In case the McCain campaign's theme, "Country First," was too subtle, the Republican National Committee just sent out a fundraising pitch called "Good for America--or Good for Obama?" Here are the highlights: It seems the Democrats’ would-be president of the United States of America really believes that the rest of the world’s problems, and approval, trump the interests of Americans when it comes to how we live our lives and where our money is spent.While stumping for the support of his party’s leftist base, Obama proclaimed, "we can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our hom
My colleague Josh Patashnik and quasi-colleague Nate Silver have done a public service by placing Senator Evan Bayh in a proper ideological context. Notwithstanding Bayh's image as a squishy moderate and occasional crusader against the left, his voting record turns out to be relatively progressive. And that goes a long way to making liberals like me feel more comfortable with the possibility of Bayh becoming Barack Obama's running mate. But ideology isn't the only reason some of us are wary of Bayh. Another is his history of accomplishment--or relative lack thereof.
If you are one of those people who believes the government, rather than for-profit corporations, should provide all Americans with health insurance, then you haven't had much trouble finding evidence to support your view. "Single-payer" systems, as these schemes are known, don't fritter money away on marketing, profits, and the constant efforts insurers make to enroll only healthy, cheap-to-insure customers. Single-payer systems also offer free choice of doctor and hospital, a privilege your typical managed-care enrollee covets.
Two of the smartest writers on health care issues, the Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler and consultant Robert Laszewski, raise a really good question about Mitt Romney's ability to serve as John McCain's running mate. As you may recall, when Romney was governor, he signed into law a bill that is designed, eventually, to make sure every resident of Massachusetts has health insurance. It is, in other words, an act designed to achieve universal health care. And, at least in its broad design, it looks more than a little like the plan Barack Obama has proposed to implement nationally.
On ABC's "This Week" today, George Stephanoupols asked John McCain about Social Security. Specifically, he asked about McCain's support for privatization--that is, allowing workers to withhold their contributions to the Trust Fund and invest, instead, in private savings accounts. McCain demurred, saying* "I have said, and I will say, that everything has to be on the table." Afterwards, he talked about staging some sort of bipartisan discussions on the topic, pointing to the negotiations that Ronald Reagan and then-Speaker Tip O'Neill had back in the early 1980s.
Barack Obama is already planning for the presidential transition. Reports the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder: "Barack is well aware of the complexity and the organizational challenge involved in the transition process and he has tasked s small group to begin thinking through the process,” a senior campaign adviser said.
Last week, the most well-known advocates of single-payer health insurance were less than enthusiastic about the launch of Health Care for America Now (HCAN). HCAN has called for the creation of a universal coverage system that includes the option of enrolling in a public insurance plan. It's not the same as offering a true single-payer system, in which everybody (or virtually everybody) got insurance from a public insurance program. But it's good enough for now--and probably as good as we''ll get politically, at least for the forseeable future. Or so I argued in a recent article.
On "Meet the Press" this morning Andrea Mitchell name-dropped Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island as a possible vice presidential contender for Barack Obama--observing, among other things, that Reed will be joining Obama on his upcoming trip to Iraq. Along with some colleagues and friends, I've been watching Reed for a while now. And, as recently as a week ago, I was on the verge of posting a long item touting him as a strong, if relatively unheralded, vice presidential possibility.
Physicians for a National Health Plan is one of those groups that should get a lot more attention than it does. Founded in 1987 and some 15,000 members strong, the organization has been a consistent, passionate, and frequently persuasive advocate for single-payer health insurance--that is, having the government insure everybody directly, though a program that looks something like Medicare. One of their longtime members, Don McCanne, sends out a daily e-mail on health care that has been the inspiration for more than one story of mine.
Paul Krugman nails it today: The battle over doctor fees and the Medicare Advantage plans is one of the best signs yet that health care reform, an elusive political goal for so long, may have a shot this time around. For those who didn't follow the battle, the basic parameters were this: Medicare's reimbursement system includes an automatic pay cut for physicians whenever the program's cost exceeds a certain threshhold. Reducing physician fees isn't necessairly a bad idea, if done smartly and in modest increments.