353 thoughts on “State of the Union, 2010”

  1. Paul, in 146 you state
    “Well, the legislation does deal with that; it provides subsidies to the poor to buy private health insurance. How else would you propose that health care for the poor be provided, and paid for?”
    You missed my point. When you say the government provides subsidies to the poor to buy private health insurance I don’t call that dealing with the issue. Simply handing out dollars to people that won’t or can’t pay for their own health insurance does not seem like a problem solver to me. It sounds like another ponzi scheme that will blow apart at the edges very quickly.

    From what I can tell (no one knows for sure since as the Speaker was kind to point out ‘we won’t know what is in the bill until we pass it’) there is no real assurance that the numbers of people connecting up to the government paid insurance will not continue to grow and grow. And humans being as they are, why would anyone think it wouldn’t? I’m sure this health program will far, far outstrip funding in a very short period of time. As I stated before, I doubt very much that we will ever see $500 billion of reductions in medicare….won’t happen. And if the tax on cadillac health care plans, that is essential to funding this health program, is good enough to implement in 2016, why isn’t it OK to implement in 2011 and start collecting revenue to offset the costs of the plan?

    Norm, thanks for your comments in 147. I sure hope we can continue to create that kind of wealth, since we tax it heavily and will sorely need it in the coming years. If we stop creating that kind of personal wealth, as some people seem to want to do, we will have to reach further down the ‘tax ladder’ to collect what government deems necessary to extract from its citizens to operate the government.

    I’m not sure where America is headed. We might be going down the path of much of Europe where we accept 15-20% unemployment and the associated societal costs that go along with supporting that unemployment level. We also then can expect much of our capital to leave the country and migrate to more friendly places. England has had this problem as they taxed their high earners essentially out of existance. America was founded on the wonderful belief of hard work and opportunity. We may be shifting away from that in exchange for a more laid back get-along attitude where the state takes care of most of lifes concerns.
    .-= (Ray Cox is a blogger. See a recent post titled New Window) =-.

    1. Ray,

      You wrote:

      When you say the government provides subsidies to the poor to buy private health insurance I don’t call that dealing with the issue. Simply handing out dollars to people that won’t or can’t pay for their own health insurance does not seem like a problem solver to me. …

      Indeed, the new legislation does not “deal with the issue” in the sense of solving it painlessly or forever. But it addresses—partially, imperfectly, and not in the way I’d prefer—the problem of providing at least some health care to those who can’t pay themselves. (You mention those who just “won’t” pay; is there indeed such a free money provision? I’m dubious … .)

      Again, Ray, how do you think health care for the poor should be paid for?

      As for “going down the path of much of Europe where we accept 15-20% unemployment and the associated societal costs …”: I don’t think we will or should emulate Europe in all respects. But have you looked recently at unemployment figures there? According to Wikipedia the EU unemployment rate (9.3%) is actually a little lower than ours (9.7%). In many countries it’s substantially lower: Holland, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany … even the UK.

  2. Here’s an interesting perspective on the Republican reaction to health care reform:

    “Let’s beat the other side to a pulp!” Rep. Steve King, Republican of Iowa, shouted to the last stand of Tea Partiers on Sunday night. “Let’s chase them down! There’s going to be a reckoning.”

    Indeed there will. But as the party of the hissy fit, Republicans are playing with fire.”

    Read the whole article here: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/house-of-anger/?hp:

    1. Norm:

      In a way, I agree with you. I can’t believe that there wasn’t a single Republican who voted in favor of this bill. It signals to me that this whole process was much more about politics than health care. I hope that I am wrong.

    2. David L. & Norm V.- Here is a link to an interesting article by Thomas Friedman in the NY Times:

      http://www.journal-news.com/opinion/columnists/thomas-friedman-radical-center-needs-a-tea-party-620170.html.

      I think he touches on perhaps the root problem we face in this country right now in this comment:

      “Larry Diamond, a Stanford University democracy expert, put it best: ‘If you don’t get governance right, it is very hard to get anything else right that government needs to deal with. We have to rethink in some basic ways how our political institutions work, because they are increasingly incapable of delivering effective solutions any longer.’”

      I’m not convinced that the present move toward populism is healthy for the country. Friedman exponds upon this further here:

      “My definition of broken is simple. It is a system in which Republicans will be voted out for doing the right thing (raising taxes when needed) and Democrats will be voted out for doing the right thing (cutting services when needed). When your political system punishes lawmakers for the doing the right things, it is broken.”

