Some political meanderings tonight. First Obamacare. Apparently that piece of legislation has now reached the exalted strata of political cowardice we call “settled law.” I’m neither surprised, nor particularly grieved by the fact, though it’s worth noting some insufficiently remarked upon aspects of its survival.

For one thing, the moral obligation to couple replace with repeal existed absolutely nowhere outside the left’s foaming chambers and the micro-hearts of moderates who fear them. If I shove a rotten cantaloupe down your throat, it’s hardly your responsibility to make a delicacy of the mess that gets vomited up. But that’s precisely the position Trump and the republicans allowed themselves to be maneuvered into by committing to Obamacare replacement. Repeal was all that was required of them.

It’s not as if replacement wasn’t already inherent to repeal from the outset. Consider this as an illustration: think of a time in America’s primordial past. A time when only the rich could afford top-quality bloodlettings. When rickets and scurvy stalked the yeomanry and poor people with symptoms of tooth decay were simply harvested for their organs. Is the time you are thinking about 2010?

Because that’s the year Obamacare was passed. Thus it is the healthcare Hellscape of that long-ago epoch that democrats threatened society would plunge back to in the law’s absence. Healthcare wouldn’t end without Obamacare; it would simply return to its 2010 prior state. And if that prior state was worse than now, then what about Obamacare are Republicans complaining? If healthcare was better before its enactment, then simple repeal results in an enhanced state, QED. They need bloggers to explain this?

The political reality is that Trump wasn’t elected because of healthcare. And for the small cadre of voters who did vote for him on the premise of Obamacare repeal, the number who did so yearning it be replaced by Ryan’s cuckcare is something very close to zero. And so a solution with no constituency failed in a heated political venue. That’s not something we should consider a surprise. Though it is something Trump should consider going forward. Unfortunately, I’m not sure he has yet done that. Because enter tax cuts stage right.

Now obviously I’m happy to pay fewer taxes. If out of every dollar paid we received a nickel of benefit, the Porter household would beam with happy surprise. But there are three problems with Trump pursuing tax cuts as a high presidential priority: 1) This was also not at all what elected him, 2) Tax cuts will fundamentally change no national equations, and 3) Spending must always be paid for. Taxes are just one method of doing so–and by far the most honest method.

Once a government commits itself to to the purse, it can do so only by printing one or a combination of three things: more money, more bonds, or more tax bills. Cutting taxes doesn’t in any way cut spending, or your obligation to cover the bill for it. Cutting taxes simply shifts the government’s print output to dollars and/or debt. Do you think either implies relief of payment? I assure you, they do not.

That’s why if you want a more honest and transparent government, tax cuts are one of the surest ways to not get there. Because taxes result in more direct pain. As treasury bills and inflation tend to be analgesics for the same injury. Rather than mask our unsustainable spending with mountains of debt and money printing, I’d like to see the grim truth itemized. American families should receive an income-proportional tab at each year-end. Yours might say…

Johnson family, you owe tax in the following amounts:
$10,000 for old people
$9,000 to float aircraft carriers, bomb Iraq, and fight foreign wars.
$8,000 for black room and board (appreciation not included)
$7,000 for interest on the debt
$6,000 for federal pensions, et cetera.

Though I’d prefer an even more detailed accounting than that. We should all know–and suffer knowingly–the costs of immigrants and refugees, foreign aid, subsidizing Israel’s military, and domestic spying among many others. If more people understood precisely how much of their life is spent paying for items of no or negative personal interest, our politicians would face a far more difficult chore during budget deliberations. But because people do not generally pursue politics who are interested in difficult chores, this suggestion will be certain to languish in committee.

The salient point in all of this is that Trump and the republicans have a potentially brief window in which to operate. Every move should be triaged by its lasting impact. Replacement health schemes and tax tinkering are comparative diversions that answer none of the national questions his constituents hired Trump to address. Do tax rates speak to the quality of life in Guatemala? What percentage of Guatemalans have health insurance? Do citizens of that country even care? If so, they like to care mostly from afar. A prudent Trump will quickly orient his agenda to ensure as many Guatemalans as possible remain there. How else can they enjoy its low 25% corporate tax rate?


