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Ferarro's Frustration

| 69 Comments

Former VP candidate Geraldine Ferraro resigned after making this comment about Obama:

"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position," she continued. "And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

Talkleft has more, and I'd recommend a read of the comments section too - it's at least as informative as the article, just in a different way. My take?

If Obama was an African-American woman with his thin and undistinguished legislative record, would she be a serious Presidential candidate? I can't believe that for a minute. A white woman? No, I cannot believe that either. A white male? Not just no - hell, no. You might want to ask Mr. "didn't even carry my own state" Edwards about that one...

I've started to bump into some interesting emerging reactions to it, too - the whole thing appears to be hitting a nerve for some women, who see it as a replay of the "experienced, qualified woman passed over by slick male newcomer deemed 'promising'" scenario. Clinton's known negatives don't figure in - it's clearly a personal sore spot, to the point where it's causing me second thoughts about some of the "glass ceiling" issues I've tended to dismiss. Ferraro obviously felt it, and voiced that.

She has resigned, but that meme was and is out there. It's interesting in that it fits with an emerging theme that Clinton's campaign is feeding/ working with: working at setting the stage so that they have more permission to treat Obama just like any other candidate, and hold him to the same harsh scrutiny.

Do I mind? Actually, no. If someone is running for President, from either party, their record and qualifications had better be open to serious scrutiny - and his have not. But the big bad world will be at least as tough, and won't pull its punches for you.

"Paging Mr. Alcibiades" not a great scenario for the country. No matter which side is answering the page. Maybe Obama can dispel that, and maybe he can't. But he absolutely must be forced to try.

69 Comments

America is certainly ready for a black or a female president, but the Democrats sure as hell aren't. Is anybody up for four years of this? Is it going to be racism every time Congress won't approve his budget, or confirm his (shudder) judges?

But Ferraro is wrong to say Obama would not be where he is if he were white. John Kerry had an even less distinguished record after years and years in the Senate, zero leadership qualities, and an unpleasant personality to boot. For stupid white people with good hair, political opportunities abound. Blacks rarely rise to high positions of government unless they have something real going for them - they frankly don't have equal opportunity to play the fool.

What Ferraro could have said is that Obama is not exactly fighting an uphill battle against discrimination. On the contrary, he's had roses strewn in his path all the way. The media have been grooming him since long before the campaign began; you'd think his middle name was "rising star". He's not a token, but he's not Frederick Douglas, either.

And Ferraro is doubly wrong to say he wouldn't be where he is if he were a woman. (Notice that she feels the reverse racism has gone too far, but the poor suffering feminist routine is still valid.) If Ferraro weren't a woman she never would have been on Mondale's ticket, and no one would even know who she was, or asked her damn opinion about anything.

All I can say is I love it. I just wish someone in Obama's campaign would say something the feminists would find offensive, or that it would get publicized if they already have. As I've said before, those who live by identity politics die by identity politics. I can only pray this sort of thing continues until as close to November as possible.

If Ferraro weren't a woman she never would have been on Mondale's ticket, and no one would even know who she was, or asked her damn opinion about anything.

Actually, she admitted that herself.

I have to disagree. This whole Democrat primary season is an argument based on the politics of victimhood, over which group is the greater victims, blacks or women. Victimhood is cumulative, and the more victim groups a person belongs to, the higher that person's merit under their system. If Barack Obama was a woman, then "she" would already have wrapped up the Democrat nomination because both blacks AND women would be voting for "her."

Actually, I agree with Glenn. I think this is just another attempt to float the meme that Obama is just another Jesse Jackson. He isn't. He's an idealistic liberal who is persuasively and charismatically saying all the things that liberals want to hear. To be sure, the nutty left is swooning at his every word because he's (half)black, but the nutty left couldn't even beat Joe Lieberman.

Barack Obama worked hard to get into the media limelight. It wasn't bestowed upon him like it was with Hillary. If he had been white, he would have had to work just as hard, played just as smart a game, and remain just as focused.

I won't be voting for him, but we need more politicians like Obama. It's genuine strength that brings him to the top, and it's that genuine strength layered over his race that makes him a messiah (He offers more than just redemption. He's a good candidate "that happens to be black" too, which appeals to people like me, who do not judge a man by the color of his skin, and find it distasteful when others do so as well)

Obama is where he is because of exceptional oratory, an ability to connect to and communicate with the majority of democrats, a rare grace and dignity in a politician, an obvious and superior talent at organizing and running a campaign and the fact that he is running against Hillary Clinton who exhibits none of these traits and is despised by half of the people in the country.

On top of that, had Obama not been in the race, there is no guarantee that she would not be in as tough a race with another of the Democratic candidates. Ferraro is just plain pathetic as she has always been and that has nothing to do with being female.

I just wish someone in Obama's campaign would say something the feminists would find offensive, or that it would get publicized if they already have

Jackpot.

Perversely, I think this protracted knife-fight with the Clinton camp will make Obama a stronger (or at least better prepared) candidate in the general election. The press really had been giving him the Princess Di treatment (or should I say the Bobby Kennedy treatment) before Texas/Ohio, and I think when the going got rough Obama really wasn't ready for it.

A similar thing happened to Kerry, except much later in the game, and he ended up stumbling to second place behind a Bush who should have been easy pickings for anyone halfway competent.

Well, Obama strikes me as a lot sharper and tougher than Senator Scaramouche so I expect he'll use this opportunity to tune up for when the real contest this fall. The question of how much capital gets used to get there is still an open one, but let's face it; people like George Soros and Robert Wolf aren't going to let the Republicans win because of a lack of funding for the Democrats.

