Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Healthcare: a cogent argument against Edwards

with 4 comments

Jonathan Alter has a good column arguing against the Krugman/Edwards approach to developing a national healthcare plan. He in fact echoes comments some have made on this blog about the practical reality of the Obama approach. Worth reading. It begins:

Paul Krugman is a brilliant Princeton economist and fine columnist for The New York Times who was far ahead of the pack in asserting that George W. Bush is a total disaster as president. His clarity in explaining what academics call “political economy” is without peer. But his attack on Barack Obama on December 17 was wrong on history, wrong on politics and wrong on what the future holds for Obama’s “big table” idea.

Krugman calls Obama “naïve” and an “anti-change candidate” because he favors bringing all of the players in the health care debate around a “big table” and rejects the populist message of John Edwards, who is apparently Krugman’s choice for president. “Anyone who thinks the next president can achieve real change without bitter confrontation is living in a fantasy world,” Krugman writes, endorsing Edwards’s view that the insurance and drug industries should be excluded from any talks on health care reform because they stand to lose profits.

The columnist and his candidate both believe that Franklin D. Roosevelt succeeded by being a polarizing figure. I studied FDR for four years while writing a book about him, and this is simply untrue. It’s also untrue of other successful Democratic presidents and for a simple reason: “Bitter confrontation” simply doesn’t work in policy-making.

Bear with me for a brief history lesson: The so-called “First New Deal” of 1933-34 came after Roosevelt won a landslide victory over Herbert Hoover in 1932 in a campaign devoid of any populist message despite an unemployment rate of at least 25 percent. First, FDR worked with Hoover treasury officials from the other party to rescue the banks under a conservative plan that included steep budget cuts. The rest of his famous “100 days” agenda-which included unprecedented jobs programs, agricultural reform, labor rights, and regulation of financial markets—was achieved with much more compromise than Krugman recognizes. Social Security came in 1935 after a big Democratic mandate in midterm elections and was enacted piecemeal and cooperatively (to the disappointment of many New Deal liberals) with everyone at the table.During and after his 1936 reelection campaign, FDR—angry at the ingratitude of the rich Americans whose fortunes he had saved—adopted class-based politics. In 1937, with a big victory under his belt, he tried confrontation with his court-packing scheme. It failed badly. So did his effort to “purge” the opposition in 1938. The rest of his second-term was far less productive legislatively than his first. By the end of it, he turned to foreign policy. FDR’s third-term success, dominated by World II, was dependent on his unifying the country.
Similarly, Woodrow Wilson’s big legislative triumphs over entrenched interests in 1913 (for example, an income tax), Lyndon Johnson’s in 1965 (Medicare and the Voting Rights Act) and Bill Clinton’s in 1993 (painful tax increases) were achieved with legislative skill, not brute force and a populist message.

Krugman is a populist. He writes that if nominated, Obama would win, “but not as big as a candidate who ran on a more populist platform.” This is facile and ahistorical. How many 20th Century American presidents have been elected on a populist platform?  That would be zero, Paul. You could even include Al Gore, who won the popular vote in 2000. Instead of exploiting the peace and prosperity of the 1990s, Gore ran on a “people vs. the powerful” message. It never ignited.

Much more at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

23 December 2007 at 3:53 pm

Posted in Democrats, Election

4 Responses

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  1. John Edwards isn’t afraid to tackle fetal healthcare. He’s really brave!!!

    Since John Edwards is for late-term abortion (jabbing surgical scissors into the posterior base of the baby’s head to kill the HEALTHY baby by depriving it of brain function from a mutilated cerebellum AS it is being BORN in the third trimester), he is a real advocate and must be an expert.

    I still can’t figure out why he sue doctors for a living and at the same time why he tells doctors how they must kill babies. Well, it’s all just legal stuff, unless, of course, it’s your 16 yo daughter who got the procedure and has to live with the guilt all of her life.



    23 December 2007 at 4:44 pm

  2. Neil, I think you probably would normally oppose the government making medical decisions regarding the care a physician and her or his patient are considering. I don’t think John Edwards—or anyone, short of the strawman you have constructed in your mind—is in favor of late-term abortions. I haven’t seen any efforts to urge such operations on the public. When such a procedure is undertaken, my belief is that it undertaken reluctantly and only in extremis.

    But thank you for attempting to contribute to the discussion.



    23 December 2007 at 5:25 pm

  3. Eliminate health insurance and let the market determine the cost of care. As long as we use collectivization as a means of payment doctors will continue to be grossly over paid and the price of care will be kept artificially high.

    Remember – doctors should be paid in chickens if that’s all the average person can afford.



    30 December 2008 at 8:59 am

  4. Ah, yes, the magic market. I agree with eliminating health insurance and moving to a single-payer national healthcare program like other advanced nations have. But the unfettered free market has not done well by us: corporations require careful regulation and oversight if they are not to go rogue.



    30 December 2008 at 9:06 am

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