Casey/Obama at the bat: Swing for Medicare Plus

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

After two weeks in New York City as a health care consumer (spine surgery) - rather than an observer of public opinion on health care - I have returned home to Washington, D.C. thinking of Casey Stengel when he managed the interesting New York Mets in 1962. On a particularly exasperating day, Stengel slid his baseball cap back, scratched his head and bellowed: "Doesn't anybody here know how to play this game?"

If Casey was a political consultant in Washington today, he might look at what is going on regarding health care and ask four questions:

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Time to Silence the Barking Blue Dogs

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

These days, the tail that wags the dog in Congress is colored blue.

The so-called Blue Dog Democrats are not a majority of the House of Representatives. They are not even a majority of the Democrats.  But they are tugging so hard on the reins of the majority that they are determining the direction of heath care reform.

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New survey suggests insecurity driving support for reform

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

If you read the news headlines on health care recently, you might get the impression that most people are more worried that President Obama will succeed in getting health care reform enacted than that he will fail.

The day after President Obama's news conference last week, the Washington Post's page one headline blared: "Obama seeks to calm fears on health care." The New York Times interviewed people in one of the most Republican counties in the nation and concluded in a front page lede: "President Obama sought to convince an increasingly skeptical American public that proposed changes to the health care system would benefit them and strengthen the economy."

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Bury the Senate Supreme Court Hearings

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

Now that we have reached the end of the hearings on Judge Sonya Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court, someone in the Senate should state the obvious - Supreme Court hearings serve no constructive purpose and should be retired.  They are just one more embarrassing spectacle produced by America's most exclusive club.

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Insecurity may drive the public's call for health care

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

The recent surveys on health care reform have been reporting large-scale support for reforming our health care system but no consensus on the specifics.

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Health Care Reform Should Be Slam Dunk for Obama

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

The latest polls showing that President Obama is more popular than some of his policies are a sure sign that meaningful health care reform with a public option should be a slam dunk for Obama.

The intangibles of leadership, not the specifics of policies, usually determine whether or not the country will accept large scale change like health care reform.

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Abortion -- the Question is the Question

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

It was Ronald Reagan who returned from a trip to South America and told reporters, "you can learn a lot by just listening." I was reminded of Reagan's revelation when an April Pew Research survey of the nation found that "the proportion saying that abortion should be legal in all or most cases has declined to 46% from 54% last August." This finding took many of us by surprise because abortion attitudes have been incredibly stable over the last 15 years.

While it will take time to learn whether this shift becomes a trend and why it occurred, the change points out the importance of listening closely to the people who respond to your surveys.  The commitment to listening closely led Belden Russonello & Stewart to change the way we measure opinions on abortion, to reflect more closely the questions people ask themselves about abortion.

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A Surtax on Corporate Greed and Stupidity

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

Here is a suggestion for President Obama to overcome Republican objections to a cap on executive pay on the grounds that it interferes with the internal decisions of businesses: instead of proposing a cap on executive pay, borrow a theme from Ronald Reagan, who used the themes of individualism, freedom, and self-determination to employ the tax code as an incentive and a substitute for government regulation.

I propose the Democrats give up on the idea of a cap and instead offer a government incentive for merit pay for corporate executives.  This would come in the form of disincentive for businesses to pay billions to executives who have failed. Here's how it would work: a corporation that loses money but chooses to pay bonuses to its top executives at the end of the year must pay the federal government a large tax equal to ten times the bonus - call it surtax on corporate stupidity and gluttony.

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America -- Gradually Moving Left

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

The Republican message guru of the 80's, and into the 90's, Arthur Finkelstein of New York, built a successful career on one simple idea. If his candidate was trailing in the polls, he would call the opponent a liberal.   His formula had two main advantages: simplicity and portability: FILL IN YOUR OPPONENT'S NAME HERE is too liberal for FILL IN YOUR STATE HERE. With this advice, he helped Republicans win many elections, because the liberal label meant favoring big government and higher taxes, being soft on crime, and social permissiveness.

Today you see these ads far less often.  Even though the opinion polls have consistently shown almost no increase in the number of Americans who describe themselves as politically "liberal," I believe there is solid evidence that the liberal bashing has lost its punch because over the last two decades Americans have gradually become more liberal.  

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Who is really qualified to sit on the Supreme Court?

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

Having just returned from a blog-free, almost e-mail free three weeks in Umbria, I have learned that the President named Sonia Sotomayor as his choice to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court, and that the Republicans in the Senate and elsewhere are making noises about opposing her on the grounds that she is too Hispanic.

Sotomayor's critics start by admitting that she is "qualified." She has a law degree from Yale University, was appointed to the federal district court by Republican President Bush in 1991, then elevated to an appeals court judgeship by President Clinton in 1998. Her critics argue that being qualified is not enough. They question her judgment, because she would see the law through the eyes of a Puerto Rican woman from New York City. Essentially she is too Hispanic-urban-northeastern-female.

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