Political Animal

Universal Healthcare

UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE….Commie symp lefty blogger Max Sawicky takes a look at Howard Dean’s platform and says, basically, it looks OK to him. However, he also makes this specific comment about Dean’s healthcare plan:

I’m not sufficiently expert to evaluate the Dean plan. I note that it has multiple parts and runs the risk of Hillarification. In this business, simplicity is important. I also note that there seems no treatment of cost containment, the giant sleeper issue in health care that no politician talks about.

I agree with all of that. Whether universal healthcare is a winning issue for Democrats in 2004 is something I’m not sure about, but a simple plan is certainly the only kind that has a chance. By way of comparison, I would say that Al Gore lost the 2000 election not because his tax cut proposal was too small, but because it was too complex. George Bush was able to paint it as a typical piece of idealistic liberal social engineering, and that description stuck.

(And yes, I know that whenever an election is as close as 2000 was, pretty much anything can be plausibly trotted out as the straw that broke the camel’s back. I happen to think that this is the one that both (a) made a big difference and (b) was entirely under his control.)

I suppose the problem is that a simple plan is almost inevitably a very wide ranging and costly plan as well, and no one thinks that’s politically feasible. Still, I can’t help but think that candidates would be better off just skipping the issue entirely than they are offering a competing set of watered-down plans that are hard to understand and don’t appeal to a very wide segment of the population.

And as Max says, cost containment is key. Unfortunately, only one of those simple, broad-based (but politically risky) plans has even a prayer of keeping costs down. Still, if there’s any way to sell simple universal healthcare to the American public (and Congress), this is the soft underbelly to attack. Americans spend far more on healthcare than any other country, but we don’t seem to get appreciably better service for all the extra money that we pay.

Of course, cost containment inevitably means rationing of some kind, regardless of what you call it, and that’s a political loser.

On the fourth hand….well, you get the idea. The whole thing is just a mess and it’s hard to see what kind of plan actually has a chance of getting widespread support. Overall, I’m just not convinced that the healthcare sweepstakes currently in play in the Democratic primaries has much chance of helping our cause. Maybe in 2008.

Times vs. Times

TIMES vs. TIMES….If you want a morsel of evidence showing that despite the incessant whining of the conservative commentariat the New York Times really is the most important newspaper in America, whereas nobody cares a whit about the Los Angeles Times, consider the varying fates of Paul Krugman and Arianna Huffington. Krugman writes columns that are feisty and tough, and, yes, perhaps sometimes shrill, and every time one comes out he is immediately set upon by an entire legion of conservative commentators.

Arianna Huffington, on the other hand, writes columns for the LA Times that are generally much nastier than Krugman’s ? today she interviews some psychiatrists to try and make the point that George Bush is clinically insane ? and is generally greeted by yawns. The last time I read anybody complaining about her was a few months ago when she ran those SUV ads.

Just the perils of living on ? or writing for ? the West Coast, I suppose. But remember: as California goes, so goes the nation (eventually….) Ignore us at your peril.

The Worst Job In the World?

THE WORST JOB IN THE WORLD?….The recall campaign against Gray Davis is moving along nicely, but Boomshock asks a question about a possible Davis replacement that I’ve been wondering about too:

Does anybody honestly believe that he or she will be able to turn this state around from a $35 billion deficit? Nearly impossible. Plus, even if a high-profile candidate such as The Terminator were to replace Davis, he’d still have to deal with a Democratic legislature. Practically impossible. Am I concerned about tax and fee hikes? Sure, but I’ve also embraced the inevitable.

I don’t get it either. California is $38 billion in the hole, there’s no way to get out without both tax increases and service cuts, and, yes, any Republican governor would have a dangerously resentful and pissed off Democratic legislature to deal with.

Who in their right mind would want this job?

(Yeah, Boomshock says $35 billion and I say $38 billion. Whatever. What’s a few billion between friends?)

Gay Marriage Up North

GAY MARRIAGE UP NORTH….John Derbyshire warns us today against treating gay marriage as a “social science theorem,” while Stanley Kurtz continues his ridiculous efforts to convince us that gay marriage will lead to rampant heterosexual adultery.

Meanwhile, out in the real world, gay marriage will soon be a reality in the socialist hell of Canada:

“We won’t be appealing the recent decision on the definition of marriage. Rather, we’ll be proposing legislation that will protect the right of churches and religious organizations to sanctify marriage as they define it. At the same time, we will ensure that our legislation includes and legally recognize the union of same-sex couples,” [Prime Minister Jean Chr?tien] said.

He said the government plans to move quickly on the bill, and then refer the legislation to the Supreme Court. After that, it will be put to a free vote in the House of Commons, Mr. Chr?tien said.

“We don’t want there to be a long period of uncertainty.”

So I guess we’ll know soon enough, won’t we? If Canada falls apart at the seams, Stanley and John will be vindicated.

Of course, conservatives have long been in the habit of predicting both the breakdown of civilization and the end of the free market as the inevitable result of every piece of social liberalization or government regulation ever proposed, so I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for them to be right about this one. Their track record of doomsaying isn’t really very good.