After talking to a senior research fellow of a major Washington think tank yesterday, I learned that my preferred healthcare reform plan, health insurance vouchers, has gotten so little discussion because it was ruled out by politicians early on as a non-starter. Contrary to the claim on the healthcare reform chart I produced (i.e. the current version of it — I may revise it) that there were no likely opponents to insurance vouchers, there are actually two significant opponents: union organizers (not necessarily union members) and a certain group of uninvolved wealthy people. Apparently, even though health insurance vouchers would greatly benefit union members (it would get health insurance off the bargaining table – which is the most common reason for strikes – and it would save many of their jobs by making their companies more competitive internationally), some union organizers cynically want to maintain points of fissure thinking their existence needs such justification. Apparently, Clark Kent has no reason to be Superman if there is no Joker. Union organizers (who supposedly speak for union members to public officials) control the union purse-strings that Democratic candidates are attached to. On the other hand, many uninvolved wealthy people that have no real stake in the ownership or governance of American companies and corporations often see no benefit in a general (non-food)VAT tax replacing their currently tax deductable health insurance premiums as the funding mechanism for their personal health insurance policy, thinking that a new sales tax on that yacht they want to buy might be more expensive than their current government subsidized health insurance premium. Of course, those wealthy people that are involved in ownership and governance of employing companies know that getting out of the healthcare business would be the biggest boon to their competitiveness. As someone put it, the uncompetitive and now hospitalized GM is really just a healthcare company that makes a few cars on the side. Uninvolved wealthy people are significant campaign contributors to both Republican and Democratic candidates. This is so damned frustrating!!! What a godless political system we have.
The take away… we REALLY need campaign finance reform. If campaigns were publicly financed, the candidates (and then legislators) could not be swayed by private campaign contributions, and would as a result have no master but the people. The interest of their constituents would then trump the interest of sugar-daddy Washington lawyers. If the public interest were king, health insurance vouchers would not have been placed off the table, and would currently be seen as the obvious and best solution to our healthcare crisis in America.