Obama Flunks Health Care

Ezra Klein explains.

Its failing, somewhat ironically, is a lack of audacity. It accepts the sectioning off of the market into the employed, the unemployed, the old, the young, and the poor. It does not consolidate the system into a coherent whole, preferring instead to preserve the patchwork quilt of programs and insurers that make health care so difficult to navigate. It does not sever the link between employment and health insurance, nor take a firm step towards single-payer, despite Obama’s professed preference for such a system.

All the ingredients are in place for this to be a great plan — a public insurance component, a commitment to universality, an understanding that coherence is better than fractiousness, a willingness to regulate the insurance industry — but, in each case, at the last second, the policy is hedged before the fulfillment of its purpose. In this, Obama’s plan is not dissimilar from Obama himself — filled with obvious talent and undeniable appeal, sold with stunning rhetoric and grand hopes, but never quite delivering on the promises and potential. And so he remains the candidate of almosts. But as he told Morgan Miller back in March, there is time yet. And he is so very close.

19 thoughts on “Obama Flunks Health Care

  1. Yeah, I guess Obama is not our omnipowerful and invincible ‘ god come to earth’ savior after all. Too bad his audacity translates into pragmatism whereby his plan has to start from the entrenched status quo realities. He has designed a policy that only, ah, begins to shift the momentum of what exists. Shame on him. Why cannot he be more visionary and less pragmatic? Hey, with rhetoric like Obama’s, we expect miracles.

  2. Sister Joan Chittester said: “Serenity is being aware of both what is and what can be, and having the patience to get from the former to the latter. The opposite of serenity is when you destroy what is to get to what can be.

    That thought inspires me to be satisfied with Obama, even though he never goes as far as I want. I can’t get interested in the criticism of whatever poor soul gets to clean up after george. Of course he/she will be a politician.

  3. While I’m a big Hillary supporter, I’m not sure Ezra Klein could be considered ‘unbiased’ in his observations concerning anything about Obama. (as I imagine he supports her as well) Interesting though, how he talks about Obama being basically great content but not so great delivery. Will be interesting to see how he grows and evolves through the campaign period.

  4. And I’m still holding out hope that one, just one of the Democratic candidates will make their major campaign plank a promise to institute public financing of campaigns and the fair and sensible redistricting of congressional districts. I think they’d win in a landslide if they did that.

  5. The initial reaction to Obama’s 8 page foreign policy piece is not positive either.

    I’m not real surprised no one wants to tell the truth about healthcare, but yet more “the world’s a big scary threatening place and we need to be able to bomb it all to smithereens”? No thanks.

    Who knows. Obama may be a very good guy. Looks to me like he’s getting some very bad advice.

  6. How did he “flunk” based on that alone? Just because some random person on the internet says something negative about doesn’t make it true. Most of the reviews I’ve seen have been pretty good. More importantly, I think Obama’s plan is pretty good, certainly no worse than the plans and non-plans of other candidates.

  7. Maha…Lemme tell ya, Girl…

    It’s gonna be Gore/Obama in ’08…

    Let Hillary schlep on back to Little Rock and peddle her (and Bill’s) “Rockefeller Republicanism” to them Arkansawyers – Again…(They bouight it from Brother Winthrup)…

    Gore/Obana could get it done…All they gotta do is beat the crap out of Big Media…Don’t let up on ’em for a minute…

  8. How did he “flunk” based on that alone?

    You aren’t keeping up on the health care issue, obviously. Any “proposal” that is just about propping up the current “system” is not acceptable. Nothing less than a total overhaul will do.

    For further explanation, use this google search:

    site:www.mahablog.com health care

  9. It’s gonna be Gore/Obama in ‘08…

    Oh lordy, D.R., that would be grand. I hope you are right.

  10. “I’d heard of such people, but I’ve never actually met one.”

    Maha, you said something like this before, and I wouldn’t mind you elaborating on that point, inasmuch as —I too have never actually met a ‘big Hillary supporter’. My sister initially [January] said she was glad Hillary was running, while I was then and have been ever since, solidly glad of Obama running. Other than my sister, no one I know or have met is a Hillary camper.

