holes in the safety net

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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34 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    This is the fundamental problem with any given plan: someone will take it in the shorts.

    People love the idea of helping the less fortunate. They love it… until they find out that they, themselves, will take it in the shorts.

    “Surely there must be a way to keep everything the status quo for me and still help the less fortunate” is a thought that they will entertain for one, maybe two, bills from Congress. After that point, the thought will evolve/devolve into “I sure as hell don’t want to take it in the shorts.”Report

  2. mike farmer says:

    Brilliant minds think sort of alike — I just wrote a post titled “The ragged government safety net” — it should show up in a minute or twoReport

    • Well, our titles are alike. 🙂

      Do you think they will pass a healthcare reform bill that is better than what we have? Do you think that just two incremental changes, selling nationally, with no restrictions, and tort reform, would be better than both?Report

      • North in reply to mike farmer says:

        Come on Mike. Love them or hate them Democrats would need one hell of a carrot to persuade them to nail tort Lawyers in the balls. Sellion nationally with no restrictions isn’t a carrot, in fact most selfish dem legislators would consider it an additional poison pill.Report

      • E.D. Kain in reply to mike farmer says:

        Hard to say, Mike. Certainly it seems like any real reform won’t be scaled enough as long as insurance is tied to the states rather than sold nationally. And yes – tort reform would be good, though I think it can happen separately from the health care restructuring.Report

        • Ryan in reply to E.D. Kain says:

          The evidence for tort reform is that it would save us a bare fraction of our costs, right? I mean, you want to reform a system that we all agree is malfunctioning, that’s fine. But let’s don’t pretend it’s a meaningful solution to any real problems.Report

  3. Michael Drew says:

    One small correction to the Cohn statement and he’s got just about right — look closely near (well, at) the end:

    Imagine you’re the head of a family of four, with two adults, making an income of $70,000. And since you don’t get insurance from your employer, you have to buy it on your own. If Baucus had his way, you could buy coverage through the exchange. And you’d have to spend no more than 13 percent of your gross income–or around $9,000–on your insurance premiums. But your insurance wouldn’t cover everything. There’d be deductibles, co-payments, and so on. If you bought the minimum level plan, you’d be on the hook for as much as $12,000 in out-of-pocket expenses–a level you could hit pretty easily if you had a seirous illness or injury. Add it all up, and you could be paying as much as $21,000–a third of your income–on medical expenses. I believe the appropriate reaction is, “And?”


  4. mw says:

    …the pricetag is only $900 billion rather than $1.1 trillion… – edk

    FWIW – The cost is my line in the sand. Nobody knows what it will really cost to the level of pretended precision represented by the estimated difference in these two plans (20-30%). The most likely scenario is that either plan will cost 2x – 3x what is being represented by its supporters, as has every health care entitlement from medicare to the prescription drug benefit.

    I support Wyden-Bennett because it at least tries to be deficit neutral. That should be considered a “table stakes” criteria for any reform. Given where we are now with health care, if you cannot identify and eliminate the costs needed to pay for the reform, it is not reform – by definition. Even if they turn out to be wrong about Wyden Bennett, the damage will not be as great, because of the starting point.

    As far as I am concerned, anything with a starting point price tag like this has to be stopped by any means necessary. I’d like it to be stopped for rational reasons. But if Glenn Beck and his ilk can stop it by calling the supporters godless, communist, grandma killers – I’m good with that.Report

  5. ChrisWWW says:

    “From what I can tell it offers up a few good reforms that really will help cover more of the uninsured, but does very little to contain costs or to make insurance more portable or costs more transparent.”
    Which is why those fiscal conservative a**hats (both Reps and Dems) should have supported the Public Option which at least had the promise of bringing down costs. But the ones with power weren’t actually interested in a good bill or cutting costs, but in protecting their campaign contributions.

    “As far as I am concerned, anything with a starting point price tag like this has to be stopped by any means necessary.”
    Even if, ya know, the costs are worth it? Social Security, Medicare and our glorious war machine all cost more over the next 10 years. Should we stop those programs by any means necessary and let our grandparents die and maybe the rest of us since we wont have an armed forces?Report

    • Ryan in reply to ChrisWWW says:

      I suspect the libertarian answer you’ll get around these parts is “yes”.Report

      • ChrisWWW in reply to Ryan says:

        And that’s why libertarians are doomed to nibble around the edges. Not that I don’t appreciate their work on civil liberties…Report

        • Dave in reply to ChrisWWW says:

          Gee, thanks.

          I’ll remember that when I lose patience the next time I read something like “libertarians don’t support X so they support their grandma’s dying”.

          You’d think a blog with as intelligent a readership this one has (myself excluded) would not be bothered with this kind of horseshit but I guess I’m wrong.

          Oh well.Report

          • ChrisWWW in reply to Dave says:

            Here’s the problem:
            Liberals and conservatives in the mainstream debate are usually focused on moving the ball 10 yards in either direction. Libertarianism is by definition a more extreme alternative. The state is an impediment to freedom it must small and weak in order to protect individual liberty.

            So lets take Medicare for an example. As a society we’ve decided providing health care to the elderly is a moral obligation of society and we provide that care through the government. Medicare doesn’t fit in with the libertarian ideology.

            So if libertarians were swept into power wouldn’t they get rid of Medicare? If they got rid of Medicare, how would they get Grandma her pills without involving state resources?

