Monday, February 13


BushCo is trying to do it to us again. If they can't get their policies in place publicly, they'll just go with the secret agenda. Read Mallaby:

In sum, health savings accounts are not just about ending the tax bias in favor of traditional company health plans. The administration is proposing a new kind of 401(k), and using it as an inducement to quit low-deductible insurance. Rich people, who gain most from the tax breaks on saving, will be first to sign on; healthy people, who subsidize sicker people in company health plans, will be right behind them. Their exit may force traditional health plans into a death spiral. The loss of the subsidy from healthy workers will drive premiums up, which will drive more healthy people into health savings accounts, which will drive premiums up further.

The State of the Union address (blue tie, white shirt) contained barely a mention of health savings accounts, but don't let that fool you. Because these accounts are being pushed modestly, with no grand Social Security-style talk of remaking the social contract, there's a chance that they'll be seen as just one of various bewildering tax tweaks and slip quietly through Congress. But the proposal cries out for a debate very much like last year's -- a debate about personal saving vs. collective insurance.
But when you talk to administration officials, they express remarkably few doubts. They believed in the ownership society last year; they still believe in it this year. They believe in individual choice; they distrust collective programs. They don't worry too much about the risks to the budget. Or to distributional justice. Or to existing safety nets.

It's hard not to conclude that Bush-Cheney and their Rethuglican supporters truly don't believe poor and middle-class people deserve to live other than as necessary labor for their rightful masters, the corporate elite. A careful examination of their policies that includes those proposed but not yet active, leads one to suspect that they are deliberately trying to establish a new order in this country, an exaggerated version of John Edwards' "two Americas," where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and more and more of the middle class is driven into the latter category.

Who believes that a majority of Americans have an extra $400 per month sitting around that they can stash into a health savings account, anyway? Don't these guys get it? Sure they do. And they want to get more. That's why they'll keep pushing budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy at the same time they propose eliminating small but critically important benefits for widows and orphans.

When you hear the words "class warfare," remember who it is that's waging the war and on whom.

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