Sunday, February 28, 2010

Who "Won" at the Health Summit?

I suspect that it was whomever you want to have won it. Few people actually sat and watched it and we can now all pick and choose those soundbites that we like.

There is a sense, however, in which I think it was a mistake for Obama to do it. It inevitably presented him as less than Presidential - as, at best, a first among equals and a rather petulant one at that. I'm not sure that there could have been any other outcome. If you are going to sit around a big table and exchange ideas, one becomes - in some sense - comparable to those you are exchanging them with.

That might not be so bad. We don't like our Presidents to act imperial. But then one ought not to assert Presidential superiority ("there was imbalance because I'm the President," "the election is over'). In that context - around a circle created for dialogue - it comes across as haughty.

And coming across as haughty is not what Obama wants to do. The perception fueling his decline in the polls is that the idea is that his policy proposals are too ambitious and threaten to interfere not only with the part of, say, the provision of health care that we don't like but also the part that we do like. Given that an overwhelming majority of Americans like their health care, that is not a good place to be.

Of course, I don't think that there is anything unfair about this. The problem with ObamaCare is that it overcentralizes the provision of care in a way that threatens to stifle medical innovation and that will create unacknowledged winners and losers. The Senate bill, in particular, is set up to fail. The President's recent proposal falls back on price controls.

Here's the New Nixon.


Dad29 said...

Unabashed Statists: Nixon and Obama.

Abashed Statist: G W Bush

AnotherTosaVoter said...

His standing in the polls has been bouncing around 50% since August, so you can give up on the meme that Obama's poll numbers have been plummeting since long before any of us can remember.

I agree with you that whoever won depends on who you were rooting for. I can't say I was rooting for the Democrats so much as I was rooting for the GOP to make asses of themselves as they always do. Actually Harry Reid took the award home for that in my book. I guess I had never really seen him speak at any length. I have no idea how he won any competitive election (without nude photos), but I do know he should be nowhere near leading on any important issue.

I watched all 7 hours of it, or at least as much as my kids would let me. The GOP didn't make obvious asses of themselves, but they did so subtly. Their adherence to Luntz-approved talking points was hackery at its finest.

GOP: "Why don't we just do the easy and popular stuff now and wait on the hard stuff? (now that's leadership!)

Obama: It won't work. Simply banning pre-existing conditions requires expanding the pool in order to pay the costs.

GOP: Repeat question.

Obama: Eye roll.

GOP: What about $10,000 health savings accounts?

Obama: If you make $40K a year, you're going to really spend a quarter of your income on out of pocket costs?

GOP: Ummm...state lines?

Obama: Race to the bottom is a problem, how do you address it?

GOP: Tort reform like in California!

Dingell (I think): You mean the state where one company wants to raise rates 39%?

Boehner (waking up, remembering role, obviously ignoring everything just said): Let's start over. This won't work. Let's do the easy and popular stuff first and worry about the hard stuff later.

Obama: Seriously? What the fuck is wrong with you people? How the fuck are people like you get elected to make decisions like this? This is the best we can do? How soon can I start funneling money to a Swiss Bank account and find a nice chateau in the Riviera?

Of course Obama looks like an elitist prick for pointing out that the GOP's simplistic ideas won't work and won't cover nearly everyone without health insurance. If you're a partisan hack or you don't give a shit about giving nearly everyone health insurance, then of course the GOP won.

Other observations:

1>Enzi is full of shit about systemic overhaul. He signed on to overhaul Medicare Part D (Ahem - totally unfunded $8 trillion entitlement voted for by Mr. Deficits, Paul Ryan. Funny how it's ok when the letter after the President who wants it is the right one). He also signed on to Wyden-Bennet, which is more radical than the Senate bill.

2> Charlie Rangel should be allowed to violate any law or ethics rule he sees fit, so long as he graces us with his highly entertaining speaking style.

3> Does anyone really believe Eric "High Speed Rail Rules or Sucks, depending on my audience" Cantor gives two shits about people's health care problems? I look at the guy and imagine he just laughs at the letters and throws them at a basketball hoop over the garbage can.

4> John McCain is useless. I loved the guy in '00 but he's a shell. Why the hell was he even invited?