AIP column: Declaration of Dependence

What does the more moderate health-care overhaul plan from the Democrats say about their view of the nation and the American character?   My new AIP column looks at the implications of the Baucus plan, released this week, and its structure of federal subsidies.  The bill promises to turn the US into a real welfare state:

However, two aspects of Baucus’ proposal are shocking departures from the traditional American relationship with its government. First, the Baucus plan imposes a mandate for all Americans to buy insurance. No authority in the Constitution gives Congress this power; it would be akin to having Congress mandate that all adults buy a cell phone. In fact, the Constitution only allows Congress authority over interstate commerce, a clause routinely abused but never before used to argue for a mandate on individuals to buy anything – especially not health insurance, which Congress has forbidden to be sold across state lines in the first place.

The second departure is more subtle and insidious. Baucus has proposed that the federal government supply subsidies to needy individuals and families for the purchase of the now-mandated insurance. However, the definition of needy defies both math and common sense. The Baucus plan proposes those subsidies be available to households at up to 300% of the poverty level of income – or about $66,000 per year income.

If that sounds like a pretty good annual household income, you’d be right. In fact, the 2007 median household income in the US was $50,233. Roughly half of all households in America are above this income level, and half below it. It is a solidly middle-class income by definition.

How many people make $66,000 per year or less, and therefore would be eligible for federal health-insurance subsidies? According to the Census Bureau’s 2007 survey, 72.1 million of the nation’s 116.8 million households earned $65,000 or less. The Baucus plan would make 61.7% of American households dependent on government assistance, far more than half and well on the way to two-thirds.

And that’s an improvement over the House plan, which sets the limit at 400% of the poverty level. That plan would put 87.3 million households into a government welfare plan to pay for the health insurance Congress mandates. That would come close to three quarters of all Americans receiving government assistance.

Most Americans would support some sort of public role in supporting the poor, but this goes far beyond that impulse.  No one in their right mind would call a family earning $66,000 per year “poor,” especially not in today’s economy.  The Democratic vision for America and Americans is a vast dependent class, not independent individuals, and class warfare rather than equal opportunity.

This data should be shouted from the rooftops. Do we really want to make America a country where 62% of the people are dependent on the federal dole?  Is that the Democratic idea of prosperity?

I want to thank the folks at AIP for a quick turnaround on this column, which I submitted shockingly late for publication.  Don’t forget to read the other fine writers at AIP, too.  John Hanlon notes that Obama’s speech last night worked well — back in March, when he first gave it.  Karen Untereker has a new reading list for conservatives.  Rick Moran warns that the FHA needs a bailout, and that we’re continuing to ignore the lessons of the collapse.