The Corner

Politics & Policy

Republican Health-Care Plans Don’t ‘Steal’ from the Poor

Here’s the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson with an odd attack on Republican health-care plans:

The “health-care bill” that Republicans are trying to pass in the Senate, like the one approved by the GOP majority in the House, isn’t really about health care at all. It’s the first step in a massive redistribution of wealth from struggling wage-earners to the rich — a theft of historic proportions.

Not to be too pedantic about this, but the government isn’t “redistributing” wealth when it lets a citizen keep more of his money, and it isn’t “stealing” from the poor when it cuts benefits they didn’t actually own. Welfare programs like Medicaid represent a forcible transfer of wealth. Welfare is the redistribution. And if there’s any actual argument for “theft,” it’s the theft of money from the private citizen by the government.

But that would be hyperbole. In civilized societies, people understand that a certain degree of taxation is necessary for a nation to function. Safety nets are compassionate and prudent. But it is dangerous and wrong to get confused about who owns what. I own the money I earn. America’s less fortunate citizens don’t own Medicaid. It’s a privilege, not a right — a privilege that is subject to the same budgetary and fiscal concerns inherent in any other government program, including national defense. 

Entitlement culture plagues this nation, and it plagues America’s poorest communities. So let’s speak accurately about ownership and redistribution. Medicaid is a program, not property, and it’s not theft to attempt to moderate its enormous financial cost. 

 

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