NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Outrage about HealthCare.gov and millions losing health plans should scare the wits out of liberals. With enough money, the morass can be fixed, but it shows the limits of using a tax and spend policy to buy voter allegiance.
The liberal formula is quite simple: Target a few Americans to soak and pander to the base instincts of the masses. President Obama's favorite mark is wealthy Americans who benefited the most from economic growth. Characterize them as undeserving and exploitive, leaving his followers to conclude their affluence was built on the back of the common man. Then it becomes reasonable that the well-off pay higher taxes to continue public benefits.
The caution to Democrats is not to promise too much, lest the rich flee the country or stop working altogether.
In 2008, candidate Obama bit off more than he could chew. He promised everyone access to cheaper and better health insurance, and to let those satisfied keep their existing plans. If paid directly from the U.S. Treasury, new benefits would have cost at least $1 trillion.New taxes alone couldn't carry that load. Many businesses, already burdened by a high corporate tax rate, are moving assets and jobs offshore. Predictably, economic growth, which provides the tax base, is evaporating. The solution left to the president and his pals in Congress was to deceive the folks he promised to help. Make them pay more -- a lot more -- but do it through the marketplace. The only way to offer everyone health insurance was to compel everyone to buy health insurance with minimal levels of coverage and implicitly tax those already with insurance to subsidize new policyholders. The government would have to run marketplaces in every county to facilitate the purchase of mandatory insurance. Insurance companies jubilant with prospects for so many new policyholders were willing to accept limits on administrative expenses. Smarter than the Ivy League social engineers who advise Democrats and the bureaucrats at Health and Human Services, they helped shape regulations that ultimately manipulated markets.