Now that the Trump administration has won a procedural victory on healthcare, they should pocket the small win and pivot to the vastly more important tax reform without delay. The subsequent failure of the larger repeal bill with the seemingly sensible Cruz amendment should be an indication it’s time to move on.
But is tax reform really vastly more important than healthcare? Didn’t our grandmothers tell us that our health is the most important thing in life?
Sure, but tax reform — by jump-starting the economy — will actually do much more for the health of the populace than any possible healthcare legislation, which would be a kludge anyway, even if better than Obamacare, which is the kludge of kludges, no one (including Obama himself, who lied about it incessantly) knowing what’s in it to this day. With tax reform people will have more money to pay for everything — including their health.
And, no, that’s not simplistic. It’s reality. No healthcare plan works. There will always be a shortage of the commodity no matter how it’s structured and who’s paying for it. I have written that many times and the only real dispute I get is from hardcore, reified liberals and progressives who have “nostalgia for single-payer.” Few of them, it turns out, have actually lived under it, much less have had to queue up for an emergency treatment for, say, pancreatic cancer.
Unlike the insoluble healthcare reform, many forms of tax reform work or at least suffice. Just lower taxes, especially the absurdly high corporate taxes that keep billions in American corporate cash locked in foreign banks, add some incentives to bring it back, and watch our economy zoom. Among other things, employers will start giving more generous health plans — you can depend on it — with lower deductibles. They’ll be competing for employees.
Meanwhile, Republicans and those Democrats who will abandon their party’s conventional neo-Stalinist approach and actually work with the other side (assuming such an animal exists) can knock themselves out finding the final solution to healthcare. Let a hundred committees bloom. They should take as long as they wish. They have nothing to worry about. The day-to-day medical care of Americans will struggle along as it always has. People will go the doctor. Emergency rooms will treat the poor. (The actual death of Bessie Smith occurred in 1937. That’s eighty years ago now.) It’s worth noting that America has had a closet version of socialized medicine virtually forever on levels that may be greater even than Europe’s. Who do you think pays for those emergency room visits by the indigent, Mr. and Ms. Taxpayer?
According to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, speaking on Dennis Prager’s radio show today, the common assertion that healthcare reform must be passed before tax reform is a canard. Ross also stated that tax reform would be difficult, but he certainly sounded more optimistic about it than he did about the black hole of healthcare reform. I’d like to take his word for it, but after looking at the rogues gallery of Republican senators who voted no Tuesday, including, as always, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins — who seem like refugees from some Politburo, ready to say “nyet” to anything and everything — a bit of skepticism is called for.
Nevertheless, tax reform is popular across a broader spectrum than healthcare. More people may be willing to compromise to get it passed. (I’d even be willing to give up my mortgage deduction….Well, some of it anyway.) Truth to tell, tax reform should have been done first, before the Gordian knot of healthcare. In retrospect, nothing could be more obvious. I believe that’s called hindsight bias. Whatever it is, the GOP should get on it now. My grandmother also told me: “He who hesitates is lost.” She died a long time ago, but I think she was referring to 2018.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His latest book is I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already. Help him swear off Twitter @rogerlsimon.