James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Obama’s ‘Moonstruck’ healthcare plan

Jun 2, 2009 14:22 UTC

The White House released an economic analysis of the economic benefits of healthcare reform. After skimming it, I am reminded of this classic scene from 1987 film “Moonstruck” where the economics of plumbing are explained:

There are three kinds of pipe. There is what you have, which is garbage and you can see where that’s gotten you. Then there’s bronze, which is very good unless something goes wrong. And something always goes wrong. And then there’s copper, which is the only pipe I use. It costs money. It costs money because it saves money.

Or as Team Obama might put it:

There are three kinds of healthcare systems. There is what you have, which is garbage and you can see where that’s gotten you. Then there’s the GOP free market system, which is very good unless something goes wrong. And something always goes wrong. And then there’s Obamacare, which is the system America should use. It costs money. It costs money because it saves money.

Me: The White House says healthcare reform is a bundle of goodies: a) 500,000 new jobs a year, b) an average increase of $2,600 in income for a family of four in 2020 and $10,000 by 2030, c) $100 billion in economic gain by insuring the currently uninsured. Oh, and lower long-term budget deficits. And here is where my movie analogy breaks down: the White House never actually says healthcare reform is going to require new spending.

COMMENT

Back home in Canada, healthcare is better and it’s free. Per capita cost of healthcare is lower too, as is in all countries that have universal healthcare. Insurance companies are just an unnecessary middleman, if Obama squeezes them out then you’re right — we all save money.

Deficit worries and the 2010 election

Jun 2, 2009 13:12 UTC

My pal Stan Collender offers a must-read blog post over at Capital Gains and Games. But because I am a journalist, let me point out one portion that I take issue with:

Third, if the unambiguous signs that the economy has recovered exist in 2010 as many now expect they will, the biggest economic issue going into the Congressional elections may well be federal borrowing, interest rates and inflation, and the deficit will be blamed for everything considered wrong with any or all of them. That makes it imperative that Congressional Republicans and Democrats start to move quickly to stake a claim to deficit reduction if the issues that may be dominating the business and financial headlines when voters next go to the polls are all blamed on too much red ink.

Me: I think the number one issue will be only tangentially deficit related, something along the lines of “We just spend trillions inĀ  borrowed money and unemployment is still at 10 percent.”

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