Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The last sane conservative

I rather like Bruce Bartlett. This Q&A is good stuff, and while I don't agree with all of it, his bit on healthcare is worthwhile:

I don’t dismiss health reform. I just thought it was unwise for the Obama administration to take it up while the economy was in the tank.

For both political and substantive reasons, I thought it should have focused like a laser beam on the economy and related issues like reform of the financial sector.

Secondly, I thought its proposals were ill thought-through and that it would have been better to take the time to develop something more coherent, rather than making things up on the fly, which appears to be the case.

I also believe the administration has done a poor job of addressing what I think is the biggest problem with the American health case [sic] system: it costs too much for what we get. We spend in total twice as much of our gross domestic product on health as most other major countries without getting much in return for the extra spending.

Finally, I think the goal of universal coverage is a good one, but the Obama proposal is not properly financed. I think a broad-based new government benefit should be financed with a broad-based tax that is to a large extent paid by the beneficiaries, as is the case with Social Security.

Aside from the quibble that Obama would never have been the nominee without getting Ted Kennedy's support, which meant doing healthcare first, this strikes me as an accurate read of the political situation surrounding healthcare reform. I still think reform will make things a whole lot better despite its faults, but the healthcare system will still be a mess afterwards, and hopefully reform will lead to more reform. My guess is that Obama, had he not made the commitment to Kennedy, would have put HCR off for a little while, and honestly that would have been a smart move that would have made the whole thing easier. Without the constant melodrama that is the healthcare debate, which drowns out pretty much all other political news at this point, and in a way that makes it look like the Administration isn't doing anything on the economy. At this point, what Obama needs most is a better PR machine.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.