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Thread: Obama's real patriotism problem

  1. #1
    Skiz's Avatar (_8(I)
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    I liked this article as it points out similar beefs as mine towards Obama's self involved mantra of "Hope".



    By Jonah Goldberg

    Barack Obama has a patriotism problem that even Monday's flag-waving trip to Independence, Mo., can't squelch. And it doesn't have anything to do with his lapel pin.

    In part because liberal commentators have such a hard time grasping why patriotism should be an issue at all, and the GOP is so clumsy explaining why it's important, the debate often gets boiled down to symbols. Like so much else about Obama, his position on the lapel flag changes with the needs of the moment. After 9/11, he wore it. During the debates over the Iraq war, he stopped because he saw the flag as a sign of support for President Bush. (He started wearing it again in May.) "I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest," he added in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great and, hopefully, that will be a testimony to my patriotism."

    Read that line again: "What I believe will make this country great."

    Not to sound too much like a Jewish mother, but some might respond, "What? It's not great now?"

    This sense that America is in need of fixing in order to be a great country points to Obama's real patriotism problem. And it's not Obama's alone.

    'Fundamentally good'

    Definitions of patriotism proliferate, but in the American context patriotism must involve not only devotion to American texts (something that distinguishes our patriotism from European nationalism) but also an abiding belief in the inherent and enduring goodness of the American nation. We might need to change this or that policy or law, fix this or that problem, but at the end of the day the patriotic American believes that America is fundamentally good as it is.

    It's the "good as it is" part that has vexed many on the left since at least the Progressive era. Marxists and other revolutionaries obviously don't believe entrepreneurial and religious America is good as it is. But even more mainstream figures have a problem distinguishing patriotic reform from reformation. Many progressives in the 1920s considered the American hinterlands a vast sea of yokels and boobs, incapable of grasping how much they needed what the activists were selling.

    The Nation ran a famous series then called "These United States," in which smug emissaries from East Coast cities chronicled the "backward" attitudes of what today would be called fly-over country. One correspondent proclaimed that in "backwoods" New York (i.e. outside the Big Apple): "Resistance to change is their most sacred principle." If that was their attitude to New York, it shouldn't surprise that they felt even worse about the South. One author explained that Dixie needed nothing less than an invasion of liberal "missionaries" so that the "light of civilization" might finally be glimpsed down there. These authors simply assumed, writes intellectual historian Christopher Lasch, that " 'breaking with the past' was the precondition of cultural and political advance." Even today, writes Time's Joe Klein, "This is a chronic disease among Democrats, who tend to talk more about what's wrong with America than what's right."

    Echoes of these attitudes can be found in Obama's now infamous explanation that "bitter" working-class rural voters won't embrace him because they "cling" to God, guns and bigotry. But Obama's sometimes messianic rhetoric about "remaking" America — and the explicitly revolutionary aesthetics of his campaign — also rings a bell. "I am absolutely certain," he proclaimed upon clinching the Democratic nomination, "that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." So wait, America never provided care for the sick or good jobs for the jobless until St. Barack arrived? That doesn't sound like the country most Americans think of when they wave their flags on the Fourth of July.

    Obama went on to say that he will "remake" the country. Well, what if you don't want it remade? And Michelle Obama — who believes America is "downright mean" and is proud of America for the first time because of her husband's success — insists that Barack will make you "work" for change and that he will "demand that you, too, be different." What if you don't want to work for Obama's change? What if you don't want to be "different"?

    America's 'Jedi Knight'

    Liberals might giggle at what to them sounds like paranoia. But if you aren't already entranced by Obama, Obamania can seem not only vaguely anti-American but also downright otherworldly. Star Wars creator George Lucas recently proclaimed that it's "reasonably obvious" Obama is a Jedi Knight. Mark Morford, a particularly loopy San Francisco Chronicle columnist, says Obama isn't really "one of us." Rather, he's a "Lightworker," the sort of being who can help us find "a new way of being on the planet." Self-help guru Deepak Chopra insists that an Obama victory would bring about "a quantum leap in American consciousness." Even NBC's Chris Matthews has been entranced by Obama's Jedi mind tricks. Obamania, he says, is "bigger than Kennedy. … This is the New Testament."

