Matthew Holt

Jon Cohn: Obsessed with baseball and a hopeless optimist

Jon thinks that Baseball Teaches Us (something) About Health Care Reform. Replace the star player with a bunch of utility infielders, and we’ll still win the pennant. Don’t worry Jon, Daschle isn’t the only one who came in with high hopes and didn’t make it through the week. So long Luiz Felipe!

But more importantly, unity (for the bailout) is a bust already, less than two full weeks into the Obama Administration with only 3 Republican Senators prepared to buck Rush Limbaugh, and then at a pretty big cost to the President and common sense. As Krugman pointed out today, bipartisanship is a crock, with the Republicans telling Obama to go whistle despite his bail-out package being less in total and way less in degree than a centrist Democrat would want. He left in all those tax cuts to please Republicans and they dissed it anyway.

So what would the Republicans do if serious health reform came up for discussion? I think I know! And if Obama starts with an already watered-down plan, it’ll just get more watered down.

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7 replies »

  1. James, only assuming this “recession” is like the others. I think health IT investment will be a waste if we’re trying to reduce heath costs and increase patient outcomes, maybe your support is your “pork”. Certainly kick starting much of what we have lacked may be a good thing to put us in the right direction, but I don’t know what fundamantals will change after we spend this money, Americans are largly tapped out and deep in debt (in more ways than one). I would like to pay for this as we went along, such as an energy tax, but Americans have been so conditioned against taxes, even for good causes, that I doubt it would pass. I proposed a $4 floor price on gas with the difference being a tax that would force/pay for energy conservation/alternatives. Here in NC Republicans fought and won a battle against higher gas tax to pay for road repair and building, which everybody wants, but for which nobody wants to pay for. That’s the culture that has developed in this country, everyone wants the other guy to pay.
    James, your generation and the one preceeding set us up for this. Have you asked yourself how your kids will cope with global warming because “your” generation refused to act? Have you asked yourself how your kids will deal with oil shortages and high energy prices because you failed to make the tough decisions? Have you asked yourself how your kids will pay to repair/ungrade our infa-structure?

  2. Quote
    “spending most of the “stimulus” money long after the recession will likely be over,”
    How will you know when the recession is over? What’s your measurement.
    End quote
    Well, let’s look at modern U.S. history since 1973 (35 years) and note that our recessions average 11 months or so. We are said to be in month five or so of the current one.
    Here is a USA Today from 2008 article that lays out our economic history in some detail going back to 1973:
    http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2008-10-15-3382625071_x.htm
    Look at the stats for five recessions, which are: 8 months, 8 months, 16 months, 6 months, and 16 months.
    We are now by some reckonings maybe five months or so into our current recession. If we use the longest recession periods since 1973 of 16 months, we would face getting out of recession by the end of the year or early in 2010. Most of the money gets spent after 2009 or even 2010.
    If your goal is short-term infusions of cash to stimulate the economy, this won’t do it. But, if your goal is to ladle out federal bucks to interest groups and political constituencies, it succeeds in spades.
    I generally favor the health IT items, but say they should have been a standalone that went through the standard bill process.
    The GOP is to be faulted for allowing spending to rise beyond what may be sustained when they were in power. No arguments there. But, doing the right thing late is still better than going along with the wrong thing to avoid a charge of being an “obstructionist.” If you are finally obstructing bad policy, great.
    My analogy: Doctors used to routinely treat high fevers by bleeding the patient. It didn’t work of course. Doing nothing was preferable and taking the wrong action (do something!) killed a number of their patients. When the crowd-out of available investment capital needed to sustain the borrowing this legislation requires kicks in, the bleeding really starts.
    As I tucked my two grandkids into bed tonight, I wonder whether several years of their adult lives will be spent paying on this hastily-passed legislation. My generation just did a something to them that they may not appreciate when they get the bill for it.

