Gridlock Is Good [updated]

By mw | Related entries in Democrats, Fiscal Responsibility, Polls, Republicans, tea party


Doyle McManus at the LA Times considers the challenges the GOP must face to press their advantage in November, and the challenges facing the country should they prevail:

A post-November congressional outlook: partisan gridlock

“But there’s at least one potential problem for the Republicans: They haven’t settled on a unified national message yet — and a quiet civil war is brewing over what, if anything, it should say. In one camp are House conservatives, led by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House minority whip, who argue that Republicans won in 1994 because the Contract with America laid out by then-Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) articulated a coherent message around which candidates and voters could rally… Republicans, reportedly including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), worry about finding a tent large enough to include all GOP viewpoints. Trying to come up with a single platform, they believe, could be divisive, and the party should simply embrace a few broad issues such as cutting taxes and spending. We’re already winning, they argue; why get too specific and give Democrats a clearer target to shoot at?”

There is simply not a tent big enough to encompass the full spectrum of policy positions held by those opposed to our current One Party Democratic Rule, including: fiscal conservatives; social conservatives; Republican partisans; libertarians; independents; and the tea party movement. But there does not need to be a unanimity of policy preferences for the GOP to prevail. All they need in November is a common objective and general agreement that a key issue takes precedence over all others. My take -

  • The objective is restoring balance and restraint in our federal government.
  • The key issue is restraining the insane growth of spending and curtailing the fiscal irresponsibility exhibited by the Democrats and this administration.

In a nutshell – “It’s the spending, stupid” – (Thank you again James Carville).

The Tea Party movement is a microcosm of the opposition coalition, willfully misunderstood and mis-characterized by Democratic Party partisans. So far, the Tea Party has shown considerable focus, political acumen and seem to understand that social issues must take a back seat to economic issues in this election.

Flipping majorities in the House of Representatives is extraordinarily difficult. Gerrymandered districts, high congressional re-election rates, and the propensity of voters to dislike congress in general but like their specific congressperson in particular – all must all be overcome to flip the House. It can only happen when a pervasive national mood overcomes the Tip O’Neill homily “All politics is local”.

Difficult, but doable. It happened in 1994 when disparate opposition united to reject the overreach, fiscal irresponsibility, and corruption of One Party Democratic Rule. It happened in 2006 when disparate opposition united to reject the overreach, fiscal irresponsibility and corruption of One Party Republican Rule. Voters don’t need a sweeping agenda. They just need to be unified in a desire to sweep out the party in power. The opposition voting coalition may not survive beyond the 2010 mid-terms, but it does not need to.

McManus continues:

“No matter what happens in November, we will have a divided government. If Republicans win a majority in the House, they will still be dealing with a Democratic president and, probably, a Democratic Senate. If Republicans fall short in the House, they may still reduce Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s majority enough to make bipartisan deals possible in the middle. In that divided-government future, it would be a good thing if November’s elections produced a mandate for something specific, but that can only happen if Republicans and Democrats alike lay out specific agendas. The all-too-likely alternative is two years of partisan gridlock.”

The bogeyman of “gridlock” will not dissuade voters. While often messy, political gridlock in Washington D.C. can yield very positive results. The poster child of dysfunctional gridlock is the Clinton/Gingrich budget impasse that shut down the government in 1995. Ugly – to be sure. Yet out of that same dynamic during the six years of divided and “gridlocked” government, we got a lot of good, smart governance: NAFTA, GATT, Welfare Reform, PAYGO, Tax cuts, reduction in the growth of federal spending, deficit reduction, growing economy, Crime Bill, Brady Bill, new national parks, low unemployment and a balanced budget. Ahh, the good ol’ days. I’ll take that kind of gridlock anytime.

I am not the only one nostalgic for the golden age of gridlock. AP is reporting that Newt Gingrich is considering a run for President. The problem for Gingrich – it is not him, but divided government that invokes the nostalgia. if the Republicans do as well as some polls are indicating in November, voters will need to re-elect Barack Obama to keep that good - Democratic President, Republican Congress – gridlock feeling.

UPDATE: 15-Jul-10

Just noticed this WaPo Howard Kurtz column that strikes some similar notes:

The Gridlock Option

…what if Americans like obstructionists? By which I mean, what if the country, having sampled all-Democratic rule in Washington, would much prefer divided government?

It has, of course, happened before. Voters saddled Ronald Reagan with a Democratic Senate in his last two years in office. Bill Clinton seemed to overreach in his first two years and the voters rewarded him with a Republican Congress for the last six. George W. Bush was six years into his term when the voters gave Democrats control of both chambers.

That’s why the Obama rhetoric about giving back the keys may fall flat: A Republican Congress wouldn’t be running things. It would be more in the role of backseat driver. GOP lawmakers could schedule hearings, issue subpoenas, keep bills off the floor — but would have a hard time passing anything over a presidential veto.

That could be a formula for gridlock — but if enough voters are angry at big government, they might prefer a government that doesn’t do much. Or it could force both parties to compromise, as when Clinton and the Gingrich Congress agreed on welfare reform and a balanced budget.”

Smart guy that Kurtz.

Cross-posted from “Divided We Stand United We Fall


This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 and is filed under Democrats, Fiscal Responsibility, Polls, Republicans, tea party. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

65 Responses to “Gridlock Is Good [updated]”

  1. Aaron Says:

    I have a job right now because of Obama’s spending. A rather well paying one at that. I’m content in my decision for 08.

    Now I do agree that spending should only be done when necessary, but then again I’m a centrist. If Obama were to ditch the dems and go independent with The Governator, I’d be quite happy.

    Show me that Repubs (and a good deal of Dems) can have civil discourse and compromise with each other on a regular basis and I’ll subscribe to your divided government view.

  2. mw Says:

    @Aaron
    That’s a start. I am less concerned with civility in partisan discourse than I am with the spending moderation and legislative restraint that is a consequence of divided government conflict.

    The major parties will compromise only when they have to. There will be no meaningful compromise from the Democrats for as long as they hold all the cards.

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  4. Lollypop Says:

    Rachel Maddow does a better job than I could addressing your point:

    MADDOW: So we don‘t quite have Wall Street reform yet. The Fourth of July recess starts this weekend. And we now know we‘re not going to have Wall Street reform before this weekend because over the Fourth of July recess, Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts says he has to put his thinking shorts on and decide whether or not he is going to vote for it.
    Sen. Brown has actually voted for Wall Street reform for the Senate‘s version of the bill. And as he‘s emerged as the key Republican negotiator on the issue, he has scored himself a tiny little list of compromises.
    He managed to get some home state financial interests exempted from new restrictions on trading. Nice. He also convinced negotiators that the bill should allow banks to invest in hedge funds. Oh, goody, sticking up for the little guy.
    He‘s demanded that Democrats remove a proposed tax on big banks and hedge funds, which Democrats promptly did. So Scott Brown has won all these concessions. He‘s gotten all these special Scott Brown deals but still not the sure he‘s going to vote for the final bill.
    He says he‘s, again, got to put his thinking shorts on over the long weekend and review the bill and decide whether or not he‘s going to support it this time around.
    So hey, Democrats, got to ask. Is this ringing a bell for you at all? I mean, she‘s not famous for her shorts, but how about Olympia Snowe during the health reform debate? Remember how that went? It was all about Olympia Snowe. She was the key to making health reform bipartisan and, therefore, awesome.
    She even voted for it once in the committee which got her a ton of attention, a ton of attention that she used to lobby against a public option. For those of you keeping track at home, you‘ll recall that the health reform debate ended with no public option and also ended with no vote from Olympia Snowe.
    The pattern of Republicans negotiating on big pieces of legislation, winning major concessions and then not voting for it after all has been pretty clear for a while now to people who are paying attention.
    Take, for example, this prescient October 2009 on Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from “Mother Jones‘” Kate Sheppard, quote, “While the support of a prominent conservative senator could pave the way for the passage of climate legislation, Graham‘s backing comes at a steep price. He‘s pushing for massive payouts to the nuclear industry along with other environmentally questionable provisions.”
    “A few of the left-leaning or outspoken groups such as Friends of the Earth and the Union of Concerned Scientists are worried that Graham will pull a bait-and-switch. They fear he‘s offering his backing now in order gain big concessions for the nuclear industry, but he won‘t ultimately vote for the legislation.”
    Again, that was from October of last year. Sen. Graham subsequently played a major role in putting together a climate bill with John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, a big old compromise bill that he then backed out of in April.
    And of course, since they don‘t have Lindsey Graham to kick them around anymore, Senators Kerry and Lieberman are in the market for a new Republican negotiator. And as such, they are advertising the fact that they‘re willing to scale back the bill even more.
    If that happens, I wonder if they‘ll get a vote in the end from that Republican. So again, the pattern is this – some Republican senator or another appears to be a making a super-sincere effort at negotiating on a key piece of legislation with his or her friends from across the aisle.
    Said Republican senator convinces these Democratic friends to make tons of concessions on the key legislation. But then, for whatever reason, all those concessions don‘t turn out to be enough to win that Republican‘s vote.
    So the inevitable outcome is that – well, first of all, it‘s less likely that any given piece of key legislation will pass, because, hey, guess what? No Republican will vote for it pretty much ever, no matter what.
    And if the Democrats still do manage to pass something, it will be an undermined, watered-down version of the key bill in question that robs the Democratic Party‘s base of any sense of accomplishment or excitement or satisfaction in what its party is doing.
    And this undermined, watered-down bill will eventually become an undermined, watered-down policy that‘s worse than it would have been without Republican influence and worse in the precise ways – the precise ways that Republicans want it to be worse.

