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Monday, April 07, 2008

2008 Elections: Barack Obama

Having supported Bill and Hillary Clinton loyally for two decades, we find it a little difficult to denigrate them for any reason. Also, we notice that our chosen candidate for the Democratic Presidential nominee, Senator Barack Obama, does not disparage Senator Clinton. If anything, he gives her kudos for her tenacity and courage.

That said, we're still firmly out of her camp and in Obama's. By some estimates, she has only a ten per cent chance of winning the nomination, and we're not gambling types but if we were we wouldn't put the mortgage money on that bet.

We continue to research Senator Obama's campaign. The more we see, the more there is to like. We prefer, for example, his health policy to Hillary Clinton's. We don't want a mandate. We don't want to be forced to pay for something that we might not be able to afford. Besides, why force consumers/citizens to give money to the insurance companies? Obama's health plan allows parents to insure their children through college. We believe our friends with children will find that much more palatable than being forced to cough up bucks to ensure their children have separate insurance policies. We like Obama's ideas about education and giving back to the community.

Most important, we like the fact that the first Black president of the Harvard Law Review, who could have gone to work for the big bucks, instead went to Chicago to become a community organizer after college. Whereas Senator Clinton went to Wal-Mart and sat on their board of directors, raking in the big bucks.

We have a lot of admiration and support for Senator Clinton but there are at least two things that we cannot forgive her for. One is her vote for the Iraq war. The other is her time at Wal-Mart, an egregiously abusive unionbusting employer. OK, one more: we really don't like the fact that she employed known unionbuster Mark Penn as her political strategist and adviser.

At this point, the only way that Senator Clinton can have the Democratic nomination is by back-room brokering that steals the rightful vote of the people. The superdelegate system must be abolished. That can only happen after this election. But under the ground rules of this election, Florida and Michigan votes must not be counted, and the superdelegates must not overturn the will of the Democratic voters.

All that said, in our wandering through the blogosphere last night, we came upon a blog new to us: The Field. Al Giordano over there gives anybody who wants to a chance to convince a superdelegate to vote for the candidate of their choice.

691 people responded. About 25 of them wanted the SD to support Clinton. The remainder (with possibly one or two exceptions) made their case for Barack Obama. It's an interesting read. Having lived through the past X decades of increasing political division, bitterness, polarization, assassinations, and all-around bleakness, it's difficult for us to begin to hope again. But Obama seems to represent a groundswell of a type we can only remember with the Kennedys. Take a look and tell us what you think.

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Stumble It!


At 7:46 PM, Blogger The Barefoot Bum said...

We prefer, for example, his health policy to Hillary Clinton's. We don't want a mandate. We don't want to be forced to pay for something that we might not be able to afford.

It's counterintuitive, but you have a chance of affording health insurance only if you (and, more importantly, everyone else) is forced to pay for it.

Think of a mandate as a tax. It's not quite as good as a tax, but the free-market system we have now is even worse. And without some sort of mandate, Obama's plan is a complete fantasy, predicated on the expectation that private insurers will lose money on every sick person out of the goodness of their hearts.

At 9:41 PM, Blogger Brian Slesinsky said...

I figure if Obama's health care plan ends up being subsidized via taxes, it works out to the same thing. Adverse selection doesn't matter when the point is to get health care to people who need it, not to turn a profit.

At 9:42 PM, Blogger Brian Slesinsky said...

Also, is this article written using the royal "we" or what?

At 10:40 PM, Blogger Bustednuckles said...

I'm just racing past to see if you wanted to play some Tag?
Yer It!

At 10:48 PM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

Dear BB - I think Brian answered your comment very well. Health care should not be for profit and I grew up in a country where health care is a not for profit industry, the citizenry is taxed to provide health care, and my parents are the beneficiaries of a health care system that doesn't cost them a penny and provides them with the kind of care that most Americans can only dream of.

Bri &mdash we can't figure out if it's royal or resulting from the number of felines living in our pocket.

At 10:21 AM, Blogger The Barefoot Bum said...

I understand. As I said, a tax is better than a mandate. But a mandate is better than nothing: as best I can understand it, Obama's plan requires insurance companies to operate in unprofitable ways, i.e. it requires them to cover pre-existing conditions at no extra cost even if the person has no prior insurance. Thus a lot of people will simply not buy health insurance until they're sick.

It's not that Obama has a bad plan, it's that he has no real plan at all. As far as I can tell, Obama is not at all against for-profit health care. He's just making happy noises, thus he's going to get elected without a mandate for any sort of health care system.

Brian is fantasizing: unless I've missed something dramatic, the idea that Obama's plan would be subsidized by taxes is not something Obama himself has stated, it's a very speculative assumption being supplied by his audience.

We should make our decision on reasons, not hopes and assumptions. There are a lot of good reasons to favor Obama over Clinton, but his health care non-plan is not one of them.

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Fade said...

Great post.

At 4:18 PM, Blogger BadTux said...

Agree with the Bum here. I've worked the numbers, and Obama's plan leaves a gigantic pool of uninsured workers. Clinton's plan covers everybody. Yes, it requires paying a tax (well, she calls it a "health insurance premium") which is subsidized on a sliding scale according to income. But there is no free lunch. And her plan includes a Medicare-like government-provided insurance program so that if you don't feel like paying your health care "tax" to the insurance companies, you can pay it directly to the government plan instead.

As I've pointed out on my own blog while working the economic numbers, Obama's plan actually ends up making things worse. Insurance companies will raise their rates to cover the costs of "deadbeats" (uninsured patients who become insured only after becoming ill). This will force non-sick people to drop their health care coverage. His non-plan results in a health care "death spiral", where only sick people buy insurance. The problem is that health care is currently eating up 15% of the U.S. GDP, and sick people don't earn 15% of the U.S. GDP. The end result is a lot of dead sick people.

The only way to prevent this health care death spiral is if *everybody* pays. There is no free lunch, in the end. Either everybody pays, or you end up with a lot of dead people. That's just how the economics works. Hillary's plan includes subsidies for those who can't afford the full cost of health insurance. Personally, I'd prefer simply tacking on an additional 7.5% to the Medicare tax (divided equally between employer and employee), which would provide sufficient funds to provide Medicare to all Americans not just prune-Americans, but John Edwards (who Hillary cribbed for her plan) made a calculation that this wouldn't work, thus the reason why she hides her health care "tax" as an "insurance premium" instead. But whatever you call it, there's no free lunch. If everybody is to have health care, everybody has to pay, at least on a sliding scale basis. That's just how the math works. Might as well legislate that pi=3.14 exactly -- you can't legislate math. It just is.

Note that I'm supporting Obama for a number of reasons. But his health care non-plan isn't one of them.

-- Badtux the Economics Penguin


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