Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Polis Vs. Polis

Democratic Congressman-elect Jared Polis of Boulder, Colorado, recently wrote a fairly good OpEd for the December 10, 2008 Wall Street Journal in which he warned that Congress should not bail out the auto industry, but instead let the private sector take care of the problem:
Our United States Congress... now finds itself poring over "business plans" submitted this week by Ford, GM and Chrysler. People who have never before in their lives seen -- no less implemented -- a business plan are now trying to decide if these companies will succeed by means of a "capital infusion" with... [taxpayer] money. Something is wrong with this picture.
Instead, if the private sector takes on this issue, then:
At the very least, my constituents in Colorado won't find themselves as limited partners in a private equity fund run by Congress making speculative investments in flagging automobile manufacturers and who knows what else with their taxpayer money.
Polis concludes:
Reading business plans and making investments is the job of equity funds and turnaround specialists, not members of Congress.
Polis is quite right on that point. The function of government is not to run businesses but to protect individual rights.

Yet he fails to apply his own argument to health care. Polis is a proponent of government-run "single payer" health care, and he would use Medicare as the model:
Medicare, a universal access, single-payer, government-administered, publicly financed and efficient program, has high patient satisfaction and only 3% administrative expenses – less than any private insurance plan. While there are many improvements we need to focus on within Medicare, it serves as a model of a single-payer healthcare system.
Yet this is the same Medicare system that is faced with perennial funding crises, which achieves these artificially low administrative costs by foisting them on private physicians' office staff, and which pays so little that many doctors are thinking of dropping Medicare patients.

If we expanded this system to cover all Americans (not just the elderly), those problems would merely multiply.

Polis is right -- the US government is not capable of running the auto industry. If it attempted to do so, it would merely destroy those companies.

His argument applies just as well to health care. Health care is not a right, and any attempt to guarantee it with a single-payer system (or any other form of "universal coverage") would destroy American health care.

Polis-on-automakers is right. Polis-on-health-care is wrong.

Coloradans should urge Polis to apply his correct understanding on the issue of the auto bailout to the health care issue.