    Point being, the reason we’re not getting anything done, has little to do with democratic intransigence, as you try to argue, but rather, how little interest the Republican party actually has in negotiating in good faith on any initiative presented by the Democrats or the Obama administration. The worst part about that is that the current crop of Republican candidates, for senate and House, governorships, etc. is even more radical and uninterested in any type of compromise than those in DC right now. I mean, how can they compromise, when they’ve already demonized the President as a socialist, Kenyan born infiltrator, and appealed to 2nd Amendment rights if they don’t get their way (See Sharron Angle in Nevada)?

  5. Edith H Says:

    Maybe gridlock is the best option until someone comes ups with some comprehensive, pragamatic, and workable solutions. Kind of ” an above all do no (more) harm.” I have sympathy for the “Tea Party” and I realize that they recognize something has gone terribly wrong even if they don’t quite know what. My worry is that they will be sucked in by a megawatt personality and worn out, cliched platitudes from Reaganomics or Obamanomics. And though, I respect RR, he presided over a domestic economy, not a global one, and the US was still the dominant industrial power. Often, they demand tax cuts forgetting that the Bush tax cuts are still in place and not realizing that over 1/3 of the stimulus $800B+ stimulus was tax cuts. So we have had tax cuts upon tax cuts. Not to mention, the problem of keeping the benfits of any tax cuts incountry, now that we don’t have an interdependent domestic economy. This time it is different. There are fewer and fewer wealth creating jobs to return to.
    I think our economy is the result of a lot a chickens coming home to roost, and some of the chickens (drivers) are beyond our control but they all seem to exacerbate each other to create a perfect storm of economic stagnation and decline. The economic problems we face are not unique to the US but all the old industrial powers are wrestling with the consequences of globalization, aging population with exploding health care costs taking up to much of GDP, job consolidating technologies, spending as though we are still in our peak earning years when we’re not, a stacked international playing field, uncertainty over government policy, regulations, taxes, and crony capitalism (exceedingly powerful mega corporations engaging in oligarchical practices) who inhibit free competition. How do you fix this and not throw the baby (the benefits of lower priced consumer goods, global distribution and communications) out with the bath water. No less a person than Robert Bork has wrestled with this.
    If we can resurrect the sectors of the economy that result in decent jobs, I think all the rest is manageable. It occurs to me that Labour in the UK was no great shakes creating jobs (excepting finance) in the UK over the last decade and Bush ultimately failed using traditional conservative techniques. Coincidence anybody? Do we really think that the political classes aren’t trying to work out some solutions? Whoever figures it out and can SELL it, WINS. I sure hope it is us.

  6. Jim Satterfield Says:

    Actually the major parties will not compromise in today’s political climate no matter what if mw sees his dreams come true. If the Republicans make major inroads this fall they will credit their obstructionism and will simply continue down that road. The demonization of Obama and the rest of the Democrats will just get louder and there will be not one iota of willingness to ever take one action that can be seen as working with them because compromise of any kind is anathema to their base. Look at the fates of Bennett and Ingliss. If the Republican victories this fall include Tea Party candidates then you should expect that trend to only be amplified. The implications of that go beyond civil discourse to real gridlock no matter the importance of accomplishing something. But of course those whose only ideology is “Government is bad.” won’t mind.

  7. Simon Says:

    Jim:

    The implications of that go beyond civil discourse to real gridlock no matter the importance of accomplishing something. But of course those whose only ideology is “Government is bad.” won’t mind.

    Well, sure, if true gridlock could be manufactured, that would be swell. Our problem is spending, and gridlock would mean no appropriations bills (apart from military spending, which I fancy would draw bipartisan support). In turn, that means no money appropriated, which means no money can be drawn from the treasury, which means the shutdown of any federal agency that requires money. I would rather not throw the baby out with the bathwater, but cold turkey is one way to break an addiction.

  8. kranky kritter Says:

    I’m not opposed to a divided government if it means that both parties have to work together to come up workable solutions to the problems before our elected leaders. But I’m not in favor of gridlock, which by definition means that nothing gets achieved. My impression is that you are conflating some ideas here, or don’t believe there’s a worthwhile distinction to be made.

    The problem with a congress where there’s ideological gridlock is that no substantive changes get made to improve how things get done. But meanwhile, the one thing that all congressfolk can still agree on is pork.

    The US faces serious demographic issues in finding revenue sufficient to finance the promises it has made. If a divided government help us face those issues, THEN I’m all for it. But the notion that divided government in and of itself creates some magical salve and so we can therefore fix things simply by voting in whatever way brings about divided government? I don’t buy it. I’m going to keep voting for the candidate who makes more sense to me, who best understands the issues, and who seems ready to work in the right directions to fix them.

  9. Edith H Says:

    The voting public has to bear the responsibility, too. They didn’t push for solutions when these problems were at least more manageable, if not fixable. Now that there are so many problems and they compound each other, it is exponentially more difficult to explain, let alone fix. I blame a lot of this on my generation who turned every darn issue into a religion or an occasion for a law suit. And, I don’t believe for a nanosecond it was for either ethical or altruistic reasons but for a revenue stream.

  10. JimS Says:

    Thank you, Simon, for proving my point about the vacuity of the pure ideologue.

  11. Simon Says:

    Jim, if you’re going to call people names, you would spare yourself some embarrassment by choosing an adjective whose meaning you understand. “Vacuous,” ex vi termini, describes a person who is devoid of thought, or an idea that is arrived at without any thought; it shares a common root with “vacuum.” It is neither definitionally nor etymologically apt as a substitution for “wrong,” as in an expression of disagreement with discernible and developed ideas. Thus, I can say that your insult is vacuous, because you tossed off the first vaguely insulting adjective that came to mind without giving it any thought, but you can’t say the same for my long-held and reasonable view that the federal government does too much and would do well to be smaller, because it is very much a considered position, no matter how much you disagree with it.

  12. mw Says:

    “I’m not in favor of gridlock, which by definition means that nothing gets achieved. My impression is that you are conflating some ideas here, or don’t believe there’s a worthwhile distinction to be made.” – kk

    It’d say it is a little of all of the above. I think I am using the word “gridlock”, as it is being used in common blogging parlance – not in some absolute sense where literally nothing gets done. I could reference this Wikipedia description , that reflects the way I am using the term:

    “In politics, gridlock refers to difficulty of passing laws fulfilling a party’s political agenda in a legislature that is nearly evenly divided, or in which two legislative houses, or the executive branch and the legislature are controlled by different political parties.”

    “Difficulty” not “nothing gets achieved” . Yes – I am well aware that using Wikipedia like this is problematical, No – I didn’t write that entry.

    As I point out in the post – the incident that is always held up as an example of why gridlock is bad is when the Clinton/Gingrich standoff closed down the government in 1995. That was obviously not an absolute gridlock,as the last I looked – the government did continue. The budget was passed, and there was compromise on both sides, and we got a better, more fiscally responsible federal budget as a result. Again note- this was every bit as polarized, partisan, and contentious as we see between the parties today – maybe even more – the difference is that neither party (or government branch) could steamroll the other – so compromise was the only choice. I submit that is the only way to get real bipartisan compromise – when neither party/branch of government is in a position to steamroll the other – in contrast to what we have today where the Dems have steamrolled the Republicans repeatedly. Compromise does not come out of some Platonic Ideal of wizened elders sitting around the table and having a dispassionate discussion of what is best for America. Compromise comes out of conflict when both parties are in a position of power.

    Also, as I point out in the post, despite the real animus and polarized partisan conflict during the Clinton/Gingrich years (including impeachment and an extraordinary number of vetoes) – arguably the primary example of gridlocked federal government in American history excluding the run up to the civil war – a great deal of very good compromised legislation and good governance was the end result.

    Finally, I have to comment on the“magic salve” characterization. By now I am accustomed to my advocacy of this voting heuristic being dismissed as “magic”, “dogma”, even “fetish”. There is nothing I can do about this when it happens, except to refer back to my post Voting By Objective – where I lay out the rationale for the heuristic and the scholarship documenting empirical and historical evidence that voting this way has certain predictable consequences. Those consequence align with the way I want our government to behave, and nothing else does. Why would I not vote and advocate for a state that is documented to produce the kind of government action I prefer?

  13. JimS Says:

    Unfortunately for Simon, my choice of words was not in error. A pure ideologue generally does abandon rational thought when their beliefs are challenged, much like birthers or truthers.

    Well, sure, if true gridlock could be manufactured, that would be swell. Our problem is spending, and gridlock would mean no appropriations bills (apart from military spending, which I fancy would draw bipartisan support). In turn, that means no money appropriated, which means no money can be drawn from the treasury, which means the shutdown of any federal agency that requires money. I would rather not throw the baby out with the bathwater, but cold turkey is one way to break an addiction.

    This goes beyond wanting a smaller government. Well beyond. The last sentence does not in any way redeem the previous section.

  14. JimS Says:

    mw,

    Your belief is described as magical or a fetish because it is. Like far too much of modern conservative thought it utterly fails to recognize that even in a decade enough can change to make historical examples meaningless. The Republicans you trust so much have virtually no members left willing to stand up to the spotlight of conservative media when accused of being traitors to the cause because they might compromise with a Democrat on something. In the times that you cite as proof of the logic of your stance were the members of either party of the time subject to the kind of real time barrage of criticism that is our current political environment. No. You have never addressed this issue in your attempts to rationalize your stance and it weakens it tremendously.

  15. mw Says:

    Yes Jim, I understand now. There was no cable TV, no talk radio, no e-mail, and no internet in the dark ages of 1994-2000. The country’s political policies were determined in an environment of civil discourse, mutual respect, and a careful logically plotted exposition of competing ideas – like whether or not we should impeach our president for lying under oath about a blow job. Since we live in a radically different age now, it is completely justified to throw out all empirical and historical scholarship up the point where Obama lay claim to the Unitary Executive and start anew. The only valid basis for political discussion now is to first accept the Jim S rational non-partisan worldview – Democrats are angels and Republicans are the spawn of Satan. Any opinion that contradicts this worldview is deserving only of insult and derision. Thanks for explaining it so clearly.

