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.
Back during the primaries, you may recall, Hillary Clinton got a lot of grief when it turned out she had exaggerated the danger she faced when visiting Bosnia as First Lady during the 1990s. It dominated news coverage for a week and dealt her a major political setback, which is pretty typical for media coverage of exaggerations--both real and imagined. (Just ask Al Gore.) I'm sure, then, that the talk shows will be all over this terrific piece of journalism by Alexander Burns and Avi Zenilman in Politico.
...it rains? I agree that having Obama speak at Invesco Field, before some 75,000 screaming partisans, should make for an impressive show of enthusiasm. But it does raise one potential complication. Will the weather cooperate? Two years ago, when the Democrats were still deciding on a city for the convention, "Colorado Luis" posted this information at DailyKos: The 2008 Democratic National Convention will begin August 25, 2008, two years from today, and end August 28, 2008. My home town of Denver is one of the three finalists, along with Minneapolis-St. Paul and New York City.
Political autopsies of the failed campaign for universal health care in the 1990s frequently focus on the activities of special interests who opposed it. Not that many people saw the infamous "Harry and Louise" ads, in which an average-looking couple sat at their dining room table worrying that the Clinton health plan would take away their choice of doctor. But the ads came to symbolize the misleading, and expensive, lobbying campaign waged by small insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, and other conservative groups.
Politico's Mike Allen reports that fundraising is a chief reason Mitt Romney sits atop the list of possible running mates for John McCain: Thanks to Romney's connections with both the business and Mormon communities, McCain's advisers believe Romney could raise as much as $60 million in just 60 days. Over at the Stump, my colleague Noam offers some very good reasons to be skeptical about this argument.
As the primaries dragged on--and on and on and on--many pundits worried that it was damaging Barack Obama's chances to win the presidency. (And, just to be clear, by the last few primaries I was agreeing with them.) As the theory went, Hillary Clinton was giving the Republicans arguments they would use against Obama in the general election. In addition, it was widely said, she was forcing him to fight what was, in effect, a two-front war, fending off attacks from Clinton and John McCain simultaneously.
As if it weren't bad enough that women still end up getting stuck with more of the housework, now it turns out they're also getting stuck with higher health insurance bills. That's the news out of California, where the state's Blue Shield insurance plan recently announced new rates for people purchasing coverage individually, rather than through an employer or other large group. Blue Shield unveiled the new rates in a recent letter that contained a chart. And if you examined the chart closely--as David Lazarus did for his Sunday Los Angeles Times column--a gender differential comes into view.
It might be politically convenient for Democrats if Florida Governor Charlie Crist, a possible John McCain running mate, were an environmentalist's nightmare. As of yesterday, alas, he appears not to be. Crist just announced the completion of a deal under which Florida would buy the U.S. Sugar Corporation--including its property in the Everglades swamp--at a cost of $1.75 billion. Why is that important? And what, if anything, does it say about Crist?
While I was hunting down video links for my item about vice presidential candidates and their great moments in campaign debates, I stumbled across the clip below, which is from the 1992 campaign. It doesn't feature the veep candidates, though. It showcases Bill Clinton going up against George H.W. Bush in what would become an iconic moment of that campaign. For those who don't remember, this was second of the three presidential debates that year. It was a town hall-style event, with audience members asking questions.
The prospect of making Hillary Clinton the vice presidential nominee remains politically problematic for several reasons, not least among them the distractions her husband might create both during and after the campaign. But "problematic" isn't the same as "unthinkable." And longtime Democratic operative Bob Beckel has a new article over at RealClearPolitics making some several arguments for why, on pure political grounds, Barack Obama should give her serious consideration.