Billed as a plan to “fix the debt, cut spending and restore prosperity, The heritage plan has some undeniably good elements. Unfortunately it does some things that seriously undermine its good points, which center around healthcare, taxes, the role of government and medicare. Ultimately, this is directed not at the Heritage foundation, but at their willingness to let an open advocate of progressive globalism draft a plan that uses Heritage’s good name and conservative reputation to further a plan that contains indisputably socialist elements and takes a wrong approach to what government must do on our behalf.
The plan does nothing to address the core problem facing healthcare in this country, and that is government subsidy and control. The plan accepts as gospel the indisputable fact that the Government can and must pay for healthcare. Not only that, but it accepts that the “rich” must continue to support it through their taxes, while receiving reduced ‘benefits’ or even none at all while those who contribute nothing will get it for free. In short it perpetuates socialism.
The plan actually fails in part because it pegs a FLOOR to government taxing, at a rate pegged by the Peter G Peterson foundation as being the highest rate people can comfortably tolerate (about 18.5% of GDP), and savings are to be poured into the health programs being run by the government, which this plan does absolutely nothing to phase out. It also carves out generous deductions (subsidies) for college. It should be noted that, according to a chart one on page four of the Heritage plan PDF, that 18.5 percent is only about a percentage point lower than the percent through the last term of G.W. Bush.
Role of Government.
It was President Obama who infamously said that you have to “spread the wealth around” and his wife that said, “Someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more.
The Heritage plan would do just that. On page 10 we read:
Because the new Social Security is a real insurance system, designed to protect seniors from poverty, retirees with high incomes from sources other than Social Security will receive a smaller check, and very affluent seniors will receive no check.
First, it is not real insurance, we have no choice but to pay into it. And while the new rolled all into one tax plan obfuscates that, the fact is that taxpayers will be paying into a system that will reward those who have not paid into it and do nothing for those that have been forced to pay into it. This is not a conservative plan, this is marxist. On page 14, it breaks it down:
Under the Heritage plan, only about 9 percent of seniors would see their checks reduced and only just over 3.5 percent of seniors would receive no check.
They cite that taxes already dilute everyone’s Social Security checks, but this makes it a strict class-bias with the top 12.5% who have had the most money extorted out of them seeing nothing. Well, that is social justice in action.
But it gets better. Under this “conservative plan,” a new automatic opt-in is created:
Beginning in 2014, a new savings plan will be introduced over two years. Under this plan, 6 percent of each worker’s income is placed in a retirement savings plan that the worker owns and controls unless he or she explicitly declines to have such an account. (This approach is known as automatic enrollment.)
On page 15, it is claimed that the above elimination of benefits for the rich will, “…drive the costs of Social Security below the level of taxes collected, those savings will go into the workers’ accounts.” There it is, the benefits paid for by “the rich” will be transferred to the automatically opted in “super 401(k)” accounts created by the Heritage plan. It sounds great, and since only 12.5% will be adversely affected, it will be perfectly fine. That’s democracy in action, right? Tell that to the people who have seen thousands of dollars of their hard earned income consumed by the Leviathan of government. At less than $15 an hour, I’ve already seen almost 900 dollars (plus the unseen 900 dollars taken directly from my employer by the government for the purpose of paying for this system. So I can imagine the cost to those who make way more than that. Of course, as heritage reminded us in the plan, what we pay now is going to someone else’s benefits, and it’s up to future generations to subsidize my generation. No matter what happens, my generation is going to lose money on this. An ideal plan would include the complete phasing out of Federal “retirement insurance” all together, as at least the losses would be limited in duration instead of extending out into perpetuity.
The Heritage plan also tackles Medicare reform. And has this to say:
When the changes are fully phased in, seniors will enroll in the health plans of their choice and receive a defined contribution (known as premium support) toward the cost of their plans, much as Members of Congress and millions of federal employees and retirees do through the FEHBP. (page 18)
The problem is again, what we have is not a plan to wean Americans off mandates, but a new subsidy for the purchase of insurance. We have a government body deciding what is an “adequate level of benefits” and telling us how to save and spend for retirement. Further, richer Americans are again left footing the bill for a plan which takes from them and doesn’t give back. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Is the apparent gist of the Heritage plan’s Medicare and social security reforms. Not to mention government subsidies and supports do little or nothing to decrease the cost of goods and services. Just look at what is happening to the cost of higher education. Government grants of all kinds not to mention state and local government support leaves no incentive for colleges and universities to control costs at all, or to offer degrees that are relevant to the needs of the economy or community. The same can be seen as the government has become a bigger and bigger payer for healthcare (though not yet the single payer, like Obama so badly wants). In short, it will not help the price of healthcare or medical care.
Wealth redistribution and market distortion are not proper roles of government, and are certainly not proper roles to be offered by a conservative organization.
Per our constitution, it is not the role of federal government to offer national retirement insurance, welfare, health insurance, subsidies for the purchase thereof, education, or subsidies for the purchase thereof. By offering so called tax breaks for the purchase of “higher education” or health insurance, the heritage plan does nothing to restore a true free market, which would lower the prices across the board as colleges and health care providers/insurers were no longer guaranteed government money or captive markets. The Heritage plan accepts the Government’s role as nanny. Further, it accepts as gospel the claims that reducing “redundant programs,” other waste and fraud will result in great savings in the political by and by twenty and thirty years down the road. 18.5% of GDP is too much. Almost one out of every 5 dollars in the economy belongs to the Federal government, not even counting state and local taxes?
By accepting 18.5 percent of GDP, we are accepting a government that spends roughly a percentage point below Bush-Era levels, which is still way too high. The Bush Era saw the expansion of government medicine via Medicare Part D, It saw expanded federal intrusion in schools via no-child left behind and it saw the waging of two wars. We can and must shoot lower. As long as we accept a government that must act as a nanny state and custodian of our healthcare, education and retirement, we can forget about government ever being reduced to a size and intrusiveness (or lack thereof!) that will truly allow America to prosper once again.
Why is the heritage foundation offering up a plan which contains such explicitly socialist elements? The problem lies in large part with who they went to when creating the plan. The Foundation which apparently paid for and which authored this plan is the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, headed by a man of the same name. He and his foundation were also behind the deceptive “Owe No” Campaign, which was directed at the debt as well, and which involved a whole slew of big government socialism.
That Mr. Peterson and his foundation would promote progressivism and wealth redistribution comes as no surprise when you realize that Mr. Peterson is the Chairman Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, a powerful progressive think tank that actively promotes the UN, World Government, the global warming scam, and a whole slew of other progressive programs with the end goal being an invigorated UN serving as the foundation of world government. Most of your high profile RINO republicans will be associated with the CFR.
Believing the Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council to be good organizations with many good goals, I would urge you to reach out to the FRC and heritage and let them know you reject Mr. Peterson’s big government socialism, and that you would like them to do so to.
In summary: Lowering the corporate tax rate and flattening the tax code is a great thing, but is ruined by mixing in socialism and doing nothing to reduce or eliminate the role of the Federal government in healthcare, education, charity, and retirement planning, ensuring that costs will continue to skyrocket. Mr. Peterson’s second debt solution plan is a Trojan horse for socialism, just like the last one.
You can read my previous article on Mr. Peterson and the “Owe No” Campaign here:
You can view for yourself the entire plan at savingthedream.org, which is currently linked from heritage.org. It even has nice graphical layouts showing people what freebies they will get depending on what demographic they are in!