  16. Nick Benjamin Says:

    Well, sure, if true gridlock could be manufactured, that would be swell. Our problem is spending, and gridlock would mean no appropriations bills (apart from military spending, which I fancy would draw bipartisan support). In turn, that means no money appropriated, which means no money can be drawn from the treasury, which means the shutdown of any federal agency that requires money. I would rather not throw the baby out with the bathwater, but cold turkey is one way to break an addiction.

    That might happen once for a few months.

    The result would not be what you want. It would be what we had in the Clinton years: unchanged (and unchangeable) federal spending. Changes would be at the margins, and either be incredibly stupid (as in the automatic cuts to Doctor pay that Clinton and Gingrich created for us) or irrelevant to our long-term problems (like welfare reform). There might be a budget surplus for a while, because it looks like the economy is picking up, but that will only last a few years, and it only applies if the economy is actually picking up.

    Our deficit problem is, and has been for decades, largely caused by ever-increasing health costs and Medicare. With Obamacare we have a shot at fixing these without killing grandma with benefit cuts, or jacking up taxes to 100%, because Obamacare tests numerous cost controls.

    Can you see Beohner actually agreeing that some cost control in Obamacare worked, and should be extended nationwide? Can you see Beohnor agreeing the only major cost control idea not tried in Obamacare, aka: the public option, should be tried?

    I can’t. I can see him bitching about the bill as too expensive, spouting platitudes about limiting government, and then claiming nobody could have seen a problem when it becomes impossible to ignore. He’ll probably offer tort reform as a solution, despite the fact it’s been implemented in every state at least once, and has no discernible effect on insurance rates.

  17. Toady Says:

    Actually I think JimS’s post pretty much exemplify vacuous thought of an ideologue.

    Thanks for being the example of what you accuse others of being.

  18. Edith H Says:

    We are the architects of our own undoing but it is not likely that the public will catch on in time to compel any solutions. I think the future looks pretty dreary but the public just brays bumper stickers. Maybe we can limp along for the next 30 years. Baby Boomers and their health costs are going to kill the economy for the time being and make it impossible to compete with countries with younger work forces. Viva employment in Healthcare or the Government. Oh wait, the last sectors standing are to be united. “America, at this present time and for the near future, looks like a long in the tooth industrial conglomerate, aka. GM, US Steel et al. Demographers talk about the next golden age beginning around 2040, boomers are in the ground, a reversal of the current smaller number of workers versus retirees.” It shouldn’t be a surprise that the demographics would catch up with us: we have know for more than 30 years. It is not a secret; the public could have demanded some practical solutions. But, most of the people I know are more interested in celebrity dance offs or watching baby’s break wind in a bathtub on Youtube.We got what we deserved and until the public wakes up and someone comes forward with a realistic, long term, comprehensive proposal that the public endorses, gridlock is not the worst option since the risk of compounding the harm is so great.

  19. kranky kritter Says:

    Gridlock is an unfortunate choice of terminology, Wikipedia’s alleged erudition notwithstanding. To whatever extent things actually do get achieved, then the grid is not in fact locked. Period. Using “casual parlance” or “current parlance” is not a good excuse for lack of clarity. Granted, it’s not as bad as the Coke sign I saw today that said “refresh your thirst,” but it’s confusing to use it as you’ve suggested.

    Let me hasten to add that I don’t bother with any of this to be a grammar dick. My point is that if you wish to better transmit your beloved idea to others, you should try harder to make it quite clear that you think divided government leads to useful achievement. That’s distinct from the notion transmitted by some admitted fans of gridlock who like it because it means the government does very little or nothing of substance. IMO, those are very different ideas, not just shadings.

    Finally, I have to comment on the“magic salve” characterization. By now I am accustomed to my advocacy of this voting heuristic being dismissed as “magic”, “dogma”, even “fetish”. There is nothing I can do about this when it happens, except to refer back to my post Voting By Objective – where I lay out the rationale for the heuristic and the scholarship documenting empirical and historical evidence that voting this way has certain predictable consequences. Those consequence align with the way I want our government to behave, and nothing else does. Why would I not vote and advocate for a state that is documented to produce the kind of government action I prefer?

    I likely deserve to have you focus on an ill-chosen phrase, one that gives you a good inroad of defense. Still my point remains undented that you are convinced that the mere state of divided government has an inherent tendency to bring about good governance.

    It’s quite true that we saw some promising developmenst in national governance during the Clinton years, and that they coincided with a period of divided government. In particular, we saw a momentary period of balanced budgets. And undoubtedly the fact that a democratic President faced a Republican congress was a contributing factor. Cheerfully granted. I believe there were many other factors at work at the time. And I require a much higher bar to be cleared before I declare an instance or two of correlation to demonstrate a causal relationship. That’s my mileage, and it’s mileage I know many others share.

    At the present time I don’t doubt that the democratic tide has crested and is going out. We’ll see more GOP congressfolk come 2011. Neither do I doubt that we’ll begin to see serious efforts to curb deficit spending. IMO, the reckoning is here now, or it’s quite near. I just don’t accept your take on the causation. To me, it feels just a little bit like looking at data on temperature and ice cream sales and declaring that high ice cream sales cause hot weather. Not nearly that preposterously, just fishy on the causal reasoning.

    Why would I not vote and advocate for a state that is documented to produce the kind of government action I prefer?

    Obviously, if you truly believe it, then you are pretty much morally compelled to act as you suggest. My concern is that you’ll become evermore a true believer, which always blunts critical thinking. For example, note one of the quotes you lovingly cited:

    “No matter what happens in November, we will have a divided government. If Republicans win a majority in the House, they will still be dealing with a Democratic president and, probably, a Democratic Senate. If Republicans fall short in the House, they may still reduce Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s majority enough to make bipartisan deals possible in the middle. In that divided-government future….

    If the democrats have no more than a diminished but intact majority, then there won’t in fact be a state of divided government, will there? That’s the kind of sloppy reasoning that adoring true believers adopt when they head down the road of insisting on the strong case truth of their cherished idea, instead of the more tempered weak-sense case of saying “hey I think I may have a finger on an idea with some merit.”

    Let’s face it, it’s little more than a truism to suggest that compromise is more commonly manifested in the wake of evenly divided governing bodies. Folks don’t like compromise. But they generally stomach it when they must. Not exactly a shocking discovery. IMO, compromise is almost inevitably the ginger stepchild of necessity. Right now, I think we’re facing a time when our leaders must face up to necessities and stomach compromises between promises made and available resources. But I view the product (compromise) as coming from the overwhelming necessity. Absent urgent necessity, a divided government really will produce only gridlock, where the grid is locked and nothing moves within it. Urgent necessity is the screaming ambulance that breaks up the jam.

  20. Jim Satterfield Says:

    Toady, I only call them like I see them after decades of following news and politics. Like it or not the Republican Party over the last three decades has drifted further and further to the right. Simple fact. In the first years I was old enough to vote there were Republicans I could vote for. This is no longer true in this part of the country and looking at what I see of them in most of the country it’s true almost everywhere. Democrats aren’t close to being saints but their ranks aren’t full of people like Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Roy Moore, James Inhofe, David Vitter (Born again believer in birthers.) and the others like them. They do have their cranks, fools and ideologues but they still number less and have less influence in the Democratic Party than the Republican. So I don’t care for where things are but make the best choices I can in an environment that makes it difficult.

  21. kranky kritter Says:

    Democrats aren’t close to being saints but their ranks aren’t full of people like Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Roy Moore, James Inhofe, David Vitter (Born again believer in birthers.) and the others like them.

    I wondered when was the last time my old buddy Mullah Moore was in the news. And I discovered that he ran for governor of Alabama in 2006 and lost by a 2 to 1 margin. Then this year he ran again and got only 19% of the vote. The numbers tell me he’s not exactly a mainstream GOP standard bearer, but someone closer to the fringe.

    I’d like to look at your choice of the phrase “full of people like.” Is this demonstrably true? Is the GOP “full” of such folks? If so, how did Roy Moore get only 19% Isn’t it much less inflammatory and leading to think and say that the GOP quite clearly “includes” people like Roy Moore and Sara Palin?

    Here’s the thing. Folks on both side of the partisan divide are prone to using their own side’s sources for exemplars of the other side. And when they watch TV, they get mostly bigmouth soundbites and intentionally inflammatory remarks designed to gain notice, not to reflect genuine insight.

    I’m happy to agree that as public impressions go, the bigmouths in the GOP are largely holding sway. But I don’t agree that the GOP is “full” of such folks. Such folks are a vocal, angry, and and not insubstantial minority in the GOP. But IMO they are a minority nevertheless.

    That’s my mileage. I am certain nothing I say will dent your conviction that the GOP is much worse. And absent some sort of objective krackpot census of lefty and righty loons, there’s no real data to save us, right?

    But for folks of either side who are convinced the other is much worse, ask yourself this: how often do you make any effort to expose yourself randomly to the thoughts and insights of a random member of the other party? As opposed to only exposing yourself to the thoughts of those who have managed to cross your consciousness solely because they are deemed objectionable by your side?Or because their intentionally inflammatory remark has made it though the din and onto your radar screen? Are you editing and sampling in an effort to make an objective judgement about the the side as a whole, or are you passively absorbing reinforcement of deeply ingrained presumptions?

    If a serious and sensible small fry politician from either party makes decent, earnest, and insightful good faith remarks to a small audience at a senior center or town hall, what are the chances that you hear them? As compared to say, the chances that you become informed that Mel Gibson accused his ex-wife of dressing like a whore.

