The Agitator #78 - Free markets--not!
by Oliver_Halle
 The Agitator
July 03, 2013 09:08 AM | 1710 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Paul Ryan has advocated a new Medicare plan that purportedly cuts costs and allows for more patient choices.  Doesn’t get any better than that. The Republicans have been saying for years that the economy works best and is more efficient when there is competition---except when there are “reasons” why competition is bad and cutting costs would be a terrible idea.

You have to wonder if Republicans are really serious about this in light of their track record.  I am unaware that Halliburton submitted to a competitive bidding process for the multi billions of dollars they made in Iraq and Afghanistan.  A number of economists that analyzed the numbers concluded that the military could have performed the same services for far less.  Then there is Medicare Part D, the drug plan that Bush and the majority of Republicans at the time voted for.  Part D, by law, does not allow for the government to negotiate for the best drug prices.  (The Veterans Administration can negotiate the best deals.)  Not a peep from the Republican Party during the 2012 campaign to eliminate the most costly government program in history.  No, instead it’s about defunding Obamacare, a program that doesn’t come close to Part D in what it will cost over ten years.  Just maybe this is about politics instead of free markets and cutting government spending of a program that the American people never pushed for in the first place. 

The latest example of getting a double banger is Republican protests against requiring the providers of Medicare durable medical devices to compete for the lowest prices, and invoking Obama’s name while doing it.  Great Republican scare tactic.  Reminds me of Richard Nixon checking every night under his bed for commies; perhaps the Obama haters check for him under their beds.  You would think that Republicans would be supportive of saving a projected $43 billion over ten years, but they aren’t.  Congressman Tom Price is one of the vocal opponents of competitive bidding in this instance despite his concerns about the costs of Medicare and Obamacare.  He and the current medical device providers only see catastrophic consequences if the free markets were to work their magic and lower the costs of the products that Medicare pays astronomical sums for.  Those who watch TV see the advertising that goes into urging the elderly to talk with their doctors about prescribing motor scooters.  How many know that Medicare pays for eighty percent of the cost? 

Congressman Price and the current medical device providers are posturing all sorts of doomsday scenarios.  Evidence isn’t needed when you do this.  Success can often be accomplished by scaring the daylights out of a target audience, in this case the elderly.  It boils down to this: free markets are for the other guys, for your competitors. Those who stand to benefit from special tax breaks, sole sources, tariffs, and other advantages don’t want to play by the same rules.  They can offer the most plausible reasons why they should be exempted.  I can assure you that I could come up with very plausible sounding reasons for why I should pay no taxes on my business, and why I deserve to have sole source contracts with government entities at all levels. 

Every time someone gets an advantage in what is supposed to be a free and competitive market, someone else has to make up for it, whether it be through higher taxes, or higher costs to businesses that are forced to pursue other contracts because of markets closed off to them.  Both the consumer and the less favored subsidize those with friends in high and  influential places.  Republicans claim that Democrats are the party of government spending and giveaways, that they represent all that is good with economics.  That’s why I have focused on the Republicans, why I believe that they continue to fool a lot of people into believing their free market mantra.  The American people are the losers for it. 

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