You hear it over and over again, in casual conversation and in serious debates among experts: If we create universal health insurance here in the U.S., then we'll end up with less responsive, less advanced medical care. Few arguments have done as much political damage to the cause of universal health care.
DETROIT, Michigan Unless you are Abraham Lincoln and you're dedicating a Civil War memorial, it is virtually impossible to say something meaningful in three minutes. You can get through five or maybe six hundred words, which is the equivalent of two or three paragraphs, at best. And if you're appearing at a public event, you'll have to spend some of your time profusely thanking your hosts and flattering the audience. That leaves even less time to make an impression.
It's hard not to mistake the parallels between the career of Mitt Romney and the career of his father, former Michigan Governor George Romney. Both men became famous, and wealthy, in the world of business. Both then heard the call of public service, becoming the governor of relatively liberal states. From there, both sought the Republican presidential nomination. George Romney lost his bid for the nomination. Will Mitt succeed? What is he willing to do to avoid his father's fate? I tackle these questions in my profile of Mitt in the current issue.
The warnings went out in a 2004 company newsletter: Watch out for "ascruffy guy in a baseball cap." The scruffy guy was Michael Mooreand the company was pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, whoseexecutives had gotten wind of Moore's new project: a documentaryabout the health care system called Sicko. The executives figuredit was only a matter of time before Moore showed up on theirdoorstep, camera in hand--if he hadn't already.
Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate revealed about as much as the previous ones did--which is to say, not that much. Eight candidates shared the stage at Howard University, for an exchange that lasted only an hour--in part because the opening formalities inexplicably soaked up nearly 20 minutes of air time. And it wasn't even an exchange per se. Instead, after each question, each candidate got a turn to answer, making for a tedious and rushed dialogue.
In the last 30 years or so, few arguments have hindered liberalism more than the charge that government programs are miserable failures. And it is true: Some government programs really have turned out pretty badly. Building colossal concrete housing projects and then filling them exclusively with very poor people, for example, didn't turn out to be such a hot idea. But it's become harder to make such arguments recently, since the federal government has junked a lot of those less successful programs while concentrating on new, more promising initiatives.
In Iowa on Tuesday, when Senator Barack Obama gave a speech about health care, he started by introducing Amy Chicos and telling her story. It seems that Amy and her husband, Lane, run a small business providing broadband Internet access to their small town. Twenty years ago, Lane was diagnosed with cancer--and ended up losing a lung, a leg bone, and part of his hip. He's in complete remission now, which is the good news. But, as a cancer survivor, he has sky high insurance premiums. The Chicos now pay 40 percent of their income for health insurance.
More than a dozen years later, Hillary Clinton wants the world to know that she has seen the error of her ways. That health care plan--the one that was supposed to revolutionize the medical industry and guarantee every American insurance--wasn't such a hot idea after all. "I think that both the process and the plan were flawed," Clinton admitted in an interview with The New York Times, demonstrating a level of contrition more fitting for an Iraq war architect.
More than a dozen years later, Hillary Clinton wants the world toknow that she has seen the error of her ways. That health careplan--the one that was supposed to revolutionize the medicalindustry and guarantee every American insurance--wasn't such a hotidea after all. "I think that both the process and the plan wereflawed," Clinton admitted in an interview with The New York Times,demonstrating a level of contrition more fitting for an Iraq wararchitect. "We were trying to do something that was very hard to do,and we made a lot of mistakes." A lot of people will hear that and nod in agreement.