Tag: 2008 Election

Now, a real bipartisan opportunity in health care exists

President-Elect Obama, and about every candidate for Congress, has said he wants to change the partisan tone in Washington. Obama, the Democratic Congressional leadership, and the Republicans have a terrific opportunity to do just that on health care when they all come to Washington early next year.

As I posted earlier, I do not believe there is any chance we can see the enactment of the comprehensive Obama health plan in the near term.

But there are a number of important steps that can be taken next year and each of them have enjoyed strong bipartisan support during the past year:

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The next president’s health agenda

Note: This post first appeared at Goozner’s blog, Gooznews.

Picture_4A year ago, health care held a solid lead in the polls as the number
one concern of the American people. But by the time the Iowa caucuses
closed, and Barack Obama surged to his unexpected win, it had been
supplanted by the economy, a changing reality I noted in this New Year’s Day post.

As my daughter and I stood in a crowd of well over 100,000 people
last night in Manassas, Virginia, and heard the Democratic nominee give
his stump speech for the last time, I was struck by how little of it
was devoted to any issue beyond the core economy. His mom’s struggle
with paying her bills as she lay dying of cancer and the need to put
health into our sick care system got a line; but so did the war in Iraq
and going after bin Laden. As in 1992 when the last Democrat got
elected for the first time, it’s the economy, stupid.

But unlike some pundits who say the health care issue will be put on
the backburner for the first half of the next president first term, I
do not believe the nation will have that luxury. Curbing the growth of
health care spending will reassert itself as an issue next year because
it is key to restoring this nation to economic competitiveness.
American businesses are at a competitive disadvantage when they must
pay twice what companies in other countries pay (whether premiums or
taxes) to provide their workers health coverage.

The morning after reality for the next president is that the U.S.
spends more on health care than any other nation on earth — 16 percent
of gross domestic product and rising. Yet nearly 50 million Americans
go without health coverage during the year, and in traditional markers
of national well-being — longevity and infant mortality — the U.S.
ranks below many former Communist bloc nations of Eastern Europe.

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President Obama: A victory for health care?

Now that the results are in and the United States has officially elected Barack Obama as its next president, what does that mean to you and what will that mean for health care in America?

After nearly two years of campaigns, countless pages of material written about Obama’s health care plan and the possibility of reform, the U.S. has elected a Democrat as president and put Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate.

What do you predict the next four years will bring?

This is your space to reflect, comment and debate. Please share your thoughts, and let’s get a vigorous discussion going.

What I want to happen and what I think will happen

Election day. At last it’s over. A gazillion dollars, mostly wasted making TV stations richer. Two years of
campaigning resulting up in 3–4 months where rushed decision making will create a future that we all have to live with.

It looks pretty clear that Obama will win, with an increase in Congressional control for the Democrats. Although we Dems are used to losing when it never seemed possible…

So what do I want to happen? Certain things need to be done straight away.

1) Guantanamo Bay must be closed & torture renounced.

2) Rampant spying on Americans, national security letters & government abuse of power must be ended.

3) We need a declared route out of Iraq, immediately. (And a truth commission to deal with the lying sacks of **** who got us in there to reward themselves and their now much richer friends wouldn’t be a bad idea).

4) America must rejoin the international community, including
abiding by the principals of Kyoto, the International Criminal Court
& the UN Human declaration of human rights.

5) The drug war should be ended and a rational system of regulation introduced (OK I know I’m dreaming on this one).

6) A Manhattan-type project should be set up to really push the development of alternative energy. (I have some hope this will happen)

7) Complete house cleaning in the Federal departments and agencies
like Justice, EPA, FDA and many more, which have been over-run by
politicization and an attack on science. And a re-adoption of a serious
role for government.

8)  A really broad effort to fix the discriminatory, unfair American health care system

But what do I think will happen?

Less than that I’m afraid. But let’s stick to health care reform
which (other than the drug war) of all the above is the least likely to

The conventional wisdom is still probably correct.

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Politics 2.0 is a Victory for Health 2.0


I was sitting here getting ready to blog on how Politics 2.0 will affect Web 2.0, when I got an email from the coordinator of a health care-related virtual community established by the Obama presidential campaign. It directed me to a humorous video featuring a group of singing (OK, lip-syncing) Obama staffers bringing a bipartisan message of hope to political junkies facing the looming end of this seemingly endless campaign. Les Misbarack is great fun — although I wouldn’t plan on ditching my Capitol Steps tickets just yet.

This morning, two pillars of the mainstream media (MSM) both examined the role the Internet has played in the presidential campaign. The Wall Street Journal gives us conventional political analysis along the lines of how-the-results-of-this-war-will-affect-the-next-one. The New York Times, by contrast, zeroes in on Campaigns in a Web 2.0 World and begins to discuss the thornier issues of who will generate content, who will control content and how content will be disseminated by online and offline media.

Interestingly, while the Times piece has a photo of Obama Girl, and alludes to her popular “I Got a Crush…on Obama” video in the caption, the article itself makes no mention of user-generated content. You have to go to the online site,, to find the “10 most viral videos of the campaign” in order to discover that the Obama Girl video pulled in more than 10 million views.

