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June 07, 2009


I don't entirely disagree with what Brendan says, but we should keep in mind that there is some political advantage to Obama in having the health care plan receive a significant number of Republican votes.

There's a high probability that a lot of people will be dissatisfied once the health care plan is in operation--because they're forced to pay some portion of the cost, because they're unhappy with the care they receive, because the cost of the plan greatly exceeds projections, or for some other reason. If it's a totally Democratic plan, the Democrats may be a target of such popular dissatisfaction. If, on the other hand, the plan has been embraced by Republicans as well as Democrats, the Democrats may be able to escape paying a political price. Getting at least partial Republican support--enough to characterize the final result as a bipartisan plan--would be smart political insurance.

Goodness, i completely agree with Rob. Mark the date.

If Obama had modified the "stimulus" to get Republican votes the plan would have been more effective IMHO Then unemployment might not have been as high as 9.4% including a worst-ever long-term unemployment rate.

I think most Americans will be happy to have free or subsidized government-paid health care. We all like something for nothing. IMHO the cost burden of that plan will harm the long-term economy. England experienced decades of rotten economy after they implemented government health care and other programs.

However, most voters won't blame the bad economy on Obamacare. In fact the bad economy will make them all the happier to have government-paid health care. So, I think healthcare will be a political plus for the Dems.

David: On what are you basing your argument that England "experienced decades of rotten economy (sic)" after implementing the NHS? I suppose if you only look at GDP, you might be able to make that claim - but of course a more important measurement might be standards of living, which soared after the NHS was introduced.


BTW, one of the arguments for health care reform is its current drag on productivity and GDP. How do you square that with your claims the cost of the new system will weigh down the economy. The old system is already killing us.

Dave, I'll let David respond for himself, but I did want to weigh in on your request that he square his claim that the cost of the new system will weigh down the economy with the argument for health care reform that the existing system is a drag on productivity and GDP. I think you need to keep in mind that this is only an argument; it may not be true.

In fact, the New York Times today reports that the chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisors rejected essentially this argument as "schlocky" and refused to include it in her report analyzing the Administration's economic case for health care reform.

I think you're reducing the whole political debate to one of partisan tactics and ignoring the fact that there are real problems that (even) politicians want to solve.

I have no doubt that President Obama would love to have 80 Senate votes for every item on his agenda, just as any other president would. The question is whether there is enough common ground to frame a bill that will accomplish a goal worth pursuing. Failing to find that common ground doesn't mean that the president or his detractors were insincere in looking for it to begin with.

It doesn't stand to reason that a president and the opposition party have to be diametrically opposed on every issue. Even the Social Security of 1935 got a majority of Republican votes, despite fierce opposition. And Reagan, both Bushes and Clinton were all able to get significant opposition support for bills they put before Congress.

Neither Obama nor any other president has claimed that they would prefer to give up on passage of their agenda in the name of bipartisanship.

"If Obama had modified the "stimulus" to get Republican votes the plan would have been more effective IMHO Then unemployment might not have been as high as 9.4% including a worst-ever long-term unemployment rate."

You know, David, i tend to keep my fantasies to myself because expressing them out loud tends to be quite embarrassing. But you don't let that stop you... kudos, sir.

Dave M. - It's at least a good first approximation that standard of living = GDP/person. The GDP growth rate is the first thing one looks at in evaluating how an economy is doing.

As you point out, one argument for health care reform is that the current cost of health care is supposedly a drag on productivity and GDP. That argument is based on the theory that government health care will cost less than the current system. IMHO the opposite is the case.

The proposed system would be something like Medicare, which has been immensely expensive. Its costs have been far larger than actuarial estimates. Costs are growning rapidly, beyond what can be afforded. The history of Medicare suggests that a new government health care system will cost more than we're currently paying. That's because people will get more treatment, once they don't have to pay for it themselves.

Health care reform may well be worth the extra cost if it allows many people to get more sufficient medical treatment than they're now receiving, but I think it will add to health costs.

rone - both Obama and Bush came into office during a recession. Bush's recession ended soon after his tax cuts took effect. Obama's has grown far worse than expected after his stimulus bill passed. JFK and Reagan also spurred the economy using tax cuts. History says it would have helped if some tax cuts had been included in this year's recovery package.

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