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July 16, 2009


The alleged mind-reading seems to me to be a polite way for the reporter to write, "So-and-so is lying and stone-walling. So we can't discern what he will do from his words. Here's my best guess of what he will actually do."

Unfortunately politicians do lie and stonewall. ("How can you tell if a poltician is lying?" "His lips are moving.") Yet, it's important for the public to understand in advance important issues such as what's going to happen to our health-care system. So, the reporter is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. If he just reports the politician's words he may be misleading his readers. But, if he goes beyond the politician's words, he's making it up.

IMHO the real problem is that politicians are restructuring important aspects of our lives without letting us know just they're doing to us.

David, despite your black-and-white framing, the fact is that journalists can analyze what politicians say and even make educated guesses without resorting to cheap "mind-reading" devices. They don't because they're lazy, and because narratives are provocative and thus sell better.

McCaughey writes that people who change insurance plans will have to join a qualified plan. The proposed government plan will be among the qualified plans, but it won't be the only such plan. Private insurance plans offered through the proposed exchanges will all be qualified plans. So I believe your concern about people not being able to join a private plan is misplaced.

However, people who are provided insurance through their employers are of course limited to whichever plan the employer selects. If the government plan underprices the private plans (which it may well be able to do by virtue of economies of scale, bargaining power, and reduced costs of administration, particularly with respect to collection of premiums), it's reasonable to assume that many employers will select the government plan. President Obama's assurance that anyone who's happy with his current plan can keep it ignores this important fact.

Safire did much the same thing to Clinton with his "Reading Bill's Mind" essay.

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