    The notion that what America needs is a redeemer figure to "remake" America from scratch isn't necessarily unpatriotic. But for lots of Americans who like America the way it is, it's sometimes hard to tell when it isn't.



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  2. The Drawing Room   -   #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Skizo View Post

    The Nation ran a famous series then called "These United States," in which smug emissaries from East Coast cities chronicled the "backward" attitudes of what today would be called fly-over country. One correspondent proclaimed that in "backwoods" New York (i.e. outside the Big Apple): "Resistance to change is their most sacred principle." If that was their attitude to New York, it shouldn't surprise that they felt even worse about the South. One author explained that Dixie needed nothing less than an invasion of liberal "missionaries" so that the "light of civilization" might finally be glimpsed down there. These authors simply assumed, writes intellectual historian Christopher Lasch, that " 'breaking with the past' was the precondition of cultural and political advance." Even today, writes Time's Joe Klein, "This is a chronic disease among Democrats, who tend to talk more about what's wrong with America than what's right."
    I think your point hinges on whether the people who wrote those articles back in the 1920s were right or not - however smug they appeared to be. Thats quite a difficult thing to judge when we can't see the articles. I know nothing about the New York state hinterland and the only thing i've heard about the 1920s Deep South is that it was very religious and incredibly bigoted (and that lynching black people was something of a hobby). So based on that lack of knowledge i'd say go smug people.

  3. The Drawing Room   -   #3
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    @Skizo


    I'm going to hazard a wild guess here and say you don't like Obama.

    Before I start I need to disclose a couple of things.-

    1. I will not be voting for Obama or McCain.

    2. I don't make this reply to defend Obama, I do so because I have a huge disdain for those like Goldberg that question the patriotism of others they disagree with politically, picking up on one or two words, without context to make their case.



    John McCain said he didn't love America until he was a prisoner of war, Doesn't sound too patriotic without the context does it? So let's be clear here, there is mischief afoot and it's disrespectful to the seriousness of what electing government should be about.

    Why do you feel his "hope" slogan is "self involved"? Should a candidate run on "no hope"?

    Goldberg, like many others has twisted Obamas' words in order to make them fit his theory.

    In answer to his question "what if you don't want change?" simply don't vote for that candidate. The reverse applies if you do want change. Perhaps Goldberg doesn't understand why we have elections.

    Imagine if the preamble didn't exist and it was Obama that said he wishes to make a "more perfect" union for the USA.---- wouldn't be too hard to imagine how that would be twisted, "Isn't the USA is good enough for him?"
    (side note:- can something be more perfect?)

    It's all a game, a childish game that insults the process many fought for and many gave their lives for. It shows contempt for that process.

    The crux of the article is that if one doesn't agree with the political ideology of the author you are anti American. It appears he feels it's unpatriotic to not belong to his political party.

    America is made up of many people with many ideological beliefs. No one person holds a monopoly on what it means to be American.

    ...

  4. The Drawing Room   -   #4
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    That article seems a tad mental. It looks a bit as if the author sees the USA as perfect now. That in turn points to a whole other set of values than what I have, with regards to what makes a nation good.

    There's not a nation on the planet that couldn't do with improvements, for that matter. If someone manages to change one to the better, then more power to them.

    Not saying I'm sure Obama will, mind.

  5. The Drawing Room   -   #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by devilsadvocate View Post
    @Skizo


    I'm going to hazard a wild guess here and say you don't like Obama.

    Before I start I need to disclose a couple of things.-

    1. I will not be voting for Obama or McCain.

    2. I don't make this reply to defend Obama, I do so because I have a huge disdain for those like Goldberg that question the patriotism of others they disagree with politically, picking up on one or two words, without context to make their case.



    John McCain said he didn't love America until he was a prisoner of war, Doesn't sound too patriotic without the context does it? So let's be clear here, there is mischief afoot and it's disrespectful to the seriousness of what electing government should be about.

    Why do you feel his "hope" slogan is "self involved"? Should a candidate run on "no hope"?

    Goldberg, like many others has twisted Obamas' words in order to make them fit his theory.

    In answer to his question "what if you don't want change?" simply don't vote for that candidate. The reverse applies if you do want change. Perhaps Goldberg doesn't understand why we have elections.

