Friday, August 21, 2009

The Daniel Gross follies

Daniel Gross, a columnist I have criticized many times before, is at it again. This time he is seeking to portray opponents of government-run health insurance as hypocrites ("Health Care Hypocrisy"). His evidence:
As we've noted before, if you add the failure of employer-linked health care with Medicare, Medicaid, government employment, and the military, a huge chunk of Americans already have taxpayer-funded health care. It's a diverse lot. Rich old people and poor kids, university professors, congressmen, teachers, DMV clerks and their families. Pretty much everybody you see on CNBC yelling about socialism? Their parents and grandparents (if they're still living) get taxpayer-funded health insurance. Mine do.

Charles Grassley, the septuagenarian Iowan who is doing his darnedest to torpedo meaningful health care form, has it. Arthur Laffer, the 69-year-old economist who went on television and suggested that Medicare isn't a government health care program, is eligible for Medicare. Dick Armey, who spent many years teaching at a state university and served several terms in Congress, has had taxpayer-funded health insurance for much of his adult life. Same for Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich. Democratic senators like Max Baucus, Kent Conrad, and Ben Nelson? Yes, yes, and yes. Law professors at the University of Tennessee have it. The employees of George Mason University, which houses the free-market Mercatus Center, do, too. Policy analyst Betsy McCaughey, currently reprising her 1990s role of health care bamboozler, will be eligible for it in a few years' time.
In other words, the sum total of his arguments is that public employees -- people employed by the government -- have the temerity to take advantage of publicly financed health insurance. I suppose if you are a politician you are simply therefore not allowed to criticize government-run health insurance or perhaps you are supposed to decline it and buy your own, which makes no sense. Amazingly Gross accuses McCaughey and Laffer of being hypocrites merely for being eligible.

A real hypocrite would be someone who, confronted with the choice of government health insurance or private insurance chooses the former while criticizing it. What Gross points out is nothing of the kind. If this is the most he can muster it's an amazingly weak argument.

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