Friday, March 26, 2010

Health Care Reform and Inequality

In the Times, David Leonhardt argues that the health care reform just passed by Congress (!!) can be understood as part of President Obama's effort to reverse - or at least lean against - the trend of widening income inequality in the US. He writes:
The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago.

Over most of that period, government policy and market forces have been moving in the same direction, both increasing inequality. The pretax incomes of the wealthy have soared since the late 1970s, while their tax rates have fallen more than rates for the middle class and poor.

Nearly every major aspect of the health bill pushes in the other direction. This fact helps explain why Mr. Obama was willing to spend so much political capital on the issue, even though it did not appear to be his top priority as a presidential candidate. Beyond the health reform’s effect on the medical system, it is the centerpiece of his deliberate effort to end what historians have called the age of Reagan.


Tripzs said...

The Democrats' health care reform bill is 10% new health care regulations that will make very little difference to anyone and 90% a new welfare program that will redistribute income from households making over $250,000/year to househ0lds making under $50,000/year. I hope that part will survive the next Republican administration.

Bill C said...

Thanks for the comment. I think the regulations make more difference than you give them credit for. While they may not directly affect a large percentage of people, the additional security associated with changes like the rules about pre-existing conditions, as well as the creation of a mechanism to get people insured if they lose their work-based policies, is a big deal.