Econ 115: Audio: Lecture 1--Overview (August 27, 2009)
links for 2009-08-28

Health Care: Andrew Samwick Really Doesn't Understand What Is Going On...

He writes:

The Health Care Reform Mystery Deepens: At least for me, it does. Earlier this month, I blogged about what I think is the key issue in the health care reform debate, pre-existing conditions, and why I think the Republicans' part in the debate should be to focus only on that issue.... The Republicans should be the ones advocating for community rating plus a mechanism to adjust for differences in the risk pools selecting each health plan. It turns out that the political strategy for the Republicans is even easier than I thought, because such mechanisms are part of the key bills.... Take a look at HR 3200, Section 206(b) [risk adjusters].... The idea in this section of the bill is essential, along with those underlying Section 111 (Prohibiting pre-existing condition exclusions) and Section 112 (Guaranteed issue and renewal for insured plans).  Those three elements constitute health insurance reform that should be acceptable across the political spectrum.  They improve fairness and promote competition (by lessening the threat of adverse selection against the insurance companies). The latter should drive down costs without requiring additional public funds apart from the cost of administration.  If the Republicans proposed a reform that consisted only of that, we would eventually reach a reasonable compromise. So why not do it?

I had the same expectations for a deal back in 2005. The Republicans were offering private accounts as a carve-out from the current Social Security system. The Democrats were responding with a bid for private accounts as an add-on to the current Social Security system. I expected a deal--most add-on, some carve-out, and long-run system solvency guaranteed by triggers that would impose cuts in benefits in the outyears triggered if the trust fund balance turned out to require them (which it is highly likely that it would have). But the Republicans seemed more interested in having a wedge issue than a bill--they would not move away from "the purpose of this bill is to end Social Security as we know it."

Similarly, right now, from the Republican National Committee:

The Reality-Based Community_ First they came for grandma ....gif

There is no mystery, Andrew, the Republican Party's leading politicians are all now bats--- insane. This is the curse of Richard Nixon and his southern strategy. It's Richard Nixon's party you belong to--you just live in it.

The problem is that Gingrich's "let's block everything Clinton tries to do even when it's good for the country, proclaim that he is a failure, and win the next election" move won the 1994 election. And now they are trying to repeat it. Only a throughgoing shellacking at the 2010 and 2012 elections--a Goldwater-magnitude shellacking--has, I think, a chance of restoring even a modicum of sanity to the Republican Party.