James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

The political blowback from healthcare reform

Dec 18, 2009 19:20 UTC

Kim Strassel of the WSJ states her case:

1) Consider North Dakota. A recent Zogby poll showed 28% (you read that right) of state voters support “reform.” A full 40% said they’d be less likely to vote for Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan next year if he supports a bill. In a theoretical matchup with Republican Gov. John Hoeven (who has yet to announce), Mr. Hoeven wins 55% to 36%. Mr. Dorgan has been in the Senate 17 years; he won his last election with 68% of the vote.

2) In Arkansas, 32% support this health-care legislation. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, also running next year, trails challengers by more than 50 points among the 56% of voters who strongly disapprove of the health plan.

3) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the public face of health reform, can barely break 38% approval in Nevada.

4) In Colorado, where 55% of voters oppose a health bill, appointed Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet told CNN he’d vote for a bill even if it “cost him his job.”

5) In deep-blue Delaware, 46% oppose the health plan. Democrats pounded Delaware GOP Rep. Mike Castle, running for Senate, for voting against the House bill. That vote has in fact kept Mr. Castle leading his expected opponent, Beau Biden, the vice president’s son.

6)  In the past weeks, four well known House Democrats announced they will not run for re-election. All are longtime incumbents; one, Tennessee’s respected John Tanner, co-founded the Blue Dog coalition. These folks have seen the political handwriting on the wall.

So why the stubborn insistence on passing health reform? Think big. The liberal wing of the party—the Barney Franks, the David Obeys—are focused beyond November 2010, to the long-term political prize. They want a health-care program that inevitably leads to a value-added tax and a permanent welfare state. Big government then becomes fact, and another Ronald Reagan becomes impossible. See Continental Europe.

Me: Yup. Ds, who also no doubt think healthcare reform is good and moral policy, see a long-term political advantage.  Indeed, they often talk about the structure of reform as more important than details. Those can come later. But change the structure of 1/6th (and climbing) of the nation’s economy and you change its politics, too.

COMMENT

The truth is that Congress wants to escape any suggestion of having to pay for healthcare benefits, and would prefer that corporations pay the bill and “hide” the cost from consumers.

A more honest health policy was presented in detail by Ezekiel Emanuel, which would have paid for universal healthcare with a dedicated value-added tax. It would have been progressive in that the cost would have burdened citizens in proportion to their consumption which is directly related to their disposable income. And, since everyone would pay for healthcare this way, those who now receive free attention in hospital emergency rooms would also contribute.

The VAT would have put the focus on the direct cost of healthcare in the percentage level, so citizens would be aware that demands for increased services would have an impact on their ability to pay for other things. Healthcare expenditures are now around 17% of GDP and will represent fully one-fifth of GDP by 2018.

Replacing the direct corporate burden of healthcare premiums with a VAT would have removed a major cost disincentive to employment, and would also have made imports share the burden equally with domestically produced goods and services. And, because the VAT is a border-adjustable tax, so used for healthcare insurance, it would have been subtracted from exports making our products more competitive abroad as well as at home.

Too bad this plan did not receive more attention from the press as well as the Congress.

Posted by SteveA | Report as abusive

A 2012 GOP presidential nomination ranking

Dec 18, 2009 18:07 UTC

Campaign consultant Mark McKinnon give his two cents, followed by mine in italics:

1. Mitt Romney “… if he runs his race like he did the last month of the last campaign, true to who he really is, he should be the nominee.”  Lots opposition by tea party types, but those folks also disliked McCain in 2008 and he won.

2. Sarah Palin
“… alleged cop-killer Maurice Clemmons, granted clemency in 2000 by Mike Huckabee, might have just given her [an open door] to walk through for 2012 … Republicans primary voters are notoriously law- and order-obsessed, so Palin has virtually an open field in Iowa, South Carolina, and other primary states dominated by Christian conservatives.” Huckabee really gave a boost to Sarah America who has improved her favorability. But the competence issue remains, though less so with conservatives.

3. Tim Pawlenty
“He could end up everyone’s second choice (assuming Romney and Palin both run) and that’s a heck of a place to be in a crowed and wild primary.” A few early missteps but could be the David Cameron of the GOP.

4. John Thune “If he would run, John Thune could be the Bob McDonnell of the 2012 GOP field.  … The senator from South Dakota’s got central-casting good looks and comes across as humble and quiet; he has a Gary Cooper sensibility about him.” Brief lobbying career could be a negative, but he does fit the suit. If it was certain he was running, he and Pawlenty would switch spots.

5. Mike Huckabee “Maybe he can create a serious conversation about the notions of redemption and forgiveness in our criminal justice system. Or not. In which case, he’ll probably always have a home at Fox News.”  The trend is not in the right direction

6. Joe Scarborough “The host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, former Florida congressman Joe Scarborough, would be a terrific candidate. He’s young, articulate, and telegenic.”  A little high on the list, I think. But it might be a good year for an unconventional candidate.

7. Haley Barbour “Sure he’s a caricature of the classic Southern politician: old, large, white, honey-lipped, and a former lobbyist to boot. But if voters are really tired of Obama, they’ll be looking for the mirror opposite of the man occupying the Oval Office. And that would clearly be Haley.”  I think the caricature speaks for itself.

8. Newt Gingrich “But our bet is that while he may contribute in many ways and continue to tease, in the end he probably won’t go for the Full Monty.” I think that’s right.

9. Mitch Daniels “Daniels has been an extraordinarily successful and effective governor in Indiana, a state that has been recently more blue than red. A no-nonsense, tell-it-like-is conservative, Daniels cruised to re-election by 18 points last year when Obama was winning the state.”  Probably should be much higher on list. Both Daniels and Thune are really the anti-Obama’s on the list. Former WH folks love the guy.

10. Rick Perry “He’s already the longest-serving governor in Texas history and may be headed for his third term next fall.”
in 2012.” McKinnon wonders why he doesn’t usually land on these sorts of lists. Maybe there is a reason for that.

COMMENT

Ron Paul supporters turn to Gary Johnson. Congressman Paul will not run and endorse Gary Johnson. Guarantee it.

Posted by Jake Redder | Report as abusive

While Obama talks in Copenhagen, support in US crumbles

Dec 18, 2009 14:29 UTC

Here is what the POTUS told COP15:

I believe we can act boldly, and decisively, in the face of a common threat. That’s why I come here today — not to talk, but to act.

But back in America, it’s the Senate that’s acting — and not in a way that Obama likes. First, Maria Cantwell and Susan Collins have come up with a cap-and-dividend alternative that could steal support away from the cap-and-trade efforts of the White House and Kerry-Boxer-Lieberman-Graham. And now there is also an effort in the Senate to negate the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger health and the environment. It’s the EPA ruling that is supposed to be the catalyst for action on climate since most everyone agrees that EPA regulation would be even more ham-handed and onerous that congressional action.

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