August 05, 2008
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.
July 30, 2008
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.
The Political Virtues Of Mitt Romney's Shamelessness
July 29, 2008
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.
Mccain's Latest Dodge On Social Security
July 27, 2008
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.
Obama Preparing To Govern? Good!
July 25, 2008
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.
Fighting The Good Fight On Health Care
July 16, 2008
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.
Veep Veep: Keep An Eye On Jack Reed
July 13, 2008
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.
These Are My Friends. Here's Why They're Wrong.
July 11, 2008
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.
Ted Kennedy's Prescription For Change
July 10, 2008
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.
A Campaign Exaggeration That Actually Matters
July 09, 2008
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.