Hardly A Big Change For A Government Take Over of Health Care

Opponents of health care reform claim that the current plans represent a government take over of heath care. Ezra Klein looks at the Congressional Budget Office’s evaluation of the Senate Finance Committee proposal:

The verdict? It will look a lot like our old health-care system.

Unless you’re uninsured, or on the individual market, this bill is not expected to affect you. CBO estimates that 29 million Americans who would’ve otherwise been uninsured will be covered. That’s a very big deal. Five million Americans who would otherwise have been left to the individual market will find a better option. And 3 million Americans who would’ve otherwise been in employer-based health insurance will be on the exchanges or, in some cases, on Medicaid. The insurance exchanges are projected to serve 23 million people come 2019, and 18 million of the members will be low-income and on subsidies.

That leaves 245 million non-elderly Americans who will pretty much be in the exact place they would’ve been otherwise. As for the elderly, the CBO doesn’t include them because they’re on Medicare. They, too, will be where they otherwise would’ve been.

This is hardly the radical change that opponents claim. As an owner of a small business this matters more to me than it does to the vast majority of people who are protesting against health care reform. I sure hope that they go beyond the current proposal and also give us the choice of a public option.

The key finding in the Congressional Budget Office report is that this would reduce the deficit by $81 billion over the next decade. While reducing the deficit is a good thing (most recently only seen under a Democratic president), I hope we don’t place this over doing health care reform right. Eliminating wasteful government spending (like the subsidies given by George Bush to the insurance companies in Medicare Advantage plans) is a good thing, but sometimes we really do benefit by spending more government money. I’d prefer that the deficit not be reduced as much so that greater assistance can be given to individuals to purchase health care coverage, and to avoid needing to expand coverage by placing people in Medicaid as opposed to real insurance plans.

Bob Dole Calls on Congress To Pass Health Care Reform, And Predicts Passage

Yesterday I listed Bob Dole as one of the former Republican leaders who has supported health care reform, at least in general principles. The Kansas City Star quotes Dole as predicting health care reform will pass–and is urging Congress to enact health care reform as soon as possible:

Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole says “there will be a signing ceremony” for a health care reform bill either late this year or early next.

But the former presidential candidate says he isn’t sure what the bill will say.

Dole, 86, spoke with reporters after an hour-long speech at a health care reform summit sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.

He told the group that he and former Sens. Tom Daschle, Howard Baker, and George Mitchell will issue a statement later today urging Congress to enact health care reform as soon as possible.

Subsequently a statement was released by Dole and Daschle:

Congress could be close to passing comprehensive health reform. The American people have waited decades and if this moment passes us by, it may be decades more before there is another opportunity. The current approaches suggested by the Congress are far from perfect, but they do provide some basis on which Congress can move forward and we urge the joint leadership to get together for America’s sake.”

Dole blamed partisanship for health care reform not passing:

Sometimes people fight you just to fight you,” he said. “They don’t want Reagan to get it, they don’t want Obama to get it, so we’ve got to kill it…

“Health care is one of those things…Now we’ve got to do something.”

Dole did express concerns about the cost and about the public option.

Modern Art At The White House


The New York Times describes the change in decoration at the White House, including Obama’s taste for modern art. Examples above and below, with more at the linked article. The above example shows a refreshing change from the Bush years when we had a president who was always certain he was right, and never willing to consider contrary evidence or opinions.


Ghost Writers and Conservative Gullibility

The gullibility of conservatives, or more precisely their willingness to believe without bothering to fact check anything which confirms their biases, is amazing. David Weigel at The Washington Independent notes how Jonah Goldberg “falls hook, line and sinker for Bill Ayers’ joke about serving as Barack Obama’s ghostwriter.” I’m sure that for Ayers it was a fun way to mess with conservative heads by claiming he was the author of  Dreams From My Father. The story is spreading rapidly through the conservative blogosphere and media today with accounts such as the ones here and here.

This shows two common tendencies on the right wing. First, as I mentioned above, those guys will believe anything if it fits into their narrow worldview. This does lead many of them to sticking to their beliefs on topics such as foreign policy and economics despite overwhelming evidence against their views.  That’s also why conspiracy theories, denial of global warming, and belief in creationism are so common the right.

This also shows how the right tends to dwell on trivia. Rather than honestly discussing his policies, they attack Obama by claiming he is a Muslim, is not an American citizen, or that his book was ghost written. If there was any truth to the ridiculous claims about Obama’s citizenship this would create Constitutional issues, but otherwise most of their attacks simply do not matter very much.

When I first saw the headlines claiming Ayers admitted to writing Obama’s book, my thought was that even if this was not a joke it really would not  be that earth shattering. While Obama is the rare exception, it is very common for politicians and celebrities to use ghost writers. The choice of a ghost writer does not necessarily mean agreement on any issues or political tactics.

It is interesting that the right wing is going crazy over the idea that William Ayers might have ghost written a book for Obama, but have no concern over Sarah Palin’s choice of Lynn Vincent to write her book. Vincent is a far right evangelical Christian who is a creationist and has also been described as a white supremacist.

Update: While most of the conservative blogs I’ve read on this subject today are falling for it, there are rare exceptions such as Allahpundit and Patterico. Ed Morrissey also recognizes how meaningless this is.

Update II: While some conservatives are showing some sense on this matter, others such as Tom Maguire demonstrate the lack of thinking skills which I’m talking about here, beyond soaking up multiple previously debunked conservative  talking points as fact. With regards to the premise of this post he writes, “Mr. Chusid presents no facts at all in support of his biases.” Totally false if you look at the many posts here which address these topics. Typical of a right winger to resort to such a cheap shot–and typical of a right winger to be oblivious to the existence of actual facts.

He is also confused by the line containing “it is very common for politicians and celebrities to use ghost writers.” This does make this a matter of less than earth shattering significance in the case of someone who is currently a prominent politician such as Barack Obama. If anything, his lack of celebrity at the time the book was written makes it even less important.