Will A President Obama Do Anything On Health Care?

By Big Tent Democrat

NOTE Krugman notices. Do not hold your breath waiing for the A-List blogs too.

In an earlier post, I highlighted a David Brooks column that took pokes at Hillary Clinton because Tennessee Bush Dog Democrat Jim Cooper did not like that Hillary fought for universal health care in 1993 and 1994. To me, that was something GOOD about Hillary.

Mike Lux at Open Left highlights that this same Jim Cooper is an Obama point man on health care. This is worrisome to say the least. As Lux writes:

[T]here are still certain things that make me really, really nervous about Obama. At the top of that list is the health care debate, where I think he's just wrong about the importance of universality, and where he's employed Harry and Louise-style tactics to argue against Clinton's plan. My concerns shifted into overdrive, though, when I noticed that the Obama campaign is now using Rep. Jim Cooper as a spokesperson/surrogate on health care.

I was part of the Clinton White House team on the health care reform issue in 1993/94, and no Democrat did more to destroy our chances in that fight than Jim Cooper. . . .

He quickly became the leading spokesman on the Dem side for the insurance industry position, and undercut us at every possible opportunity, basically ending any hopes we had for a unified Democratic Party position. I was never so delighted to see a Democrat lose as when he went down in the 1994 GOP tide.

What can we expect from a President Obama on health care? Nothing much it seems. It seems clear that if you care about universal health care, Obama is likely to not be your kind of President.

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    Since health care is (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by dk on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 01:48:37 PM EST
    so integral to the U.S. economy as a whole, it is probably the case that Obama will do little to change government's role in the economy in general.  Sure, he'll sign a Democratic Congress' legislation to repeal the most egregious of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, but otherwise an Obama presidency will be a do-nothing one as far as economic policy is concerned.

    And you think Hillary (none / 0) (#52)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:54:38 PM EST
    would do more to change the government's role in the economy?  What evidence is there of this?

    Bill was the one who said in his 1995 State of the Union address that the "era of big government is over."


    There will be no (5.00 / 4) (#53)
    by dk on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:57:45 PM EST
    real economic reform in this country without health care reform.  It is the absolute linchpin of any serious economic policy shift.  Hillary Clinton wants to reform health care; Barack Obama doesn't see it as a priority.

    Democrats lost Congress in 1994 (none / 0) (#62)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:11:02 PM EST
    due in large part to "Hillary Care." Her take-no-prisoners approach failed....

    I see a re-run under Hillary....Her comments today suggest the only lesson she learned is that she has to fight harder.....How about fighting smarter?...

    Obama would strongly disagree that Health Care is not a priority for him....Do you have any evidence that Health Care is not a priority for him?


    Yes (5.00 / 3) (#65)
    by dk on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:17:53 PM EST
    Obama designed a campaign based on the youth vote.  Health Care is a low priority for the majority of young voters, since they themselves don't actually require health care right now, and since health care reform actually requires the most sacrifice from young, healthy people (in that they must pay the brunt of costs even though they do not see immediate rewards for themselves...this is the point of insurance, by the way).

    As evidence of this strategy, see the Harry & Louise ads that Obama resurrected to attack Hillary.  

    Now, this campaign strategy obviously is working well for Obama, as he is now the frontrunner for the campaign.  But I believe he achieved this success by sending the message to his base, young voters, that they will not be asked to make sacrifices for the sake of the common good.  Yes, I know that his campaign rhetoric is one of change, sacrifice, JFK-like "Ask what you can do for your country" stuff.  But the "genius" is that he says that while not requiring sacrifices from his major base of support.


    So, because Obama (none / 0) (#73)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:25:41 PM EST
    appeals to young voters, who are selfish, Obama doesn't care about Health Care?....

    Wow, not much faith in young people....

    I think mandates would sink what will be dubbed Hillary Care II within days of her taking office....

    Why would Hillary succeed this time around on health care when she failed so miserably the first time?  She has the scars to prove she was in the fight--and lost--but what has she learned?  She keeps saying how hard she will fight.....That sounds like she learned nothing and will employ the same strategy--only moreso--the second time around....Same strategy and tactics, same result....


    McCain does not have very good details (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by cannondaddy on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 01:49:07 PM EST
    His website suggests that healthcare reform is needed and should be comprehesive in scope but there's not there for specifics.  He does propose a tax deduction for insurance premiums $2,500 for individuals $5,000 for families.  I don't see him making heathcare a big plank in his platform.

    Re: McCain (5.00 / 4) (#9)
    by CognitiveDissonance on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 01:53:52 PM EST
    This really highlights the fact that the right will never fix health care. Their answer to everything is a tax deduction. Anyone in the health care industry knows that cost isn't the only problem with health care in this country, though certainly a part of it. There is also the "cherry picking" the insurance companies do regarding who they will insure. A tax deduction does nothing for people the insurance industry won't insure. Nor does it help when you get dropped after you get sick. Nor does it do anything about the ridiculous prices Americans are charged for prescription drugs. The whole problem with anything the Right does is that they have to stick in profits in the middle of it, which jacks up the cost and keeps them rising without any controls. We aren't going to have good health care as long as it's a "for profit" system without regulation.

