WYDEN 3: COST CONTAINMENT STRIKES BACK. I need to spend some more time reporting out the cost containment provisions on the Wyden plan, but since that appears the primary objection, let me go into the underlying strategy of the legislation for a moment: As I explained in my last post, the legislation seeks to tame the insurance industry by imposing community rating, thus ending the competition for healthy individuals and the race to price out the unhealthy. That has a secondary, and possibly greater, impact than simply ending price discrimination. Indeed, it's the foundation of the plan's cost containment strategy.
SHOUT-OUT. Readers may recall the tech troubles we had a few weeks ago that shut down the blogs. While we managed to fix things enough to start back up and keep content flowing, we've had lingering issues on the back-end that have been a real headache for this small-staffed office lacking resources or much tech support. Now that the problems have actually been fixed, we'd be remiss in not giving a plug to EchoDitto, a member of whose crack staff found the database problems and made it all better with dispatch. Those folks really know what they're doing, and we thank 'em.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: JOHNNY COME LATELY. John Edwards has completely reversed his pro-war stance, and now he appears to be gearing up for another run at the Democratic nomination. Zack Pelta-Hellerreports that Edwards' plan for the immediate withdrawal of 40,000 troops from Iraq could distinguish him from the more centrist candidates.
BUT IS IT GOOD ENOUGH? Lot of interesting feedback on the Wydenplan, some of which I want to explore a little further. But first, I want to ask a question: Can anybody truly see Congress passing a piece of legislation and a president signing a bill that, in one stroke of the pen, dissolves Aetna, UnitedHealthGroup, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross, and all the rest? We're talking about the full dissolution of multibillion dollar corporations that employ thousands and thousands of people, contribute heavily to a wide swath of politicians and provide massive tax revenues to a large collection of states, and have been the sole providers of health coverage for nearly a century now.
IRAQ 25K. At icasualties.org, the site which tracks American and coalitional deaths and woundings, there is a fantastic slideshow essay put together by Glenn Kutler for Newsweek to mark the 25,000th American casualty -- about 22,000 wounded, and nearly 3,000 dead -- in Iraq. (Click on the impossible-to-miss graphic in the top-right corner of the site to start the slideshow.) It is sobering to watch.
You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads! Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that that cannot be done. Ah, would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here!
The Post once again raises fears that less educated workers might gain some of the protection currently enjoyed by more educated workers. In an article on Treasury Secretary Paulson's trip to China, it quotes without comment Senator Schumer's comment that China's continued refusal to raise the value of its currency could damage the "increasingly fragile consensus for free trade."
JOHNSON SEMI-UPDATE. Just to update Ezra's post, see his comment thread for information showing that there's some conflict and confusion in SD law about when a special election would be held (either soon after the vacancy or not until the next general election). That's just an informational update, and for now we'll wait for actual word of Johnson's condition before saying anything else.
TIM JOHNSON.Word is that South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson has suffered a serious stroke. A call to his office produced only the information that he'd been feeling poorly this morning and was now in the hospital -- in other words, no denials. It's testament to the tunnel vision of DC that my friend informed me of this with an IM saying "We [Democrats] may have just lost the Senate." But, in fact, if Johnson's condition leads to retirement or worse, South Dakota's Republican legislature and governor will have to appoint a replacement, who'll likely be a Republican, overturning the Senate.
HUMILIATION & JIHAD. The new issue of Democracy has an important piece by Peter Bergen and Michael Lind about the root causes of Islamic terrorism, and the contribution of feelings of grievance among upper- and middle-class Arabs to radical anti-Americanism. They conclude that material global inequality is not issue, it is global inequality in status: