by Michael Lind, Salon
“Equal rights for all, special privileges for none.” That was the motto of Jacksonian democracy. I’m generally not a fan of Jacksonian politics in general, but Jacksonian hostility to “class legislation,” or different policies for different classes and categories of citizens, is an idea that people on left, right and center can embrace. Case in point: We need to replace a bewildering miscellany of tax and economic security programs targeted at different constituencies with a few simple and universal policies that are identical for every Americans, rich, poor and middle class.
Let’s start with health care. Following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, we Americans now have a means-tested program for the poor, Medicaid, divided between the federal government and the states; another means-tested, state-based program for children, SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program); a purely federal system for the elderly, Medicare; employer-based health insurance subsidized by the tax code; a system of tax-subsidized individual health insurance for working-age people purchased through exchanges; and the Veterans’ Administration, a separate system for retired military personnel. And those are only the major public health care programs.