Via Radio Vice Online and Newsbusters, a seminal moment in American politics from George Will. Will and Robert Reich debated health-care reform yesterday on ABC’s This Week, and Will punctured two of Reich’s arguments. First, he refuted the idea of windfall profits at health insurers, whose margins typically range from 2% -6%, depending on the year. (Computer manufacturers have 20% margins by comparison.) But Will scores an even bigger point when he reduces Reich’s retort to its basic premise — that Americans are just too stupid to act on their own:
ROBERT REICH, AMERICAN PROSPECT: The health insurers are not, George, you said they’re popular and everybody likes their health insurer. They like their doctor. They hate their health insurer. And health insurance is going up in terms of rates 20, 30, 40, 50 percent in many states. In fact, Goldman Sachs just this past week has said to its many of its investors, “Invest in some insurance companies because they don’t have competition, and they have, are exhibiting huge profits.” That is money directly out of the pockets of Americans.
GEORGE WILL, ABC: A, you say they have huge profits. As you know, confiscate all the profits of all the health insurance companies, with those profits you could finance our healthcare for 48 hours. What you do for the next 363 days I don’t know. Second, you say there’s not enough competition? Fine, let them compete in a national market across state lines.
REICH: Yes, let them compete across state lines, fine. But not a race to the bottom. Set minimum federal standards because we’ve seen over and over again that the recipients of health insurance don’t know what they are buying very often. Until there are common standards, minimal standards, then people are going to be taken. And that is what’s happened over and over again.
WILL: There you have the premise of this legislation and the core of today’s liberalism: the American people are such dopes they can’t be counted upon to buy their own insurance.
This ObamaCare exercise relies on the notion that people can’t choose for themselves, and Reich gives the game away in this exchange. In fact, that assumption about individuals undergirds the entire progressive Left agenda. Statism proposes that a small, select group of elites make all of our decisions for us, because we’re mostly incapable of acting in our own best interests or even recognizing what they are. Instead, power gets shifted to the federal government in order to put the smart folks in charge of our lives … the “smart folks” being those who decided we were not smart enough to run them ourselves in the first place.
Every state has insurance regulation, and not just in health care. As Will points out, that hasn’t kept insurers from competing across state lines in auto and home insurance, and the competition helps drive costs down and make insurers more responsive. The only reason this hasn’t happened in health insurance is because of Congress.
Unfortunately, our health-insurance policy is being set by a man so smart that he couldn’t figure out the difference between liability and collision insurance for his car just after graduating from Harvard Law School. Given that precedent, I’d rather bet on the American people being smart enough to know better than the elites who propose this power grab.