    For me, there exists a puzzle about Hillary’s candidancy that makes me sort of wander into ‘smoke and mirrors’conjectures, about ‘planned’ media coverage, and ‘planned’ blog commenters who love to stress ‘inevitability’ and who follow and fall back on, not only talking points, but also subtle attacks on the motivations of anyone who resists the ‘wave of inevitability’.

  11. So well put. Obviously, Obama’s a Democrat.

    The “come hither” look. The conversation with inuendo. The closeness and the light touch. The kiss and light caress. The passionate pressing of the hips and heavy breathing. The excuse. The “I gotta go.” The Democrats.

  12. I actually spotted a “Hillary” bumpersticker (on the back of a Saab) the other day. This after many thousands of freeway miles these last couple of months. So they do exist, at least one of them.

    Comment 12, my God you can write. You’ve got it nailed. I think it was Loudon Wainwright, who, years ago put it to song:

    Love me,
    Touch me,
    Hug me –

    – I’m a liberal.

  13. Somewhat OT, a don’t-miss diary over at DailyKos, Why I Provide Abortions. Excerpt:

    “…I was assigned a 40 plus year old, poverty stricken mother of several children. I think she was unmarried but I am not sure of that now. This care-worn mother-of-several had a large abdominal mass that I rapidly determined to be a well advanced pregnancy. I asked my resident to come and break the news to this woman; it was very obvious to me that she was not going to be happy about the news of another pregnancy. When told that she – already unable to adequately feed and clothe her family – was again pregnant, she looked up at me and the resident. There we stood, two white males, well clothed, well fed young men with superior educations. We were, in her eyes, stunningly blessed and obviously going places in the world. She began to weep silently. She must have assumed, for good reason, that there was no way that we would understand her problems; she knew also that there was nothing that we could or would do to relieve her lacerating misery.”

    “Oh God, doctor,” she said quietly, “I was hoping it was cancer.”

  14. Obama needs to read his poli sci book. The last time I saw a health care proposal that tried to please the insurance and AMA lobbies, it came from Hillary. And despie 65% support of the electorate, it was promptly trashed.

    The naivete of Hillary then remains my principal objection to her today (coupled with her continued kowtowing to similar corporate power since).

    So if Obama’s trying to impress me with policy prescriptions, he’s instead displaying the political maturity of a minor league player called up to ‘The Show’ who’s yet to deliver one hit a third of the way through the season.

  15. It’s a bad plan. I’m not a fan of Edwards plan, but his is better than Obama’s. Obama’s doesn’t actually wind up universal, which is the very minimum anyone should ask for.

    And I think that’s the fair general criticism of Obama. Obama talks a good game, but whenever you get down to specifics – well, he wants to hire 96K more troops, has a healthcare plan that isn’t universal, wouldn’t say he was voting against the supplemental till the last moment; has a foreign policy document that buys into the war on terror.

    Would he be better than George Bush? Yeah. Of course, the ham sandwich I just made would be a better President than George Bush. It’s not a high bar to pass.

    Would he be better than Clinton. Bleh. Yeah, marginally.

    Edwards – well, Edwards has been coming out with positions much more progressive than Obamas. Rejected the war on terror, won’t increase the army’s size, has a healthcare plan that while overcomplicated is actually universal.

    Richardson – better foreign policy by far. Has a good energy plan.

    Dodd – superior in every way, though he probably can’t win the nomination.

    Obama gives a good speech. He was right on the war, but hasn’t done much to try and end it. As far as I can tell, that’s about the extent of his appeal – he doesn’t have the best healthcare plan; hasn’t done the most to try and end the war; has a very status quo foreign policy.

    I don’t see the appeal. People are getting taken, yet again.

  16. Ian Welsh, you must be one of those who only accept miracles. [Tell me, sir, do you have your miracle maker candidate in your back pocket?] There was something ‘numbing down’, ‘dumbing down’ about your comments that left me cold. I attribute that ‘die with me now, avoid death later’ sensation to following your segue from a string of simplistic judgments into your conclusion of ‘people are getting taken, yet again’. Nice try, but your logic parade just isn’t very real.