    Imagine if the preamble didn't exist and it was Obama that said he wishes to make a "more perfect" union for the USA.---- wouldn't be too hard to imagine how that would be twisted, "Isn't the USA is good enough for him?"
    (side note:- can something be more perfect?)

    It's all a game, a childish game that insults the process many fought for and many gave their lives for. It shows contempt for that process.

    The crux of the article is that if one doesn't agree with the political ideology of the author you are anti American. It appears he feels it's unpatriotic to not belong to his political party.

    America is made up of many people with many ideological beliefs. No one person holds a monopoly on what it means to be American.

    ...
    Wow, great post, dude.

    I think what it comes down to for me is which candidate is most likely to bring about change for the better.

    I liked McCain for his ability to challenge his Repub cohorts on issues that they thought differently about. However, more and more, he is starting to seem like a Repub clone.

    Now that he has the nomination sewn up, I would thought he would've been more McCainish.

  6. The Drawing Room   -   #6
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    Odd, isn't it, to see both candidates "centering" themselves for the general, but doing so...from the left...

    This is some funny shit.









    Seriously.
    “Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that.” -George Carlin

  7. The Drawing Room   -   #7
    Patriotism is defined by a love of one's country. One may define a country as a dynamic group of people valuing different sets principles. The writer defines a country as a static set of principles abided by different groups of people.

    The writer contradicts himself by wrongly assuming that both are causally linked.

    He first brings into question Obama's patriotism because Obama doesn't value the same economic and social policies as the Founding Fathers and other conservatives, which is valid and true.

    But then he implicitly encourages the reader to come to the conclusion that Obama does not have the interests of the American people at heart, and therefore shouldn't be President; when in fact the two dispositions (consonance of principles and love of people) are not causally linked (well, not completely...).
    Last edited by Acumen; 07-10-2008 at 06:34 AM.
    Humanity has in the course of time had to endure from the hands of science three great outrages upon its naive self-love: the discovery that our world is merely a speck in a vast universe, that we merely descended from lesser animals, and that our conscious minds sometimes lie to their very selves about our actions.

  8. The Drawing Room   -   #8
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    I saw this today:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/20...evelopment.usa

    Despite spending $230m (£115m) an hour on healthcare, Americans live shorter lives than citizens of almost every other developed country. And while it has the second-highest income per head in the world, the United States ranks 42nd in terms of life expectancy.

    ........a country that spends well over $5bn each day on healthcare - more per person than any other country.

    ....each of the 11 countries that rank higher than the US in human development has a lower per-capita income.

    One of the main problems faced by the US, says the report, is that one in six Americans, or about 47 million people, are not covered by health insurance and so have limited access to healthcare.
    As a result, the US is ranked 42nd in global life expectancy and 34th in terms of infants surviving to age one. The US infant mortality rate is on a par with that of Croatia, Cuba, Estonia and Poland. If the US could match top-ranked Sweden, about 20,000 more American babies a year would live to their first birthday.

    The US has a higher percentage of children living in poverty than any of the world's richest countries.

    It also reveals 14% of the population - some 40 million Americans - lack the literacy skills to perform simple, everyday tasks such as understanding newspaper articles and instruction manuals.
    And while in much of Europe, Canada, Japan and Russia, levels of enrolment of three and four-year-olds in pre-school are running at about 75%, in the US it is little more than 50%.

    The US is far behind many other countries in the support given to working families, particularly in terms of family leave, sick leave and childcare. The country has no federally mandated maternity leave.
    The US also ranks first among the 30 rich countries of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of the number of people in prison, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of the total population.
    It has 5% of the world's people but 24% of its prisoners.
    If this is where 'true patriotism' has got the US, maybe it ought to try Obama's brand.

  9. The Drawing Room   -   #9
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    I'm not sure how you relate the results of an uncited survey to that of "true patriotism".

    Obama's health care plan follows the Democratic template: an emphasis on dramatically and quickly increasing the number of people who have health insurance by spending significant money upfront. Democrats have run for office on this issue time and time again.

    It will be funded the same way that Democrats like to fund everything: punishing (taxing) the wealthy so that those who earn a good wage, pay for those who don't.