23 thoughts on “Prioritize

  1. Pingback: Prioritize | Reaction Times

  2. I would gladly go back to leeches and bloodletting as medical care choices and pay double my tax if Trump would deport all illegals, cancel all visas for non-white immigrants, and abolish birthright citizenship to include invalidating the citizenship of all anchor babies born in the U.S. the past 30 years.

    After that, then we can talk about screwing around with healthcare and perhaps even single payer. But there is no way in hell Trump is going to get healthcare support when the borders are wide open and we have legally invited in tens of millions of destitute squatters to absorb all the service gratis.

    Oh and another thing: Trump better stay the fuck out of Yemen, too. Something that I’m afraid he might get dragged into as well.

  3. I consume a lot of news, but this essay marks the first viewing of the simple Obamacare replacement–what we had before. No need for the GOP to grovel because free, equal, glorious healthcare for all gifted by Obama didn’t pan out. Even the dimmest can understand that US Health Care with all its extravagancies and inefficiencies was unaffordable even before the entire 3rd World was invited and delivered here. You can’t import Uganda without getting Uganda–health care standards, benefit package and all. It’s a mystery why so many politicians prefer to cower in shame for not providing the impossible rather than explain the simplest math.

  4. This is a great post, Porter. I agree completely. Trump has done nothing to stop or even slow the demographic problems in this country. That issue is largely what got him there. I disagree with him on a lot of issues, but I’m tired of my country and my children’s country be handed over to third world squatters.

    As to the tax issue, I wish it really did look like that. Or, since the fedgov never would, someone that’s smarter than me could come up with a website where you enter in how much you paid in taxes and it breaks down where your money actually went. A web designer could easily do that. It would completely destroy the “muh roads” argument that liberals love to throw out there. I actually don’t mind paying some taxes for roads, a fire dept, etc. but very little of what we pay has anything to do with these services. Most of it goes to big pharma via old people care, blowing up various trashcanistans in the ME, and taking care of dindus and foreigners.

    Most astute people know where most of the money goes, but seeing it broken down on a personal level might help our cause.

  5. Is there no Republican politician or conservative commentator who will publicly state that Americans should buy their own damn health insurance?

    The mere fact that we occupy the same land mass and are governed by the same sovereign authority does not impart upon me a responsibility to pay for your health care.

    1. Repeal Obamacare
    2. Deregulate the health insurance market
    3. Mandate that states allow their residents to buy policies offered in competing states
    4. 100% tax credit for preventive health expenses up to $XX/year
    5. High risk pool insurance for pre-existing conditions

    99% of problems solved.

    • At times, I think they should get rid of most health insurance entirely. As some guy pointed out, getting a dog’s broken leg fixed costs $100, and getting yours fixed costs $10,000 — if you’re lucky. Same care, basically, but at least a hundredfold difference. I had an old dog on heart medication once, cost something like $40 a month, and seemed to work — they pepped up and lived another couple of years. What’s the same heart medication cost for a human? Probably something like $3,000 per minute, knowing the system.

      Have a high risk pool for the ongoing/expensive emergencies/lifesaving stuff, and the rest uninsured.

      Anyway, you’re right. The health, taxes, everything else can wait. What’s needed now is to save the nation. Do it, Trump!

  6. Pingback: Prioritize | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  7. I have been whipping this dead horse for years now, but here goes again.

    On health insurance only three things are needed, and in this order:

    a) Tort reform. Nationwide. 

    b) allow insurance to be sold like any other commodity…across state lines with *NO* state *NOR* fed regulations.


    c) a one line bill declaring Soetero-Care entirely null and void. 

    But if we don’t deal first, and harshly, with all the illegals, anchor babies (regardless of current age) and close the border air-tight it’s all damn window dressing.

    Because in about 10 years we will never have another chance.

    Demographics is destiny. 

    • Yes indeed. The media helped us get to this dismal place where people believe equal health care is a right and the US Treasury has unlimited bounty to cover every Zika baby and Ebola import. The bully pulpit is necessary to pull us out, as Congress must be forced and shamed into doing anything right. Trump has been remiss in this department so far, tweeting and repeating instead of informing and inspiring.