  3. “spending most of the “stimulus” money long after the recession will likely be over,”
    How will you know when the recession is over? What’s your measurement.
    I was against the TARP and as I see how the last administration gave money to banks without any oversight while the bonuses and perks continued I am cold to the next part. This country has neglected so many necessary projects over the last 25 years from infrastructure to energy efficiency while we went on an unsustainable borrowing glut for over valued homes, new cars every 3 years, Wall Street compensation and bonuses, tax breaks to the wealthy and cheap energy. Spending WILL create some economic activity, just ask Reagan and GW Bush why they thought borrowing and spending was important to create their economic activity and keep voters happy. Would we have had such a great party over the last 8 years if we didn’t rack up a Trillion dollar$ in debt? Where was the Republican outrage then as they were staging the biggest ripoff in history with their K Street pay to play game? If you think convincing Americans that the stimulus is a bad idea just try convincing them that doing nothing while we watch from the sidelines is a better idea. What do citizens want, outright cash? My wife and I did everything right and are in a good position to weather this mess – maybe? But my income has been affected and her income as a nurse manager has the potenial to be affected as her hospital slips into red numbers as charity care balloons and paid care drops or is delayed due to deductibles and co-pays. Americans were told that de-regulation was their savior and that tax cuts, which delayed necessary public investment, would provide never ending wealth. The Ponzi Scheme has come home to roost. Republicans now view their only political strategy is to play obstuctionist politics in hope that Obama’s attempts at cleaning up their mess will fail and prove them for what they are – snake oil salesmen.

  4. What happens if one day foreigners stop lending to us? Then strategies like the “stimulus” bill will not be possible. I guess we’ll worry about that when the time comes.

  5. Why should many of the same GOP senators who voted against the $700 billion TARP when proposed by a GOP president now be faulted for also opposing an $800+ billion bailout bill proposed by his Democrat successor?
    Is “unity” voting for something both you AND the people who elected you think stinks?
    Understand, their constituents hate the bill. They are communicating their displeasure by huge margins. Elected officials, once in a while, note it when the folks back home are contacting them really, really steamed about something.
    Objectively, the bill has big-time problems which include: spending most of the “stimulus” money long after the recession will likely be over, loads of what sure look just like earmarks and good ol’ pork, questionable projects that cost a fortune per job ‘created’, no coherent plan for how this all fits together, a truncated process for creating the bill that strips out most of the committee oversight, and a Congressional Budget Office scoring that sure looks like they think it will lead to lower economic growth in the long-term.
    It is just a pile of spending crammed together. It may, ironically, create such costs to finance that it will crowd out the ability to do other more useful health care reforms later. Any proposed reforms will have to compete for funding with the costs of both TARP and the bailout bill. The well to fund such things is not bottomless.
    While it has some bright spots for health IT, this is just a bad bill overall. It is not a health reform bill; rather it is a hurriedly-assembled spending bill with some health care reform items tucked into the folds.
    I think it would have been better to have done a standalone health care IT bill and looked at these other spending items separately.

  6. There’s a big difference between the departures of Scolari and Daschle. (Yes, I understood Matthew’s allusion to Luiz Felipe Scolari, fired as manager of England’s Chelsea soccer team this week!)
    Scolari’s successor should need only to make the pieces of his team work better together. The individual members of the team are good enough, what’s needed at Chelsea is better orchestration.
    In contrast, Daschle’s successor (if that’s the word for the replacement for someone who was never in place) needs to start by throwing out most of the major pieces of Daschle’s reform plan. (I’ve expressed my doubts about the “Critical” prescription in more detail in previous posts.) Medicaid expansion is wasted if there aren’t providers willing to treat the newly eligible. A Medicare option for under-65s will attract overwhelming opposition from insurers (would you want to compete against a government program in an arena where the government sets all the rules?). Pay-or-play will inevitably lead to crowd-out as employers seek the least expensive option. Turning FEHBP into a Connector-type agency is problematic; FEHBP hasn’t done a great job of creating competition, even without the confusion of the scores of insurers who would want to participate if that were where their future business would be found.
    What’s left? Just Daschle’s vision of a federal reserve for health care, and the usual litany of promises of higher quality and better value care, excellent in theory but challenging to implement. Maybe bringing in a new manager isn’t such a bad idea.

  7. Economically Americans have yet to shake the Reagan/Republican myth that low taxes (especially for the rich), conspicuous consumption, and debt financing is the solution. They also cling to the myth that the private sector will bring us affordable and accessable healthcare. They just want the return of their used to be $600,000 valued 2 bedroom California bungalow. Famous Alaskan saying; “Dear lord just give us one more oil boom and I promise I won’t piss it away again.”

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