    That's the deal breaker (5.00 / 7) (#6)
    by CognitiveDissonance on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 01:49:21 PM EST
    Yes, and I can see them pushing him much farther to the right than he already is. What we'll end up with is McCain's health care plan, which is basically what we have right now. We'll see the same kind of bill he ended up giving Exalon. This is just one of the many deal breakers for me when it comes to Obama. I can't believe how many supposedly progressive people actually believe he is the more progressive candidate. If you actually compare their plans, he is pretty far to the right of Clinton.

    I'm not sure what will come out of McCain for (none / 0) (#14)
    by RalphB on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:06:00 PM EST
    a health care plan during the GE.  There was an RNC conference this weekend in LA and one of the prime topics was that if the Republicans want to win in '08, they will have to put up a good health care reform plan.

    I don't have a clue what that means from the R viewpoint but I think it's interesting.


    Interesting about the GOP mtg. (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:12:52 PM EST
    The only reports I read were that they were lining up their ducks against Obama.

    Arguing Exelon on Health Care (none / 0) (#42)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:42:15 PM EST
    The argument in the above post appears to be that because Obama did something harmful to progressive causes on the Exelon bill, he cannot be trusted on health care.  Barbara Boxer, however, defended Obama on Exelon.  Here is the Washinton Post article about Barbara Boxer, Obama & Exelon.:

    Although Obama had initially introduced the legislation, Inhofe had the decisive say on whether it would move forward. Two other Democratic senators on the committee, Barbara Boxer (CA), and Richard Durbin (IL), said that Obama had little choice except to go along with Inhofe, in order to keep his legislation alive. Both scoffed at Clinton's claims of a "backroom deal" between Obama and Exelon.

    "The choice came down to no bill or a weaker bill," said Boxer, who said she is "neutral" in the presidential campaign. "Barack tried desperately to get it through, but got the best thing he could."

    The Washington Post concludes Hillary's accusations don't pass the Pinocchio Test:

    On the other hand, the Clinton campaign has failed to provide evidence to support the New York senator's claim of a secret deal between Obama and the nuclear power plant operator "to protect them from full disclosure." Exelon lobbied Obama over the nuclear notification bill, but it expressed the same concerns to other senators. Had Obama not agreed to the drafting changes, the bill would almost certainly have been blocked by the Republican majority on the Environment Committee.

    And, Hillary signed on the Exelon bill as a co-sponsor:

    When the revised bill was introduced on September 13, it met with unanimous consent. Senator Clinton issued a press release hailing "this important legislation," saying that it would ensure that the public received "prompt notification" of future leaks at nuclear reactors. On September 25, she signed on as a co-sponsor of the revised bill.

    The Clinton campaign did not respond to several e-mail messages and telephone calls. The campaign website cites a Feb. 3, 2008 New York Times article as the source for the senator's claims about a backroom deal between Obama and Exelon. No other member of the committee has come forward to support the Clinton version of events.

    So, arguing Exelon to prove Obama cannot be counted on for Health Care makes no sense....


    I'm confused (none / 0) (#58)
    by standingup on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:02:12 PM EST
    How does Hillary co-signing Obama's bill or her campaign statements on the bill relate to what Obama will do in attempting to push health care reform through?  We are looking at Obama's position and his ability to negotiate a package through Congress, not debunking whether or not Clinton's claims are correct.  

    I was responing to the post above (none / 0) (#68)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:18:54 PM EST
    mine raising Exelon as evidence that Obama wouldn't do health care...

    The key is having a working majority in the Senate.....Obama is far more likely to have that than Hillary, who on heath care will have every right-wing nut screaming "Hillarycare" from the rooftops....

    Health care would be DOA under Hillary....


    Did you (5.00 / 2) (#84)
    by standingup on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:15:44 PM EST
    read Mike Lux's post?  The Democrats were close to a working majority in the Senate (if you are defining that as 60) in 1993-1994. They also had a majority in the House at the time but there were conservative Dems also fighting health care reform.  And Rep. Jim Cooper, one of the Blue Dogs, that fought the Clinton health care package at that time is working with Obama on his health care plan?  The point is what sort of health care reform Obama will be delivering, not whether he is in a better position than Clinton to get it passed.  

    I think you over-interpret (none / 0) (#88)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:45:07 PM EST
    that Cooper is working for Obama....

    You assign all kinds of nefarious motives....Perhaps co-opting him, or getting him to sell the plan as a "spokeperson/surrogate" (the phrase used by Lux's post), would be a helpful thing...

    If you want to convince skeptics of your plan, who better to sell it to them than a fellow skeptic?

    Lux may have lost his objectivity on this issue....Enlisting former "enemies" in the cause can be smart politics...assuming that Cooper really is an "enemy."

    And, yes, I did read the post....  


