Wednesday, December 24, 2014
The Death Of Single Payer
...in Vermont, of all places. Try finding this story in The New York Times, or on NBC, PBS, NPR, CNN, ABC or CBS.
From an editorial in The Wall Street Journal --
Believe it or not, there really are liberals disappointed that ObamaCare does not involve more taxation and central planning of medicine. So be grateful for the state laboratories of federalism and in particular Vermont, where the purest progressive version of ObamaCare has imploded.
Last week, in a reversal that deserves more attention, Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin announced that Vermont would no longer create America’s first statewide single-payer health system. Vermont was seeking a waiver from the Affordable Care Act to abolish what’s left of the nominally private insurance market by 2017, but Mr. Shumlin’s budget gremlins concluded the plan was too expensive and would damage the state economy.
This surrender is all the more remarkable because the Green Mountain People’s Republic is the ideal socialist laboratory. Beyond the Democratic supermajorities in the legislature, Vermont’s small size and population make regulation easier to impose. There are only 14 hospitals, and providers are already divided into nonoverlapping “service areas” meant to reduce competition. The nonprofit Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont controls 80% of the commercial insurance market.
Then again, maybe Vermonters are smarter than their politicians. Republican Scott Milne ran for Governor against single payer this fall and lost by 2,095 votes. Had Mr. Shumlin disclosed the true costs before the election, he’d have been turned out.
More good news -- In the same WSJ issue (12/22), Bret Stephens extols American exceptionalism.
Imagine an economic historian in the year 2050 talking to her students about the most consequential innovations of the early 21st century—the Model Ts and Wright flyers and Penicillins of our time. What would make her list?
Surely fracking—shorthand for the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing that is making the U.S. the world’s leading oil and gas producer—would be noted. Surely social media—the bane of autocrats like Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and of parents like me—would also get a mention. Mobile apps? Check. The emerging science of cancer immunotherapy? Hopefully, with fingers tightly crossed.
After drawing up this list, our historian would then observe that each innovation had “Made in USA” stamped all over it. How strange, she might say, that so many Americans of the day spent so much of their time bellyaching about the wretched state of their schools, the paralyzed nature of their politics, their mounting fiscal burdens and the predictions of impending decline.
...fracking happened in the U.S. because Americans, almost uniquely in the world, have property rights to the minerals under their yards. And because the federal government wasn’t really paying attention. And because federalism allows states to do their own thing. And because against-the-grain entrepreneurs like George Mitchell and Harold Hamm couldn’t be made to bow to the consensus of experts. And because our deep capital markets were willing to bet against those experts.
“When I talk to foreigners, they’re even more impressed than many Americans by this renaissance,” says my Journal colleague Gregory Zuckerman, author of “The Frackers.” “They understand that it only could have happened in America.”
Also singing the glories of fracking is an editorial writer in Investor's Business Daily, crediting the recent surge in economic growth to this revolutionary advancement in energy procurement.
What's generating the growth? A huge factor has been the fall in energy costs. As crude slid from $105 a barrel last summer to closer to $70 by September, the cost of oil imports tumbled. A decline in imports contributed 0.16 percentage point to GDP.
Moreover, as fuel costs fall, U.S. exports rise because U.S.-made goods become more cost competitive.
With prices lower now in this quarter, the good news story rolls on. Thank you, fracking.
Businesses are clearly feeling less fearful about investing, and some of the Obama anti-business, anti-shareholder agenda has dissipated as the Republican Congress repels the worst ideas — cap and trade, minimum-wage hikes, new energy taxes and massive new spending initiatives out of Washington.
The president, despite his executive branch power grabs, is mostly a lame duck, and that's what investors have been waiting for. Businesses and investors now believe less is more when it comes to Washington, where caps over the last three years have restrained spending. And for the most part, they're probably right.
This is a recovery the private sector is creating. And no, Mr. President, you didn't build that.