I'm concerned about Mitt Romney's (and Paul Ryan's) plans for a federal role in health care, as costs will rise. Romney pledged not to increase tax rates, in contrast to President Barack Obama's urging Congress to increase them on the highest-income Americans. If a President Romney and a Republican-dominated Congress repeal the Affordable Care Act, Romney says he will keep parts people like. Which are they, and which will he cut? To balance the budget, Romney and Republicans promise to cut federal aid to states for health care as well as education, environmental protection and other services. States that have low or no income taxes will have to raise them, or keep the same poor to mediocre levels of social support they provide even with federal help. Or will state and local property taxes, sales taxes and usage fees rise even higher? These taxes are regressive, harder on people with less income.
Progressive taxation, in contrast, tends to spread social responsibility more equitably throughout the income range. The United States is as socially dysfunctional as it is unequal in income distribution, according to "The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger," (2009-10) by Wilkinson and Pickett. One quote: "If ... a country does badly on health, you can predict with some confidence that it will also imprison a larger proportion of its population, have more teenage pregnancies, lower literacy scores, more obesity, worse mental health, and so on." They show that what is true of countries is true of our 50 states: the least economically equal have the worst health and social performances.
Increasing some taxes on the wealthiest may not change our health care or our society greatly, but I think it may be a step forward for all Americans. Life, with taxation, was more equitable in the 1950s and has become worse since the 1980s, many people have seen. Fairness and more equality, better health, fewer in prison, or more inequality - this is the question.