Archive

  • Against Universal Vouchers

    The latest Washington Monthly offers up an article by Ezekiel Emanuel and Victor Fuchs arguing that universal health care vouchers are the silver bullet for our health care crisis and demanding that progressives should throw their weight behind them. Ugh. Universal health vouchers are one of those third way ideas that've been kicking around for quite some time and pop up whenever anybody wants to broker a grand compromise. In this incarnation, every American gets a voucher that pays for their health coverage with a private insurer. Insurers face heavier regulation on what they can/can't exclude, but are also reimbursed commensurately with the risk of the patients they take on (which means no cherry picking). Vouchers cover basic care, you can buy supplemental insurance atop that if you want more doctor choice, hospital choice, procedures, etc. The whole thing is paid for by a VAT, administered by government commission, and looked after by regional alliances.
  • When Class Has Assigned Seating

    Bob Herbert's column today on class mobility is excellent. Also worth reading is Jesse's thoughtful critique of it. He writes It's not an issue of whether or not the file clerk can become the CEO in thirty years, but rather the fact that the file clerk is getting paid comparitively less and less while the CEO sucks up all the benefits of the company's success. The goal isn't to assure that every middle manager becomes a millionaire, but rather that if you are a middle manager over a five-year period, you're actually earning more at the end of that period respective to your work and commitment than you were at the beginning. That's true to an extent, but if this country really is losing its class mobility -- and that looks to be the case -- then we've got some serious problems with how we run our economy and structure our society. As it is, the bottom line assumption of American economic policy is that our economy, more or less, runs off of hard work and individual initiative. That's...
  • Talking Point in Action

    Frank Luntz , in his leaked playbook for the GOP: Without the context of 9-11, you will be blamed for the deficit. The deficit is a touchy subject for both Republicans and Democrats - your supporters are inherently turned off to the idea of fiscal irresponsibility, and Democrats see nothing but hypocrisy. The trick then is to contextualize the deficit inside of 9-11 and the war in Iraq, which Republicans sometimes do, but not early enough in the answer. Ken Mehlman , on last Sunday's Meet the Press: MR. RUSSERT: But, Mr. Mehlman, it's gone from $218 billion surplus when George Bush took office to a $427 billion deficit. How can you call that Republican conservative economic policy? MR. MEHLMAN: Well, what I would say, Tim, is what we've suffered, unfortunately, was an attack on this country. We've suffered a war, and one thing we know: Whenever our nation's faced war, whether it was in the 1980s when we were winning the Cold War or in the 1940s during World War II, the responsible...
  • This Word Blog...

    Apparently, Duncan was on C-SPAN the other night and got nailed with the "where are all the women bloggers" question. Lance Mannion undertakes the now-rote deconstruction here (although what exactly is this dichotomy between "wonks" and "writers"? Which is James Wolcott, for instance? Digby?). What seems to pop up in his post, though, is that the definition of blogger varies in context. To the political world, a blog is an unabashedly, overtly, conventionally political opinion site. Think Yglesias or Kos or Drum or Willis. And so when C-SPAN wonders about women bloggers, the question isn't so much about women with websites as it is about women who write like, well, political savants. And when the swift and harsh rejoinders from female bloggers hit, they're not pointing to women who spend all day poring over the Washington Post, they're aiming at a larger variety of blogs with broader topic choice that zig-zags along that fuzzy line separating the personal from the political.
  • Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Democrats

    No no no...in the post-Dean Democratic party, the real question isn't why Donny Fowler threw a punch at Bob Brigham, it's whether or not Bob Brigham threw a punch back.
  • The Real Watergate Mystery

    With retellings of Watergate ricocheting around the blogs , I can't, as a 21-year old, help feeling that the most stunning thing about it wasn't Nixon's willingness to break the law, wasn't Felt's bravery in coming forward, but the fact that anyone considered the Brookings Institution worth firebombing. As things stand, I can't think of a more anodyne, staid group than the Brookings folk, but 30 years ago they posed enough of a threat that a sitting president wanted to detonate their building? Forget what happened to Felt, what happened to Brookings?
  • Kicking Special Interest Butts -- and Cuddling Afterwards

    It seems that when Arnold isn't kicking the butts of special interests, he's having long, intimate conversations with them on an ultra-secret phone line. You have to donate a pretty solid sum of money to get on, but that's a small price to pay when you get insider campaign information and the opportunity to suggest initivatives for the governor in return: When wealthy contributors write checks to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, they often get a few canapes and a drink — and a secret telephone number that grants them access to his closest advisors and even the governor himself. Twice a month, donors can become insiders' insiders — invited to participate in conference calls featuring information about Schwarzenegger campaign strategy that his political enemies would love to have. In turn, donors who dial in can give the governor advice. The LA Times got quite a leak on this, their story does everything but offer you a number to call. As it turns out, the Schwarzenegger campaign -- and it...
  • Denouncing Dean

    Edwards and Biden, frankly, are right to denounce Dean. I like the Governor but his recent rhetoric doesn't just go too far, it goes there pointlessly. What, for instance, is the use of saying Republicans have never made an honest living in their lives? I'm as partisan as they come, but with Republicans easily winning the middle class, even I'm not able to believe this is a clear cut proletariat v. bourgeoisie confrontation. And even if Dean was, as he says, limiting his comments to the Republican leadership, that's still idiotic. Dennis Hastert was a high school teacher and wrestling coach. Having been a wrestler, that means he was sticking around campus from 7AM to 6PM most days, and turning up for weekend tournaments as well. That's the textbook definition of an honest living, as the NEA would certainly tell the chairman. There's a right way and a wrong way to be virulently partisan. For an example of the right way, Dean should get some pointers from Harry Reid, who's been landing...
  • David Brooks Writes a Column

    It's been a bad week for David Brooks . The guy he made into Patio Man isn't returning his calls, his last column got widely mocked, and, to top it all off, F'in Deep Throat was revealed. Just once, it would've been nice if the right could've acted like rational human beings, given the guy a pat on the back, a book contract, and let the whole thing die. It's not as if Nixon is running for reelection. But nooooo, they had to trot out every slime bucket Felt sent on a perp walk to tar the 90-year old stroke victim. And now he, David Brooks, was somehow responsible for advancing the ball on this Watergate backlash. Oy. But David prides himself on finding alleyways, shortcuts, sidepaths that let him hold the party line without appearing a mouth-breathing troglodyte. But it was usually easier than this. Taxes, terrorism, even Terry Schiavo, those all had easy ways out. But W. Mark Felt? The guy's senile! Whatever David wrote the bloggers were going to--wait a second. Inspiration hits. It's...
  • The Plan for 2006

    Huh. I'd had no idea how bad Chris Cox is. Turns out he really, really, blows . At the same time, you have to admire Bush's audacity in nominating Congress's foremost defender of corporate abuses to head the commission dedicated to curbing them. Remarkably ballsy stuff. This, of course, happens to be Bush's modus operandi -- you remember John Bolton, right? And you remember that Daily Show where the nomination of John Bolton was analyzed for meaning and the message turned out to be that George W. Bush does indeed have gigantic testicles. Huge balls. Massive cojones . For him, proving that seems to have become the main attraction of office. Not much left to do on the foreign war front, just daily drudgery on Iraq. Not much to do on Social Security, that got stopped up right quick. Not much to do really anywhere, so why not nominate the craziest, most unsuitable nominees imaginable and see if he can pass them? Bush is approaching politics like the kid who spends his spare time darting...

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