    He claims that he'll save the average family $2500/year, but there is absolutely no way to remotely prove that or make it applicable to more Americans. Example: I have great health, dental, and eye insurance that I don't pay a single penny for. (UPS covers all insurance costs for it's employees) I have nil to benifit from his health care plan.

    This is a good read that lays out his plan, plus the pros and cons of each element as well as its weight. It's fairly long, but if you'd really like to educate yourself about what he's offering and what the cost to average merkin will benefit from it (if any), you ought to give it a read.

    [hide]All of the candidates, Republican and Democratic, are calling for most of what is on the Obama cost containment list; expanding health information technology, improving prevention and better management of chronic conditions, and a more vibrant health insurance market.

    Obama is unique in calling for catastrophic reinsurance coverage in order to reduce the cost of family health insurance. Really, this is not a cost reduction but a cost shift. This idea, first proposed by Senator Kerry in his failed bid for the presidency, would have the federal government absorb a large portion of the highest cost claims thereby taking these costs out of the price of health insurance. That would reduce the price of family health insurance but would also increase federal spending by the same amount. It would also water down the incentive for insurers and employers to manage these claims since most of these costs would be transferred to the government

    Obama’s assertion that covering more people would reduce the overall cost of insurance is likely correct because it would mean less uncompensated care that would have to be shifted onto the rest of the system. Hillary Clinton would cover at least as many people as he would so there is no advantage for Obama here. Since the McCain health plan emphasizes making the insurance system affordable before ensuring widespread coverage as the first priority, one could argue that both Obama and Clinton would make gains toward near universal care well before McCain.

    In the end, Obama’s claim that he would save families $2,500 every year are based upon a number of initiatives that the other candidates also argue that they will undertake. More, these ideas, such as health IT and prevention, are under way in the market anyway.

    The only real difference between Obama and Mrs. Clinton over cost containment is his catastrophic reinsurance idea that isn’t so much a cost saver as a cost shifter.

    Obama’s claim that he would save $2,500 per family beyond a simple cost shift to the federal government of large claims is unsubstantiated.

    When compared to Hillary Clinton, the biggest difference is that Obama does not mandate that all adults have health insurance and Clinton does. In my mind, there is actually little or no difference between the two candidates on this point because the real issue in getting everyone covered is to make health insurance affordable—not whether it is required or not. I did a full post on this topic that you can access here.

    Let’s take a look at the three main parts of the Obama health plan:

    1. “Quality, Affordable & Portable Health Coverage For All”

    Obama follows the Democratic health care template by building on existing private and public programs such as employer health insurance, private individual health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. This is unlike the Republican approach that would refashion the private market by providing incentives to encourage a reinvigorated individual health insurance platform focused on personal choice and responsibility (see McCain post).

    Obama’s key components here include:

    * Establishing a new public program that would look a lot like Medicare for those under age-65 that would be available to those who do not have access to an employer plan or qualify for existing government programs like Medicaid or SCHIP. This would also be open to small employers who do not offer a private plan.
    * Creating a “National Health Insurance Exchange.” This would be a government-run marketing organization that would sell insurance plans directly to those who did not have an employer plan or public coverage.
    * An employer “pay or play” provision that would require an employer to either provide health insurance or contribute toward the cost of a public plan.
    * Mandating that families cover all children through either a private or public health insurance plan.
    * Expanding eligibility for government programs, like Medicaid and SCHIP.
    * Allow flexibility in embracing state health reform initiatives.

    Obama would also mandate guaranteed insurability, a generous minimum comprehensive benefits package such as that required for federal workers, the ability to take their policy from one job to another (portability) when it is purchased through the new Medicare-like public plan or the "National Health Insurance Exchange," and he would require providers to participate in a new plan to collect and report data about standards of care, the use of health information technology, and administration.

    How would Senator Obama do on improving coverage for all?

    This is the section that separates him most from Senator McCain—while being very similar to Senator Clinton’s health care plan.

    In Europe they have a way of explaining the general philosophy toward universal health care for all. You often here the term, “solidarity.” The concept implies that everyone is in it together—all are covered in the same pool and share the burden equally.

    Democrats, like Obama and Clinton, tend to make an Americanized attempt at health care solidarity by crafting a structure that ensures everyone will be covered, not by a single government-run plan but by guaranteeing access to a mix of government and private plans. Clinton and Obama both understand that the vast majority of Americans are not ready to give up their private health insurance plans and that creates a political imperative to continue making private health insurance a part of any “unique American solution.”

