Notes On the Health Care Battle: Dust and Smoke

Only vague first impressions; it’s difficult to get any real perspective while so much dust and smoke hangs in the air after the conflagration.

Paul Krugman, before the vote:

Adam Zyglis via CagleSo what’s the reality of the proposed reform? Compared with the Platonic ideal of reform, Obamacare comes up short. If the votes were there, I would much prefer to see Medicare for all.

For a real piece of passable legislation, however, it looks very good. It wouldn’t transform our health care system; in fact, Americans whose jobs come with health coverage would see little effect. But it would make a huge difference to the less fortunate among us, even as it would do more to control costs than anything we’ve done before.

This is a reasonable, responsible plan. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Republican David Frum on the political fallout:

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.

Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.

This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.

Kirk Walters via CagleCould a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.

Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan. Could we have leveraged his desire to align the plan more closely with conservative views? To finance it without redistributive taxes on productive enterprise – without weighing so heavily on small business – without expanding Medicaid? Too late now. They are all the law.

No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?

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The Cycle: Celebrity endorsement time (v.1)

‘Tis the season for stupid celebrity endorsements. First up, Ms. Bonnie Raitt on John Edwards:

“I’m ready for that thing called Edwards love. That’s what I’m ready for.”

Okay. If you say so, ma’am. On the other side of the aisle, I don’t know what to make of Chuck Norris’ recent endorsement of Mike Huckabee. The advert includes a few gems. In fact, it’s … well … here:

Huckabee: My plan to secure the borders? Two words: Chuck Norris.

Norris: Mike Huckabee’s a lifelong hunter who’ll protect our Second Amendment Rights.

Huckabee: There’s no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard, only another fist.

Norris: Mike Huckabee wants to put the IRS out of business.

Huckabee: When Chuck Norris does a push-up, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down.

Norris: Mike’s a principled, authentic conservative.

Huckabee: Chuck Norris doesn’t endorse; he tells America how it’s going to be.

Now, maybe it’s just me, but is that a non-sequitur at the outset, or is Huckabee’s plan for border security to just start shooting people? But the important phrase in there is “authentic conservative”. Those two words came up in another recent celebrity endorsement from the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.

What? Seriously.

“It’s a tremendous honor to offer my support to such an outstanding leader as Mike Huckabee,” Flair said in a statement issued by the former Arkansas governor’s campaign. “His authentic conservative qualifications and level of executive leadership experience are unmatched by his opponents.”

“And like I always say, to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man and Mike Huckabee is the man. Whoooooooo!”

The Flair endorsement is key, though. Huckabee needed to respond to a recent endorsement by the WWE’s Kane of candidate Ron Paul. In the wake of a recent Fed raid against a souvenir coin company, Matt, a Paul supporter from Kansas, noted:

Typical CNN mainstream media putting its touches on what it deems ILLEGAL! Once again here we are, having the FEDS RAID a LEGAL OPERATION! There was nothing WRONG or ILLEGAL with the liberty dollar ( it had to be approved by the MINT BEFORE being made ) and ALL THIS IS is again, the GOVT putting FREEDOM another step down!
I HOPE IT BACKFIRES on them! I hope it brings more attention to RON PAUL! BARRY GOLDWATER, KANE from WWE, Barry Manilow, ETC ETC have found RON PAUL, HAVE YOU?

Barry Manilow? Seriously? Okay. Kane? From WWE? Is finding Ron Paul like finding Jesus? As Liz commented at

I hope that we get more stars involved with the Ron Paul Revolution. He is the man for our future to get better!!! I will also listen to more Barry Manilow music now!!

What? Does the fact that he endorsed Ron Paul somehow make his music better? Nonetheless, Congressman Dr. Paul’s supporters remind us of the futility of celebrity endorsements. Bonnie Raitt wants some Edwards love? Well, she should probably ask Elizabeth, first. I find it embarrassing because Edwards is my chosen candidate. At least when he got the Mellencamp endorsement, people booed him for interrupting a concert. Now that’s the way it should be. I mean, I’m glad these folks are important enough to expect their endorsements to mean something, but I’m not about to change my vote for Barry Manilow. I wouldn’t expect anyone else to change their vote for Bonnie Raitt or John Mellencamp, either.

A note to the stars: If you decide to publicly endorse a candidate, do not embarrass the candidate. And that means don’t embarrass yourself, either.

Easy enough? Good.

Oh, and a note to Ron Paul: Don’t know what to tell you, man. They’re your supporters.