We Caught the Car, Now What Do We Do With It

Yay we won!

Now we're in the driver's seat and the problems coming down the road are much bigger, scarier and implacable than any we've seen in our lifetimes.

In my experience there's only one way to drive out of a fiasco -- fast and in the right direction.

It's not the time for half-measures and Dean Baker has a great idea, healthcare:

President Obama has the opportunity to establish himself as one of the truly great presidents in his first days in office. He can take advantage of the current economic crisis to announce plans to jump start national health care insurance. Extending health care insurance can be an effective stimulus that will provide an immediate boost to the economy.

More importantly, it will provide the same access to health care that people in other wealthy countries have long taken for granted. For this accomplishment, President Obama will rank alongside Presidents Roosevelt and Lincoln as one of the nation's truly great presidents.

The backdrop is straightforward. Economists from across the political spectrum are now calling for a large stimulus package to limit the economy's decline and the rise in unemployment. The consensus is in the range of 2.0-2.5 percent of GDP, or $300 billion to $400 billion a year.

And if that sounds pie-in-the-sky, check this NYT op-ed from Bob Rubin and Jared Bernstein:

The Bible got this right a long time ago (paraphrasing slightly): there's a time to spend, a time to save; a time to build deficits up and a time to tear them down. Though one of us (Mr. Rubin) is often invoked as an advocate of fiscal discipline, we both agree that there are times for fiscal discipline and times for fiscal largess. With the current financial crisis, our joint view is that for the short term, our economy needs a large fiscal stimulus that generates substantial economic demand.

We also jointly believe that fiscal stimulus must be married to a commitment to re-establishing sound fiscal conditions with a multi-year program that includes room for critical public investment, once the economy is back on a healthy track.

One of us (Mr. Rubin) views long-term fiscal deficits -- in combination with a low national savings rate, large current account deficits and foreign portfolios that are heavily over-weighted in dollar-dominated assets -- as a serious threat to long-term interest rates and our currency and, therefore, to our economic future. The other views these economic relationships as much weaker.

At the same time, we both agree that our economic future also requires public investment in critical areas like education, health care, energy, worker training and much else. In our view, then, the next president needs to proceed on multiple tracks, with both the restoration of a sound fiscal regime and critical public investment.

Can we get out of this crisis? Can we do the things we need to do to help those in need -- especially the state governments that actually do so much of the public service work in this country?

Do I really have to ask the answer to that question, today of all days?


Tags: Health care, Nancy Pelosi, Recession, state budgets, stimulus package (all tags)



Re: We Caught the Car, Now What Do We Do With It

What we are able to do with the car has a lot to do with how well we are able to steer the post election narrative on the next few days I think.

Hopefully we can turn this into "America has seen the disastrous conclusion of conservative philosophy from Reagan forward and rejected it."  Such a broad message allows us to apply our mandate on a great variety of fronts.

by lockewasright 2008-11-05 06:29AM | 0 recs
I agree. Make healthcare a top priority.

I look forward to seeing Obama sign the Edward M. Kennedy Health Care bill.

by mistersite 2008-11-05 06:35AM | 0 recs
Got a link to Kennedy's bill?

Is there any reason to believe its a good one?

by Betsy McCall 2008-11-05 06:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Got a link to Kennedy's bill?

It doesn't exist yet.

But I'm of the opinion that any healthcare reform bill should be named for him, since he's been fighting for it since before many of us were born.

by mistersite 2008-11-05 07:05AM | 0 recs
It would be nice

but I always have to read the bill first.  No offense to Kennedy, but if its not a good bill, I can't support it, name or no.

by Betsy McCall 2008-11-05 07:06AM | 0 recs
Hillary's Plan

Is a good first step, and already thoroughly envisioned.  Let everyone have access to the Congressional health plan.  Broader coverage.  Lower costs than obtaining health insurance on your own, cheaper than most employers.  No exclusions for pre-existing conditions.  Means-based tax credits to help people pay the premiums.  Insurance independent of your job.

by milton333 2008-11-05 08:21AM | 0 recs
This is a bad sign

Huffpo just reported that Reid is expected to meet with Lieberputz this week and talk to him about his committee asignments.

