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Monday, December 03, 2007

Changing my position on Obama

I was impressed by Obama on his visit to Google, but now that I've read Krugman's latest explanation of why Obama is weak, I have to say I am persuaded. Obama does not have the cojones or the intellectual horse power to figure out what's important in the economy.

My personal preference would be John Edwards, but Hilary Clinton will do as well. After all, the last time we had a Clinton in the white house it didn't suck too badly either.


JakeB said...

Clinton's Secretary of Labor Robert Reich disagrees:
"I’m equally concerned about her attack on his health care plan. She says his would insure fewer people than hers. I’ve compared the two plans in detail. Both of them are big advances over what we have now. But in my view Obama’s would insure more people, not fewer, than HRC’s. That’s because Obama’s puts more money up front and contains sufficient subsidies to insure everyone who’s likely to need help – including all children and young adults up to 25 years old. Hers requires that everyone insure themselves. Yet we know from experience with mandated auto insurance – and we’re learning from what’s happening in Massachusetts where health insurance is now being mandated – that mandates still leave out a lot of people at the lower end who can’t afford to insure themselves even when they’re required to do so. HRC doesn’t indicate how she’d enforce her mandate, and I can’t find enough money in HRC’s plan to help all those who won’t be able to afford to buy it. I’m also impressed by the up-front investments in information technology in O’s plan, and the reinsurance mechanism for coping with the costs of catastrophic illness. HRC is far less specific on both counts. In short: They’re both advances, but O’s is the better of the two. HRC has no grounds for alleging that O’s would leave out 15 million people."

Unknown said...

You prefer second hand opinions rather than trusting your own experience? Here is a rebuttal to
Krugman's piece:

On the other hand, the Clintonian double-talk is ever present. Is there a universal mandate, or isn't there a mandate? See for yourself what she said to the Sioux City Journal's editorial board this Monday (December 3):

"Her health care plan is voluntary, Clinton noted" ...
"It is for the people who are working, who can't get it on their own, who have employers who won't help them. There are no requirements on small businesses," Clinton said.

Piaw Na said...

Having read all the articles above, I still agree with Krugman. It's important that health insurance be mandatory, and Clinton's plan is better. The other issues are smoke screens.

Eric said...

I assume there's plenty of time for the plan to change, between now and the primary and the general and the inauguration and whenever, if ever, it becomes law.

I don't think there's any danger of any candidate successfully pushing a perfect plan. There's a far greater danger of Harry and Louise being revived from the dead to come back and kill any proposal that isn't the status quo.

Piaw Na said...

I'm not expecting a perfect plan, and neither is Paul Krugman. His concern (and I agree entirely) is that Obama is too concerned with being a conciliatory Democratic presidential candidate, and that someone who's too willing to compromise with Republicans will get us nowhere, especially on issues as important as health-care.

In particular, that he bought the Republican line on social security, hook, line, and sinker, is very damning evidence that he is not smart enough to think for himself, and thinks that somewhere between the Democratic position and the Republican position there is a good compromise. There isn't. There hasn't been for the last 8 years, or really the last 12 years.

For the Democratic presidential candidate, I want someone tough, someone smart enough to hand the Republicans their heads every time they try to pin something on him or her. Remember, Bill Clinton handed Newt Gringrich his head every time he tried to play games with the budget. I want someone that smart and that tough in the White House fighting for Democratic ideals. And whatever else you can say about Hilary Clinton, she can be that person. So can John Edwards. Obama? Not so much.

Amy said...

Why should health insurance be mandatory? I agree with auto insurance being mandatory, because the required part is to have coverage for when you do damage to others, not when you do it to yourself. I'm a liberal, but I don't really believe in laws protecting stupid people from themselves. As with any social protection, there should be some indication that it's foolish not to follow this practice, but... fining people? What other enforcement are you going to offer?

Also, the fact that Obama went along with the social security reforms doesn't bother me. While the last Republican implementation of social security "privatizations" may have had potential for abuse, I actually saw it as a good thing because it gave people more choice as to what to do with their retirement money, and again, if the only problem is that "foolish people might hurt themselves", well, I'm not really bothered. Set sensible defaults, but not giving the option isn't good solution. I'd far rather have the money I pay into social security to invest in my own 401(k) or other investment vehicle than paid into a fund I will probably never get to use. I support SS as a way to provide funding to people in emergency situations (primary breadwinner dies, etc), but I don't really like it as a mechanism to pay for people to retire who didn't have the sense to save for it themselves.

And, in case you're wondering, these are views I've had since I was a starving student; not being broke didn't change my mind. Also, those are probably the most conservative-sounding sentiments I have, so don't get worried that I'm suddenly turning into an evil neo-con ;)

Piaw Na said...

Health insurance has to be mandatory because that's the way to get the costs down. The big problem with health insurance is Adverse Selection. Basically, young, healthy people have an incentive to opt out of the system if given a choice, because they are less likely to need it. What that does is to drive up the costs of providing healthcare, thereby rendering it more expensively precisely for those who need it most --- the older folks, and those genetically disposed to diseases. By spreading out the insurance pool amongst the largest possible set (i.e., everyone), it lowers the costs for everyone, even the unlucky young health person who gets into a car accident, who would otherwise be screwed.

And seriously, in practice, we have to cover everyone anyway. If the afore-mentioned young healthy person got into a car accident, would you really turn him away from the hospital just because he didn't have insurance? At that point, the hospital shouldn't be checking insurance records, they should be trying to save his life. And if it turns out that he doesn't have insurance then, what would you accomplish by bankrupting him? You wouldn't get enough money to cover his bills anyway, so everyone else subsidizes him anyway. So in practice, the mandate is the only way to go.

As for social security. I'm not pissed at Obama about any proposed social security reforms. I am pissed at him that he bought the Republican line that Social Security is the biggest problem facing the budget today. It isn't. It's not even the third biggest item. It's way behind Medicaid, Medicare, and that big elephant in the room, the military. By buying into the Republican party line, Obama is demonstrating that he can't think critically, and would rather appease the right wing than to solve the real problems facing us in the nation.