Jonathan Cohn
Senior Editor

Troubling Answers On Taxes
April 16, 2008

I'm not a big fan of Barack Obama's proposal to raise the cap on the payroll tax, at least right now, mostly for political reasons. The greatest danger to the program isn't its projected financial shortfall, which is reliatvely tiny. But I'm also not a fan of Hillary Clinton's attacks on the idea. And the exchange they just had shows why. A few minutes ago, one of the moderators--I think it was Charlie Gibson--asked why both candidates would consider raising capital gains taxes or taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Both candidates answered, correctly, that sometimes taxes are worth it.

Ah, That's Better
April 16, 2008

Ever since the commercial break, it's been all substance: A meaty question on the Middle East followed by some queries on taxes and the budget. And both candidates are using them to make coherent arguments about their policy ideas. And what do I think about these substantive points? Stay tuned.  (Those things aren't so easy to blog in 90 seconds!) --Jonathan Cohn

What A Speech Can't Fix
April 16, 2008

I continue to think that Obama's speech on race, from a few weeks ago, is one of the most elegant and powerful political events I've ever seen. And I gather, from the poll numbers, that it was at least modestly successful (if not very successful) at winning over voters who'd soured on Obama because they heard Rev. Wright's controversial comments. The problem with the speech is that--like any great speech--it's not nearly as powerful in sound bites.

Charlie Gibson Channels Tim Russert
April 16, 2008

I’ve enjoyed ABC’s coverage of the campaign so far; Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos have, in my opinion, run by far the most substantive (and, as a result, revealing) debates. So I find this first question, asking whether either candidate would guarantee to make the other his/her running mate, a real disappointment. This question reveals nothing about the candidates--not their policy preferences, not their respective governing styles. It’s just an attempt to trap them--a gotcha question, in other words. I expect this silliness from Tim Russert.  Et tu, Charlie?--Jonathan Cohn  

Role Reversal
April 16, 2008

For most of the campaign, one of the clearest contrasts between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has been stylistic: She was pedestrian, talking in simple terms about people’s problems and her plans to help solve them; he was lyrical, speaking in grand themes about changing America. In tonight’s opening statements, I thought, both candidates played against their types.

'Sicko' For Smarties
April 15, 2008

It was a little less than a year ago that filmmaker Michael Moore got the nation’s attention with Sicko. But it’s hard to know how many people watching the film came away convinced, particularly when it came to Moore’s portrayal of health care systems abroad. Critics of universal coverage have long claimed that such systems inevitably lead to long waits, substandard care, and generally unsatisfied patients; to counter these arguments, Moore showcased happy patients in Britain, Canada, and France.

Want Good Health Care? Try Taiwan.
April 15, 2008

Over on the main page, I review a new "Frontline" special about health care systems abroad called "Sick Around the World." It's good! And if you don't catch it tonight on PBS, I recently learned, it should be available on the Frontline website. I also learned that National Public Radio is airing a companion series of segments on its shows this week. You can listen to the first one, which explains some of the finer points of the Japanese system, here. As it happens, I was just at a special screening of the film. In attendance were Washington Post correspondent T.R.

Mccain To America: "i Care"
April 14, 2008

It was entirely predictable that John McCain would use Barack Obama's comments about small town America to rebrand Obama as a liberal elitist. But who knew McCain would also use the opportunity to rebrand himself as a modern-day Bobby Kennedy? During some remarks this morning, McCain announced that he will spend next week touring communities coping with job losses and hard economic times. His goal, according to the prepared text sent to media, is "to tell people living there that there must not be any forgotten parts of America; any forgotten Americans.

Why You--yes, You!--should Care About Health Care
April 14, 2008

Forget the the drug companies, the insurers, and the small business lobby. Forget Bill Kristol, Fox News, and the Republican Party, too. The largest obstacle to creating universal health care is you. OK, maybe not you personally. But you collectively--i.e., the American people--are a huge political problem. Yes, polls show people support universal health care in the abstract. They may even say they're willing to pay more taxes for it. But once the debate turns real, they get skittish. Most people, after all, have health insurance already.

Is Mccain Learning To Love The Nanny State?
April 10, 2008

Last month, when John McCain decided to address the housing crisis, he adopted a decidedly cautious tone.