Cato’s Dan Mitchell returns to explain what should be obvious: the creation of the new ObamaCare entitlement will behave like every other entitlement that preceded it. In fact, that point is so obvious that it shouldn’t take the Center for Freedom and Prosperity to point it out. Medicare was supposed to be a limited government program that provided a safety net for seniors and the disabled, not a comprehensive insurance plan that crowded out private insurance from that market. With Medicare careening towards collapse, the notion of replacing it with an even larger and more intrusive entitlement should result in guffaws of laughter from everyone — but as Mitchell points out, the politicians aren’t laughing over the power this would give them:
Why did Medicare explode from a safety net to a nanny-state entitlement? Mitchell hits the nail on the head; the government involvement allowed politicians to use it to buy votes. They kept expanding it in order to pander to voters, telling them that it would either pay for itself, or that villainous insurers or innovators (such as pharmaceuticals) would pay their freight for them. In that sense, Medicare has been a rousing success for politicians.
But of course it isn’t free, any more than buying something with a credit card instead of cash is free. All it does is shift payment to the future, which is why Medicare threatens to swamp the US with massive amounts of spending over the next few decades. A rational reform would limit Medicare back to its original intent and create space for the private sector to compete to serve its enrollees. Instead, Beltway politicians want even more power to pander, and lobbyists won’t be far behind — because as the government grows larger, so do the spoils.