    Just asking.

  22. Jim Satterfield Says:

    I looked in my post for the things that mw claims I wrote and oddly enough I couldn’t find them. What a shock. Did I claim that the current toxic environment rose like the beanstalk in the Bugs Bunny version of Jack and the Beanstalk? No, I didn’t. But the viciousness of the Republicans has gotten worse. It’s called a trend, mw, and it shows no sign of moderating. If you think that’s not the case you haven’t been paying attention or your elephant gray tinted glasses aren’t helping your vision. There are the birthers. There are the accusations of socialism, communism and being a closet Muslim. Yes, these kinds of things did happen even in the early days of the country. But we had moved some distance away from that, though certainly never into complete civility, another thing I never said that mw had to say I did. But of course I can’t possibly be wrong in thinking that there are problems with the modern Republican Party. You claim that things are just the same as they’ve always been, or at least that’s how it comes across. Really? How mainstream would Glen Beck have been considered before now? In the Republican Party he seems to be just that. Even in the ’90s he would have still been considered extreme. Not so much now. Look at the ranks of Republican pundits and the bestselling conservative books. The examples go on and on. But mw seems blind to them in his devotion to his idea. I often use the phrase when describing current conservative thought as simple answers for simple minds. mw is wedded to a very, very, very, very simple idea.

  23. Jim Satterfield Says:

    Sharron Angle won the Republican primary for the Senate. Bob Bennett is considered too liberal. The most extreme and hateful “pundits” on the Republican side are the most popular. Just look at their ratings and the sales of their books. Look at how busy John McCain is running as far to the right as fast as he can because that’s what he perceives Republican voters as wanting. While the press will give him exposure just how influential in the Democratic Party is Jesse Jackson, to use one example of someone who recently made an idiotic statement? I’m just calling them like I see them.

  24. Edith H Says:

    LOL, sounds like wishful thinking. How much of your perceptions are driven by the media? Journalism, to the degree it ever existed, takes a back seat to the ratings driven revenue stream. The 24/7 media seeks out the most outre and inflammatory talking heads of any category. It provides fodder for the tsking (carping, whining, pissing and moaning) classes and for those who require righteous indignation for their raison d’etre. It is an illusion that they are representative, with the exception of Chicago pols, of course. Lot’s of times, they provoke and contrive a war of words between public figures by making insinusations and accusations (mostly out of context) and attributing them to a third part. Of course, the measured and nuanced politicians or pundits are routinely passed over in favor of the bomb throwers.

  25. gerryf Says:

    No one is arguing that there are not cranks on the left, but any honest observer has to concede that there is a distinction.

    How many lefty cranks are in a position of influence? Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton couldn’t get elected dog catcher. The right likes to say what a whack-job Keith Olberman is, but who watches MSNBC anyway? At her worst, Cindy Sheehan is a mother of a US soldier killed in in a wrong-headed war. Michael Moore makes documentaries that barely make a bump in the weekly box office chart, losing out to tripe like the latest teenage vampire flick. Markos Moulitsas is a blogger, for crying out loud. Their endorsement of a candidate will not sway an election. They are not power brokers.

    Now look at the right. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck can get reasonable conservatives blackballed. Michelle Bachman is a freaking US Congressman. Katherine Harris altered the election of 2000 (ultimately, Bush actually won, but when Harris made her decision, to certify the election she had no way of knowing the real outcome and made her call on purely partisan terms). John Boehner, the house minority leader, seemed to have begun his career as a measured, principled conservative, but threw out the Contract with America as soon as the GOP took power and has lately become an orange skinned loon who spouts nonsense almost daily. Now after the GOP has messed up the country and the Dems are elected, he suddenly has found that new, old religion again and believes in fiscal austerity. Please.

    And for God’s sake, Sarah Palin was a VP candidate a just a John McCain heart attach away from the presidency!

    There is simply no comparison between the left and right loons.

    The left tolerates its loons; the right elevates its loons.

    You can point to these people as the fringe all you want, but when the fringe is elevated into a position of influence it is not because they are just very good at what they do, it is because the people doing the elevating are supporting them.

  26. mw Says:

    Shorter Jim S: “Bad Republicans! Bad! Bad!”

    Repetitive and monotonous, but a rock of consistency.

  27. mw Says:

    I’m trying to think if there is anything more subjective, indeterminate, and absurd than assessing the relative number and influence of fringe fanatics in each of the major parties as if it is meaningful. The answer is a reflection of personal bias and partisan proclivity – nothing more.

    OK – I’ve got it – actually making a voting decision based on that assessment would be more absurd.

    I don’t think assessing and making a voting decision on the relative number and influence of amoral crazed sex poodles in each party is any more ridiculous. About parity on the nonsense scale.

  28. gerryf Says:

    MW said:

    I’m trying to think if there is anything more subjective, indeterminate, and absurd than assessing the relative number and influence of fringe fanatics in each of the major parties as if it is meaningful.

    How about blind adherence to a divided government philosophy that ignore the reality of our current political leaders who have opted for obtaining and keeping power at all cost rather than accomplishments?

    A victory by the GOP this fall will simply convince them that obstructing everything is the path back to power–it will not encourage them to continue obstructing any meaningful work in the hopes regaining power so they can get back to the ultimate aim–enriching themselves.

    I will give you the benefit of the doubt and say you are simply operating under the false impression that the modern GOP wants to accomplish something that benefits the country as a whole. To which I can only ask, what fantasy world have you been living in for the past 30 years?

    They have systematically transferred wealth from the middle class to the wealthiest two percent of Americans by slashing taxes for the wealthy.

    They gutted the rules and oversight agencies that kept Wall Street, Big Oil and private insurance companies etc. in check for decades–as soon as this was accomplished, these industries very quickly enriched themselves to the detriment of the entire country. This was not an accident.

    They ignored exploding health care costs

    They tried to privatize Social Security

    They gave the drug companies open season to gouge American consumers

    They presided over a decline in real incomes averaging $2,000 per family.

    They entangled America in an enormously costly, unnecessary war in Iraq

    They pursued a directionless policy that left Afghanistan to fester, and sullied America’s good name throughout the world.

    Unless you are in that top two percent, the modern GOP has done NOTHING for you. It absolutely floors me how people who are not in that class are so easily duped into the latest Republican scare. Now you want to give them back control of the house to accomplish…what?

    We need fiscal restraint! Spending is out of control!

    The simple fact is, presidents and congressional leaders from the modern GOP are responsible for almost all of the federal deficit. Heck, Reagan practically invented deficit spending. For a guy who derided his predecessor, he made Jimmy Carter look like an amatuer.

    Now that Democrats are in control and have opted for short term deficit spending to dig us out of the hole the GOP dug, suddenly the Republicans are against big spending? Are you seriously buying that?

    I might buy into your divided government fantasy if we had a serious alternative party that was looking out for the interests of the majority, but nothing they have done in modern memory other than the Contract With America even hints at it–and THEY broke the contract.

    Now, the GOP is blaming 30years of failed Republican policy on the Democrats because they did not fix the problem in less than two years.

    Now, if we adhere to your divided government philosophy, we would end up with a group of people who think–among other things–that “freeing” big oil, the insurance companies and Wall Street banks of the “burdens” of government accountability, that the plutocrats and the “invisible hand” of the market will lead American into the promised land of economic prosperity.

    They learned nothing from the problems they created–or perhaps, more accurately, they don’t care.

    The last 30 year have been a great time for The GOP and those who support them–to heck with the majority of Americans.

    Hypocritcal Republicans who scared the elderly into attacking the Democrats with nonsense like “keep government out of medicare” and cutting medicare are STILL talking about abolishing medicare.

    Republicans want to raise the retirement age for Social Security

    Republicans want to privatize social security (follow the money, who wins in this scenario–hey, look. it’s Wall Street again!)

    Republicans say that we shouldn’t bail out too big to fail firms, but most voted for it, and none will vote for any legislation that might actually prevent these firms from behaving in the same way that got us into this mess. They scream for transparency and then sit in backroom fund-raisers to assure the financial industry that they will block anything and everything.

    Republicans refuse to extend unemployment benefits to workers who have been laid off due to their policies because it will drive up the deficit, but then advocate extending Bush tax cuts that will do far more to increase deficits than any other action.

    Republicans apologize to big oil because Obama forced them to take a little freaking responsibility for the mess that their reckless behavior cost.

    I ask you once again–what makes you think for a micro-second that putting these people back in charge of one chamber of the house will result in anything positive?

  29. mw Says:

    @KK
    As always, your comments offer food for thought. I won’t have time to do them justice this morning, but will offer a few notes.

    You are right about the distinction between advocating for divided government and “gridlock”, but we’ll just have to disagree on my use of the word “gridlock” in this post. I am using the word as it was being used by the article I quoted, and as it is commonly used and understood in political discussions. It served my purpose in this post to take a word that is generally used as a pejorative and cast it in a positive light. Plus I like the alliteration in the title and am amused by similarity to a notorious movie quote (mouseover the graphic – I am easily amused).

    Regarding the article itself, I am not sure why you decided that I am “lovingly” citing this article. There are two main themes in the article and I argue with both of them in the post( McManus asserts the GOP has a problem messaging the election and a GOP victory will create problematic gridlock – I disagreed). McManus is sloppy with his terminology and you are absolutely right – if the GOP does not win a majority in either legislative house, we will not have a divided government but will continue to labor under the yoke of One Party Democratic Rule. In fact I hammer home this very point about the importance of the definition of divided government in the “Voting By Objective” post I cited earlier. I just didn’t think it was relevant to this post, and as you’ve probably noticed – I struggle to keep my posts to a reasonable length as it is. I quoted this article – not because I agreed with it – but because it was on a topic that interested me, though it would be of interest to the Donk readers, and it provided a contextual framework for offering my opinion on the virtues of the divided government voting heuristic.

