• Hurrah for Private Insurance!

    Considering the time I spend bashing private insurance, I may as well say something good about it when I get a chance. So here's my chance. The Quebec courts were right to strike the law banning all forms of private insurance in the country. You really don't want the government to be the only possible source of health delivery innovation within a particular system, and there's no reason that a parallel structure can't exist at the high end of health services that shortens wait times, offers more hospital comfort, and so forth. I respect Canada's emphasis on radical egalitarianism, but it's just not bright. There needs to be a government provided floor that covers the basic needs of all citizens, but so long as we're going to have a capitalist society filled with money earned from labor (or inheritance or whatever), folks should be able to buy things with it. More to the point, so long as you have relatively open borders with a capitalist society directly south, you'd be stupid to bar...
  • At The Newstand

    If you get a chance, pick up the latest issue of the Atlantic and read through James Fallows' article on the coming economic crash. Its alarmist, sure, and its gimmick, a look back from 2016, ensures that everything is worst case and some of it a bit far-fetched (i.e, Venezuela is not going to shut down oil exports to America, and if we crashed China would probably be hurt worse), but it's also an enormously broad overview of all the spots where our economy is weak. Well worth the read, particularly the footnotes. By the way, when did The Atlantic become so gimmicky? Retrospectives from the future, war games towards Iran, North Korea, and China, modern-day reality really so low-stakes that they can't think of anything to say about it?
  • The Incredible Shrinking Deficit

    On the subject of government revenues, it looks like this year's deficit won't be as bad as projected, clocking in at $350 billion rather than $427 billion. Good stuff, and the administration will surely tout it as a God-given sign that their agenda is a blessed one, and their fiscal policy wise. But let's not relax yet: the nation still faces long-term deficit problems. Overall federal spending is increasing, including for war costs. More broadly, spiraling health-care costs for Medicare and Medicaid programs, including a prescription-drug benefit for seniors starting next year and a wave of baby-boomer retirements after 2008, will drive federal deficits to unsustainable sizes. "These are the good ol' days. These are the best of times," says Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former administration economic adviser. "After this, it gets worse." The WSJ has a graphical representation of this that's pretty stark: So, sorry kids, smaller deficit or not, we're...
  • Two Cents on Taxes

    In their special report on tax politics, the American Prospect made a good point. Considering the current fiscal situation, Democrats are going to have to learn to advocate for higher taxes again. Yes, it sucks to be the grown-up after the Republicans have crayoned over the budget's walls and urinated on the fiscal sofa, but somebody has to do it if our revenues are to be brough in line with the sort of progressive role for government we envision (and that George Bush, through NCLB and the Medicare drug benefit, has helped actualize). Generally speaking, we rhetorically approach this through soaking the rich. Most everything advocated by a Democratic candidate last year was supposed to be paid for through rolling back the tax cuts on the wealthy. Not even raising their taxes, just rolling back the decrease. That won't cut it. As someone in the blogosphere said (I forget who), you can't pay for everything through the estate tax, you can't fund all dreams on the backs of the rich. And...
  • Is The Source Named Curveball?

    You know, there are some who accidentally fall prey to the maxim "those who don't know their history are destined to repeat it", and then there are those who are downright desperate to prove it true. Congressman Curt Wheldon, who just published a book alleging that Iran is hiding Osama bin-Laden, building a nuke, and directing the insurgency in Iraq, is one of these. His source is a shadowy exile figure in Paris, who he was introduced to by another exile whom the CIA branded a liar. Speaking of the CIA, they, the government, Wheldon's fellow congressmen, and most everyone else are ignoring the Bilderberg Group danger posed by Iran. Why are they doing this? Because Iran is planning to blow up a Boston nuclear reactor and thus obliterate the city, and the CIA knows that admitting to the threat would draw them into war. So, presumably, would the attack, if it happened. But hell, if the Shi'ites in Iran are controlling the Sunni's in Iraq, than anything is possible. And if a guy this dumb...
  • Tech Support

    So, as noted below, I'm having hard drive troubles. I'm taking the computer in tomorrow, but I want to backup my data beforehand. I've got a another laptop around -- an ibook -- that I can use to put the data on. How do I do it?
  • Emanuel's Objections

    Blogging over at The Washington Monthly, Ezekiel Emanuel has penned one of the most woefully unconvincing critiques of single payer health care I have ever read. In two posts, ( one , two ), he raises these objections: • "Americans are simply never going to endorse a Canadian style single payer system." • "There are also large differences beteween the USA and Canada — like 10 times the population. Another is that they are much more egalitarian than Americans are." • "Finally Canadians believe in good government, Americans are suspicious of government. The Canadian system is not one single payer, but one for each province run by provincal governments. Do you trust individual states to be able to run a health care system for their citizens? Seen what happened to Medicaid when we tried that in the USA — do you want to repeat that?" • Big programs only come out of Depression, catastrophe, or presidential assassination.
  • Draft Prado

    It's quite sad that a movement to recommend a Supreme Court judge who was first appointed by Reagan and then appointed by George W. Bush strikes me as quixotic and naive. Ed Prado, the focus of the draft effort , is a Hispanic judge from Texas who's currenty serving on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Bush installed him there, and the Senate voted for his confirmation, 97-0. He seems to have attracted substantial support from both sides of the aisle and, demographically speaking, fills the slots Rove certainly wants filled (which is to say, he's Hispanic). Nevertheless, it's almost impossible to imagine Bush nominating him. Prado is a Hispanic judge from Texas, but one who'll sail through confirmation and create no tough problems for the Democrats. Alberto Gonzales, on the other hand, is similarly Hispanic but, thanks to a tolerance for torture, will attract Democratic opposition and theoretically drive a wedge between Democrats and Hispanics. Indeed, the central conceit of the...
  • Priorities

    Say what you will about Dean's recent comments (and, as you all know, I have ), but wow is Jesse ever right about this .
  • Ding-Dong, The Plan is Dead

    Looks like Social Security is safe : President Bush has all but conceded his plan for private accounts for Social Security is dead, admitting privatization won't save the federal retirement system. "You can solve the solvency issue without personal accounts," Bush said in an interview with the Radio-Television News Directors Association. According to the article, Bush is still going to push on solvency measures (funny, I remember predicting the same thing four months ago...), trying to squeeze a public relations victory out of an ideological loss. Democrats shouldn't let him. Back in 1994, Bill Clinton did a very stupid thing and dramatically swore to veto any health care bill that didn't ensure universal coverage. Thus, after all the bills providing universal coverage were buried in a deep, dark place in Newt Gingrich's secret underground lair, Clinton was unable to support any of the many minor, incremental bills that Republicans had cosponsored and that would've allowed him to...