The Speech


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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36 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    One thing is for sure. If the Dems don’t get something they can at least plausibly claim to be significant out of their control of Congress then come 2010 their own base will grill them like hamburger on the White House lawn. Obama will probably survive since the Republicans currently seem set on not fielding an opponent to his re-election but their congressional majorities will likely get flattened.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird says:

    My money is on #4. It will allow everyone to feel good and allow everybody to say “See? We did what you sent us to Washington to do!” Democrats can point to the neutered bill and call it “American Universal Health Care”. Republicans can point to the bill and how it was neutered.

    And everybody gets re-elected +/- 2%.Report

  3. Avatar ChrisWWW says:

    “Speeches, especially those of masterful orators like Obama, can certainly sway us – but is it sustainable?”
    I doubt it will create the overwhelming support that might actually scare politicians into supporting the legislation. However, as Yglesias noted yesterday public opinion is pretty damn nebulous, so the decision lies with the politicians themselves.

    “Yes, then we could have Britain’s lovely health care system, high taxes, high unemployment, high cost of living, and endless rain.”
    I’m pretty sure we have a higher unemployment rate than Britain right now… but we should really aim to be more like Scandinavian countries 🙂

    “Bring health care to citizens and veterans alike through the cost-saving measure of peace!”
    I really like this idea. I also thought it was a great move on Obama’s part to explain that reform will cost less than the Bush wars and the tax cuts.

    “I hate the heartstrings stories.”
    I hate them too, but who doesn’t have a horror story to share about our current health care system? The horror stories are real and help create the moral foundation for reform.

    “Did Obama say that the public option would have to be self-sufficient based on premiums and not public tax dollars? “
    Democrats have been saying this for months. I think there is supposed to be an exemption for the startup/infrastructure costs.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The undocumented immigrant thing is interesting too.

    For the record, I can totally see the argument that people who played by the rules (and people who happened to be born here) shouldn’t be paying for health care for people who broke laws to get here (and who cannot effectively be demonstrated to have paid into the health care fund that they are now taking out of… the freest of free riders). I can seriously see how someone might say “I am already shelling out for me and mine… I was willing to expand my definition of who qualifies as “me and mine”… now you’re going to force me (AT THE POINT OF A GUN) to shell out for people who aren’t even here legally?”

    That said, if your justification for universal health care is that no one should be denied care that they need, you can’t really follow that up with “English Only” or whatever. Come one, come all.

    I think that the whole “no illegals” thing has a *HUGE* amount of resonance, though. Those who are on the fence regarding health care all pretty much oppose giving it to people who aren’t “us”. I don’t see it as anything but a loser on a political level to include it.Report

    • Avatar Kyle says:

      I get why people are upset about the issue but I can’t help but laugh/be disappointed at the irony of the Religious right opposing health care coverage for illegal immigrants. It’s as if they missed the part of the New Testament when Jesus went over to criminals and impoverished people and loved them. And by loved them I mean provided free health care with his hands.

      I’m not terribly religious but it’s an inescapable thought.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        They were the same during the Schiavo incident. I found myself saying some variant of “you people finally found someone you want free healthcare for.”

        However, I’d like to point out that Jesus wasn’t being forced to pony up himself. Even when he had to pay taxes, he made the fish do the dirty work. The guy is the Son of friggin’ *GOD* and so, of course, he gives out health care only when there’s a photo op and, meanwhile, people in Egypt are dropping like flies. Didn’t he have a responsibility to save Egyptians? Apart from the eternal soul bullshit, I mean.Report

  5. Avatar Bruce Smith says:

    I think some facts are needed here rather than opinions. Sure the British health care system is poor on responsiveness but it only spends less than half per capita than the US system and still manages to beat the US on Infant Mortality Rate, Disability Adjusted Life Expectancy and Rank plus nobody is left to die because of inability to afford insurance cover, or refusal of cover, and nobody goes bankrupt. Here is the OECD and WHO data in Table One:-

    Even on a crude columns ranking from this table it comes out 6th best as opposed to the American 14th and with double the per capita spending would no doubt improve on this.Report

  6. Avatar Kyle says:

    I have mixed feelings about the heckling. On one hand, I watch PMQ enviously. On the other, the rising tide of disrespect for the President of the Free World United States is somewhat disconcerting. I feel like the GOP should have a new rule. If you wouldn’t have done it to President Reagan…don’t do it to President Obama.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      I agree. The seemingly ubiquitous disrespect for our President on the right is upsetting. It should stop, and the leadership should make it stop. It’s unbecoming and tactically self-defeating in the long run.Report

      • Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

        Disrespect our Marxists president…oh my! The man’s an embarrassment! Joe Wilson’ s two simple words nailed it all!
        HC reform is needed but this Steve Erkle isn’t interested in that, he and his dem friends are interested in political power…you kids are naive, your hearts are right but you are so naive…gummint isn’t your friend.Report

  7. Avatar Ryan says:

    If we can legislate endless rain, I’m down with anything else he wants to put in the bill. Rain is easily the best weather available. LOVE IT.

    Also, I would take the NHS over our system any day of the week. I would take literally any major Western democracy’s health care system over ours any day of the week.Report

  8. Avatar chuck says:

    So we leave out care for illegal immigrants and they go to their jobs at the country clubs sneezing swine flu germs. This makes sense?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      For the record, I suspect that this particular tactic ought to be avoided.

      Those on the fence will be more put off by it than converted. I’d also avoid use of the ‘R’ word.Report

      • Avatar chuck says:

        I am not suggesting it as a tactic but simply we are all in this together and if we leave someone out of it, it will still have costs. I look at so much of this debate over the costs as simply ignorance of the costs being dumped unevenly and “off the books” of the federal budget. When a person shows up in an emergency room it still costs, and indeed costs more, than proper care would.Report

  9. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Perhaps a national Medicaid, easily accessible in one online location as well as at Medicaid offices (not state-run offices) might make more administrative sense.

    Yes, perhaps… and perhaps the Republicans will jollily board that excellent Democratic bus so that we can do it with the gleaming imprimatur of ‘bipartisanship.’ I’m sure Joe Wilson would sign up. [Newsflash: that would essentially be a federal public option, if just a somewhat means-tested one, and it would be awesome.] Aren’t you the big localizer, though?Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      As background: Basically, lowering the Medicare age and raising the income cut-off on Medicaid is the way your Anthony Weiners want to do single payer.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      That being said, I still think there is a great deal of merit to the simple argument that if a majority of the country wants the option to buy health insurance from the federal government and hence wants the federal government to try its hand at that business, and their representatives agree, they should have that option. That is not on the table now however, as a person has to be uninsured to begin with to be eligible for the public option that is proposed.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      First off – yes, it would be similar to a public option. The big, and I’d say essential, difference is that it would not add a public option on top of an existing program. I can’t see how more programs = lower costs. Medicaid is means-tested already, which is one thing that other entitlements don’t have going for them.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        According to Obama, the public option would go out of business if it’s not self-sustainable. I don’t purport to tell you not to be skeptical of that, but that’s the claim. Initially of course, as in any new business, there would be start-up costs.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew says:

          (And see above for what to me is a still-not convincingly refuted rationale for a public option along Obama’s lines — if people want that option — government as health-insurance seller, they should have it, regardless of means, as long as it is sustainable as a business.)Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew says:

            So basically I’m all for what you propose in expanding Medicare, and then for a public insurance purchasing option for more well-off uninsured. And then maybe for everyone when we break the employer-insurance link down the road.

            At the same time, however, you also want to do away with Medicaid (or is it just Medicare?) via vouchers.Report

  10. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    For the record, that 2005 video is a perfect illustration of the fine line between appropriate and inappropriate reaction in a joint session address, which the Dems there were close to but clearly on the acceptable side of, and which Wilson was way, way on the other side of.Report

  11. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Also: “vouchers,” ie pixie dust. I realize this has been discussed here before, but what does that phrase even mean in this context? It’s as if any initiative associated with that word can be assumed to have magical properties. What’s the deal? Where are they from? What are they for? Is this different from the subsidies that will be given to help low-income people buy insurance?Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      It boils down to choice and monopoly. When you create a monopoly either in the private sector (as we have down with many of our health insurance providers) or in the government (the threat of single-payer for instance) or by some collusion of the two (the laws limiting interstate competition in the insurance industry – read jfxgillis’s article on this) then you hurt taxpayers/consumers/citizens/individuals – whatever you want to call them. The act of limiting their choice generally has the effect of raising costs and lowering quality. This is why so many conservatives (and liberals actually) want to do away with the employer-based health insurance status quo and establish a system in which individuals choose and insurance companies can sell across state lines. Vouchers, then, are government grants which allow poor people to buy the same insurance that more well-to-do people buy. This avoids subsidizing companies or industries directly and instead gives people choice. So insurance companies still have to compete for those dollars – they can’t merely lobby the government for subsidies or protections. Theoretically, this leads to higher competition, lower prices, and better quality of service.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        The bill contains subsidies for those who can’t afford insurance to buy it in the exchanges. I’m not sure I’m getting the difference.Report

        • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

          The idea is to take that further – to replace the entire federal health care bureaucracy with vouchers (i.e. no Medicare, just cost subsidies).Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew says:

            Zounds. This is something that this site seems to have trademarked, namely raising objections (if this is one) to what are explicitly and openly incremental reforms (which reality was the basis for heartfelt dismay at the president’s absurd, ostentatious claim to want to be ‘the last’ one to reform health care) that are essentially saying “because we can’t have this totally radical, politically non-starting, third-rail-attacking revolution in the issue, we can’t get behind lesser reforms or even forthrightly address whether they have more merit than cost.” (That’s the form of the argument — punched up for clarity. I’m not saying you’re saying all of that.)

            But are you seriously suggesting that the fact that the prez/Dems haven’t proposed dissolving Medicare into a voucher program should really affect this debate in any way? ‘Cuz that’s crazy talk, even if there is a concrete proposal on the table somewhere to answer the thousands of inevitable questions (I’m open to links).Report

  12. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Last thing, E.D., can you direct me to a detailed precis on the exact hows and wherefores of what stops insurance companies from operating in different states. I’ve seen it so often, but I’m not clear where that is written. Also, do you favor the nationalization of all the types of insurance regulation that states currently do in conjunction with any lifting of the interstate restriction in order to avoid races to the bottom, as David Frum and now, I believe, your colleague Mark Thompson have?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        Darn. I looked at that post when it went up for a minute or two, but from the first few grafs and the title I couldn’t really tell what it was going to be about within health care, and moved on. Shouldn’t- don that. Except for that slight burying of the lede, that piece deserved all the adjulation it received in the comments.

        Nevertheless I’m still slightly unclear. Is it that insurance cos. literally are not allowed to sell across state lines, or is it just that state regs apply, making it unattractive to do so, or even near-impossible where there has been state-specific capture by the local behemoths?Report

  13. Avatar James says:

    Our healthcare system is indeed lovely.

    & I’d rather have British weather than Californian. Think of how relentlessly boring that much sun would be!Report