    Republicans, like McCain, on the other hand, build their health reform plans on the classic American foundation of “rugged individualism” promoting choice and personal responsibility.

    Therefore, the Obama and Clinton plans put as their first priority getting everyone in the system by spending lots of money up front to ensure that everyone can afford a benefit rich traditional private plan—or have access to a public plan. Clinton admits her plan would cost at least $100 billion a year while Obama claims his plan will cost half to two-thirds of that.

    Since there is little policy difference between the Clinton and Obama plan there cannot be much cost difference either.

    McCain argues that we already spend too much on health care and says his plan will not cost more than that since he will rearrange existing tax benefits to provide the incentives and support necessary for a more efficient system. It is hard to see how McCain can rearrange the existing employer tax benefits those who are insured now get, reapply them on an individual basis to those same people and also have enough money to provide assistance for the millions of uninsured who get no such tax benefits today.

    Obama sets as his goal quality, affordable, and portable coverage for all.

    Let’s take them one at a time:

    * Quality- Obama’s quality initiatives look a lot like Clinton and McCain’s as well as those things that are going on in the market anyway. All good points—but no advantage here or expectation there will be quick savings.
    * Affordability – Like Clinton, affordability is more about shifting the cost of insurance to the government then it is making a more efficient U.S. health care system. Health insurance is more affordable for people because he spends many billions of dollars subsidizing access for everyone.
    * Portable Health Coverage For All: While Obama does not have an individual mandate to purchase health insurance; it is likely that he would cover as many people as would Clinton because he argues he makes coverage affordable for about as many as Clinton claims to. Compared to McCain, he puts far more emphasis on getting people covered upfront.

    Obama would be successful in getting most of the uninsured covered and securing coverage for those that now have it. But when it comes to crafting a system that will not continue to outstrip the rest of the economy in what it costs, I see no evidence that he has tackled the drivers in health care costs—in fact he has likely poured some highly inflationary “gas on the fire” by adding tens of billions more to the system with no effective cost containment features to offset the new inflationary pressures.

    2. Modernizing The U.S. Health Care System To Lower Costs and Improve Quality

    Obama would argue that I am wrong about the notion that he has no effective cost containment ideas. In this section of his plan he argues he will contain, if not reduce costs, with a long list of proposals.

    He would reinsure employer plans for a portion of their catastrophic costs. This would reduce employer costs but it would do so by simply shifting them onto the government. He runs the risk of shifting these costs away from a market that now has incentives to manage them to a big government program that likely will not have the same incentives to confront and manage them. I don’t see this as cost saving as much as just cost shifting.

    Obama goes on to outline a long list of quality initiatives that include disease management programs, coordinated care, transparency about cost and quality of care, improved patient safety, aligning incentives for excellence, comparative effectiveness reviews, and reducing disparities in health care treatments for the same illness.

    McCain and Clinton have virtually the same list—all good ideas and all things the market has been tackling for years with only incremental success. The notion that Obama will suddenly make any or all of these more successful than others have with all the billions spent on such programs in recent years constitutes a leap of faith. Why will Obama be any more successful in this area than any other candidate or than those who have been tackling these things for years—no new ideas here and no cost containment “silver bullet?”

    Obama would also reform the medical malpractice system by strengthening “antitrust laws to prevent insurers from overcharging physicians for malpractice insurance.” Clearly a malpractice reform strategy supported by the trial bar! He also makes a vague pledge to “promote new models for addressing physician errors that improve patient safety.”

    Obama makes investments in health information technology an important part of his cost containment strategy. This is something every other candidate supports and is generally regarded at the heart of what’s needed to improve both cost and quality. And it is something the market has been spending billions at for many years and has shown only slow but steady progress on.

    Obama would make the insurance markets more competitive and efficient by creating the “National Health Insurance Exchange” to promote more efficient competition and he would set a minimum health cost ratio for insurers—not defined in detail. Reducing insurance company overhead is important but constitutes only a small percentage of costs and those overhead costs have been increasing at the rate of general inflation while health care costs have been increasing by two to four times the basic inflation rate in recent years. The biggest cost containment challenge is in the fundamental cost of health care itself.

