George Will Schools Reich On Healthcare and Today's Liberalism

For the second week in a row George Will gave a much-needed education to one of the media's most beloved liberal economists.

During the Roundtable segment of Sunday's "This Week," Berkeley professor Robert Reich falsely claimed health insurance companies are exhibiting huge profits: "That is money directly out of the pockets of Americans."

Will countered, "[C]onfiscate all the profits of all the health insurance companies, with those profits you could finance our healthcare for 48 hours."

Reich arrogantly responded, "[R]ecipients of health insurance don't know what they are buying very often. Until there are common standards, minimal standards, then people are going to be taken."

This nicely set Will up to drive the ball out of the park, "There you have the premise of this legislation and the core of today's liberalism: the American people are such dopes they can't be counted upon to buy their own insurance" (video embedded below the fold with transcript): 

ROBERT REICH, AMERICAN PROSPECT: The health insurers are not, George, you said they're popular and everybody likes their health insurer. They like their doctor. They hate their health insurer. And health insurance is going up in terms of rates 20, 30, 40, 50 percent in many states. In fact, Goldman Sachs just this past week has said to its many of its investors, "Invest in some insurance companies because they don't have competition, and they have, are exhibiting huge profits." That is money directly out of the pockets of Americans.

GEORGE WILL, ABC: A, you say they have huge profits. As you know, confiscate all the profits of all the health insurance companies, with those profits you could finance our healthcare for 48 hours. What you do for the next 363 days I don't know. Second, you say there's not enough competition? Fine, let them compete in a national market across state lines.

REICH: Yes, let them compete across state lines, fine. But not a race to the bottom. Set minimum federal standards because we've seen over and over again that the recipients of health insurance don't know what they are buying very often. Until there are common standards, minimal standards, then people are going to be taken. And that is what's happened over and over again.

WILL: There you have the premise of this legislation and the core of today's liberalism: the American people are such dopes they can't be counted upon to buy their own insurance.

For the record, as NewsBusters has previously reported, health insurance companies are amongst the least profitable of all America's industries. Here are 2008's rankings done by Fortune magazine:

2008 Industry Rank as % of Revenues
1 Network and Other Communications Equipment 20.4
2 Internet Services and Retailing 19.4
3 Pharmaceuticals 19.3
4 Medical Products and Equipment 16.3
5 Railroads 12.6
6 Financial Data Services 11.7
7 Mining, Crude-Oil production 11.5
8 Securities 10.7
9 Oil and Gas Equipment, Services 10.2
10 Scientific, Photographic, and Control Equipment 9.9
11 Household and Personal Products 8.7
12 Utilities: Gas and Electric 8.7
13 Aerospace and Defense 7.6
14 Food Services 7.1
15 Industrial Machinery 6.9
16 Food Consumer Products 6.7
17 Electronics, Electrical Equipment 6.5
18 Commercial Banks 5.2
19 Telecommunications 5.1
20 Chemicals 5.0
21 Construction and Farm Machinery 5.0
22 Insurance: Life, Health (stock) 4.6
23 Information Technology Services 4.5
24 Computers, Office Equipment 4.3
25 Metals 3.9
26 Wholesalers: Diversified 3.5
27 Insurance: Property and Casualty (stock) 3.3
28 Specialty Retailers 3.2
29 General Merchandisers 3.2
30 Health Care: Pharmacy and Other Services 3.0
31 Packaging, Containers 3.0
32 Beverages 2.9
33 Engineering, Construction 2.7
34 Health Care: Medical Facilities 2.4
35 Health Care: Insurance and Managed Care 2.2
36 Petroleum Refining 2.1
37 Food and Drug Stores 1.5
38 Pipelines 1.5
39 Wholesalers: Health Care 1.3
40 Semiconductors and Other Electronic Components 1.0
41 Energy 0.9
42 Home Equipment, Furnishings 0.7
43 Food Production 0.6
44 Wholesalers: Electronics and Office Equipment -0.3
45 Diversified Financials -0.6
46 Motor Vehicles and Parts -0.7
47 Insurance: Life, Health (mutual) -3.0
48 Hotels, Casinos, Resorts -4.5
49 Automotive Retailing, Services -7.9
50 Forest and Paper Products -9.6
51 Entertainment -10.0
52 Real Estate -13.4
53 Airlines -13.5

So, in 2008, health insurers ranked 35th in profitability returning a meager 2.2 percent on revenues. What this means is that for every dollar health insurers brought in, they made 2.2 cents.

Sadly, for liberal media members like Reich, that's considered TOO MUCH! Nice job of Will to point out his inanity.

Of course, he'll probably be the next liberal economist in the media to win a Nobel Prize.

But for now, Reich was just the second media darling in eight days to go head to head with Will and lose.

For those that have forgotten, George smacked around New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on last Sunday's "This Week."

Who's next?

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.