    In this post I focused primarily on the Clinton/Gingrich example because, as a notorious “gridlock” example, it was a perfect counter-example to the McManus conclusion in the linked article. There is quite a bit more evidence for the historical/statistical correlation of divided government and what I consider to be better governance (restrained growth of spending, more oversight, fewer wars). That was outside the scope of what I was doing in this post, but if interested – some scholarship is referenced in that same linked post -or- stay tuned. I expect I’ll be dragging them out between now and November.

  30. mw Says:

    Shorter gerryf: “Bad Republicans! Bad! Bad!”

  31. JimS Says:

    I’m trying to think if there is anything more subjective, indeterminate, and absurd than assessing the relative number and influence of fringe fanatics in each of the major parties as if it is meaningful. The answer is a reflection of personal bias and partisan proclivity – nothing more.

    They’re not the fringe of the party if they can sway the opinions of millions of viewers and/or listeners that belong to the party, mw. They’re not fringe if they are already elected representatives or senators as members of that party. They’re not the fringe of your political party if they are actually nominated for vice president on the behalf of your party. They can’t be that far out in the opinion of the members of the party if candidates still seek out their endorsement. Anyone who thinks that those kind of people with that kind of influence in a political party are just its lunatic fringe has a very strange definition of fringe groups. As long as you attempt to equate them you’re showing either ignorance or the willful disregard of the facts symptomatic of folks like the birthers, only doing it for the sake of your own hobby horse.

  32. Edith H Says:

    “I’m just calling them like I see them.”

    Exactly. Apparently, it’s in the eye of the beholder. or, wishful thinking perhaps. Is that so inconceivable?

  33. kranky kritter Says:

    Can you see Boehnor agreeing the only major cost control idea not tried in Obamacare, aka: the public option, should be tried?

    I can’t. I can see him bitching about the bill as too expensive…

    I remain unconvinced that the public option is in any sense a cost control idea. It’s an access idea. HCR was about two isues: expanded access and cost control. I believe that HCR recently passed will expand access, and that it will fail to control costs over the long term in any neighborhood resembling what was promised or hoped.

    My state, Massachusetts, passed a law providing substantially expanded HC access. There’s a “public option:” You can get Masshealth at very low cost if your income is low enough. Unshockingly to all sane folks who did the math, it has turned out to cost way more that what its proponents repeatedly assured us was a realistic cost estimate. Instead, it’s turning out to cost what it detractors said it could cost. More uncovered folks turned up for their free and reduced coverage than predicted by proponents. The per-head cost turned out to be higher than estimated almost right away. Predicted savings and cost controls haven’t worked. An ambitious plan to reform payouts has been shelved.

    Meanwhile, the feds begin collecting revenue for payouts that won’t begin until 2013, obscuring the notion of what it means for HCR to be paid for. Sooner or later, we’ll be stuck with the fact that HCR has improved access, and largely obscured our ongoing lack of good ideas to control costs without rationing. Sadly for hopeful optimists who think you can always find a way, only rationing can control costs when you have unlimited demand and a limited supply.

    The sad performance of both parties does not surprise me one bit. It’s how both parties have rolled since the 60s.I am no longer interested in blaming one side over the other. The democrats worked towards the improved access they wanted, and the idea that its paid for is IMO clearly a pretense. Meanwhile, the GOP took the luxurious minority role of insisting on protecting the pursestrings precisely at the point when they most lacked the power to do so.

  34. Edith H Says:

    Republicans refuse to extend unemployment benefits to workers who have been laid off due to their policies because it will drive up the deficit, but then advocate extending Bush tax cuts that will do far more to increase deficits than any other action.
    See recovery.gov. Why was it necessary to vote an additional stimulus when $400B of the Obama stimulus has not been disbersed?

    They gutted the rules and oversight agencies that kept Wall Street in check.
    If you are referencing the repeal of Glass Steagal, it looks to me like it had overwhelming bipartisan support, and was signed by Clinton It is telling though who did not vote for its repeal:Shelby-R, McCain-R, Boxer-D, Feingold-D,Bryan-D,Dorgen-D, Mikulski-D, Wellstone-D, Fitzgerald-R.
    McCain-R and Cantwell-D have cosponsored reenactment of Glass-Steag.
    Wall St. donated $9.9M to the Obama campaign and $6.9M to McCain.

    I don’t want to defend the GOP but every bill is a conglomeration of unrelated propositions. How you determine who voted for what is pretty arbitrary. Maybe that would be solution, limiting the length and the number of issues in any given bill so there is more accountability.
    I assume this tack is intentional to provide political cover by both parties.

    Your overview of the country’s economic problems does not work for me. There is plenty of blame to go around. I barely touch on it in my previous posts and I take a longer view.

  35. gerryf Says:

    Edith,

    I have no problem blaming the Dems for their contributions to this mess–their faults and bad decisions are many; I am simply trying to say that right now, it is pointless to ask the GOP to engage in fixing something because they do not wish to fix it. There was a time when principled Republicans could be looked to fiscal restraint and conservative actions–those in power are not those Republicans.

    Shorter MW: “Divided Government fixes everything! Reality be damned!”

  36. Simon Says:

    Edith H Says:

    Republicans refuse to extend unemployment benefits to workers who have been laid off due to their policies because it will drive up the deficit, but then advocate extending Bush tax cuts that will do far more to increase deficits than any other action.

    Tax revenues went up after the Bush tax cuts, Edith. They dropped as economic activity went into a recession, and will be driven even further down as the tax cuts that originally buoyed them expire.

    You’re making the classic rookie mistake of assuming that tax policy is made in a vacuum, with all numbers held equal but the one you’re changing.

  37. Simon Says:

    Correction: I guess Edith was quoting Gerry. So it’s Gerry’s rookie error.

  38. Nick Benjamin Says:

    I remain unconvinced that the public option is in any sense a cost control idea. It’s an access idea. HCR was about two isues: expanded access and cost control. I believe that HCR recently passed will expand access, and that it will fail to control costs over the long term in any neighborhood resembling what was promised or hoped.

    The accountants disagreed. And if they can’t be trusted to figure out how much this will cost it’s hard to see why they could be trusted with sane projections of the rest of the budget.

    Their reasoning for this is pretty simple. A Public Option would have no marketing costs, profit, and staff would be paid government salaries. That means the CEO gets less then $400k, and the rest of the top staff’s salaries bump down accordingly.

    More importantly all insurers have to compete with it. That means they can’t maneuver themselves into the de facto monopolies they currently have.

    Whether you trust the accountants that this will work the way they say is actually beside the point. The point is that anyone who actually wants to cut the deficit must control health costs. Beohner can’t support the cost controls implemented in HCR because he was so dead-set against it. The only alternatives are a public option, which he can”t support because progressives like it, and tort reform, which does not work

    He might want to try to fix the deficit. But even if he does everything deficit hawks want the deficit will kill us because he cannot do the things that might work.

    As for the Mass plan, it contained zero cost controls, so costs are supposed to increase at roughly the same rate they do in the rest of the country. Your example of their “public option” isn’t terribly convincing. When I say public option I mean something as close to Medicare as politically possible. Ideally it should actually be Medicare, except instead of being free for old people it would cost money and be available to anyone.

  39. JimS Says:

    No, Edith, it’s not wishful thinking. I wasn’t even registered with either party for about the first decade or so that I voted. I only registered as a Democrat because one year I wanted to vote in their primary. My disenchantment with the Republican Party began when I saw Ronald Reagan appealing to the Religious Right and insulting my intelligence by promising that he could offer tax cuts, massive defense spending increases and a balanced budget. So far as I’ve been able to determine things only went downhill from there. I’m always amused by those who think that it’s a question of the “media filter” because if I see claims that someone said something particularly foolish it’s very easy to see if that’s really what they said by watching the video. Remember the Schiavo debacle? It wasn’t a media filter that presented so many Republicans wanting to intervene in that tragedy. It was the Republicans themselves. Places like Politifact and Factcheck are equal opportunity critics and I appreciate them for it. They and so many other sites are useful when I find myself thinking “Did they really say something that stupid?” no matter what party the fool might belong to.

  40. JimS Says:

    No, the Bush tax cuts did not increase revenues. Tax cuts just don’t do that no matter how much Republicans try to claim they do.

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1692027,00.html

    http://www.factcheck.org/taxes/supply-side_spin.html

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20010568-503544.html

    Basically, the claim that tax cuts increase revenues must be backed up by an increase in the normal trend of revenue to grow, not just a simple increase in revenues. Tax cuts when rates are extremely high, as they were when Kennedy and Reagan cut taxes, can be reasonably argued to help somewhat though external factors can sometimes make it hard to tell. But at our current relatively low rates it just isn’t so and it wasn’t when GWB was president either.

  41. Edith H Says:

    kk: How do you view Romney’s participation in the Mass Health initiative? Also, would you scrap it and start over?

    Anyone familiar with the Australian plan? I am not a fan of government run health care but if I was forced to choose, I prefer the Australian approach? This is my understanding of how it works, grossly oversimplified, of course. The free public option covers catastrophic (re: life threatening) conditions and trauma. If you require say cataract surgery or a new knee, it is understood that it is rationed and you wait your turn, which may or may not come. It is very upfront, no Orwellian double speak. The second tier is optional private health care which is similar to ours. There is no fear that the public coverage is going to drive the private out of business. Health care represents 10% of GDP as compared to ours at 16% and growing. I don’t pretend that this is ideal but I submit to you that health care is sucking all the air out of the economy and undermining job generating small business and manufacturers in their ability to compete in a global economy. This has to be fixed one way or another for American industry to compete globally and the costs managed, contained and made predictable. It matters because we have to keep the “maker” jobs, the “multiplier” jobs here, they are critical for revenues. We are not going to be able to support and provide medical coverage for increasing millions of Baby Boomers without an economy of manufacturing jobs. Producer type jobs are the foundation of any economy: if they go away, it’s over for all of us. An economy of dead end service jobs is just not going to cut it.

