The Wall Street Journal reports that Arnold Schwarzenegger's California "Universal Health Care" initiative has died. They are not grieving over the corpse.
So much for that. The California legislature is probably the most liberal this side of Vermont, and even Democrats refused to become shock troops for this latest liberal experiment. Mr. Schwarzenegger and Democrats in the State Assembly did agree on a compromise plan in December. But on Monday, only a single member of the Senate Health Committee voted to report the bill to the full chamber — and thus it joined a graveyard full of state "universal" health-care failures.
Like collapses in Illinois, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, this one crumpled because of the costs, which are always much higher than anticipated. The truth teller was state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, who thought to ask about the price tag of a major new entitlement amid what's already a $14.5 billion budget shortfall.
An independent analysis confirmed the plan would be far more expensive than proponents admitted. Even under the most favorable assumptions, spending would outpace revenue by $354 million after two years, and likely $3.9 billion or more. "A situation that I thought was bad," Mr. Perata noted, "in fact was worse."
This reveals that liberal health-care politics is increasingly the art of the impossible: You can't make coverage "universal" while at the same time keeping costs in check — at least without prohibitive tax increases. Lowering cost and increasing access, in other words, are separate and irreconcilable issues.
That is the fact, of course. These schemes have always turned out to be vastly more expensive than originally planned. In the end, when the taxes cannot be raised any further, the inevitable result is rationing of the health care. That is precisely what is happening in Canada and Britain – and I'm quite sure in every other socialized medicine nation. The money has to come from somewhere or the services have to be limited.
The problem is that under socialized medicine, you don't get to choose. Someone else chooses for you.