            See the problem?Report

      • mike farmer in reply to Ryan says:

        Yes, of course the libertarian position is to sacrifice old people and the rest of us just so we can be free of government — duh! I thought everyone knew this. Are you people real, or is this a gag set-up? And Friedersdorf, Frum, Brooks and others say the conservative base is loony and illogical? They don’t hold a candle to these guys.Report

        • Ryan in reply to mike farmer says:

          To be fair, I’m not actually accusing libertarians of wanting to kill grandma. I’m accusing libertarians of wanting to end Social Security and Medicare. Is that false?

          Note: I’m also going to accuse libertarians of being exceptionally thin-skinned. You people cannot take any criticism at all without flying off the handle.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Ryan says:

            There are two kinds of criticism here…

            Criticism based on stuff that libertarians actually believe.
            Criticism based on stuff that you believe that libertarians actually believe with a healthy assumption of stuff you believe spackled in there.

            For example: “Even if, ya know, the costs are worth it? Social Security, Medicare and our glorious war machine all cost more over the next 10 years. Should we stop those programs by any means necessary and let our grandparents die and maybe the rest of us since we wont have an armed forces?”

            For my part, I don’t, FOR A SECOND, believe that the “rest of us” would die if we did not have an armed forces. I do not, FOR A SECOND, believe that terrorists, or Russians, or Mexicans, or undefined people-of-pigment, will descend on us the second we drop a standing army. No, not even for a moment.

            So when someone says “you’d be okay with getting rid of the armed forces” and I shrug, and then they wave and say “YOU WANT ALL OF US TO DIE???”, they are then running from the thing that I believe (get rid of the standing army) and running to the thing that they believe (terrorists will kill “the rest of us”).

            Most libertarians have no problem with being criticized for stuff that they believe (“I can’t believe that you support gay marriage”) but when the criticism moves from there to the libertarian being criticized for what the criticizer actually believes (“I can’t believe you want society to crumble into dust and return us to the stone age!!!!”) that the libertarians get all “what the fuck?”

            Which is, in turn, interpreted as being “thin-skinned”.Report

            • Ryan in reply to Jaybird says:

              We all get accused of wanting things we don’t want because our interlocutors project their own ideas onto us. I have been accused of wanting the terrorists to win and of wanting to ruin marriage and of God knows what else. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’ve ever resorted to the kind of hostility I regularly get from libertarians on, say, tax issues (I have been told on several occasions to “keep your hands off my f***ing money” by many a libertarian, as if I am personally coming to their house to take it). That’s what I mean by “thin-skinned”.

              (Obviously, anecdote is the not the singular of data. You, Jaybird, are generally a pretty genial guy.)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Ryan says:

                Personally, I see “crocodile tears” as an accusation of insincerity on the part of the other person… and, as such, it’s hostile in the absence of an obvious display of insincerity. On top of that, I see telling people that their opinions aren’t welcome is exceptionally hostile.

                As a libertarian, however, I’m sensitive to certain things that other folks don’t even notice. (And vice-versa, I’m sure.)Report

              • Ryan in reply to Jaybird says:

                Next time I see a libertarian say “I want to see Obama and the Democrats succeed in their agenda, and here’s how they can do it”, I will be more than happy to take the advice they’re offering to Obama as sincere. Until then, telling Democrats that they should abandon their agenda if they want to win elections will be taken as the oddly self-serving “advice” it is.

                This is distinct from just opposing the Democrats. Feel free to do that. But let’s not pretend you’re on their side.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Ryan says:

                Next time you see a libertarian say “I want to see Obama and the Democrats succeed in their agenda, and here’s how they can do it”, you should have klaxons going off in your head.

                Put one hand on your wallet and your other hand on your gun because someone is hoping your guard will go down long enough to rip you off.Report

              • Ryan in reply to Jaybird says:

                This is my point. If you want to oppose, then please do so. But don’t go on about how Obama should do this or that to preserve his electoral strength or keep independents on his side or please rural Democrats or whatever. Because you don’t honestly care if he does any of that. Obama’s electoral viability is not a subject that matters a whit to you; your preferred policy goals are.

                Correct me if any of that is wrong.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                Eh. I can watch a football game dispassionately when I don’t care which side wins.

                I can watch Obama do his thing dispassionately enough to say “he’s going to mess up if he keeps doing that”… like I did when Bush was in charge and, believe it or not, I said the same thing.

                And now I hear you say the things about how unhelpful I am and I hear the echoes of the Republicans in your accusations. I’m sure you feel that it’s different when you do it.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to ChrisWWW says:

      I see no indication that the public option would in fact contain costs. Then again, these measures don’t seem likely to contain costs either. So…Report

      • Ryan in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        Well, insofar as more competition leads to lower costs (which is what we’re always told around these parts), it would have to. Give it Medicare bargaining rates and you get even more bang for your buck.

        Cost control and the public option are not the *same* thing, and there are plenty of other ways to control costs, but the public option would almost certainly lead to lower costs than we’ll get without one.Report

        • ChrisWWW in reply to Ryan says:

          What Ryan said.

          Also the Public Option can provide insurance without the need to worry about profits.

          But most of the cost saving measures would only really be effective if the Public Option grew into a single payer system which could bargain with all the doctors and drug companies, and provide a single standard method for reimbursement.Report

          • E.D. Kain in reply to ChrisWWW says:

            There is always a profit involved. A public option still needs to pay people. People still stand to gain – and special interests will lobby to make sure that profits are very much a part of the public option.Report

            • ChrisWWW in reply to E.D. Kain says:

              A public health insurance plan would only need money to pay out claims, and sustain itself. It doesn’t need to worry about its stock price, shareholders or massive CEO salaries.

              The only people left with something to gain are doctors and patients.Report