  42. kranky kritter Says:

    The accountants disagreed? Really? All of them? Or just the ones the ruling democrats hired to make a happy judgement?

    How about the economists? How did they feel about the idea of controlling costs by increasing demand?

    Your example of their “public option” isn’t terribly convincing. When I say public option I mean something as close to Medicare as politically possible. Ideally it should actually be Medicare, except instead of being free for old people it would cost money and be available to anyone.

    Yeah, the MA plan is nothing like what you’re describing…sure. It provides access to uninsured folks of any age at a cost that varies based on your available resources. Yup that’s nothing like what was shopped in any of the versions of a public option that were shopped when HCR was debated. Sure.

    Whether you trust the accountants that this will work the way they say is actually beside the point. The point is that anyone who actually wants to cut the deficit must control health costs. Beohner can’t support the cost controls implemented in HCR because he was so dead-set against it. The only alternatives are a public option, which he can”t support because progressives like it, and tort reform, which does not work.

    No, the only real way to control costs when there are no limits on demand and substantial limits in supply is via rationing. Or rather more rationing. Folks don’t realize how much rationing there already is, which allows politicians from both sides to pretend that it hasn’t already started. It doesn’t have to be quotas or bans on certain treatments for certain people. There are already plenty of incentives for self-rationing, and there’s the kind of routine rationing we get when, say, we hurt our knee and have to suffer for 6 to 9 months and 2 or 3 visits before good imaging is done, while the system makes us wait in the hope that the problem will just go away away or we’ll learn to live it.

    Neither side wants to touch the sorts of politically poisonous cost control methods that actually work. As a nation, we want ever-better care, but we don’t want to pay for it. The democrats want to keep pretending we can pay for it with someone else’s money. The republicans want to pretend that if we’re all left to our own devices on insurance and financing, it’ll all work out great.

    They’re both wrong.

  43. Divided We Stand United We Fall Says:

    Gridlock is Good…

    x-posted at Donklephant, where it is garnering an interesting comment thread.Check it out….

  44. Jim Satterfield Says:

    The private systems have major problems which are certainly amplified by a business approach. How much do hospitals spend on advertising? I certainly see a lot of it on TV. How much of the money we pay for prescription medicine goes to advertising instead of R&D? The last I heard they were about even and R&D budgets have been cut even as advertising has increased. Even physician groups are spending money on advertising. Yes, your payments to them help support this and in this area at least I wonder if that really helps anything.

  45. gerryf Says:

    JimS Says:

    No, the Bush tax cuts did not increase revenues. Tax cuts just don’t do that no matter how much Republicans try to claim they do.

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1692027,00.html

    http://www.factcheck.org/taxes/supply-side_spin.html

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20010568-503544.html

    Basically, the claim that tax cuts increase revenues must be backed up by an increase in the normal trend of revenue to grow, not just a simple increase in revenues. Tax cuts when rates are extremely high, as they were when Kennedy and Reagan cut taxes, can be reasonably argued to help somewhat though external factors can sometimes make it hard to tell. But at our current relatively low rates it just isn’t so and it wasn’t when GWB was president either.

    There you go again JimS, citing actual facts instead of Republican dogma.

    Alas, Simon only speaks dogma…

    signed
    the rookie

  46. Simon Says:

    Jim, you can spin it however you like, but the numbers don’t lie; rates were cut, revenues went up. Everything else is blather—which is to say, it’s a spin or a lie. Rates were cut, revenues increased. Period.

  47. Jim Satterfield Says:

    Jim, you can spin it however you like, but the numbers don’t lie; rates were cut, revenues went up. Everything else is blather—which is to say, it’s a spin or a lie. Rates were cut, revenues increased. Period.

    Ummm…no. It’s not spin to point out that revenues increase almost no matter what. It’s also not spin to point out that rates of growth matter.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/16/AR2006101601121_pf.html

    This guy is not exactly a raging liberal.

  48. the Word Says:

    From that article, this seems to make a point

    “Federal revenue is lower today than it would have been without the tax cuts. There’s really no dispute among economists about that,” said Alan D. Viard, a former Bush White House economist now at the nonpartisan American Enterprise Institute. “It’s logically possible” that a tax cut could spur sufficient economic growth to pay for itself, Viard said. “But there’s no evidence that these tax cuts would come anywhere close to that.”

    So the former Bush White House Economist part would be spin I guess? And if he was correct that “There’s really no dispute among economists” is that because all of them there smart people think they know more than people like Sarah who use common sense and ya betcha that makes more sense than those book learners?

  49. Edith H Says:

    Sorry Jim, I’m sure you are sincere. For myself, I am from Chicago and I am not much of a “believer” type. Maybe I am too cynical but I assume everyone is trying to sell me on something and I hardly ever take anything at face value. I see everything in the media as fabricated, contrived, scripted, cherry picked, sometimes to reflect a political bias, but really more often, to provide a tidy and attention getting narrative. And, I always wonder if it’s a revenue stream for the participants whether they are patronage workers for the Cook Co Democratic Party Org or well paid activists who go to cities around the world to organize demonstrations. It occurs to me that, at least in Chicago, the media is a willing participant to the point of it being prearranged. It is my observation that there are people who will do anything for money or to be the center of attention for their 5 minutes of fame or infamy, no matter how debasing or amoral it is. So when I see a goon of any bizarre persuasion I always question if they are for real. In short when it comes to epistomological spectrum, we are not anywhere close.

  50. gerryf Says:

    Simon Said:

    Jim, you can spin it however you like, but the numbers don’t lie; rates were cut, revenues went up. Everything else is blather—which is to say, it’s a spin or a lie. Rates were cut, revenues increased. Period.

    For a bright guy that is a really interesting thought process. Because A preceded B, A caused B. Tax cut preceded revenue increase so tax cut caused revenue increase….

    So, by extension, tax cut preceded economic collapse so tax cut caused economic collapse?

    Of course not. That is so simplistic as to be pointless–yet you would have us believe that the Bush tax cuts are the only cause of revenue increase. Please.

    After months of decrying big deficits, this past weekend Arizona Republican congressman John Kyle was talking about how its perfectly ok to extend tax cuts for the wealthy even if it increases the deficit. The Mitch McConnel piped in with the usual “the Bush tax cuts increased revenue, because of the vibrancy of these tax cuts in the economy…..”

    Anyone else see any vibrancy in the economy during the Bush years? We had 8 years of the rich getting richer, but mostly it was no job growth and declining middle class incomes. Where is the vibrancy in that?

    When Reagan took office, he said that cutting taxes would lead to smaller deficits, but it led to massive deficits. Did revenues go up? Sure.

    But here’s the real kicker to Simon’s argument.

    When Clinton increased taxes on the top income earners REVENUES WENT UP, too. So, by Simon’s rationale, increasing taxes makes revenues go up AND deficits go down (wait for it, queue the Republicans made Clinton reduce the deficit nonsense).

    This Republican fantasy about cutting taxes reduces deficits/increases revenues is voodoo economics put forward by disingenuous politicians who are just playing “starve the beast” in the worst way.

    It used to be, they wanted to starve the beast so they could rationalize cutting social programs and gutting government oversight, but a funny thing happened on the way to the seats of power–they found they could gorge themselves at the public trough through deficit spending AND cut social programs and gut government oversight.

    It is the Republicans who created the massive federal debt. Reagan, Bush and Bush are responsible for more than 70 percent of all federal debt.

    How the GOP can still call itself fiscally conservative with a straight face–and their followers believe it–is a total mystery.

    If you are truly fiscally conservative, you should be outraged that the GOP is playing you for a sucker.

  51. JimS Says:

    Edith, the point of my reply to your post was that I check what I hear. If you don’t believe that you can trust anyone or double-check their claims anywhere then why bother? Why bother voting, discussing the issues or anything else?

  52. Edith H Says:

    Again, I find it annoying to defend the GOP, but they created a successful anti-poverty social welform program, the EIC. It was engineered, I believe, by the meany of meanies, Milton Freidman. It was designed so as not to incentivize dependency and devised to not require an army of bureaucrats, performing make work jobs. I believe it came into being under Ford, was expanded under Reagan and later presidents and I think even Bush.

  53. Edith H Says:

    I get that. Your response speaks for itself. As for me, I am not as certain, as you, that I can detect if someone is an imposter, provocateur, true believer, schizo, or media(fame)ho. Do you remember the brouhaha 6 weeks or so ago when some leftwing blogster suggested his supporters infiltrate the Tea Party demonstrations with embarassing signs and provacative behavior etc.? And, with technology it is easy to edit or manipulate photos and recordings; ie take things out of context like in political ads. After all people can make statements that appear outrageous but, in context, were intended to be facetious or sometimes humorous.

  54. kranky kritter Says:

    @Edith

    I view Romney’s participation as opportunistic. He wanted a major achievement for his resume, and without much say, he had to go along to get it.

    Which is not to say it wasn’t a good faith effort. It was, if a bit wishful. All the folks who participated really had to hope their hopes would be fulfilled.

    I would have scuttled it at the time, because I knew how great the costs would be. But arguably its a very crucial safety net for Ma residents under current circumstances, especially if you’re out of work and just lost your federal cobra subsidy with the June expiration.

    I really don’t think that states should try to solve healthcare access and cost problems by themselves. I think we should work together for a federal solution, especially insofar as it takes advantage of savings based on economies of scale. As it stands, MA’s healthcare plan really does create competitive disadvantages for MA industries and for small businesses that are trying to grow. It’s not good for any MA jobseeker that local companies would choose not to hire additional workers because the healthcare costs are a dealbreaker. I think that’s pretty unfortunate.

