Archive

  • Explaining the Deal

    David Corn sat in on Dick Durbin explaining the filibuster deal and he's come out with a good write-up of the senator's rationale. Durbin's disappointed, so those of you who found the halfway measure distasteful can rest easy in Dick's arms. But he's also resigned. According to him, we didn't have the votes to stop the nuclear option, and a senate shutdown would be a very, very hard PR battle to win. The best case scenario, certainly, was voting the option down. But once that proved out of reach, this was second best for the Democrats.
  • New Plan

    John Thune's victory over Tom Daschle was won, in large part, on the rationale that a South Dakota senator allied with the White House could do more for the state. The centerpiece of the claim was that Rove's enmity towards the then-minority leader would spur him to close Ellsworth Air Force base, while Thune's election would halt that process. Thune beat Daschle, but the base is still being closed. So what's a freshmen senator to do? Vote against everything the president cares about. And leak it to the New York Times . First on Thune's shit list is Bolton, who, contrary to past statements, he's now leaning against. So welcome aboard, John Thune. You're a small, petty man whose campaign was a lie, but right now you're a vote against Bolton and I love you for it.
  • The President's Incredible Vanishing Convictions

    This week's New Yorker has a fawning profile on McCain, one of those looong cover stories underscoring his deep commitment to honesty, noble way, rugged good looks, and long-lived mother (I'm not kidding). Strangely enough, it also had something very interesting. When McCain ran in 2000, he received Gary Bauer's endorsement. Bauer, of course, is the hardcore Christian who ran for the Republican nomination, and his word carries weight. Now why did McCain get it, rather than committed evangelical George W. Bush? Apparently Bauer asked both candidates to pledge that their Supreme Court nominees would be pro-life. McCain agreed. Bush said he refused to have a litmus test. Bauer backs up this account, as do friends of McCain. Huh? I'd be inclined to dismiss the tale except for the simple fact that McCain did indeed receive Bauer's endorsement, while Robertson and Falwell, modern-day Mammons that they are, went with Bush because of McCain's ardent support of campaign finance reform. This...
  • Bleg

    What's a cheap, good service to register domain names with?
  • Draft Warren

    "It's become time to define a Schwarzenegger Republican. A Schwarzenegger Republican is a Bush Republican who says he's a Schwarzenegger Republican." That's Warren Beatty giving the commencement speech at the Berkeley School of Public Policy. I consider myself something of a sucker for good oration. And indeed, I've got the speech compendiums to prove it. But even I was blown away by Beatty's address, it's masterful. And you know what? His equivocation is crap, the guy wants to run for governor. You don't offer a 5-point plan for better public policy if you don't. You don't spend the time, and work with the writers, to craft an address like this if you don't want to enter the ring. Maybe, in the end, this is the way forward for California Democrats -- fight glamour with glamour, Maria Shriver with Annette Benning, and the Terminator with Bulworth. Pit Arnold against a fellow star who publicly demands clean financing of elections, Medicare for all, and a fairer tax code. A few days ago...
  • Selling Health Care

    Matt and Kevin tee off my HSA post below with some thoughts on long-term political strategy. Their main point, which is probably correct, is that negotiating with ourselves doesn't make sense. As Matt says, the onus should really be for GM and Ford and the insurance industry to come to us and admit that health care is crumbling, and then we can all meet in the middle and figure something out. Kevin makes the point that, as a bargaining principle, you should always start hight (single-payer with all insurance industry execs thrown in jail) and then negotiate downwards as time goes on. Don't start down and hope to negotiate up. All true on the political front. But I worry that Matt and Kevin are too sanguine about the death of private health care in this country. The move towards HSA's and consumer-shouldered risk, much like the migration towards PPO's, will begin to bring down costs for the country's major businesses. Indeed, the reason that GM and their friends are having such trouble...
  • Being Matt Miller

    Matt Yglesias and Brad Plumer are discussing Leif Wellington Haas's plan for universal health care, which breaks down into another one of these individual mandate thingies. Sigh. I feel so left out. There was a time -- not long ago! -- when I'd have been the first to tear through Haas's 78-page plan, summarize it, and issue my pronouncement for its chances. But that all caught up with me come midterms and now I'm having to -- yawn -- do schoolwork. Major bummer. But since I can't discuss Haas's attempt, why not come up with one of my own? This here is basically a way of organizing universal health care in Matt Miller's world. You know the rules: progressive ends, conservative means. Since a surprising number of you folks, my good readers, seem to work in the health care industry, I want your thoughts on feasibility. Deal? Deal. In short, I'm asking about progressive HSA's of the sort I detailed yesterday , but with a few modifications for enhanced progressivity. Every year, the...
  • At Long Last Sir -- Have You No Zingers?

    A few days ago I flagged an American Prospect article by Geoffrey Nunberg for its excellent description of the ideologically conservative/operatively liberal divide. Now I want to highlight a different part: Republicans will try to pin a big-government label on the Democrats, but the appropriate response to that is not to apologize for government, as some liberals have recently done, but rather to call the Republicans' bluff. Kerry just once might have responded to Bush's charge that he was a big-government liberal not just by denying that his health-care plan was a government takeover but by bearding Bush on his government-bashing. "Just which government programs are too big?" he might have said. "What should we do away with? Social Security? Medicare? The Food and Drug Administration? The Securities and Exchange Commission? The Environmental Protection Agency?" This sort of thing is genuinely confusing to me. Why aren't debates filled with more lines like this? After all, it wasn't...
  • Morgan Stanley and BP are Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Investments

    This trend of companies publicly articulating policies to pull all ads from any publication that publishes negative pieces on them is really quite scary. Fact is, we don't have a free press, we have a press that relies on the goodwill and involvement of advertisers. So long as they're dependent on an income source that wants to influence they're coverage, they're not free in any recognizable sense of the word. That said, they've generally been able to keep their advertising departments separate from their editorial sections, and their sponsors have accepted it. Apparently, the advertisers are changing their minds on that front, and if the trend continues, I'm not sure how much of the publishing industry will survive. Maybe future newspapers really will be online-only for the sole reason that the dirt-cheap production costs allow them to survive with radically reduced revenue streams. Ah well. As Matt said the other day, I trust we can expect a flurry of bad press for Morgan Stanley...
  • The Impossible Has Happened

    I've found an HSA plan I like: Oshkosh Truck Corp. (OSK ), for example, has veered away from the old -- and costly -- health maintenance organization it used for its 4,500 nonunion employees. The plan's low copayments encouraged doctor visits and contributed to the double-digit annual growth in Oshkosh's health-care bill. So in January, 2004, the company switched to what's known as a consumer-driven plan. Under the new plan, annual physicals and other preventive tests such as mammograms and prostate cancer screenings are fully covered. After that, workers and their families receive a $1,000 annual health-care account. Any unspent portion can be rolled into the following year. But once that account is tapped out, workers are responsible for the next $1,500 of medical expenses. If expenses go beyond that, the company steps back in and will pick up 90% of expenses. Oshkosh is betting that the gap will discourage wasteful spending while still ensuring workers are covered for serious...

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