    I am not assigning any nefarious motives (5.00 / 2) (#102)
    by standingup on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 07:03:36 PM EST
    Facts are that Cooper was one of the leading House opponents of the Clinton health care in the 90's.  Cooper was (and still is) a centrist who took the position of business and insurance in regards to healthcare reform.  

    It's also a fact that Cooper and former Bill Bradley are holding press conferences specifically on Obama's health care plan.  That is working for Obama.  

    I think we are coming at this from two different angles.  You want to advocate for Obama and I want to see the most progressive health care reform possible passed.  The idea that we constantly have to move to the right to get conservative Dems and Republicans under the guise of bi-partisanship is not what I consider to be a good approach.  I don't care if it is Clinton or Obama, we need to stand strong on getting universal health care that will cover everyone.


    A Detailed plan might (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by kenoshaMarge on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 01:52:19 PM EST
    give voters something to understand so that they know who is most likely to give them the kind of health care plan they want.

    McCain is going to try to shoot holes in anything either Clinton or Obama say anyway. Trying to placate him and his merrrie band of hit men is pointless and rather wimpy.

    Exactly (5.00 / 5) (#10)
    by CognitiveDissonance on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 01:57:44 PM EST
    Bingo. This is a very important difference between Clinton and Obama that people need to know. I know many people who support Clinton on the basis of her health care plan and because they believe that she will fight for it, where Obama will just compromise with the right.

    But I see another good reason to get the details out right now - to get people thinking about it well before it gets hashed out in Congress, to get the objections aired right now and responded to, and to answer the right wing talking points well in advance. Innoculation, in other words. Get the voters on your side right now, before the right starts howling about "socialized medicine."


    I expect Health Care (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by PlayInPeoria on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 01:59:26 PM EST
    for children only. He keeps talking about the Illinois Health Care coverage called All Kids

    The All Kids program offers Illinois' uninsured children comprehensive health care that includes doctor's visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, vision care, dental care and medical devices like eyeglasses and asthma inhalers. Parents pay monthly premiums for the coverage, but rates for middle-income families are significantly lower than they are on the private market. For instance, a family of four that earns between $40,000 and $59,999 a year pays a $40 monthly premium per child, and a $10 co-pay per physician visit. To get enrollment information, fill out the application today. The program officially began on July 1, 2006.

    No adult coverage.....we will not get Universal Health Care.

    Expanding S-ChiP (5.00 / 4) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:02:42 PM EST
    is hardly something new.

    It would have happened already if Congress could override Bush's veto.

    So if that is it, then he will do nothing other than NOT veto S-ChiP.


    My opinion is (none / 0) (#32)
    by PlayInPeoria on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:29:01 PM EST
    just that... he will NOT veto S-CHIP.

    Looking at his plan... I think it is based on the same principle only for adult. I do NOT believe he will get a "Universal Health Care Plan". Or anything close. Too many hints that worry me.

    Watch to see if he brings up children's insurance in the discussion of the next debate. I thinking this is going to be one of those "what I menant" moments.

    I'm also watching the House and Senate races for DEM gains. That may be the dif in what we get.... but Conservative-Dems (I don't like calling them Bush-Dems.. to insulting) have been a big  problem... and will continue to be a big problem.


    BTW (none / 0) (#43)
    by PlayInPeoria on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:43:37 PM EST
    from the Los Angeles debate...

    The Illinois senator said his proposal would require that all children be covered and allow young people to remain on their parents' health insurance up to age 25 -- but would not require adults to purchase care.

    also from the LA debate (5.00 / 2) (#59)
    by Josey on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:03:12 PM EST
    Obama will enforce mandates by making parents pay ALL the back premiums.
    Perhaps he'll resort to garnishing their wages?

    To me, the differences between (5.00 / 5) (#13)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:03:56 PM EST
    Clinton (willing to expressly commit to universal health care with mandates) and Obama (commit to what he calls "universal health care" but w/o mandates) epitomizes the reason HRC is the superior Dem. primary candidate.  Another illustration:  HRC willing to commit to upholding Roe v. Wade; Obama voting "present" (with explanations) in IL. Senate.

    Do you really (none / 0) (#56)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:59:19 PM EST
    believe that Obama would appoint judges who do not support Roe to the Supreme Court?

    The "present" votes have been discussed at length--it is just a scare tactic used by Hillary supporters....

    Kate Michelman, probably the foremost advocate for Choice, President of NARAL for 19 years, supports Obama.....


    I am not certain Obama would not (none / 0) (#61)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:08:17 PM EST
    trade off a dubious Supreme Court appointment in order to get something he cares more about.

    I strongly disagree (none / 0) (#63)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:14:11 PM EST
    and disagree that there is any evidence of that.

    He taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago--I think he gets it....He cares about constitutional rights....


    The only "evidence" I've seen (none / 0) (#72)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:23:12 PM EST
    is his "present" votes in IL. Senata, and, yes, I am aware of all the explanations.