  55. Edith H Says:

    kk: Well you make a good case. Initially, I would have argued that I would prefer to see the states stand in as laboratories to find a workable model but I take your point. Mass health not only does not benefit from economy of scale or hyper efficiency, but I suppose the costs to MA businesses undermine their ability to compete with other states to attract business and investment. And,because it isn’t hyper efficient, it is risky to extrapolate and project national success based on its numbers.
    I had pinned my hopes of forestalling the loss of domestic manufacturing jobs by relieving businesses of this onus, which I am sure you realize is a pretty modern perk(during WWII it enabled companies to compete for workers because wages were frozen).
    Just thinking out loud here; back to the drawing board. If it doesn’t provide MA with a competitive edge in say the domestic American market place, would a natioanl plan enhance the competitiveness of American businesses in an international market competing with other counties who have minimal medical requirements due to demographics?

  56. kranky kritter Says:

    Well Edith, I don’t discount the idea that there are, in general, benefits to having individual states act as “laboratories.” Same idea as using a focus test or pilot program to test things out. However, I think that when it comes to long-term solutions to political problems, some things work out fine when various states have different solutions, and other things not so much. As a nation we’ll likely be able to benefit from what is learned from MA’s effort, as well as by what some other states have tried. But MA tried to institute a state health plan years ago when Dukakis was in charge, and that collapsed due to cost and competitiveness issues. That was what made me convinced that it was better dealt with as a federal issue.

    Just thinking out loud here; back to the drawing board. If it doesn’t provide MA with a competitive edge in say the domestic American market place, would a natioanl plan enhance the competitiveness of American businesses in an international market competing with other counties who have minimal medical requirements due to demographics?

    That’s a pretty tough one. IMO, America does have little choice but to surf the globalization wave or be swamped. And in that context, America experiences much higher costs by providing healthcare. But I think America has already decided that access to decent healthcare is a moral imperative, as have most other modern industrialized nations. So I don’t think we should back away because it makes it harder for domestic companies to compete or because it makes foreign shores attractive for corporate emigration.

    What I think we really need to do to enhance America’s competitiveness in the global marketplace is to be truly committed to keeping pace with the intellectual and technological growth of rest of the world as Earth continues to mature. That means both being way more serious about education in general, and also being more committed to seriously matching education to the expected demands the future will bring.

    And that topic is a whole chautauqua for me, so I’ll try to give you as brief a reader’s digest version as possible. What I mean by “matching” is that we don’t simply commit more resources to education and leave much of the system largely as is. Instead, we target and privilege math and the hard sciences and specific applied technology education. And we encourage more schools to include majors that amount to developing modern technical skills. We want kids to graduate with kickass chops in MS word, spreadsheets, databases, other widely used software apps, and so on. A minor in tech troubleshooting or networking woudl also be a plus. See where I’m headed? I’m talking about widely ranging employability in the 21st century.

    And if we’re parents, maybe we make support for our children’s college education at least partially conditional, and spread that idea around to other parents. We don’t just tell our kids that we’ll find some way to pay for whatever school they get into regardless of what their plan is, or whether they even have a plan. If your kid is “undecided” or wants to major in a field with grim career prospects, I have two words: state school.”

    And I’m being glib there for effect. Don’t clobber me, folks. My point here is that if America makes a serious effort to straighten up and fly right about how we prepare the next generations for the upcoming economy, there’s no reason we can’t extend our dominance or at least competitiveness for another century.

    And as a last note and extra added bonus, here’s some follow-up reading on higher education for the 21st century Don’t Go to Graduate School.

  57. Nick Benjamin Says:

    @kk
    You are mistaking what we got (very similar to the MA plan, with various pilot programs for cost controls), to what we wanted (that with another cost control, the public option).

    The MA plan only increased demand. That’s it.

    The ACA tests out some ways to re-package that demand more efficiantly. For example right now if you go to a hpspital for a minor ailment, and they screw up and give you a staph infection, their profit goes up, because you need a lot more care. That’s a very stupid way to set up a market. In theory there are ways to fix this that should work. A major one is called “bundling.” If that happens the hospital gets a flat fee for fixing your minor ailment, and has to eat the cost of curing your drug-resistant staph infection. This is tricky because fairly predicting how much a prvider deserves before he actually gives a diagnosis is difficult, but they seem to have made it work in the UK. We could probably do the same thing here, but providers really hate the idea, and it would be very easy to screw up, so it’s just a pilot program.

    Then there’s the whole exchange mechanism itself. In most health insurance markets there are, de facto, only a handful of insurers. Under market theory these markets are supposed to have costs higher then the supply/demand curve would indicate because they are basically monopolies. Breaking up those monopolies by forcing them to compete on an exchange should help control costs.

    A third one, and probably the celeverest, is the Cadillac Tax. Right now health insurance provided by an employer is tax free. If you got a $50,000 salary, and $10,000 to lease a company car you pay income tax on $60,000. Somebody who makes $50,000 and gets a $10,000 health insurance plan, OTOH, only pays taxes on $50,000. The Cadillac Tax only applies to the most expensive plans, but it is a start in fixing this silly tax discrimionation. That distorts the market, and further divorces health costs from their equilibrium point. Note that the great thing about this from a deficit point of view is that if doesn’t work as a cost control it’ll have a lot more Cadillac plans to tax, so if the government spends a lot more on health care it will also bring in a lot more in tax money.

    Boehner is on record opposing all this. He’s also opposed to the public option. This is the only idea not included in the bill (bar tort reform, which doesn’t work).

    All I’m saying is that the GOP cannot balance the budget until it changes it’s tune on the ACA. Under Boehner it won’t. It’ll spew high-minded rhetoric on freedom, claim it’s fiscally responsible, but it simply cannot fix the budget problem without adopting many of the ideas in Obamacare. And, under it’s current leadership, it cannot do that.

    And, kk,
    I wish the accountants in the CBO only made happy judgements for us Democrats. But if you didn’t notice they say we’ve got a huge deficit this year. They also believe it’s a major problem, whereas most Democrats think this year’s deficit is irrelevant to the long-term prospects of the country. If they’re partisan shills they really suck at it.

    You don’t have to agree with their conclusions on the public option, but you do have to agree that they didn’t make those conclusion because of some Democratic conspiracy. They did it because, in their proffesional opinion, a public option would save money.

    They didn’t think it woul save a lot of money. Even $100 Billion is a miniscule part of health care expenses over a 10-year period. But $10 Billion a year isn’t nothing. And Boehner opposes it.

    As for the competitive disadvantages of the MA plan, there’s a logical case to be made that those exist. But, in my experience, US State Governemnt taxes and regulations do very little to hinder economic growth. For example Michigan is a moderate tax state with relatively few regulations, and our near neighbor (high-tax Ohio) eats out lunch. As does Ontario. Their health system, BTW, has actually attracted business from michigan over the past cfew years. It would surprise me greatly if MA’s plan was so onerous it impacted growth in any measurable way.

    @Edith
    Romney had to do something on health care. A local lobby group was most of the way throught the complicated process of amending the MA Constitution to make health care a right. They agreed to drop the issue if Romney would implement a universal plan.

    I’m not sure the rationalizations he used to convince himself he wasn’t being forced into it. But IMO it’s quite clear he had no choice, and he did it largely to prevent a more liberal program (ie: single-payer) from being implemented.

    kk’s right that health care is very hard to do at the state level. Most state’s have populist constitutions that do things like ban deficit spending, and even a well-run public health plan is bound to run deficits some years.Tax revenue, after all, goes up and down with the economy, but people don’t stop getting sick when the economy tanks.

  58. kranky kritter Says:

    Nick,

    If you want to believe that the new plan can drastically increase access without increasing aggregate demand (and thus increase costs), I am sure there’s nothing I can do to persuade you otherwise.

    My sense is that you want so badly for it to be true that you have convinced yourself it’s quite possible. I’m confident that time will show that the new reform will have improved HC access greatly, but failed to make any sort of substantive dents in the enduring trend of annual HC cost growth in the 6 to 8% range. 5 years or so from now, we’ll see who was right.

    I suspect that you’ll soon become used to saying something very much like “HC Cost growth has continued to rise at previous rates, but…______.” In other words, time will show me to have been right, but you’ll have excuses ready. And they’ll be ones that hold democrats largely blameless while fingerpointing at Republicans.

    Like many other folks, I could care less who deserves the blame. We all need to take responsibility for trying seriously to control costs.

  59. Nick Benjamin Says:

    If you want to believe that the new plan can drastically increase access without increasing aggregate demand (and thus increase costs), I am sure there’s nothing I can do to persuade you otherwise.

    You know why I want to believe it?

    Because if it isn’t true we’re totally screwed. Medicare cost increases will eat the budget.

    You know why I’m pretty sure I’m not deluding myself? because every other industrialized country manages to meet demand for health care at a much lower price then us. It follows that a) Americans are whiny bitches who demand twice the care that Brits do, or b) the American market is extremely screwed up.

    If a) is true all policy debates are meaningless because we’re doomed, therefore we might as well cover everyone until the country collapses. OTOH if b) is true the problem is potentially fixable, and could be fixed by one of the proposals in the Affordable Care Act.

    Note that, as far as b) is concerned, the number of possible reforms is finite. The only one the GP is on record as supporting (Tort Reform) has been tried many times and has never worked. The rest are present in the form of Pilot Programs in the Affordable Care Act (aka:Obamacare), or are the public option.

