Monday, February 04, 2008

Campaign Droppings IV

Programming Note

I am too smart, too experienced and too many times burned to make any predictions about the virtually national primary being held on Super Tuesday.

If you want the unvarnished truth, however, you are invited to hold your nose and watch the Glenn Beck program on CNN Headline News (not CNN itself) between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tuesday night and between midnight and 1 a.m. The pundit in the family will be offering commentary on the primaries several times during those hours. And, again, holding your nose, you are invited to view him on Fox News Channel for periodic commentaries between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. All times are Eastern.

Health Care Explained

A friend of mine from outside the Beltway by about 750 miles asked me privately to explain the difference between Hillary Clinton's health plan and Barack Obama's, since she will be voting on Super Tuesday, is uninsured and has potentially serious health problems.

Here is my reply (simplified, of course, because if anyone actually understood health policy, we would have had one by now.)

On policy, they are about a hair's width apart on most everything, even on health insurance. Here is the difference in a nutshell:

Clinton proposes a "mandate," a requirement that everyone must have health insurance (like auto insurance, I guess) and those who can't afford it will be helped by the govt to pay for it.

Obama opposes that broad of a mandate, asking how do you enforce it? Do you fine people (especially those who can afford insurance but choose not to buy it), do you garnish their wages?

Clinton claims Obama would leave half of the uninsured still uninsured. He says you shouldn't force people to buy it, but they will buy it when it becomes affordable, which will occur as more and more people are mandated to buy insurance. (If 100% of the people buy insurance, for example, then competition and volume discounting should lower the price.)

Both would make insurers offer plans to everyone, regardless of existing medical conditions.

They are both for universal coverage, Clinton right now, Obama as part of a process, and neither of their plans will be adopted by Congress before there is a lot of compromising and not any time soon.

In sum, on the face of it, you probably should vote for Clinton.

But, I have really followed this campaign, and everything I know in my brain, heart and gut -- and relying on people I know who are smarter than I am -- Obama is the better person, the better candidate and will make a better president. Follow your instinct rather than the specific plans, because they will not be enacted any time soon, and either of them would support what the other one would do as president.

This nomination fight is about a lot of things -- race, gender, pride, hope, change, experience, character etc. -- but it is not about policy. They are about the same. He was right on Iraq and she was wrong, but she has seen the light and would pull us out, too. She has lived in the White House for eight years already. You decide if that is the right kind of experience. She may be "ready on Day One," but a presidential term lasts 1,460 more days. All of this probably doesn't help you, much.

For what it is worth, if you haven't guessed, I will be voting for Obama because this could be a historic positive transformation of American life like FDR and JFK (and even Reagan) accomplished. Clinton is right on most issues, I think, but the problem is that I only think so, because she will slice every issue so finely so as not to offend any group -- and therefore makes me wonder what she really believes. Obama is also right on most issues but starts with a clean slate.

Obama, in my view, is not afraid to say a Republican has a good idea -- on the rare occasion it happens. He is also smart and would make a great Supreme Court justice should he lose the nomination and Clinton gets elected. If he should win the presidency, she would make a great majority leader of the Senate, if not a justice herself. They will not, I guarantee you, be on the same ticket because neither is suitable nor would be satisfied as vice president.

But to be fair, if all you look at is the health plans, then you should vote for her.

Here is a column from liberal economist Paul Krugman:

Here is Clinton's plan from her Web page

Here is Obama's plan from his Web page

Good luck! We now return you to your regular programming.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:43 AM

    I thought this article from the NYT was interesting, about Hillary's previous dabbling with a universal health care plan and how she bears grudges if crossed. It would seem that Senator Cooper feels she is going down the same bloody-minded health care alley and is likely to end up with similar egg on the face

    Brian F