Stephen Walt’s recent post describes one of the connections between healthcare and national security. He argues that our increasingly bleak fiscal situation, combined with the aging of the baby boomer generation, may put more pressure on dollars going to defense. He suggests that actors like the AARP might start to care just how many extra F-22s Congress will insist on purchasing above and beyond what the Pentagon says it wants and needs.
There are at least two other health and national security connections, and I’ve called healthcare a “formestic” issue for this reason. First, pandemic disease, such as influenza, is one of only two outside threats (the other being a nuclear attack by terrorists) that could strike the U.S. at any time and that could potentially kill hundreds of thousands of Americans. It, plainly, is a national security threat. If a pandemic ever really blew up in this country, we would be much better off if everyone had health insurance. Global cooperation and the World Health Organization are critical to protecting us from this threat.
Another linkage has to do with America’s place in the world vis-a-vis rising powers. The fact is that one of the main reasons cited by businesses that decide to offshore jobs to places like China and India is the rising costs of healthcare in this country.
Moreover, an absolutely critical driver of U.S. success — particularly in a globalized economy — is our ability to innovate. I haven’t seen any real statistics, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence out there to suggest that some would-be entrepreneurs opt to stay in corporate jobs because they cant give up their health insurance. We are crazy to hobble ourselves like this.
– Nina Hachigian