    Note that, from this line of reasoning, you can conclude several things:
    1) The whole line of reasoning is invalid because magically, for no apparent reason, without any governmental prodding, health care demand will collapse allowing the budget to survive.
    2) The whole line of reasoning is invalid because the people will let the Congress abolish Medicare, the VA, and all other government-funded health programs with no fuss.
    3) Support for the current crop of Republicans is de facto support for the idea that the country is doomed to bankruptcy, and all pro-Republican deficit hawks are tricking themselves.

    ——————————————————————

    As for saying “HC Cost growth has continued to rise at previous rates, but…______” I’ll give the first but:
    the bill won’t be fully implemented to 2014, and even then it will take a few years to find out it’s ultimate impact.

  60. kranky kritter Says:

    You know why I want to believe it? Because if it isn’t true we’re totally screwed.

    Needing something to be true doesn’t make it true.

    You know why I’m pretty sure I’m not deluding myself? because every other industrialized country manages to meet demand for health care at a much lower price then us. It follows that a) Americans are whiny bitches who demand twice the care that Brits do, or b) the American market is extremely screwed up.

    Presume that’s all true. I’m missing the part where you prescribe your cure for our whiny bitchiness. America’s role as the first adopter and highest price payer for HC acts as a subsidy for folks in rationed systems and in poorer nations. If our role changes, so does everything else. By the way, notice that these other nations employ a variety of rationing formats. As I have repeated ad nauseum, the only way to hold down costs when supply is finite and demand growing strongly is to ration the supply. Like Great Britain. Make my argument for me?OK.

    And I’m ok with rationing, as long as it’s done semi, umm, rationally. But you have to stand there and say that the current HCR law will reduce costs. Well, if parts of it DO reduce costs it will be because they ration the ever-more-demanded supply. And if these proposals do NOT ration the supply, then they WON’T hold down costs.

    Note that, as far as b) is concerned, the number of possible reforms is finite. The only one the GP is on record as supporting (Tort Reform) has been tried many times and has never worked. The rest are present in the form of Pilot Programs in the Affordable Care Act (aka:Obamacare), or are the public option.

    Hold up. Aren’t you the same guy who spent months here arguing that HCR already incorporated many GOP ideas. How did you get from that to saying their only known idea is tort reform. Where you blowing smoke then, or are you blowing it now? Can’t be both.

    As to the rest:

    Note that, from this line of reasoning, you can conclude several things:
    1) The whole line of reasoning is invalid because magically, for no apparent reason, without any governmental prodding, health care demand will collapse allowing the budget to survive.
    2) The whole line of reasoning is invalid because the people will let the Congress abolish Medicare, the VA, and all other government-funded health programs with no fuss.
    3) Support for the current crop of Republicans is de facto support for the idea that the country is doomed to bankruptcy, and all pro-Republican deficit hawks are tricking themselves.

    yadda yadda yadda boehner yadda collapse yadda doom yadda the Republicans are all evil and have no clue and only the democrats can save us. Got it. Why would I argue with that? I can’t even follow your “argument.”

  61. kranky kritter Says:

    @ Gerry

    No one is arguing that there are not cranks on the left, but any honest observer has to concede that there is a distinction…. . There is simply no comparison between the left and right loons.

    The left tolerates its loons; the right elevates its loons.

    You can point to these people as the fringe all you want, but when the fringe is elevated into a position of influence it is not because they are just very good at what they do, it is because the people doing the elevating are supporting them.

    Well, if you are right, then I’m stuck among the ranks of dishonest observers. Sucks to be me, I guess. Notwithstanding my lack of credibility…

    …any experienced longtime unbiased observer knows that the power and influence of fringe portions or large groups peaks when the dissatisfaction with leadership is greatest. Some 18 months after the democrats took over the Presidency, the influence of fringe conservatives within the GOP is at a peak. Not a surprising thing, nor hard to understand.

    Now if Gerry is to be believed, Democrats were in no way as apoplectic after Gore lost. Even though almost 10 years later, he still can’t let that loss go. Think about it, folks.

    But set your watch by the likelihood of a fringe left candidate to emerge for the 2012 cycle when once hopeful progressives can no longer continue to swallow their bitter disappointment. They were promised a unicorn that could fart rainbows, after all.

  62. Nick Benjamin Says:

    Needing something to be true doesn’t make it true.

    I did not mean to imply that because I needed it to be true it was necessarily true.

    I meant to imply that if it is not true we’re doomed. As deciding one is doomed is an excellent way to actually become doomed, therefore it is unproductive in the extreme to act as if it is not true.

    In other words:
    You got a better idea? And (to bring this back to my original point) that better idea has to be something Boehner could support without implementing the public option, repealing Medicare, raising taxes, or doing any of the things the Affordable Care Act does. Because it’s a given we need to reduce costs, and Boehner is strongly opposed to all four.

    Presume that’s all true. I’m missing the part where you prescribe your cure for our whiny bitchiness. America’s role as the first adopter and highest price payer for HC acts as a subsidy for folks in rationed systems and in poorer nations.

    My cure for our whiny bitchiness is to claim it’s not the problem. Distorted markets are the problem.

    Let’s assume we are, actually, subsidizing Canadian care. If that’s the case the logical thing to do is stop. The very, very stupid thing to do would be throw our hands up in the air, watch double-digit cost increases eat the budget, and let the Canadians reap the benefits of our spending until we finally collapse into bankruptcy.

    To stop subsidizing them we must reduce health costs, and Boehner is opposed to every promising cost-cutting plan I’ve ever heard of except tort reform. And that one does not work.

    Hold up. Aren’t you the same guy who spent months here arguing that HCR already incorporated many GOP ideas. How did you get from that to saying their only known idea is tort reform. Where you blowing smoke then, or are you blowing it now? Can’t be both.

    It did. It’s right of bills they supported in the 70s, 1994, and MA in 2006.

    But they decided to kill it for political reasons, so the current Republican leadership is unable to support it. Which means they are unable to support any plan that may fix the long-term deficit. If you re-read my posts in this thread carefully you’ll notice I talk about Boehner, not Conservatives or the GOP in general.

    yadda yadda yadda boehner yadda collapse yadda doom yadda the Republicans are all evil and have no clue and only the democrats can save us. Got it. Why would I argue with that? I can’t even follow your “argument.”

    The “Republicans are evil” bit is a bit of an exaggeration. In this thread I’d only mentioned two before this post, one of those was in passing and not terribly insulting, and in this post I’ve only added a few more guys (the Republican House Leadership). And I’m not calling them evil. To be frank I don’t think Boehner understands this stuff well enough to realize he’s on the wrong side. It still hasn’t sunk in that Medicare’s future costs are way more then all the chintzy little crap he so piously opposes. Even the $750 Billion the banks got, or the $800 Billion stimulus.

    My argument is simple.

    To fix the deficit you have to control health costs.

    Boehner can’t do that because he’s on record opposing everything that could work.

    Therefore Speaker Boehner would be very bad for the deficit.

  63. kranky kritter Says:

    My argument is simple, too. Healthcare costs haven’t been controlled. The new HCR won’t control them, and the next few years will show this. By 2 or 3 years into the 2013 advent of gov’t financing for all those receiving subsidized access, we’ll know that.

    The new HCR law won’t be able to save money while expanding access. You can’t decrease the price of healthcare services by increasing the demand for those services.

    You’re quite right that the US faces a serious structural deficit problem due to medicare. And you are also right that Boehner is doing nothing to attack that problem. In that respect, he’s in the same boat as the other congresscritters. The best that can possibly be said of Boehner is that he believes he’s trying to stop congress from exacerbating this problem, one for which he has no good answer.

    Now, any folks who truly believe, as you do, that the new HCR will control costs must necessarily think Boehner is the enemy. Since I don’t count myself in that group, I think Boehner is just another politician who is afraid to point out and realistically face the main problem. A leader afraid to lead, in other words. Like the rest of congress.

    I meant to imply that if it is not true we’re doomed. As deciding one is doomed is an excellent way to actually become doomed, therefore it is unproductive in the extreme to act as if it is not true.

    In other words:
    You got a better idea? And (to bring this back to my original point) that better idea has to be something Boehner could support without implementing the public option, repealing Medicare, raising taxes, or doing any of the things the Affordable Care Act does. Because it’s a given we need to reduce costs, and Boehner is strongly opposed to all four.

    You need to get past the notion that I am defending Boehner per se. And let’s skip the whole “if it’s not so, then we’re doomed” line of thought. Instead of being afraid, let’s face and understand our problem

    If, as I believe, we have yet to make any substantive inroads on controlling healthcare cost growth, then it only means this: we need to face facts, try harder, and do what’s necessary. We’re only doomed to whatever extent we’re afraid to face and deal with reality. It’s the 21st century…we can solve input-output problems.

    My solution? More rationing. We’ve been rationing in many ways already. This includes HMOs who set treatment protocols so that you may not get the effective treatment you need until conservative band-aid approaches have failed and 6 or 12 months has passed. It includes encouraging self-rationing via higher co-pays and crappier overall coverage. Stuff like that is well underway.

    So we can stop pretending that we’re not already rationing. Then, we can face rationing with open fearless eyes. And do fair and reasonable things that help control costs further. Let’s all notice that rationing has the same root as rational. We CAN be rational about this. And we should be, Since logically, the alternative is to continue to meter out care irrationally, with wide disparities in cost and access for different folks, and ruinous cost growth.

    My captcha? dare world. So there it is. I’m daring the american world to stop being pussies about facing our need to live with the fact that we can have only as much healthcare as we have resources to finance it. In that context, the argument is whether we should all face that on our own, or collectively.

  64. kranky kritter Says:
  65. Donklephant » Blog Archive » After failing test in midterms, Prez takes the ‘professional left’ to school. Says:

    […] statement. While technically true that the American people may not have voted specifically for gridlock, and while he is also correct they would prefer bipartisan cooperation controlling spending, they […]

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