Paul Ryan

David Brooks thinks it. David Gregory thinks it. The Washington Post editorial page thinks it. And, what the heck, I think it. If health care reform passes Congress, the final legislation probably won't cut the cost of medical care as quickly as seems possible on paper. But would the legislation make a good start--as good a start as possible, given political reality? Brooks, Gregory, the Post, and plenty of other critics seem to think the answer is "no." I think they are nuts.

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Since conservatives continue to swoon unashamedly over Paul Ryan and his near-unique ability to ability to discuss health care at some higher level than Fox News talking points -- more examples of the Ryan love-fest can be found here and here -- I should interject to point out that Ryan has proven fairly unable to defend himself. If you're not following this gripping story, Ryan appeared at the Blair House summit and charged that President Obama's health care plan would increase rather than decrease deficits.

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In 2003, Ron Suskind wrote a famous article about the Bush administration's lack of interest in, or knowledge of, domestic policy. The article centered on the influence of Karl Rove and his staff: "There were no actual policy white papers on domestic issues. There were, truth be told, only a couple of people in the West Wing who worried at all about policy substance and analysis, and they were even more overworked than the stereotypical nonstop, twenty-hour-a-day White House staff.

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Paul Ryan's Hokum

At last week's health care summit, Paul Ryan launched a broad attack on the fiscal soundness of President Obama's health care reform. rather than interjecting with a reply, Obama allowed the next speaker in line to make his point. It's possible that Obama, who had otherwise displayed tremendous command of the details of the issue, simply didn't know how to respond.

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Ezra Klein has a lengthy, thorough response to the arguments that Republican Paul Ryan has made about the Democratic plans for health care reform. According to Ezra, Ryan make a few good points but is mostly wrong. It will shock you, I know, to hear that I agree with Ezra's analysis. But that's not the reason, or at least the only reason, the article is worth reading. At the end of the article, Ezra reports on an interview he conducted with economist Robert Reischauer: Robert Reischauer is the head of the Urban Institute.

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In a superb speech at the Brookings Institution this afternoon, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called on the United States—elected representatives and average citizens alike—to “rededicate ourselves to the painful, unglamorous, and indispensible work of fiscal discipline.” Drawing on the studies of leading economists and historians, he warned that failing to do so would be committing ourselves to national decline.

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Summited Out

Who won? It's the exact same question people asked in 2008, after each of the presidential debates. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. What's "winning"--scoring more debate points, making fewer gaffes, or simply appealing to more voters? And aren't all those judgments pretty subjective anyway? But if Thursday's event didn't produce a winner, it was clarifying. Health care reform, as I've said many times now, is really about achieving three basic goals: Making sure everybody has insurance, making sure coverage is good, and making sure that, over time, medical care will cost less.

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Who won? It's the exact same question people asked in 2008, after each of the presidential debates. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. What's "winning"--scoring more debate points, making fewer gaffes, or simply appealing to more voters? And aren't all those judgments pretty subjective anyway? But if Thursday's event didn't produce a winner, it was clarifying. (Click here to read more.)

Most of the Republicans have relied upon scripted talking points and generalized denunciations of big government and a "government takeover." Numerous Democrats in the room have explained why it's not possible to ban insurance companies from discriminating against those with preexisting conditions without also covering everybody and subsidizing those who afford it.

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Mike Potemra at National Review argues that liberals should like the filibuster: I address this question to Rachel Maddow, who just delivered a long and passionate address against the filibuster (I caught only the last five minutes of it): Three years from now, Palin is president, with J. D. Hayworth as Senate majority leader, and Michele Bachmann as Speaker of the House. (Of course it’s impossible – just like the election of Obama was, and the election of Scott Brown, and . .

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