Which Health Plan Is It, Sen. Obama? You're Poisoning The Well
by susanhu, Tue Jan 22, 2008 at 09:32:26 AM EST
|"[The A.P.] reported that Sen. Obama could have 'a pretty good debate' with himself: "If he wanted, the Barack Obama of today could have a pretty good debate with the Barack Obama of yesterday." -- The Fact Hub|
(The transcript of last night's debate is below the fold.)
Here's what Elizabeth Edwards had to say, via CBS News, on the highly misleading radio ad that Barack Obama ran before the January 3rd Iowa caucuses. The radio ad claimed "that Obama's health plan covered more people than either Edwards's or Hillary Clinton's plans":
"It's just complete untruth," [Elizabeth Edwards] said. "I'll speak on behalf of Senator Clinton as well. Both Senator Clinton's and John Edwards's health care plans cover one hundred percent of Americans and Senator Obama's does not."
That's from my story, "Elizabeth Edwards on Health Plans, Obama's Lobbyists, ..." Then there's what NYT columnist and eminent economist Paul Krugman had to say about Obama's health care plan and Obama's misleading, factually untruthful radio ad:
Obama goes Harry and Louise
A friend sends me this:
Have you seen or heard about the radio ad that Obama is running in Iowa about health care?
It has a man and a woman talking, with the man leading off saying that health care mandates "force those who cannot afford health care insurance to buy it, punishing those who don't fall in line."
This is what I've been complaining about. I was willing to cut Obama slack on the lack of mandates in his plan, even though the economics says they're necessary; I figured that in practice, if elected, he'd end up doing the right thing.*
I started ramping up the criticism when he started attacking his opponents from the right, making the lack of mandates a principle rather than a compromise -- because that was poisoning the well, making it much harder for any future Democratic president to implement a plan that will work.
-- From my article, "A Paucity of Hope (A 'Mendacity of Hope'?)."
Here's the segment from LAST NIGHT's CNN TRANSCRIPT OF THE DEBATE in South Carolina:
CLINTON: [I]f you don't start out trying to get universal health care, we know -- and our members of Congress know -- you'll never get there.
If a Democrat doesn't stand for universal health care that includes every single American, you can see the consequences of what that will mean. I think it is imperative that we have plans, as both John and I do, that from the very beginning say, "You know what? Everybody has got to be covered."
There's only three ways of doing it. You can have a single-payer system, you can require employers, or you can have individual responsibility. My plan combines employers and individual responsibility, while maintaining Medicare and Medicaid.
I think that the whole idea of universal health care is such a core Democratic principle that I am willing to go to the mat for it. I've been there before. I will be there again. I am not giving in; I am not giving up; and I'm not going to start out leaving 15 million Americans out of health care [AS DOES OBAMA'S PLAN].
Secondly, we have seen once again a kind of evolution here. When Senator Obama ran for the Senate, he was for single-payer and said he was for single-payer if we could get a Democratic president and Democratic Congress. As time went on, the last four or so years...
As time went on, the last four or so years, he said he was for single payer in principle, then he was for universal health care. And then his policy is not, it is not universal. And this is kind of like the present vote thing, because the Chicago Tribune, his hometown paper, said that all of those present votes was taking a pass. It was for political reasons.
Well, when you come up with a universal health care plan and you don't have any wiggle room left, you know that you're going to draw a lot of political heat. I am not running for president to put Band-Aids on our problems. I want to get to universal health care for every single American.
OBAMA: Right, exactly.
Here's the policy question: if, in fact, we are not making it affordable enough, which is what's happening right now, and you mandate on families to buy health insurance that they can't afford and if they don't buy it you fine them or in some other way take money for them -- this is what's happening...
EDWARDS: But, Barack, you're ignoring that we subsidize...
OBAMA: John, I haven't finished. John, let me finish.
EDWARDS: OK, all right, go ahead.
OBAMA: Now, what is happening in Massachusetts right now -- there are articles being written about it -- which is that folks are having to pay fines and they don't have health care. They'd rather go ahead and take the fine because they can't afford the coverage.
My core belief is that people desperately want coverage. They desperately want it, and my plan provides those same subsidies. And if they are provided those subsidies and they have good, quality care that's available, then they will purchase it. That is my belief. Now, it's fine for us to have a debate about how the best way to get there is, but to suggest somehow that I'm not interested in having anybody covered, or to suggest, as Hillary just did, that I was in favor of single payer -- I never said that we should try to go ahead and get single payer. What I said was that if I were starting from scratch, if we didn't have a system in which employers had typically provided health care, I would probably go with a single-payer system.
What's evolved, Hillary, is your presentation of my positions, which is what's happened frequently during the course of this campaign.
Blah, blah, blah. Just like he always does, Obama explains and explains, but can't recover from his gaffes.
Here are two more key references:
- "Obama goes Harry and Louise: The audio," by Jedreport at Daily Kos, Jan. 1, 2008
- The story of the "Harry and Louise" TV ads, and why that history matters.
Then there's the must-read column by Paul Krugman in December, "The Mandate Muddle":
Imagine this: It's the summer of 2009, and President Barack Obama is about to unveil his plan for universal health care. But his health policy experts have done the math, and they've concluded that the plan really needs to include a requirement that everyone have health insurance -- a so-called mandate.
Without a mandate, they find, the plan will fall far short of universal coverage. Worse yet, without a mandate health insurance will be much more expensive than it should be for those who do choose to buy it.
But Mr. Obama knows that if he tries to include a mandate in the plan, he'll face a barrage of misleading attacks from conservatives who oppose universal health care in any form. And he'll have trouble responding -- because he made the very same misleading attacks on Hillary Clinton and John Edwards during the race for the Democratic nomination.
O.K., before I go any further, let's be clear: there is a huge divide between Republicans and Democrats on health care, and the Obama plan -- although weaker than the Edwards or Clinton plans -- is very much on the Democratic side of that divide.
But lately Mr. Obama has been stressing his differences with his rivals by attacking their plans from the right -- which means that he has been giving credence to false talking points that will be used against any Democratic health care plan a couple of years from now. ... (Read all of "The Mandate Muddle.")
"Attacking from the right" ... "he has been giving credence to false talking points that will be used against any Democratic health care plan a couple of years from now. ..."
Just like Obama has also done on Social Security and any number of other issues.
As Krugman pointed out at his NYT blog, Barack Obama is "poisoning the well, making it much harder for any future Democratic president to implement a plan that will work."