Monday, January 22, 2007

Could we be un-Bushed for a change?

George Bush, in his radio address this week, proposed that we give people a tax break on their health insurance. This should not come as a surprise—after all, this was the guy who wanted to make it harder, not easier, to exercise our Constitutional right to bankruptcy, even when it's the result of catastrophic medical misfortune—but it's still amazing to me that he finds new ways to demonstrate his contempt for most Americans.

First there's the cognitive dissonance and detachment from reality. He thinks we need incentives to buy health insurance... as if a tax break would prompt more uninsured people to get insurance. As if uninsured people are, by and large, choosing to be uninsured. And as if our tax forms need to be even more complicated. He clearly doesn't hang out with many people who sit on hold with insurance companies, fill out insurance applications, or do their own taxes.

But even more offensively, there's the condescension. He doesn't like that so many of us are buying "gold-plated" plans, so he proposes to tax insurance premiums for plans that have relatively good coverage. He wants everyone to buy their own insurance, but not good insurance. Make everyone pay for a plan, but punish them if they manage to get a plan that will really help.

He's a rich jerk, helping rich people at the expense of everyone else. But you already knew that.

The Madison, Wisconsin, Isthmus television listings give an accurate and slightly entertaining picture of Mr. Bush's approach (scroll down to Tuesday at 8 p.m.). For complete details on the speech, see Paul Krugman's op-ed in today's New York Times (requires a subscription online).


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