house of Congress. Senate Republican Leader Everett Dirksen and House Minority Leader Jerry Ford had little influence. Whatever LBJ wanted, LBJ got.

But the origin of Medicare was bipartisan. Health insurance was out of reach for most retirees. The poverty rate for retirees was 35%. Today it is 10%.

However, this is a transfer of wealth exacerbated by the poor job prospects of the twenty-something grandchildren of today's retirees. Good luck fixing that.

But the real problem was Medicaid. This is a transfer of wealth from state budgets to the health industry. The biggest single factor driving medical prices is this program that offers health insurance with no premiums, no deductibles, and no co-payments to the most financial irresponsible of our citizens. I will grant you that many poor people are there through no fault of their own. But many have chosen lives of chaos and living for the moment. Medicaid hands them the keys to the state treasury -- and hospitals know this.

The set up is that the federal government puts up more than half the money, with the states putting up matching money. This looks like free money. Indeed, at one point for every dollar West Virginia put up, the federal government put up three. Good luck controlling your state budget with 15 percent of it off limits. The hospital lobby is very well-financed and powerful, as 15 percent of the state budget now goes to just this one medical program.

Medicaid gives the federal government great budgetary control over the states.

That is just one of the problems from abandoning Goldwater.

Johnson's Great Society unleashed a holy hell of federal programs upon the states.

Johnson also gave us the first weakening of immigration law in 1965, courtesy of Ted Kennedy.

Oh not everything ran smoothly for Johnson. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 would 50 years later prove to be a disaster for Democrats because in creating the Congressional Black Caucus, Democrats wound up with a core 25 percent of its voters placed in districts they won handily, leaving the rest thinly spread over districts Republicans win by just enough votes. Will the last white Democratic congressman from the South please turn out the lights?

But hey, despite all the damage done to the nation, Nelson Rockefeller and his brethren got to maintain control of the Republican Party.

Not really.

In 1968, Richard Nixon rose from the political graveyard to barely defeat LBJ's vice president for the White House. Four years later, Nixon became the first person to sweep 49 states. But Nelson Rockefeller did get a consolation prize of the vice presidency under Jerry Ford.

Of course, Ford dumped him in favor of Bob Dole in the election effort.

So yes, by all means, go ahead Never Trump and hope Hillary takes 50 states and DC (as Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal said) and in 2020 or 2032 or somewhere later, a Republican you like will win the nomination by promising to rein in universal health care.

Just like we reined in Medicaid.

And just like we will end Obamacare.

Strategic losing is just that -- losing.

I want to win. I will do all I can legally to stop HRC.


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  1. What have the Dems done to the nation in the past 8 years? What more can they do in the next four, and will if they win? Too. Damned. MUCH.

  2. "Elections have consequences." Those three words should scare the #NeverTrumpers out of their vindictiveness, unite and motivate the GOP, and give Trump the largest electoral landslide in history. We must not allow Hillary to be elected. - Elric

  3. Another legacy of LBJ's War on Poverty is the destruction of middle class Black families, but almost one one writes about that.

    1. The Demos didn't destroy the black middle class, but they put a ceiling on how high it would grow.

  4. Johnson gave us the civil rights Act of '64, the Great Society, the War on Poverty, the Vietnam War, and the betrayal of black America.

    That was another election where a lot of Whigs went for a Democrat. I don't think it will be anywhere near that bad (there's no Republicans for Hillary), but the "sacrifice" is all illusory.

  5. There is a need for Medicaid, but not to the extent it is used today. Today it is used to warehouse old people in nursing homes when they become inconvenient to their children. Many don't even have a visit from family. Life there is not good and most have a life expectancy of 2 years.

  6. The real reason we are where we are health care-wise is because it is a hyper-regulated monopoly. It became that when occupational licensing for health care workers commenced simultaneously with med school accreditation. You can look up the history of medical licensing on Google. This is all covered in chapter 9 of Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman. You will not get what you are paying for in health care until there is a real market in it, and that will not happen as long as it is the monopoly it is now. We can argue this 'till the cows come home. One thing you need to consider: Peggy Noonan called this election season a contest between the protected and the unprotected. Licensing has priced the common man out of health care to the point that extraordinary measures have to be taken to get it paid for. Some people are trapped in jobs much like serfs for fear of being without insurance. Licensing has not protected them. It protects doctors by allowing them to restrict and control their field of work like few other professions can. Physicians are said to be the best and brightest among us. Why should a bunch of talented and smart people need protection by a monopoly? The only answer is: because they can get away with it. And your money, too.

  7. Doing all you can legally may not be enough. Do what you can to stop illegals from voting as well.

  8. The same people who crammed RINOs like Maverick McRINO and Mittens Romneycare, down our throats saying that they just wanted to win in spite of the fact that they were Dimocrats lite, are the same people who are against Trump who actually has a chance to win if they would only pitch in and help. Buttheads!