Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Not to worry

Robert Levy writes this in the latest Cato Policy Report:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “We need to bend the health care cost curve. I want the food industry to cut chocolate sales by 25 percent.”

INDUSTRY: “But we would lose $100 million from the cutback.”

OBAMA: “Just raise the price of celery to recoup the $100 million.”

INDUSTRY: “Nobody will buy celery at the inflated price.”

OBAMA: “Not to worry. We’ll impose a fine on any family that doesn’t buy a sufficient quantity of celery.”

LEVY: Sounds inconceivable, doesn’t it? Scandalously, it’s more than conceivable; it may be reality. Obamacare— temporarily frustrated by Massachusetts voters—doesn’t require the purchase of celery, but it does require the purchase of health insurance. Here’s (roughly) how Obama’s actual conversation with the industry unfolded:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “A lot of sick people can’t get insurance. I want the industry to cover preexisting conditions.”

INDUSTRY: “But we would lose a fortune if we did.”

OBAMA: “Just raise premiums paid by healthy people and sell more policies to those who aren’t insured.”

INDUSTRY: “If we have to cover preexisting conditions, healthy people won’t buy policies until they’re sick.”

OBAMA: “Not to worry. We’ll impose a fine on any family that doesn’t buy a policy now.”

Along similar lines, Forbes' car guy, Jerry Flint, discusses new federal miles-per-gallon mandates.  He asks, "Is it possible that car buyers will fall in love with smaller cars? The first of the new small cars to be built on this continent, the Ford Fiesta, will be here in weeks, but we really don't know how it will sell. Small cars really don't do that well now; Daimler sold only 1,397 of its tiny Smart cars here in the first quarter, and BMW sold only 8,728 of the somewhat more acceptable Mini. That compared with 103,039 Ford F-Series pickups." 

Not to worry?