Get this: The article says Reid is not sure what he'll do yet!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/05 /reid-to-meet-with-lieberm_n_141332.html

Somebody has to hold Harry Reid's feet to the fire on this. Lieberputz has to be sent packing.

by Bush Bites 2008-11-05 06:46AM | 0 recs
Re: We Caught the Car, Now What Do We Do With It

A little election night humor about the news coverage:


Happy 5th!  Woo-hoo!

by MtnFrost 2008-11-05 06:48AM | 0 recs
It will work if its done right

It has to be universal AND mandatory

It has to have a public AND private insurance option available to all

It has to contain measures to control costs - of both insurance premiums and health care

Regulation of private insurance would have to be enacted to end provisions for pre-existing conditions, etc.

Without these, it will fail because it will only result in higher costs both to providers and taxpayers.  Uninsured people cost the system a lot of money.

The issue of tax credits / rebates, etc. also has an inherent problem.  A recent study showed women who purchase individual insurance plans pay premiums that are 40-50% higher than men, regardless of pre-exisiting conditions.  Tax credits would be of little or no help to them.

Not all of these are in Obama's health care plan.  Trying to implement reform "incrementally" could result in the same mess as the Wall Street bailout - doing more harm than good.

by Betsy McCall 2008-11-05 06:58AM | 0 recs
if you want to see universal mandates failing

just look at Mass, it's turning into a real Mess

by tegrat 2008-11-05 01:32PM | 0 recs
Re: We Caught the Car, Now What Do We Do With It

Starting with what would be portrayed as a radical health care plan sounds a lot like 1993 to me.  He should build up more good will and trust first on other economic issues

by cat 2008-11-05 07:30AM | 0 recs
Missing the point

A lot of this crisis right now is a mind crisis.  It's a perception that this country is circling the drain.  It's feeding into stock market drops.

The times call for a bold, innovative move that shocks us out of the rut.  Something to inspire people to hope.  Something like Kennedy's challenge to go to the moon.  Coupled with fiscal stimulus, like the New Deal era public works projects.  Tentative, cautious half-measures are not going to do it.

by milton333 2008-11-05 08:25AM | 0 recs
Re: We Caught the Car, Now What Do We Do With It

Damn, everything is broke on this car and we have no gas money!!!!!

by wjbill 2008-11-05 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: We Caught the Car, Now What Do We Do With It

I just think statement like that BO has the opperatunity to establish himself as one of the ture great presidents in the first few days of office is not helpful.  It is like putting to much pressure on a 1st round, 1st pick quartback who has just been drafted.

The country and the fininical mess include the debt will take several years to fix.  IMHO BO has to fix the mess before he pushes through a progressive agenda and it is a mistake to start with big issues like health care.

As an example the goverment takes in 2.5 trillion a year in taxes and spends 2 trillion on entitlements and 1/2 trillion on defensive. Last year we were 500 billion in debt and that 500 billion represents all of non-defense/entitlement spending. So the first thing BO is going to have to do is get spending and the debt under control before he can do much else.  He needs to do what Bill Clinton did and fix the debt first and then pass is agenda.


by giusd 2008-11-05 07:53AM | 0 recs
The best solution for health care financing

A single-payer health care financing plan would actually help reduce the budget (less so short term during the transition, more in the long term).  It is most likely to be too heavily attacked to pass at the national level, but several states are also working on it, most notably CA.  Kennedy's plan isn't much more than a band aid and very difficult to implement in reality, perhaps more than single-payer which is relatively simple.  Problem is that the private insurers lose business.  I don't know that Obama has enough "political capital" to force through a major overhaul of any sort - it will take a massive grassroots movement to overcome the business interests who will oppose whatever is proposed, so we might as well go for single-payer IMO.

by tegrat 2008-11-05 08:32AM | 0 recs
Healthcare should be a right. Health is a right!

One hidden advantage of economic slowdowns is that people have more time. What would be a better time for people to get long-endured health issues dealt with.

Its obvious that health and disease are political issues, and one distressing fact is that the poor are far more likely to suffer from often untreated chronic disease than the well to do.

Things like exposure to unsafe housing or schools (lead paint, chronic leaks and flooding, etc.) or lack of adequate dental care can jump start inflammation, leading to other chronic illnesses like athsma, diabetes, etc.

We need to make a national committment to address these issues. Doing so, we would be helping improve all of our futures.

by architek 2008-11-05 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: We Caught the Car, Now What Do We Do With It

Fix our election day problems.  The Republicans would never let that happen. Now we can actually make it fair enough so more than likely every vote really WILL count.  The number of extra voters we have to get out there so per a law of averages we can still get the win is ridiculous.

by jrsygrl 2008-11-05 01:15PM | 0 recs


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