      Pehaps we are a little like the fellow that went out to see if the bus was comming. He was struck and killed because he was looking north, but the bus came from the south. In other words, the problem is not so much with health care reform as government reform.

  3. I believe the rabid partisanship can be chalked up to Republican political gamesmanship–they are the party that continually runs down their own jobs–encouraging the public to not trust the politicians to do the right thing. You do not see Democrats slamming government–but now that the Reppublicans are on the recieving end they complain about the same tactics that they used when they were in power.

    And David L–just because no Republican would vote for it does not make it a failure as a bill–that is their stated tactic and purpose–whether they agree with what the bill contains or not, they are intent on being obstructionist for obstructionism sake.

    This call to violence “Don’t relent–reload!” “Kill the bill (n@##*$)” and pejoritives aimed at congressional Democratics shows how petulant and childish–while being downright treasonous (like opting out of a federal law? What is this, 1861?) the Republicans and their buddies are.

    So, John George, there is no way to make government work if one party refuses to participate–the Republicans are refusing to work in good faith towards anything unless they can make all the rules–it doesn’t work that way.

    I say, go all the way Democrats–let the Republicans continue to show how they obstruct good government. Republicans are disenfranchising themselves. Good riddance. Lets get some Independants in there to balance out the Democrats.

    1. Jane- Welcome to the populist movement! Oh, by the way, I can remember many comments posted even here on LGN that lambasted former President Bush and his policies. The Democrats have participated in this behavior just as much as the pseudo-Republican Tea Baggers. Having an opinion is everyone’s right. Expressing it in a defamitory or devisive way only contributes to overall disunity. One thing the Independent Party could learn from this is how to bridge divisions, not tear down the bridges. If they come into power on the same devisive tide, then they will fail, also. This is just my opinion, but I think there were too many people that actually believed the Democrats could do better than the Republicans during this last election. Their hopes are getting dashed with reality, also. One prime example is the about face by the current administration concerning our involvement in the Middle East.

  4. John,
    I don’t have any problem with his program for the radical center, do you?

    “The radical center is “radical” in its desire for a radical departure from politics as usual. It advocates: raising taxes to close our budgetary shortfalls, but doing so with a spirit of equity and social justice; guaranteeing that every American is covered by health insurance, but with market reforms to really bring down costs; legally expanding immigration to attract more job-creators to America’s shores; increasing corporate tax credits for research and lowering corporate taxes if companies will move more manufacturing jobs back onshore; investing more in our public schools, while insisting on rising national education standards and greater accountability for teachers, principals and parents; massively investing in clean energy, including nuclear, while allowing more offshore drilling in the transition. You get the idea.”

    I think the Dems have proposed many of those things, but I doubt the Repubs would support any of them as stated. I’m not sure the government is broken, but the party system sure is.

    1. Norm- Nope, I don’t have any problem, and yep, that is what both Friedman and Diamond are saying (“I’m not sure the government is broken, but the party system sure is”). These two comments sum it all up for me-
      “We have to rethink in some basic ways how our political institutions work..”
      and
      “When your political system punishes lawmakers for the doing the right things, it is broken.”

      The Dems have proposed SOME of the ideas you reference, but they have sure gagged on off-shore drilling or ANWR drilling. I think it is interesting that ANWR was originally known as the North Slope Oil Reserve before Clinton changed the designation.

      Right now, I am of the opinion that neither party has any bragging rights on anything.

  5. A lot of people I have spoken with are very much against the passing of a bill no one understands or has read…no matter what it directs.

    If American was cut off from the rest of the world, I think we could take card of ourselves fairly well. Other nations have done it throughout the ages. The only things people may not have is exotic foods and clothes that fit them if they change size. Maybe that is a major key to lowering health care costs…stay the same size, all you adults, or you won’t have anything to wear when the world cuts off your access to clothes…and you can’t have all that caviar and French champagne…yeah, all champagne is French, right?

  6. John, it seems Obama is taking positions on offshore drilling and nuclear power similar to what Friedman is suggesting. Compromise doesn’t mean putting everything on the table (e.g., ANWR). But maybe he can find the sweet spot on energy legislation like he did on health care? I think this issue is about to heat up again (so to speak).

    1. Norm- Lets hope that the next big energy legislation package is more understandable than the health care bill. One thing I do appreciate about Obama is his willingness to be pragmatic. Some of these issues, such as health care and energy production, should really be divorced from narrow political ideologies, IMO. The all or none approach has only accomplished gridlock where agreement on policies for the common good for everyone is needed.

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