    Check out this post at RedState (none / 0) (#90)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:58:15 PM EST
    accusing Obama of being more left wing on abrotion than Hillary Clinton.  Here is the RedState article.  The issue was opposition to the ban on partial birth abortion.  Obama is more supportive of late term abortion rights than Hillary under this analysis.

    Accusing Obama of being anything other than solidy Pro-Choice is a made-up argument...

    The argument on the other side that is being made is that Obama is more liberal than Hillary....  


    This issue is too important to me (5.00 / 1) (#107)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 09:15:01 PM EST
    to rely on Redstate.  

    Nervous about Obama? (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by Prabhata on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:07:40 PM EST
    With good reason.

    Health Care for Children Only (5.00 / 5) (#17)
    by xjt on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:08:00 PM EST
    doesn't cut it. The real need is with middle aged people, people who can get diagnosed with heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure. They love to talk about insuring kids, who mostly get things like the flu. But people in their 40s and 50s are where the real need lies. A lot of people will suffer or die if universal health care isn't fought hard for. To me, this is the single most important issue. I don't think we have any hope of it with Obama. I don't understand why he is getting a pass on this. Apparently this issue is not high enough on the agenda for his young supporters. A shame.

    Actually Many Of His Young Healthy (none / 0) (#101)
    by MO Blue on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 06:55:28 PM EST
    supporters on the blogs don't want to have to purchase health care insurance.

    Of course not. But the big thing is (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by scribe on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:08:56 PM EST
    in this news article today, from the NYT.  

    Short version:  there is a strong correlation between not having insurance, and your cancer diagnosis coming in the later stages of the disease, when your chances of survival are lessened.  From the article:

    The widest disparities were noted in cancers that could be detected early through standard screening or assessment of symptoms, like breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer and melanoma. For each, uninsured patients were two to three times more likely to be diagnosed in Stage III or Stage IV rather than Stage I.

    Seems to me like its the analog to the whole, very expensive "get your primary care in the Emergency Room" model most recently pushed by Bushie.

    very unsettling (5.00 / 5) (#21)
    by andgarden on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:12:59 PM EST

    Chances of this making it (5.00 / 8) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:17:41 PM EST
    into the A-List blogs? Zero.

    If Cooper were Clinton's point man on health care? 100%.

    At this point (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by andgarden on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:23:15 PM EST
    it depends on whether or not Jerome cares about the issue, I think.

    Armstrong? (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:24:15 PM EST

    This is so sadly true. (5.00 / 3) (#46)
    by katiebird on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:46:27 PM EST
    That I feel like crying.

    Not that I know any A-List bloggers.  But, most of the people I know who support Obama are doing it because of their distaste for Clinton's advisors.  

    But I've never heard them discuss Obama's associates with that same depth of knowledge.


    Mark Penn (5.00 / 4) (#48)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:48:18 PM EST
    Michael O'Hanlon. Bob Rubin, etc.

    You NEVER hear about Obama's advisors. Some of them who are horrible. Just horrible.


    But didn't you mention awhile ago that (none / 0) (#55)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:59:18 PM EST
    O'Hanlon no longer advised HRC?

    Yep (none / 0) (#69)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:19:46 PM EST
    But before that became clear it was a BIG issue in the A-List blogs.

    I did not know O'Hanlon (none / 0) (#60)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:04:52 PM EST
    advised Hillary....

    Mission creep indeed.   I do not believe Hillary would withdraw from Iraq....She says she would draw up a plan within 60 days to begin withdrawal....Hell, we already have that now under Gates and Bush....

    Under Hillary, a withdrawal from Iraq could take years.....and years....Her fondness for LBJ does have a certain eeriness to it.

    She also went against most of the other Democratic Senators by voting for that wretched resolution on Iran....Just how is she different than McCain on Iraq/Iran?


    He doesn't (none / 0) (#70)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:20:37 PM EST
    It was a big to do on the A-List blogs.

    Health Care is one difference I see in them (5.00 / 5) (#25)
    by BarnBabe on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:17:45 PM EST
    There are other ones, but this one is big. I am one of the lucky ones who always has excellent coverage through work group plans so I am not hoping for myself. I am hoping for the ones that do not. When Obama said that people who can not afford the health insurance should not be forced into getting it I wanted to V-8 juice can to his head. The rich do not need the universal Plan. The middle class and low income people need it the most. And I want the people to get the same big discount as the insurance companies get rather than being charged full rate for lack of insurance. To me, health insurance is a social issue and needs to be addressed.

    The same big discount (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by hellskitchen on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:36:03 PM EST
    And I want the people to get the same big discount as the insurance companies get rather than being charged full rate for lack of insurance.

    Is that a typo?  Did you mean to say something else.  When I worked for CIGNA, we got absolutely no discount on our insurance.  When we asked about it one time at a sort of "town hall meeting"  with an executive flunky, he said:

    "You expect us to give you a discount?"

    If it had been a blog entry, it would have been followed by "bwa-ha-ha-ha-ah!"


