I don’t know about you but I find it incredibly frustrating when somebody writes something with which I’m in general agreement but it’s so full of flaws that I find it difficult not to be distracted. That was my reaction to Martin Feldstein’s op-ed this morning against the healthcare insurance reform plans making their way through the Congress.
For example, this statement:
Although the president claims he can finance the enormous increase in costs by raising taxes only on high-income individuals, tax experts know that this won’t work.
That’s called the appeal to unnamed authority fallacy. We have no way of evaluating the validity of the statement because we don’t know who the experts are. Why not just write I don’t believe this will work or simply this won’t work?
Obama has said that he would favor a British-style “single payer” system in which the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are salaried but that he recognizes that such a shift would be too disruptive to the health-care industry
I don’t believe that President Obama has said this. I believe he said that he thought that if we were starting back in the 1960’s we should have enacted a single payer system. Britain’s system is not only a single payer system, it’s a fully socialized system in which nearly all physicians working in hospitals are government employees, real socialized medicine. Single payer and socialized medicine are not synonymous. As stated this is a classic example of the straw man fallacy.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe that President Obama has the luxury of following Dr. Feldstein’s prescription:
Now that congressional leaders have made it clear that Obama will not see health legislation until at least the end of the year, the president should look beyond health policy and turn his attention to the problems that are impeding our economic recovery.
The president has got to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Righting the financial system is of primary importance, a sine qua non. But we must have reform to the healthcare system that reduces the unsustainable trends in rising costs and, hopefully, reduces costs full stop. Without that everything else we might want to do becomes much more difficult very, very quickly. It can’t be deferred any longer.