Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We Can Be Like They Are

The health-care debate gets increasingly acrimonious as people start to focus on the details. President Obama will be back on the air tonight for yet another attempt at moving the ball forward. Don't know if he'll have much luck; as Mickey Kaus asked recently:

Hmm. When was the last time a President's campaign-style attempt to sell a policy has actually succeeded in selling the policy? I can't remember it. I can remember lots of flops (e.g.,Bush on Social Security). Traditional trips to non-Beltway places like Cleveland get heavily filtered by the media, for example. Prime time news conferences don't get huge ratings, right?. The only thing I can think of that might have a momentum-changing effect is a roadblocked prime-time presidential address.

He's trying the news conference tonight -- the roadblocked (meaning on all channels) prime-time presidential address is probably coming in August.

There are a lot of problems with the reforms that Obama posits, but one the most problematic is the notion that we will save money somehow. Unfortunately, as Paul Howard points out in City Journal, the most effective cost-savings mechanism isn't going to be too popular:

Thus, when the head of the Congressional Budget Office (Congress’s fiscal watchdog) testified last Friday that none of the bills under consideration in the House or Senate would rein in spending—and that all would likely increase it—the president’s reform push took a heavy hit. The CBO’s assessment underscored an important reality about health care. Lowering health-care costs (which have been rising faster than inflation for decades, except for a brief period in the 1990s) while improving quality is possible, but it’s awfully hard, for one simple reason: when it comes to health-care spending, death is the only really cheap option.

Howard's piece is very good: read the whole thing.

It may be a cheap shot, but I worry that if Obama's health care proposal goes forward, we may be faced with a healthcare regime that in effect says this: dying for your country isn't just for soldiers anymore.

UPDATE: our favorite University of Wisconsin law professor makes a crucial point:

The Democrats have dumped a drastic, complicated health care bill on us and they are ramming it through before we can even figure it out. That's what matters, not the fact that the party out of power is squawking about it.


Gino said...

so, obama is trying to sell a bill that hasnt been written, that he hasnt yet read, and wont be able to honestly answer any questions, or tell us what is in it.

Mark Heuring said...

But we have to have it, Gino. Now, dammit, now!

Gino said...

did you hear o'reilly tonite?

he said: i went to harvard. i spent 30k for my education. and i still dont understand what obama said tonite.