    Ha, I am at work and had to get off quickly (5.00 / 2) (#67)
    by BarnBabe on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:18:51 PM EST
    They have been doing updates all day long. Sorry. But, no I meant about the discounts. I do not mean the employees as my Dad was a Manager for Prudential. I mean that when you have a ER visit for instance and you have a procedure, if you do not have health insurance, the hospital bills you $100 for the sake of keeping it simple. You, with no insurance, are responsbile for that amount. If you are insured, the health insurance company gets the bill from the hospital and looks at the procedure and says they are only paying $40 on this. The hospital accepts this amount and the bill is closed. You can call it collusion of a sort if you want. So a non insured person could mount up $100k of bills which drives them bankrupt while an insured person has a $1k deductible and the insurance company settles with the hospital for $40k. Now, the $1k deductible is not always the case, but there are a variety of scenerios we could go into, but the bottom line is, the uninsured get screwed big time.

    Thanks for the clarification n/t (none / 0) (#76)
    by hellskitchen on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:40:21 PM EST
    Yeah, but I am home now. (none / 0) (#82)
    by BarnBabe on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:10:24 PM EST
    Because I goofed off so much today with the updates being done, tomorrow will be double the trouble.

    That really puts us in a bind if he wins. (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by hellskitchen on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:30:53 PM EST
    The thing I find interesting now that both Clinton and Obama have been courting Edwards' endorsement is that Clinton seems to have come out of the shadows on a number of issues that had been problematic for Edwards supporters' consideration of her as an alternative:  health insurance, the economy, trade, tax fairness.  It's true that her policies were in place before Edwards suspended his campaign, but we can argue that her policies were influenced by Edwards'.

    OTOH, the comments made by Obama to the press after his meeting with Edwards seems to indicate, to me at least, that he has no intention of changing anything, and that he thinks he does not need Edwards endorsement.

    With Obamamania that may be true.

    but he can not support Obama on this issue ESPECIALLY.

    I agree that he doesn't want to do that but (5.00 / 3) (#57)
    by hellskitchen on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:01:52 PM EST
    the fact is that she has been more forthcoming in supporting similar approaches than Obama.

    I wonder (5.00 / 5) (#34)
    by OldCoastie on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:31:14 PM EST
    about how Obama plans to enforce the mandate for kids? He frames that Hillary will "garnish your wages"... I'm guessing Obama thinks that to pay for the kids, it'll just involve a "payroll deduction".

    Universal health care is THE issue for me. Hillary got my support because of it.

    I think this is indicative of his positions (5.00 / 3) (#39)
    by my opinion on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:38:48 PM EST
    overall. That is why so many right leaning people are OK with him. One may argue that it is good, because it gets him those votes, but is that worth it?

    Morose in Manhattan (5.00 / 2) (#103)
    by Camorrista on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 07:39:01 PM EST
    Lucky me, I have a terrific health-insurance plan, courtesy of a small but spunky union.  My cousin has Medicare (plus a Medigap umbrella).  So, to be honest, I've been lazy (selfish?) about thinking of health insurance for others.

    But, more crucially, my fear about Obama extends beyond the question asked in the headline above.

    My fear is that governing, in the traditional sense of setting goals, and designing strategies and creating tactics to achieve those goals--of understanding that when the cheering stops, the ugly, backbreaking trench work starts--doesn't interest him.  

    My fear is that Obama believes the bully pulpit is what matters most, and that he is so charismatic and so persuasive that what he proposes will become reality simply because he talks about it.  

    My fear is that he believes the speechifying and schmoozing that worked for him in the Illinois Senate--a body dominated by his own party--will work for him with a fractious Congress.  And, more alarming, that it will work for him with a population savagely disunited over core questions--overseas wars, religion, race, privacy, immigration, language, outsourcing--the list goes on, add your own items.

    And if you think I'm being needlessly fearful, please recall what it took to pass Medicare--proposed by Harry Truman in 1945; maneuvered through Congress by Lyndon Johnson in 1965.  (And even then, only with the tailwind of John Kennedy's assassination.)


    Yawners (5.00 / 4) (#40)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:40:30 PM EST
    Yep, Obama's "healthcare plan" is just smoke and mirrors, just like many aspects of his campaign.

    They both look like smoke and mirrors to me... (none / 0) (#47)
    by cannondaddy on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:47:58 PM EST
    But he's sabbotaging (5.00 / 2) (#74)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:26:28 PM EST
    his own smoke and mirrors.

    Harry and Louise
    Jim Cooper

    I can tell which one is the VERY LEAST SINCERE about the issue.


    My favorite website (none / 0) (#50)
    by cannondaddy on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:50:28 PM EST
    Obama has essentially doomed UHC (5.00 / 2) (#77)
    by Josey on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:42:20 PM EST
    Repubs and the Insurance industry have to be thrilled Obama has demonized "mandates" and FALSELY claimed "people will be FORCED to buy insurance they can't afford."

    Edwards wariness of Obama is completely understandable since he's undermined health care for ALL.

    Why is it a false claim? (none / 0) (#79)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:00:43 PM EST
    Mandates will require people to purchase insurance, no?