  17. It may be Gore/Obama ’08,, then again it could be Gore Obama period ( if you get my drift ). Either way, Obama is going to have the ride of his life.If Gore runs again, He won’t mention them stinkin ‘ “lock boxes” this time ( unless the “lock boxes” are for for Bush / Cheney)
    Watch for the far right spreadin’ rumors that Obama will rename the White House “The Black House” if elected.

    I had an interesting conversation with a right wing friend yesterday.
    He says he likes Ron Paul, which to me is strange, because my friend bought into the “troops will be greeted with flowers and sweets” bullshit, and he is the poster boy for xenophobia, being terrified of little brown guys taking American jobs, and those Islamofasicsts hiding under his bed. He told me he is not so sure anymore about the U.S. military being the world’s police force, but wants a strong military.
    I told him that if we continue to allow our health care system and our schools to go into the crapper, along with the plunder of our treasury my the military/industrial monster, we won’t need to fear any outside force, we will simply implode. Our arsenal can kill everything on the planet many times over already. If the Islamofascist threat is so great, why doesn’t our government give us all gas masks, full auto weapons, combat training, and first aid instruction? The answer to that is easy…..
    Get off your ass and go shopping! Master Card and Visa are the magic bullets against the invasion of the Islamofascists!

    Meanwhile, somewhere in the depths off the east coast of Florida, a new threat is emerging…..
    Elasmofascism! killer sharks with turbans await vacationing plump white evangelicals……
    Film at 11………

  18. I read something by the LA Times’ Ron Brownstein a few weeks ago that neatly summarizes the top tier Republican and Democratic candidates – about the Ds:

    “Clinton is the Democrats’ candidate of preparation. The foundation of her argument is that she has the experience, skills and toughness to deliver the change that Democratic voters demand. Her greatest strength may be the confidence among Democrats that, in a complex domestic and international environment, she would be prepared to serve as president from Day One. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, she led Obama and Edwards by 8 to 1 when Democratic voters were asked which candidate is best prepared for the presidency.”

    “Obama is the Democratic candidate of inspiration. His strength is his ability to rouse audiences with his vision of a national reconciliation that bridges today’s partisan divides — a promise he seems as much to embody (through his experience straddling boundaries as a man of mixed racial heritage) as to articulate. As one of Clinton’s senior political advisors puts it: “We start with strong, leader and smart as advantages. He has fresh, new and inspiring as his advantages.” Two South Carolina marketing companies succinctly captured the dynamic when they observed in a recent study that, in the Democratic race, Obama is “Apple to Hillary’s Microsoft.”

    “Edwards, meanwhile, is betting on aspiration. He sells himself as the candidate with the most ambitious agenda at home and abroad. “I’m proud of the fact that I have a very specific universal healthcare plan, which I think is different than some others,” Edwards said at the debate. Specificity may prove a wasting asset as his rivals unveil their own ideas, but Edwards is still likely to insist that his proposals represent the field’s boldest change. And given his initial offerings on such issues as health and energy, he could have a strong case.”

    Brownstein wrote this a few weeks ago, after the first debates. Personally, Obama has peaked with me. I need more substance than a guy who can give a good speech and who can make nice with people whose opinions and judgements have proven to be disastrous if not immoral. I’m not crazy about Edwards, but of the three, I like him the best.

    Interestingly, Brownstein sees the Republican top tier candidates arranged in a similar, if weaker configuration:

    “McCain…is the Republican emphasizing preparation. He stresses his experience in the military and in Washington. “I may not be the youngest candidate in this race,” he declared at the debate, “but I am the most prepared.”

    “Giuliani is the Republican relying most on inspiration. “What we can borrow from Ronald Reagan,” Giuliani said at the debate, “is [his] … great sense of optimism.” Romney is the Republican candidate of aspiration, selling himself as the man with a policy plan for change. “I can’t wait to get my hands on Washington’s budget,” he said.”

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