July 25, 2009
Will whatever health care bill is produced by Congress increase the deficit?
Posted by Gordon Smith

Of course.”

According to Peggy Noonan, that may not be the biggest hurdle for health care legislation. She thinks that public opinion is turning against President Obama on health care, in part because we fear for our freedom:

We are living in a time in which educated people who are at the top of American life feel they have the right to make very public criticisms of . . . let’s call it the private, pleasurable but health-related choices of others. They shame smokers and the overweight. Drinking will be next....

Only a generation ago such criticisms would have been considered rude and unacceptable. But they are part of the ugly, chafing price of having the government in something: Suddenly it can make big and very personal demands on you. Those who live in a way that isn’t sufficiently healthy “cost us money” and “drive up premiums.” ...

Under a national health-care plan we might be hearing that a lot. You don’t exercise, you smoke, you drink, you eat too much, and “the rest of us have to pay for it.”

It is a new opportunity for new class professionals (an old phrase that should make a comeback) to shame others, which appears to be one of their hobbies....

Noonan thinks this "might be an unarticulated public fear," so she is going to articulate it.

I suspect that the reason it hasn't been articulated is that most people aren't as smart as Peggy Noonan and don't think about heath care in such highfalutin terms. For most people, health care is about cost and access, end of story. Policy makers and venture capitalists might worry about innovation. But that's as far as it goes for most of us, though I suspect that will be enough to stop Congress and the President this time.

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