Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Obama's Healthcare Offensive

One annoying thing about the anti-Obama progressives is their utter insistence that we're on an eternal slippery slope.  Any misstep by Obama on any issue is ground that we can never recover.  If Obama doesn't get us a public option now, we'll never get a public option; so it's better to shoot down this plan than ever consider fixing it.  If Obama doesn't hammer Republicans with every speech, he'll never be able to hammer them.  And so we have to go all-out all the time, or we lose every inch we don't nail down to the ground.

And of course, that's horseshit.  You can't unburn a bridge, but you can always act firm to someone you were being nice to.  And that's what we're seeing now, as Obama continues his healthcare reform offensive by saying many of the things progressives were acting like he could no longer say.  And that's why they got all this backwards: Had Obama gone balls-out and demanded single-payer healthcare while defying any Republican to dare oppose him, they would have laughed in his face while taking potshots at the giant target he had put on himself.  Obama would be painted into a corner that mainstream Democrats in Congress would have been forced to hold the can for.

And worst of all, he would have made all those scare stories of the government taking away your healthcare true.  I'm not sure why that keeps getting lost in all this, but for as much as Democrats marvel at the depth of Republican lies on healthcare, many of those lies would have been trues, had Obama listened to progressives.  Because many of these people DO have a radical agenda, which even I have serious issues about.  They want a serious overhaul of our system, and that's just not something I'm on-board with. 

And yes, single-payer is fairly radical; though not nearly as radical as some of the plans they have in mind.  Of course, when these people discuss single-payer, they don't have an actual plan in mind; merely a vague concept.  And it's a guarantee that, were the current reform plan single-payer, these people would be entirely pissed at how Obama bungled it; no matter what he did.  For as much as they imagine they have a firm line in the sand, that line will always be an undeterminable distance from wherever the rest of the Democrats are.  That's their purpose in life: To be to the left of everyone else.

A Decent Solution

Were we crafting a perfect solution from scratch, yeah, I'd seriously consider many of these options.  But that's not the case.  We're trying to craft a decent solution mid-stream, while also keeping politics into consideration, and that's really not the time to get experimental.  And for as much as I'm fine with these people having their opinions, I'll be damned if I let them cow me into submission simply because I disagree with them.  Because for as much as they bitch about being ignored, their real problem is that we're not all obeying their orders.  And in that respect, they're really not much different from Republicans.

And does it need to be pointed out that all these political and policy experts are loudly denouncing Obama for not following their orders, even though he was clever enough to become president, while his progressive critics couldn't even win a spot on their local school board?  For as much as they insist that all voters want is a bold leader who takes an action, these people seem completely incapable of putting that simple rule into effect. 

So instead, they'll scream at Obama from the comfort of their keyboards, because he hasn't taken the dictatorial powers that they imagine they deserve.  Yet as we all know, things would be a lot easier in a dicatorship, just as long as you're the dictator.


Anonymous said...

medicare for all who want it. wow, that was complicated.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Yes, Anonymous, you just crafted legislation that could be passed and implemented. Oh wait. No, it's not. It's a vague concept suitable for a bumpersticker and little else.

Of course, that's all you meant it to be: a quickie slogan to sell a far more complicated bill. But coming up with quickie slogans is the easy part. Crafting legislation that solves our problems and could pass Congress is the hard part. You only confirmed what I wrote.

Anonymous said...

And you provide a quickie dismissal. Do you really expect anyone to draft a complete bill in order to discuss the issue? That's absurd. Extending medicare by allowing people to pay premiums if they were under 65 would be trivial compared to the bloated gerrymandered plans currently called "legislation ready to pass". The fact is the current bill(s) provide broken benefits which will probably cause enormous damage. The best example is the requirement to allow pre-existing conditions without effective limits on the premiums. Offering a plan no one can afford is no plan at all. The medicare machinery is already in place, on a scale that proves it will work for the larger population, and works very well for one of the sickest population groups, the elderly. Don't pretend this is not a genuine option. The fact is the insurance industry could not possibly compete with medicare for all and that's the only reason it wasn't considered. Not because it isn't a real "plan".

I generally find you pretty cogent but I think you are way off base this time. The administration has made hash of this by starting with a crippled position and congress just made it worse.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Look, the primary reason you offered that "plan" was because it was a quickie slogan. To suggest otherwise is an insult to us both. After all, that's what the "wow, that was complicated" line was all about. No, it's not a complicated sales pitch, but the sales pitch isn't the hard part. Writing and passing legislation is the hard part and imagining that we could expand Medicare merely by allowing people to pay for it is ridiculous. If you've got an analysis explaining that to me, I'll read it; but I suspect that you really don't know much more about this than the basic "plan" you gave.

BTW, I would completely support Medicare For All, but for various reasons, that's not an option. And hey, maybe you really are more politically and policy savvy than Obama, in which case you should find it extremely easy to win political office and make the changes that you think are so easily made. But we both know the system is rigged against such things and Obama is facing those same problems. And the main problem is that power is shared in democracies and some people have more than others. No slogan will fix that either. Even Bush had a hard time getting Congress to do anything and spent tons of political capital merely to do popular items like war and taxcuts.

As for the current bill, I defer to Ezra Klein:
[Private insurance] will have to spend 85 percent or 80 percent (depending on the market) of every premium dollar on care. It won't be able to reject people for preexisting conditions. It will be in a regulated exchange where it has to justify premium increases and bad behavior or face exclusion.

That sounds like an effective limit on premiums to me. And if you've got some reason to disagree, I'd be happy to hear it.

Anonymous said...

Last word from me: I will see your Klein and raise you a Grayson...


Bill, ready to pass. It's really that easy.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Yes, and Grayson's amendment is over three pages long, while yours was six words; yet mocked me because of its simpleness. You gave a slogan, not a plan.

Beyond that, you didn't address anything Klein said, nor does anything Grayson did refute it. My point wasn't that our current bill is the best thing we can get. My point is that the bill we're getting is a whole lot better than you're suggesting it is. And if I'm wrong, explain why I'm wrong. But posting Grayson's bill, which I support (assuming it does what it's supposed to do), doesn't in any way negate the effectiveness of the bill we already have.

And again, it's not enough to get a good plan. That's the easy part. Getting a good plan that passes is the hard part, and Grayson isn't even close to getting that done.