Health Care

Does It Matter Who Succeeds Ted Kennedy?
August 23, 2009

I know this is kind of a gruesome exercise, but since Sen. Kennedy himself initiated the discussion, I think it's within bounds to think through the political implications of his possible death in the next few months. Simply put, last week's proposal--having the Massachusetts governor appoint a caretaker senator until a special election could be held five months hence--was a tactical mistake. Why? Pretty much everyone assumes Kennedy's major concern is health care.

Scaling Back Reform: Dumb Policy, Dumber Politics
August 23, 2009

Senator Kent Conrad was back on television Sunday morning. This time the venue was “Face the Nation.” But the message was the same one he’s been delivering for a while: It’s time to scale back health care reform. “It’s going to have to be significantly less than what we’ve heard talked about,” Conrad said. Conrad was apparently referring to the bills three House committees and one Senate committee have already produced. Those bills called for federal outlays of around $1 trillion, or more, over the next ten years. They also called for the creation of a robust public insurance plan.

Sunday Morning Gotcha: Gregory Busts Hatch
August 23, 2009

Health care was the main topic of discussion on Meet the Press this morning. And at one point, Senator Orrin Hatch made a misleading, if all too familiar, claim. If reform includes a public insurance plan, Hatch said, tens of millions of people would lose their private insurance and enroll in the public plan instead. Hatch went on to say that both government and private-sector economists agree, citing one estimate that more than a hundred million people could end up in the government-run plan. The claim is misleading because the government and private-sector economists didn't say that.

Chucking Grassley
August 22, 2009

'We should not have a government plan that will pull the plug on grandma." That's not Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin talking. That's Charles Grassley, the supposedly respectable Republican senator from Iowa, speaking before a town hall in August. Grassley knows better, of course. As the ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee, he's been immersed in the issue for months.

McKinsey On The Case For Playing Nice With China
August 20, 2009

A recurring source of anxiety among op-ed writers lately is the fear that China is winning some sort of clean-energy race. Earlier this month, venture capitalist John Doerr and GE head Jeffrey Immelt took to The Washington Post to fret that Chinese cars were 33 percent more efficient than U.S. cars, that China was investing ten times the fraction of its GDP on clean energy that the United States was, and that China was on track to generate five times as much wind power by 2020. "We are clearly not in the lead today," they concluded.

Why the Public Option S**t Storm is Great News
August 19, 2009

I'm almost certainly going to get in trouble for blogging on vacation, but I thought this point needed to be made and didn't see anyone making it: I have no idea whether the administration intended to shift its position on the public option over the weekend (you can make a plausible case that it didn't), and, if so, what it hoped to accomplish. But what it has accomplished seems really important and helpful.

At Jesse Jackson Jr.'s Town Hall
August 19, 2009

This evening I was sitting in a packed church at 113th and Halsted in the Chicago southland listening to Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. present an impassioned populist defense of the United States Post office. Reverend Jackson and I were talking this morning about health insurance reform. He said ‘“Jesse, sum up this public option thing for me.’ I heard the President give an analysis that I think appropriate: Federal Express, UPS, DHL, the private option. The public option: email, the post office. If you want to pay your bill, sending it overnight for $30, choose the private option.

Cohn on Countdown
August 19, 2009

Jonathan Cohn was on MSNBC's Countdown last night, discussing why co-ops would be less effective than a public option. You can watch a video of his appearance here.

Divide and Conquer
August 19, 2009

Well, well, well. Maybe the Democrats are ready to get tough after all. The big legislative obstacle to passing health reform has always been the Senate, where it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster--60 votes the Democrats may not have. It seems increasingly unlikely the ailing Ted Kennedy could be present for a vote.

TNRtv: The Key To Resuscitating Health Reform
August 19, 2009

Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the Century Foundation, weighs in on the declining popularity of health care reform, and reveals what Democrats must do to save it. --Ben Eisler Check out the latest on TNRtv: Riedel: On The Eve Of The Elections, "The Taliban Are Winning" Kauffmann: The Reviews I Wish I Hadn't Written Johnson: What Obama Must Do To Pass Regulatory Reform