    He would legalize drug reimportation. However, the amount of drugs imported from Canada, for example, has fallen by half in recent years, as this once popular scheme hasn’t produced the savings to even maintain itself at past levels. Somewhat surprisingly, even Republican McCain favors drug reimportation.

    He would emphasize the use of generics by making it harder for drug companies to payoff generic makers to stay out of their markets—a good idea that also has bipartisan support.

    He proposes lifting the ban on Medicare being able to negotiate drug prices—including those for the senior Part D program. However, recent Democratic proposals to do so do not allow Medicare to take a drug off the Medicare formulary when the manufacturer is not willing to reduce its prices. If Medicare doesn’t have the power to walk away from a drug maker, its power to negotiate is a hollow one. Obama does not tell us if he would give Medicare the leverage it would need to get real results.

    When the day is done, Obama gives us a list of generally good cost containment ideas that are more often than not in both Senator Clinton and Senator McCain’s health proposals and have been part of a market struggling to being costs under control—nothing really new and nothing that promises to get better results than each of these cost containment ideas are going to be able to get us anyway.

    What would it take to really contain costs?

    McCain would say a more robust market and more reliance on personal responsibility and consumer choice to make the market work better.

    Obama, like Clinton and McCain, came up with the same generally good list of things that are underway in the market anyway with only a limited success to point to so far.

    To really get at costs you have to gore some very powerful political oxen among all of the key stakeholders.

    McCain won’t do it because he simply doesn’t believe that a direct assault on the market players is the right thing to do—put market incentives in place and it will encourage and reward efficient behavior.

    Obama and Clinton won’t do it, not because they don’t like government intervention, but because they don’t want to offend key stakeholders who could derail any meaningful health care reform effort.

    The Democrats learned a very powerful lesson in 1994 when many of the special interests all united in opposition to the Clinton Health Plan.

    Capping or even reducing costs means you have to cap or reduce costs. There are no magic bullets that reduce payments without doctors, hospitals, insurers, and lawyers getting less than they would have gotten. All of the health IT, prevention, wellness, and the like will not reduce costs by any big amount at least in the short term.

    McCain avoids the notion that aggressive cost containment is important because he just doesn’t believe in it—a vibrant market will do the job.

    Obama and Clinton avoid the notion that their cost containment list will be inadequate because it is politically expedient to do so—they aren’t going to risk their health care reform proposals by taking on the big stakeholders head-on.

    I have been convinced for some time that we will actually do health care reform in two parts—access first and cost containment second.

    These Democratic proposals are about access—getting just about everyone covered. Getting everyone into this unsustainable system will then make things even more unsustainable creating an imperative for a second wave of real cost containment when the feel good list of cost containment proposals now in their plans falls short. My sense is that most Democratic health policy experts already know this but see no other political alternative.

    3. Promoting Prevention & Strengthening Public Health

    At the core of this Obama health care proposal is the notion that, “Each must do their part…to create the conditions and opportunities that allow and encourage Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles.”

    Obama lists employer wellness programs, attacking childhood obesity in the schools, expanding the number of primary care providers, and disease prevention programs as part of his effort.

    Again, his emphasis on healthier lifestyles is embraced by all of the other candidates and doesn’t give him an advantage.

    Perhaps the most important thing a new president can do in this regard is to use the “bully pulpit” to place far more emphasis on just how unhealthy Americans are becoming. We can pass all of the health care reform proposals we like and spend the many more in billions of dollars each year but that will do little as we watch our youngest generation on its way to becoming the first in American history to be less healthy than the prior generation.

    Will the Obama health reform plan work?

    The Obama health reform plan would get almost everyone covered. In spite of Senator Clinton’s claims, I don’t see her plan covering more people.

    The Obama and Clinton plans are nearly identical in that they focus on access by making it possible for everyone to have coverage in an existing private or public plan and by making a Medicare-like program also available for those who don’t have private coverage. Both would spend about the same to accomplish near-universal coverage—at least $100 billion a year.

    Neither plan really is a universal health care plan. A universal plan, like those in Europe and Canada, start out by including everyone in a plan they are automatically enrolled in and that is paid for by various mandatory taxes. While people in these truly universal systems can sometimes opt out for a private plan, as in Britain, they are in one on day one.