  8. We elected Trump to get the wall, and to make the invaders go back. If Trump doesn’t deliver on that, we can elect someone who will. 0bammy care repeal and tax reforms? That’s OK, AFTER the wall is built and the first ten million illegals deported.

  9. Porter is correct that Trump has a limited window of opportunity to enact important reform. OT but I’m persuaded that we do need to introduce legislation in Congress to vastly reduce the power of the federal judiciary to block initiatives of the executive and legislative branches. That would be a good start.

    Healthcare is a topic made unnecessarily complex by the lobbyists and politicians who do not want fundamental reform. I often don’t agree with Karl Denninger but his angle on healthcare reform in a couple of recent posts is very clarifying.

    • @chief wunderbrod

      +100 on Denninger.

      It’s the costs of care – and insurance has helped to jack up costs sky high.

      Just like the student loan racket has jacked up college costs.

  10. Porter, You’re on the money re obama care repeal/replace BS. So revealing, the right finally had the power to do what they trumpeted for years, and when the time came they fumbled. But on tax cuts, obviously there is an optimum balance between tax rates and the revenue generated from them. If I read correctly, your position appears to imply we are at that optimum balance. Highly doubtful considering those at the helm.

  11. One of the aspects of healthcare I rarely recall hearing discussed–which is surprising given how fundamental it is to the topic–is the near complete decoupling of healthcare costs from healthcare consumers. Here’s an illustrative question to readers: have you ever sought a better price for a healthcare service? I haven’t admittedly. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever even known the price of a service before consuming it. That should strike many more people as a catastrophic structural inefficiency. How many other goods or services are we unaware and/or indifferent to the cost, and thus make no effort to reduce that cost?

    Having no party in the healthcare supply chain actively seeking optimized value has an enormous overall price effect. If the auto industry worked like this Chevys would cost a quarter million dollars each.

    Anonymous: No, I wasn’t commenting on what rate maximizes revenue. But rather that spending decisions are far more significant than funding decisions. How you extract wealth from the public is less important than how much and for what.

  12. What an ambitious group this is! Here I was just hoping that we would be able to stop paying for gender reassignment surgery in our military personnel, but you’re all dialing it up to 11 and talking about repealing the rights of man.
    More seriously, I would have no problem collectively paying for preventive services, pre-natal care, acute care, etc for my tribe. My tribe likes to work, pay taxes, leave public spaces and accommodations cleaner than we found them, and generally pull the wagon. This country is less and less comprised of my tribe, and seems to be antagonistic to my tribe, so count me in on the “repeal now replace never” boat.

  13. Slightly off topic – but I have to ask – what is that picture with the chick staring at all the hanging condoms on the wall? Any story behind that one?

  14. One of the classic arguments for tax cuts is ”They grow the economy!”, but let’s look at two decades that had in common large tax cuts followed by economic growth: The 80’s and the 2000’s: What happened in both? Massive growth in private credit – often poor-quality, ill-considered loans. And both of which when they rose to unsustainable levels blew up in everyone’s face.
    The ‘S&L crisis’ in the 80’s, the ‘housing bubble’ in the 2000’s – both of which, when the party ended, left a massive hangover.

  15. Yes, as you point out, though, taxes and health care reform are nothing but fringe issues at the moment.

    If control isn’t established over the borders, the flow of immigrants cut, and illegal invaders expelled by the bucketful, Americans will lose control of the United States permanently. Once that happens, only two results will be possible: Brazil or battle. And given that those semi-failed South American states have been partially propped up by the First World, and that nobody is going to prop us up once we go Brazilian, the choice may be between battle and battle if control isn’t reestablished fast.

    Even thinking about taxes or healthcare now is similar to spending hours nattering about the incorrect blousing of a soldier’s trousers over his boots while ignoring the vast enemy offensive punching through your lines and threatening total encirclement.

    This is a do or die moment. It’s time for Trump to quit measuring the spit-polish on those boots and order the frickin’ tanks into action.

  16. Pingback: This Week In Reaction (2017/04/02) - Social Matter

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