    You know it is false that people will not buy insurance they can afford?  What evidence is there of that?


    If you look at Hillary's plan... (5.00 / 3) (#92)
    by OrangeFur on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 05:04:59 PM EST
    ... there is a refundable tax credit and a cap on what fraction of your pay you'll have to use for health care. So you'll be able to afford it.

    Obama knows this perfectly well, which is why Ezra Klein said that he was "lying", and that Paul Krugman called his tactics "unscrupulous demagoguery."


    Yes, but (none / 0) (#95)
    by AF on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 05:22:17 PM EST
    Obama's plan contains those things too.  The difference between the plans is the mandates.  And just because Congress says you can afford it doesn't mean you can!

    Well... (5.00 / 3) (#96)
    by OrangeFur on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 05:34:37 PM EST
    Congress says you can afford to pay your Social Security taxes. And your other taxes. This isn't unprecedented.

    Social Security taxes (none / 0) (#97)
    by AF on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 05:52:59 PM EST
    are also regressive.  Ideally low-income folks wouldn't have to pay.

    More importantly, Social Security is a government program that requires universal participation for political viability.  The same is not true of private health insurance.


    Okay... (5.00 / 2) (#98)
    by OrangeFur on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 05:57:52 PM EST
    ... but if you're going to require insurers to take everyone who applies regardless of risk or pre-existing conditions, as both Obama and Clinton do, then without universality, you're going to have problems.

    If those problems materialize (none / 0) (#100)
    by AF on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 06:08:50 PM EST
    Obama would institute mandates.  That's why this is a much more minor issue than people realize.

    If he's really open to mandates... (5.00 / 4) (#104)
    by OrangeFur on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 07:43:04 PM EST
    ... why is he arguing so vociferously against them now? It will be hard for him to do a 180 on this after having demonized them in the campaign.

    Because they're regressive (none / 0) (#105)
    by AF on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 08:07:13 PM EST
    and may not be necessary.  Check out this interview with the architect of the Obama plan.

    I've seen that. (none / 0) (#106)
    by OrangeFur on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 08:31:26 PM EST
    And I do believe Cutler is speaking in good faith.

    Many other economists doubt that you'll reach 98-99% participation without mandates, given that you huge numbers of people right now aren't taking advantage of Medicaid and SCHIP even though it'd cost them nothing. (I saw a study that said that 40% of people or so don't put enough into their 401(k)'s to get the maximum company match. If people won't bother to take free money that their employers are trying to give them, why would almost everyone volunteer to pay out of pocket for health insurance?)

    Still, you'll notice that Cutler says he doesn't get into the politics of it. He probably thinks that we'll get most people with mandates, and if he turns out to be wrong, we'll just add a mandate. But the politics of it are important. Adding a mandate is really hard to do after you've spent your whole campaign arguing against them. (Unless they're for children, when they're okay for some reason.)

    Anyway, it's been pleasant talking about this. I think we actually agree more than we disagree on this.


    Social Security is a mandate (5.00 / 2) (#80)
    by kenoshaMarge on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:05:23 PM EST
    And every month when my check is deposited in my checking account I bless the name of FDR for providing me at least a small amount of security.  I thought John Edwards had the best plan but he's gone and his plan with him. Hillary's plan is the best one left.

    Wish it was more and wish it was Medicare for all. But I don't believe that any president could push that one through. Healthcare must be UNIVERSAL or it won't be different than the chaos that we have now. And people that don't receive the care they need sometimes die. That needs to always be foremost in our minds when we argue about this topic. It isn't just a subject to discuss. People die.

    Social Security is not a mandate (none / 0) (#91)
    by AF on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 05:01:17 PM EST
    It is a government-run program funded by taxes.  Auto insurance is a mandate.  Anybody think we have universal auto insurance?

    Every government program is mandated. (5.00 / 2) (#99)
    by my opinion on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 06:06:05 PM EST
    Barack Obama... (5.00 / 4) (#94)
    by OrangeFur on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 05:12:27 PM EST
    ... has by now done more to harm the push for universal health care than anyone else since 1994. At a moment where the Democrats are about to retake control of the White House and Congress, he's actively making the case against UHC. If he wins, he won't be able to push for it himself. If Hillary Clinton wins, his words will be used against her plan. Good work, Senator.

    Not only is he demagoguing on the idea of mandates, he now denies (rather ludicrously) that he was ever in favor of single-payer systems. Unless he has some other secret approach in mind, it sounds very much like it's simply not going to happen.

    There are a lot of reasons why someone might like Obama. His health care plan is not one of them, unless you're a Republican. What I find mystifying is that so many of Obama's supporters refuse to give an inch on it--they'd have you believe that Obama's plan is exactly the right one. It's okay if your candidate isn't perfect. I support Hillary Clinton, but I know she isn't perfect. I support her anyway. I wish I heard that more out of Obama's supporters.

    Somehow I doubt that before the primary season all of them would have said that, no, universal health care is a bad idea. Mandates are an evil government overreach. Except for children. Then it's fine to mandate it. That's exactly what we should push for.