    Clinton and Obama build on the American tradition of people having to buy their coverage. Both claim to make it affordable to buy—but the consumer must make the purchase. Clinton mandates it and Obama makes that an option for adults. In the end what matters is not the mandate but whether coverage is in fact affordable to everyone.

    McCain takes a completely different view continuing to build on options and choices and relying upon the market to do the work in creating an affordable system.

    Would the Obama/Clinton health care system work?

    It would clearly get almost everyone covered sooner rather than later.

    The real question is how would it be sustained. Are their cost containment strategies going to support a system that is affordable in the long run?

    No.

    The Obama/Clinton cost containment proposals are only incremental cost containment proposals that are layered over $100 billion of upfront spending to cover tens of millions of more people—far too little cost containment for the new massive injection of money, almost overnight, into the health care system.

    Both Clinton and Obama offer us a long list of good cost containment ideas—most of which they share with McCain. Most have been underway in the market for many years with limited success. Undoubtedly, a government infusion of resources or requirements aimed at a more efficient system would have a positive impact but it is hard to see how they would be enough fundamentally alter things and bring the system under real control.

    More likely, a $100 billion infusion of new health care spending by an Obama or Clinton plan would actually increase the rate of health care inflation and ultimately create an imperative for more draconian government intervention in the health care markets both Obama and Clinton would preserve.

    Cost containment is the big missing link here.

    The big question John McCain has to answer is how will his health care program cover everyone—particularly the older and sicker—and how will he be able to provide enough assistance to those who are now uninsured by simply redistributing the tax breaks now only enjoyed by those currently covered?

    The big question for Obama and Clinton is not in getting almost everyone covered—their plans spend enough money up front to likely do that—the question for them is how will they create an affordable health care system with only incremental cost containment ideas?

    Robert Laszweski has been a fixture in Washington health policy circles for the better part of three decades. He currently serves as the president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates of Alexandria, Virginia. Before forming HPSA in 1992, Robert served as the COO, Group Markets, for the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. You can read more of his thoughtful analysis of healthcare industry trends at The Health Policy and Marketplace Blog. [/hide]



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  10. The Drawing Room   -   #10
    j2k4's Avatar en(un)lightened
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squeamous View Post
    I saw this today:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/20...evelopment.usa

    Despite spending $230m (£115m) an hour on healthcare, Americans live shorter lives than citizens of almost every other developed country. And while it has the second-highest income per head in the world, the United States ranks 42nd in terms of life expectancy.

    ........a country that spends well over $5bn each day on healthcare - more per person than any other country.

    ....each of the 11 countries that rank higher than the US in human development has a lower per-capita income.

    One of the main problems faced by the US, says the report, is that one in six Americans, or about 47 million people, are not covered by health insurance and so have limited access to healthcare.
    As a result, the US is ranked 42nd in global life expectancy and 34th in terms of infants surviving to age one. The US infant mortality rate is on a par with that of Croatia, Cuba, Estonia and Poland. If the US could match top-ranked Sweden, about 20,000 more American babies a year would live to their first birthday.

    The US has a higher percentage of children living in poverty than any of the world's richest countries.

    It also reveals 14% of the population - some 40 million Americans - lack the literacy skills to perform simple, everyday tasks such as understanding newspaper articles and instruction manuals.
    And while in much of Europe, Canada, Japan and Russia, levels of enrolment of three and four-year-olds in pre-school are running at about 75%, in the US it is little more than 50%.

    The US is far behind many other countries in the support given to working families, particularly in terms of family leave, sick leave and childcare. The country has no federally mandated maternity leave.
    The US also ranks first among the 30 rich countries of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of the number of people in prison, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of the total population.
    It has 5% of the world's people but 24% of its prisoners.
    If this is where 'true patriotism' has got the US, maybe it ought to try Obama's brand.
    My sig actually explains all of this.

    Subtract government (the root of the third party payer system) from the healthcare equation, competition re-asserts itself, and costs come down.

    Barack hasn't a clue, and, as Skizo has pointed out, use of the word "patriotism" in this instance is an egregious misapplication of terminology.
    “Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that.” -George Carlin

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