Jack Cafferty asked a rather loaded question in his latest Cafferty File: “Is it fair to soak the rich to pay for health care reform?”
On the face of it, the answer to this loaded question is easy. Since “soak” implies an unfair treatment, then it would not be fair to soak the rich for health reform or for anything. This is a bit like asking whether it is fair to cheat at a game.
A more balanced question would be whether it would be fair or not for the rich to pay a larger percentage of their income to help pay for health care reform.
Since the current income tax system is progressive, having the rich pay a greater percent for health reform would be simply applying the same sort of approach that is already taken. Of course, not everyone regards a progressive income tax as fair.
This, of course, leads to the difficult question of what counts as fair. One way to look at it is that health care insurance is a purchased good and it would be fair to charge people based on what they receive. If the rich receive the same benefit as the poor, then they should pay the same. After all, if a rich person was charged more for a Big Mac or a gallon of gas just because she is rich, that would be unfair.
Of course, health care is not being seen as a purchased good but is being cast by the Democrats as a social service that is owed to people. This would put health care in the same basket as other social services like education, roads, and such. In these cases, the rich do pay more for what they receive. For example, if a kid from a rich family and a kid from a poor family go to the same public high school, the rich family is paying more for the same service because they pay more taxes. This is seen by some as fair, based on the principle that those who have more should contribute more to the general good. Others, of course, see it is unfair based on the principle that the same things should cost the same price.
Since the health care plan is not in a finished form, any discussion about it is speculation. However, I am against the proposals that do call for putting what seems to be an undue burden on the rich. While I do agree that those who have more should contribute more (that is something I practice in my own life), I am against the “soak the rich” mentality. At most, I would agree to the same sort of progressive scale that is used in the current tax system (although I think that system needs considerable reform as well). The reason is that soaking the rich is no more just than exploiting the worker. True, the rich would still be very well off even after the proposed “soaking”, but to justify the soaking that way is a bit like saying that slicing a chunk of a big person is not as bad as slicing a chunk of a small person because the big person still has more flesh left.
I’ll close with a question: what would be fair for people to pay into such a system, rich, poor or in between?