    GeekLove (none / 0) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 01:43:14 PM EST
    Keep your comments on topic. There is an Open Thread below for off topic comments.

    why state a detailed plan too soon? (none / 0) (#7)
    by Afofur on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 01:49:30 PM EST
    I find the health-care thing to be very complicated. Like many, I want universal health care too. But a democrat who states a detailed health-care plan now is merely putting up a target for McCain to shoot at.

    Let McCain shoot (5.00 / 3) (#54)
    by hellskitchen on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:58:37 PM EST
    The health care problem is too big for so many people in this country, McCain will hurt himself if he pushes too hard.  

    He's traveling a hard road here trying to appease the right and the middle.

    On the other hand, I think the country wants to see a politician stand for something and mean it.  Being mealy-mouthed on our side doesn't do it.

    So the final insurance plan is not going to be exactly as stated in campaign issue discussion.  We still want to know what the candidate is going to fight for.

    Now, I hear you say, it didn't do Edwards any good.  First, the press simply didn't cover Edwards.  Two, after seven  years of Bush crap, people feel burned. And although people liked what Edwards had to say, he was never a complete frontrunner.  It will take someone with obvious strength and clout for people to believe that change can happen*. Then consider the 2006 election and the behavior of the crowd we fought so hard to elect.  Can you blame people for being cynical and apathetic?  So many people I know told me they couldn't vote for Edwards because he wouldn't win.  I responded with Kucinich's remark:  "I can win if you vote for me," but the apprehension of failure was just too high for many of them.

    Although the MSM is more friendly to the Republican Party, neither Clinton nor Obama will be ignored by the press as Edwards was. We have to come out fighting and stay fighting.  The question, in addition to policy positions, is Who will Fight?  Clinton or Obama

    * - some years ago I was on the board of a social service agency with a residential program.  There were problems caused by the Executive Director, but nobody would come forward to testify because they were all afraid that the board didn't have the power or the will to do anything about the situation.  Finally, one employee had the courage to come forward and when the other employees saw that the board took it seriously and proceeded to act, all the employees came forward.  Now I know this isn't the same as the political situation described above, but it's the same dispirited mentality.   Somebody has to show courage.


    Don't Need McCain To Shoot At Universal (5.00 / 2) (#78)
    by MO Blue on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:55:02 PM EST
    Health Care. Obama has already done that with his Harry and Louise fliers.

    Obama did achieve health care (none / 0) (#15)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:07:25 PM EST
    results in Illinois....

    One can read too much into one person's account......

    I think mandates would be pilloried into oblivion by McCain or those conservatives with more brains than McCain...Bill Kristol, who won on health care last time, would have a bigger target with mandates....

    What were they? (5.00 / 3) (#19)
    by RalphB on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:10:57 PM EST
    expanding health insurance for kids won't cut it.  nor will establishing a commission to study it.

    Hillary's approach (none / 0) (#27)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:22:08 PM EST
    has been proven to fail.  She is taking another giant swing, and I see no reason why she could pull it out this time.  She wants confrontation....but would not have the goodwill to pull that off....

    If Hillary is correct and 15 million people opt out, then we would still have millions more people covered....

    Obama's approach is more sellable in a general election....



    Yes nothing in politicis (5.00 / 3) (#31)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:25:17 PM EST
    is always more sellable.

    Course that mean you can do nothing in office.


    A proven tack record of failure (none / 0) (#49)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:49:15 PM EST
    is something to consider....

    She had a Democratic Congress, and her husband's support, and she alienated too many....She has not changed....

    You take what I say to an extreme....There is a pathway between Hillray's all-out style of confrontation and capitulation....No, I do not argue for capitulation....Nor does Obama.



    A proven track record (5.00 / 4) (#71)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:21:54 PM EST
    of aligning with the sabatouers of universal health care counts for more in my book.

    A right(progressive) wing talking point (5.00 / 2) (#75)
    by RalphB on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:33:10 PM EST
    signifying nothing.  All the while denying it.

    Again what were those marvelous health care programs which Obama passed in Illinois?  Last time I looked, they didn't have universal health care.

    As for why expanding kid care doesn't count for much on the state level, Gov George Bush and LtGov Bill Hobby passed legislation to extend health coverage to a claimed 1.2 million children before he began his presidential campaign.  Didn't matter much because before the thing fully kicked in, the next legislature cut funding for it and 800K kids lost their coverage.  Am I cynical about this, YES.

    Why do I think Clinton will work her tail off to gete it done?  She's full-throated campaigned on it and thus has some skin in the game.  Not so Obama.  He's got less to lose and I have zero faith he would do anything about it.


    Full-throated (none / 0) (#81)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:06:12 PM EST
    That does appeal to some.....It will not win moderates.....You have go to get moderates, or a few of them, on board....

    Bashing in the brains of your political opponents may sound good to partisans, but it just won't get you to a working majority....


