The failure of Democrat control freak health care

Daniel Henninger:


After seven nonstop months ObamaCare is failing, just as ClintonCare failed after a year's effort in 1994. It's clear there is something inherently wrong in what the Democrats have been trying to do here. What is it?

The answer lies in the often-repeated phrase that they are trying to reform "16% of the American economy." Why would anyone think it possible in 2010—as politics, economics or mere practical feasibility—to reorder 16% of a $14 trillion economy of 300 million people living in 50 separate states whose geography is 16 times larger than France?

The Obama reformers are driven by the idea that their bill would fulfill a dream running back 70 years to 1939, when FDR failed to win passage of a universal health-care bill.

But this isn't 1939. It's not even 1994. American health care, whatever its defects, is today unimaginably complex. What the Democrats are trying to do isn't just difficult. It's impossible.

According to data compiled by Hoover's business research from the U.S. Census, the health-care industry consists of 340,650 separate establishments employing 5,508,926 people. I leave it to a mathematician to calculate the number of possible economic relationships this would produce every day, much less annually .

We have 512,000 physicians and surgeons, 2.2 million registered nurses and a galaxy of different jobs orbiting around them. Some 36% of these are in individual physicians' offices.

One of the jewels of this collection of professionals, which the politicians say is "failing" us, is the U.S. medical-device industry. It has come a long way since the days of "The Clinic of Dr. Gross" in Thomas Eakins's famous painting.

There are 8,616 separate medical-device companies in the U.S., employing 359,065 people. Within the device industry, its two largest categories are electronic and precision equipment and surgical appliances. These are the wizards of American medicine.

The president says the special interests oppose his bill. But to pay for the bill, Congress would levy a $2 billion annual tax on the medical-device industry, which ardently opposes the legislation.


The president and his health-care advisers are giving philosopher kings a bad name. Only people who have reduced American health care to rows and columns of data in academic studies would think it possible to remake this incredibly sophisticated organism as easily as rebooting a spreadsheet.

You can't do it.

Meanwhile, press reports this week also noted that Mr. Obama's "comprehensive climate bill" is being down-sized to something that can pass Congress. Same problem.


Control freak government rarely makes things better and it restrains innovation, Having competing device makers has made us healthier as a people and an economy. You just do not see this much innovation in the rationed health care operations in Canada and Europe. What you do see is them free riding on our innovation.


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