Yesterday, John McCain unveiled his new health care plan. It basically consists of making grants to taxpayers to make them better able to pay the huge sums necessary for them to pay for health insurance from private insurers. These grants would purportedly max out at $5,000, and annual insurance for a family of four is over $10,000 (and rising fast) - not much help there.
What help there is, is of course balanced by the fact that the $5,000 would have to come from somewhere, so our taxes would go up to pay for it, by somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000, I'm guessing (actually, they would go up by that much plus interest in Democratic administrations - in Republican administrations, we'd just borrow more money from our grandchildren and the Chinese).
John McCain would know that his proposal would get the average family less than halfway to having health coverage, if it weren't for the fact that he has never had to pay for health care in his life. His health care has been provided by the taxpayers since he was born the son of an admiral, and it seems to have kept him fairly healthy without having to worry about what it cost.
The other little wrinkle in this plan is that it would have the effect of making the price of health insurance higher. The market would bear more, since some of the cost would be subsidized with no accompanying regulation of prices (hey, more cash for the insurance companies! Such a deal - they're really struggling right now, aren't they?)
In that respect, it shares a couple of characteristics with his gas tax abatement proposal - it would borrow a lot of money to put a purely symbolic band-aid on a serious problem, while actually providing a windfall to companies who are making a fortune now and doing nothing to really help solve our long-term problem.
I don't begrudge McCain his health care, but the sort of coverage he has had his whole life should be available to all. McCain's proposal makes that less likely in the long run, not more, and it provides yet another article of proof that McCain was right when he admitted that the economy wasn't his strong suit (his foreign policy proposals are pretty dopey too, but that's another post).