    Has nothing to do with bashing in the heads (5.00 / 1) (#86)
    by RalphB on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:32:45 PM EST
    of anyone.  It has to do with making a commitment.  She did well in getting a working majority to pass increased health care and funding for National Guard and Reserve troops.  If she can work with Lindsey Graham to pass that legislation, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to get some moderate support for UHC.

    If you want UHC and, to date, I doubt Obama's commitment.  Playing it safe is not going to get a mandate for anything.


    Thanks for the non-answer (none / 0) (#66)
    by RalphB on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:17:54 PM EST
    I presume your original comment was incorrect.

    Isn't Senator Kennedy (none / 0) (#22)
    by CodeNameLoonie on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:15:03 PM EST
    another Obama point man on universal health care?

    Not that I know of (none / 0) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:16:46 PM EST
    Feb 17, 2008 (5.00 / 0) (#26)
    by CodeNameLoonie on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:20:12 PM EST
    "I firmly believe Barack Obama is the person to get universal comprehensive health care," Kennedy said. "My belief is Barack Obama has the ability to bring together the kind of coalition to get this done."

    That does not make him a pontperson (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:23:49 PM EST
    That makes him someone who endorsed Obama.

    Get Cooper and Kennedy in the same room with Obama and let's see what is what.

    Right now Cooper is the point man.


    when playing (none / 0) (#41)
    by CodeNameLoonie on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:40:54 PM EST
    the right-wing of the party off against the left, who is likely to have more success pushing a progressive agenda?

    Is that the question?

    Or is it about Obama's credibility as a progressive? As in, does he really want what he says he wants?


    All of the above (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:44:22 PM EST
    hard to say... (5.00 / 2) (#51)
    by CodeNameLoonie on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:54:27 PM EST
    from the perspective of the campaign, so far both candidates seem to be able to play right off left very capably, and yet both are pushing the general terms of the debate further to the left with each passing day.

    Thanks in no small part to Edwards.


    So, a point man has more clout than (none / 0) (#83)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:10:54 PM EST
    Ted Kennedy?

    That is a little backwards....Obama, if anything, owes Kennedy big-time.  Obama owes a "point man" nada....

    Elevating a point man above a Senator who has championed Universal Health Care for decades is an arugment that doesn't make much sense....Teddy would take it personally if Obama were to back-off of health care....I have more faith in Teddy than in a point man......  


    Pardon me if I'm not impressed (none / 0) (#87)
    by RalphB on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:37:33 PM EST
    that Obama owes Ted Kennedy big time.  That's a negative for me.

    Well, damned if you do, and damned if (1.00 / 1) (#89)
    by MKS on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:50:47 PM EST
    you don't....

    Ted Kennedy has fought longer than anyone else for Universal Health Care....I think he has credibility on the issue.

    I am coming to the understanding that the correct answer here is:  Obama is wrong on everything, and we will not acknowledge Hillary's problems, such as her votes on Iran & Iraq....How being pro-war (at least more so than any of the other Democratic candidates for President) is a feminist ideal is beyond me...


    When you can't argue the point (none / 0) (#93)
    by RalphB on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 05:06:53 PM EST
    change the subject.  Now we're on Iraq and Iran?  I'm done.  We just disagree.

    Until you address how mandates are enforced, (none / 0) (#36)
    by cannondaddy on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:34:32 PM EST
    you do not not have a health care plan.  You have the begining of a plan.  Enforcement is essential and cannot be left undefined.  I have not seen how either Dem. candidate addresses this.

    Fair enough (5.00 / 4) (#38)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:36:58 PM EST
    So what does Obama have then?

    And WTF is Cooper doing anywhere NEAR what Obama will do?


    Obama has what Hillary has (none / 0) (#64)
    by cannondaddy on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:15:38 PM EST
    an incomplete idea.  Obama does have nifty links where you can put up your suggestions on healthcare.  He did say he wanted people invovled in the solutions...

    How does the government (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by my opinion on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:44:38 PM EST
    enforce everything that is mandated today, which includes every Government program.

    I'm just waiting (none / 0) (#85)
    by Nasarius on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:23:03 PM EST
    For some Obama supporter to invoke the Libertarian cliché of men with guns stealing your money (ie, taxes).

    Why prominent bloggers afraid to endorse Clinton (none / 0) (#108)
    by timber on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 09:53:45 PM EST
    Why do prominent bloggers afraid to endorse Clinton -- like you or Jerome?

    It is like they are so wired to be anti-Clinton that they are afraid to anger their readers.

    Clinton needs all the help she got.  I was a Dean supporter.  And this time,  I really feel that Clinton is the best candidate this season and the most progressive who will have more fire in her belly to affect change.  Study Obama in Illinois politics--it was one of bipartisanship to the point of watering down progressive bills.

    I want a fighter.  

    My disappointment in Hillary is she is again like Al Gore being too nice, afraid to get dirty and fight -- not to lie but to emphasize the differences and character flaws.  She did not vet Obama the way that GOP will vet him.  She did not do a 50 state strategy.  And I blame Mark Penn--who I dont think has her best interest at heart.

    He only cares of the $$$$$$.