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Perhaps Obama will have to do rather more than he says he will

I feel like Mrs Miggins in my favorite comedy show, Blackadder. It’s the scene when Blackadder says “The hustings are down, the candidates have spoken and after the madness of a general election, we can return to normal” and Mrs Wiggins says “Has there been an election? I’ve never heard about it?” (Yes that is a much younger version of Dr House playing the Prince Regent).

Anyway I’ve had my head so far up the Health 2.0 rear that until this week I haven’t really paid too much attention to the election. In all honesty (speaking as a Democrat who could never conceive of a Republican win in the current circumstances) I’ve been trundling along expecting an Obama win with the same set of Democrats running Congress but not with the vicious efficacy that Tom Delay & friends showed in getting their bills passed in 2001–2004. So I haven’t been expecting that much change in the healthcare system.

But if you do believe something is going to happen, over at the HuffPo Susan Blumenthal, whom I saw earlier this week, nudges me towards her side by side comparison of the  U.S. Presidential Candidates’ Health Care Plans.

On the other hand, and I’ll be writing more about this before the election, if the recession is bad enough—and this morning’s numbers suggest that it could be—what Obama is proposing may be torn up and we might do something much more radical. It sounds crazy, but then again a year ago you wouldn’t have thought that the US taxpayer was going to own the biggest insurance company and most of the banks. After that actually IS socialism according to Lenin’s “owning the commanding heights of the economy” definition, no matter how much Sarah Palin rails against it. And socialism in health care makes rather more sense than socialism in banking, or autos.

So if there are 90 million uninsured and 15% unemployed, perhaps a Federal rescue package for health care is on its way—we just haven’t seen it poke its head out of the water yet. And if it does, it will likely be much more radical than the gentle proposal Obama is starting with, which the conventional wisdom says is a non-starter anyway.

McCain’s health plan likely going down with him

John McCain would reform the American health care system by providing big tax incentives for it to transition from being employer-based to one built on a system of individual responsibility. He would do this by eliminating the longtime personal tax exemption on employer-provided health insurance and replacing it with a $2,500 individual, and $5,000 family, tax credit for those who have health insurance.

It’s too bad this idea will likely recede from the national health policy debate whether John McCain wins or loses the presidency. Even if he wins, the Democratic majorities in Congress will be so large there is little chance we will be able to move away from the traditional employer health insurance base in the next few years. All you have to do is look at the way Obama and all of the Democratic candidates for the Senate and House have railed against McCain’s plans to "tax your health benefits" to see how Democrats have willingly painted themselves into a political corner that makes this idea a non-starter in the new Congress.

As I have said before on this blog, I have been largely disappointed in the McCain health plan. He started out with a bold new approach but never closed the loop on so many key elements in his plan. For example, he leaves those with pre-existing conditions to the fate of state-based risk pools–a place no one would ever vote themselves into.

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Will a $5,000-tax credit be the silver bullet to solve health care?

If Senator John McCain becomes U.S. president he plans to give each American family $5,000 to pay for health insurance premium costs in the individual market. Individuals would get $2,500 for the same use.

How does McCain propose to pay for this? In part, by revoking the tax deductibility of workers’ health benefits and by making cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. Even with these provisions, however,  The Tax Policy Center estimates McCain’s plan will run an estimated $1.3 trillion short in funding over the next ten years.

In McCain’s “Health Care Action” television ad, he says, “The problem with health care in America is not the quality of health care, it’s the availability and the affordability. And that has to do with the dramatic increase in the cost of health care.”

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Firefighters attack McCain’s health plan

The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) recently launched a campaign in support of Senator Obama for president — and an attack on Senator McCain’s health care plan.

The commercial features four firefighters. "Our job is to risk our lives to protect you, and your loved ones. We’re proud of that," one of the firefighters say.  "Like you, we need our health care for our families," adds another firefighter.

The IAFF, based in Washington D.C., is a labor union representing approximately 292,000 full-time firefighters and paramedics in the United States and Canada. The commercial will air on local cable networks in New Hampshire, parts of North Carolina, Orlando, St. Louis, parts of Ohio and parts of Virginia.

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Tracking media coverage of health care

Headlines and A1 charts stuck with the stock market, Washington’s changeling rescue
proposals and the plights of anxious finance firms in the week between the Palin-Biden debate and John McCain and Barack Obama’s town hall face off last Tuesday. The economy was a subtext to most of the other issues drawn into the election vortex.

Coverage of two issues – health care and taxes – nearly doubled. Health care stories increased across all media from 256 stories to 439. Tax stories rose from just over 400 for the week to nearly 800 between the weeks ending Sept. 29 and Oct. 6, according to stories polled for the LexisNexis Analytics dashboard.

This spike in incidence is not unrelated. Tax stories are hot as voters stare at a growing deficit and watch their 401k’s plunge, but tax talk has also become a predictable symptom of health care reform stories.

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