Obama: Sound and Fury, Signifying Romneycare

Needless to say, I’m not happy with Obama’s healthcare proposal. Before I get into this, I want to make something clear: my opposition is due to experience, not ideology. If it appeared (or better, if there were evidence) that putting on a pink mumu, whirling a rubber chicken around our heads, and singing the Star Spangled Banner would make a good healthcare system, then rubber chickens, mumus, and singing lessons all around.

But what Obama proposed is what we’re living through in Massachusetts. And it’s, at best, a modest improvement–it’s more ‘chang-iness’ than significant change.


Having a limited public option that only applies to the most desperate (most people won’t be able to join if they wanted to) screws over lower-middle class and middle class. Depending on where you live, aren’t these either the Democrats’ strongest supporters, or, in red states, the people we’re trying to reach out to? And from what I’m hearing, you will have to pay around thirteen percent of total income out of pocket if you’re not near the poverty line (or very well to do). That is before you also pay FICA taxes to support Medicare. While Obama made a big deal about the $900 billion dollar cost (which seems to be more about saying it doesn’t cost a trillion dollars than anything else), most analysts are saying that means that subsidies for lower-middle class and middle class people will be very limited or non-existent.

Because Democrats wouldn’t want to play into the stereotype of enacting legislation that helps the poor at the expense of the middle class or anything.

Based on the MA experience, what will probably happen is a one-time premium decrease: insurance companies will be flush with money, and they’re not stupid–to avoid something worse, they’ll lower rates. But because the cost control mechanisms are limited (or non-existent), cost increases will rocket upward. If you think I’m crazy, not only did this happen, I predicted it before Romneycare was enacted. Absent single payer, they are two ways to control costs: competition from a government plan, or direct regulation. This has neither.

What worries me most is the initial reaction by what passes for the left. Look, Obama gave a great speech (and the cranky white guy shouting “Get off my damn lawn” probably helped). Jonathan Cohn thinks this is a strong defense of a liberal/progressive view of government. Yes, the rhetoric was nice if you heard the dog whistle. But regarding the middle, contrast this approach to that of FDR or LBJ who didn’t just talk the talk, they enacted legislation. That’s how you convince people: by creating something that works well. Yet, I have no doubt that the More Serious Pundits among the left-of-center crowd will now dutifully line up behind Obama-Romneycare, and explain to the rest of us, prior experience be damned, how we’re being unrealistic.

And who said there were no elected Republican African-American officials at the national level?

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9 Responses to Obama: Sound and Fury, Signifying Romneycare

  1. Mary says:

    I hear ya, Mike. I think the MA system would be much improved with a public option. And Romney completely knee-capped us with a teeny business penalty.
    That said: as a small business person in MA this was a major improvement for me. I know–I was in the old system as well–I have the data. I used to have to join one of the local Chamber of Republicans…I mean, Chambers of Commerce–for a fee, of course. Then I got a limited number of choices that they had as their group. Then I got to pay a lot of money for my plan.
    Now I just get on the “exchange” that we call the Connector. I had _way_ more choice. And my current plan is 25% less than I was paying–and I have some prescription coverage which I didn’t have before.
    I was at the rally on Monday on the Common with my sign that said: My small biz NEEDS a public option! and this generated conversation with some other small biz folks near me. They had exactly the same stories.
    I am working for the public option. But I’m not willing to throw out the baby.

  2. NewEnglandBob says:

    More people are covered than before in the Mass. system – that is progress.
    The current Mass. system is better than before (IMHO) and the proposed Obama system will be better than the status quo.
    They are not going to get it perfect (or even get it right) the first time, but it is time to change the current non-working system.
    Who knows the RepubliCANTS might even contribute a thought eventually.

  3. JThompson says:

    @NewEnglandBob: Or they’ll pass some halfassed nonsense that will fail miserably and that’ll be the end of healthcare reform for the next few decades.
    The republicans will contribute a lot of stuff once the democrats have compromised their way out of power again. We’re just not going to like any of it.

  4. NewEnglandBob says:

    JThompson, you are so optimistic 🙂

  5. mk says:

    Right now–at this very moment in time–precisely how many members of the House and Senate are ready, willing and able to sign on to the plan you would prefer? (this is to the Mad Biologist)

  6. Mary says:

    @mk: I don’t know. All I know is Mike Capuano is calling for a vote on single payer and that’s the plan I prefer. So I guess that’s one. Actually, probably Kucinich is there too, maybe 2 then.
    The other plans appear to be a moving target right now, I am not sure how one determines that number.
    How many are willing and able on your preferred plan?

  7. mk says:

    As I understand it, the plan that Obama laid out last night (which, while not perfect, is OK by me) is supported by a strong majority in the House and a small majority in the Senate.

  8. The republicans will contribute a lot of stuff once the democrats have compromised their way out of power again. We’re just not going to like any of it.

  9. v-pills says:

    I am not sure how one determines that number.

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