This is not the 90s

August 12, 2009

The constant comparisons between the current healthcare push and the Clintons’ are superficial and misguided.  It is actually much more like last year’s presidential campaign.

First off, the Clintons wrote the bill behind closed doors and then sent it to congress to rubberstamp.  When it came time to sell it congress was MIA, so it was left to Hilary alone.  A lady driving around in a bus.  This time around there are 200+ salesmen with skin in the game, that know their respective constituents and what moves them.  That means every day we are going to have dozens of advocates on local radio, network TV, morning shows, op-eds, etc.

On top of that you’ve got the best explainer in chief the White House has ever seen, a great communications machine, and an organizing arm.

Now think back to the presidential campaign: Early on McCain made outrageous accusations and fabrications about Obama.  That gave him an initial bump, but strategically it was a huge mistake because it gave Obama months to disprove each and every one.  Independents started seeing through the lies and distortions, and by election day nothing McCain could throw stuck.

Same thing is happening now.  Lies, misrepresentations and innuendos are scaring the beejesus out of grandma, but after a couple weeks of further silliness, and disproving from proponents, this tactic will lose teeth.

In the end public support will be split very much as in the election: 100% of Fox viewers (i.e. Republicans) will hate it.  Independents will lean in favor and Democrats will all support it (even though many will have to swallow hard).  Only difference is that since the election Republicans have bled members.

Of course this isn’t a popular vote, so it remains to be seen what a 57/43 opinion split will do to move Blue Dogs and the Maine Twins.

Where are the doctors?

July 25, 2009

They take an oath to PROTECT us right?

So if we should TRUST anyone right now to help us fix our broken health system it should be them, no?

Why don’t we see their faces on tv? radio? townhalls?

Can they give us some guidance?

What is the medical profession about these days anyways?

Let the fireworks begin

July 19, 2009

It’s been a quiet couple months in the domestic policy front, at least as far as people’s interest and perception.  Everyone’s tired of elections and bailouts.  MJ’s death, Iran’s crisis and Republican sex scandals took the spotlight.

But it’s about to get interesting as Obama comes off foreign travels, and goes on campaign mode for health reform.

And for those skeptic of reform passing, have they forgotten how the stimulus package was looking improvable, until he spent two weeks around the country pushing it to the front pages?  He will be naming and shaming the obstructionists and steamrolling the Blue Dogs.

To which I say, about time!

Why is every other post in the lefty blogosphere about gay marriage or torture?

I understand that everyone’s got to keep the pressure on so the administration will follow through on promises made for every pet issue.

But let’s have a little perspective: Healthcare reform is the central issue of this administration.  It touches all of us every day, not just a small percentage (gay rights), and not narrowly (detainee policies).

We like to goad about the GOP being rudderless and leaderless but hey, we’re not doing a very good job following our own.

C’mon people, focus: Healthcare, healthcare healthcare!

P.S. Really, whatever your favorite advocacy organization (here’s one), please send them a few bucks this week.  The insurance industry will be spending 100 million in the next weeks to fight off reform (more specifically, to get 50 million new customers, on the taxpayers’ dime, without changing their ways).  So how many ads can the good guys afford?  It’s up to you and me.

Post Office vs. FedEx

March 27, 2009

I am so tired of politicians using the Post Office as example of how government can’t run anything well.  Especially when they boast how much faster and reliable FedEx is.

It’s the ultimate apples to oranges comparison!

If I paid $21 to ship a simple letter I would demand tracking and next day delivery.  But for $0.42 I am very pleased that they rarely lose my piece, it takes only a few days, deliver rain or shine, and the line at the window takes no longer than at the FedEx counter.

In fact, their Priority Mail is an exceptional product: For $4.60 you get tracking and 2-day delivery to most locations (3-day to the rest).

If anything, our mail system is a perfect example of how government and private enterprise can coexist, delivering a good value to most people, and a better though much pricier alternative for those that really need it and can afford it.

Maybe they should bring the Postmaster General into those healthcare discussions at the White House.

Stimulating a new economy

January 19, 2009

Feldstein and Stiglitz both warn ‘what after the stimulus money is gone?’.  We have been propped up by two bubbles the last decade.  What will prop us up after we’ve used our borrowed money in two years?

Friedman puts it nicely: “If we spend $1 trillion on a stimulus and just get better highways and bridges — and not a new Google, Apple, Intel or Microsoft — your kids will thank you for making it so much easier for them to commute to the unemployment office or mediocre jobs.”

Fortunately I do see the foundation for a new economy in two specific elements of the emerging package:

A third element of the package is a wildcard: Healthcare reform.  Universal healthcare is a moral imperative, but the real value of reform is in increasing efficiency.  The current system is so expensive it is a real drag on the economy.  We must reduce costs and optimize delivery using technology, standardization, regulation and reorganization to a point where cost per insured is cut in half, otherwise we will still be at a disadvantage.  Most of this change will depend on Obama and Dashle’s reform skills, and not on how much we spend via stimulus package.

A fourth one is necessary for a world-wide recovery: Chinese people must start spending and enjoying the fruits of their labor.  The China-lends-us-money-so-we-can-buy-their-products dynamic is over.  This is obviously beyond our control, but well within the command of the central party committee.  Credit cards anyone?