The Economist: "But could he deliver?"

From The Economist print edition, via Mark Halperin's Time magazine The Page blog (essential daily reading for me):

It is time for America to evaluate Obama the potential president, not Obama the phenomenon.

... Although Mr Obama's slogan "Yes We Can" has been turned into a pop video, the theme of his campaign echoes the Clintons' old tune--"Don't stop thinking about tomorrow".

Optimism is a powerful emotion, but as that song warned, "tomorrow will soon be here." That is why the real questioning of Mr Obama should begin now. With the brief exception of those four heady days after the Iowa caucuses, he has never been a front-runner; now he will be more fully scrutinised.


But what policies exactly? Mr Obama's voting record in the Senate is one of the most left-wing of any Democrat. Even if he never voted for the Iraq war, his policy for dealing with that country now seems to amount to little more than pulling out quickly, convening a peace conference, inviting the Iranians and the Syrians along and hoping for the best. On the economy, his plans are more thought out, but he often tells people only that they deserve more money and more opportunities. If one lesson from the wasted Bush years is that needless division is bad, another is that incompetence is perhaps even worse. A man who has never run any public body of any note is a risk, even if his campaign has been a model of discipline.

There's more...

Krugman: Hate Springs Eternal

Hi guys - didja miss me yesterday?  Yeah, yeah I know... I post here daily but I was a little busy yesterday.  Our primary's coming up and a bunch of us were out at the Democratic brunch, passing out a lot of lapel stickers and talking up Hillary's historic run for the White House to the folks coming in for the event.  

Sen. Obama's supporters were there too and after folks upstairs asked us to keep it down (we were all down in the lobby cheering our candidate's name as new folks came in) I started mentioning one line points of Hillary's agenda... rebuilding the middle class, creating green collar jobs, getting our economy back on track, and UNIVERSAL health care.  I noticed whenever I mentioned that last one BO's supporters cringed - I think because they know that what their guy's proposing is not universal.  However one woman actually tried to claim it was universal, but I said Paul Krugman and most all of the top economists would disagree.

Speaking of Paul Krugman, you might have caught his column in the New York Times today.  Make the jump to check it out....

There's more...

Krugman: the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality

I've heard an Obama supporter and several mainstream journalists say something to the effect that Obama is being idolized in an exaggerated way. Some have called this a "cult".

Well, now the top progressive columnist in the nation, Paul Krugman, has put in his two cents:

I won't try for fake evenhandedness here: most of the venom I see is coming from supporters of Mr. Obama, who want their hero or nobody. I'm not the first to point out that the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality. We've already had that from the Bush administration -- remember Operation Flight Suit? We really don't want to go there again.

Krugman uses a nice tone and at no point attacks Obama himself. And I agree, because this is not his fault. It is the mainstream media who hates Clinton and knows that Americans care about personality probably as much as they care for policy issues.

Enjoy the article:

Hate Springs Eternal.

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Would you buy insurance from Barack Obama?

Much has been made of Obama's statements about health care insurance in the debate the other night.  Krugman, who clearly is not an Obama fan, wrote yet another column about it today.  Krugman is wrong.  SusanHu, a long time diarist here for  whom everybody once had great respect, wrote a diary today that many are describing as yet another hit piece on Obama.  SusanHu, too, is wrong. People are talking about "penalties" in Obama's plan, as compared to "garnished wages" in Hillary's.  What is this all about?

Well, at the debate, Wolf Blitzer asked Obama about what some perceived as a flaw in his plan, that people could go uninsured, then go to the most expensive treatment available, the emergency room, to be seen.  Obama responded:

If people are gaming the system, there are ways we can address that. By, for example, making them pay some of the back premiums for not having gotten it in the first place.

Some have called that a "penalty." Others describe it as  "reverse mandate." Is that fair?  No.

There's more...

[UPDATED] Krugman: If Obama Is President, There's No Chance for Universal Health Care

Update [2008-2-4 2:24:17 by susanhu]: Below the fold, on the penalties Obama would impose to force compliance.

We Democrats have waited SINCE PRESIDENT HARRY TRUMAN (the late 1940s!) for a chance at universal health care.  It's within reach.  Let's not blow it on a candidate whose plan is weaker and who's already making ill-considered policy shifts (see below for a sad description of Obama's illogical backpedaling on mandates by considering the imposition of penalties on those who don't sign up).

Here's the "money quote" from Paul Krugman's column in tomorrow's New York Times (February 4, 2008):

If you combine the economic analysis with these political realities, here's what I think it says: If Mrs. Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, there is some chance - nobody knows how big - that we'll get universal health care in the next administration. If Mr. Obama gets the nomination, it just won't happen.

Krugman cites essential new information -- that every voter should know -- from an M.I.T. study by a renowned health care analyst comparing the two candidates' plans, important because, Krugman notes, the "principal policy division between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama involves health care":

[A]s I've tried to explain in previous columns, there really is a big difference between the candidates' approaches. And new research, just released, confirms what I've been saying: the difference between the plans could well be the difference between achieving universal health coverage - a key progressive goal - and falling far short.

Specifically, new estimates say that a plan resembling Mrs. Clinton's would cover almost twice as many of those now uninsured as a plan resembling Mr. Obama's - at only slightly higher cost.

Twice as many people.  That's huge. Obama has attacked Hillary Clinton repeatedly for mandating coverage -- but there are critical reasons that everyone be covered.  

There's more...


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