The political correctness behind this is what I find troubling and unnecessary. I suggest we get into these sorts of binds through linguistic laziness, which is really an offshoot of lazy thinking. Instead of saying "among those black voters who are choosing to elect candidates on the criteria of race", we say "blacks". Instead of saying "among those female voters who are choosing to elect candidates on the criteria of gender", we say "females". Wisdom expands our vocabulary, ignorance reduces it to a few inappropriately general terms. One can keep ones foot out of ones mouth a lot more easily if it is filled with appropriately specific words.

Those who question Obama's depth and capacity are racists, right?

It's remarkable how well white politicians have done in the past without that special advantage being black offers. Can you imagine how much stronger Reagan would have done if had had been black?

This thing is going to the convention and its going to get ugly. The superdelegates are going to decide it, and people are going to freak out.

Which I dont understand- everybody keeps saying that if the superdelegates go against the regular delegate total, it will be wrong and spark a riot. Which to me begs the question- what is the point of having superdelegates if they are expected to vote in step with the regular delegates? Thats like declaring that I am the superduper delegate, but i must always endorse whoever ends up being the candidate. Whats the point? I actually think Clinton has a good argument for 'stealing' superdelegates in that way... if you are going to have them they should be able to vote how they want, otherwise why have them?

Regardless, McCain will miss a golden opportunity if he doesnt run ads asking if these are really the people you want organizing your healthcare. Thats a valid point.

Hillary: Sorry, but it's not about gender

"The whole thing appears to be hitting a nerve for some women, who see it as a replay of the 'experienced, qualified woman passed over by slick male newcomer deemed "promising"' scenario.'"

As a male Democrat, I just have to thrown down the bullshit flag about this bit of reasoning. For one thing, it assumes that people should look at Hillary purely through the lens of her paper qualifications. That's simply not the way most people are making -- or should make -- this decision. You have to look at the totality of the person and their electability. To dismiss Hillary's baggage would be silly. As a rational Democrat (insert joke here), I can't ignore the reality that something like 40% of the voting population already has an opinion of Hillary, that it's fixed, and it's quite negative. She's also not strong among independents, which will be crucial to both parties in the general election.

As I've written before, I had -- and have -- some doubts about Obama, but I think he represents the party's best chance to re-take the White House and for accomplishing something positive once in office. While I respect Hillary's record and service, I believe she would be a disastrous candidate in a general election. That said, I would have no problem -- none --voting for a woman with same qualifications as Hillary who didn't come with such a history of polarizing public opinion and galvanizing the opposition.

While Obama is certainly a risk, he's also a tabula rasa for many voters and can therefore spend more time talking about what he wants to do rather than defending himself against a pre-existing, and mostly negative, perception. In short, the glass ceiling is very real, but it's not why Hillary is losing.

Mark B.,

"Thats a valid point." How so? Don't you think people, i.e. democratic voters, party leaders, and government officials are bright enough to know that a healthcare system should be run differently than a political party?

I'd also point out that the people you think are going to freak out are not the same people who decided that having superdelegates was a good idea. I would guess that the vast majority of people who voted in this year's democratic primaries had no idea about the role superdelegates were intended to play. This is a messy process; the democratic party is a messy party (part of its charm and attraction, really) that chaffes at the idea of marching in lockstep, despite the way Republicans like to portray it as brooking no dissent, comrade. I think it will work out all right in the end. They'll get a nominee and that person will have a good shot at the WH.

Finally, no matter how messy the nominating process of the dems, I'd maintain that the US gov't has done a decent job organizing social security and medicare; I bet they'll be able to get a handle on healthcare. I hope so. My premiums are going through roof, my copays are higher than ever and the quality of care is mediocre.

I agree with Mark Poling - and that's why I want to see a proper level of scrutiny. The big bad world doesn't care, and someone who might be President can't be given the Princess Obama treatment.

Why Mr. "clean up Washington" hasn't said boo on earmark favor-factory reform, or an "ethics" process that will have the effect of sabotaging evidence, when a public word from him on either issue would have changed the outcome... is a question that might be a good place to start. It suggests a candidate whose promises are less than merely empty.

I also agree with TOC re: Obama's positive qualities, but then, Edwards was also a good speaker with a thin resume who connected with Democrats. I've seen more than a few people who want him as a veep on Obama's ticket - which is macabre humor on so many levels. He clearly connects with some of the same impulses, though. Maybe he just wasn't lucky enough to be running against H.C.'s strong polarization (as opposed to Kerry's weak negatives).

Or maybe Ferraro has a point, and Obama really is the apotheosis of a political culture of rabid symbolic feel-good, vs. the longer and harder work of actually doing good.

Glen Wishard... I can't believe you've made me defend John Kerry. But I'm going to partially disagree. In politics, longevity has a quality all its own, which is why the Dems would be dumb enough to give Rep. Dingell a chance to re-write the tax code, and why a nutbar like John Conyers chairs the House Judiciary Committee. But I saw the same thing in Canada at a very unofficial level with a guy named Joe Clark, who was ridiculed early for ineptness but ended up getting a lot of respect just for toughing it out and sticking around.

Kerry had been around for a long time, and he had stepped into the spotlight, for good or ill, several times over the course of his career (Vietnam, POW/MIA with McCain, etc.). In a remarkably pathetic field produced by mass abandonment until it was too late - a very unusual political opportunity - that was enough.

Was Kerry deserving? In that field, he was the closest thing to it (Of course I liked Lieberman more - but he had no charisma, plus the McCain problem with his own party. He had no chance, ever.). Kerry was still an undistinguished candidate, of course. Not an actively grating one, but just never strong, and with a few important weaknesses.

And he was beaten in a general election by W., which has to be some sort of booby prize politically. Good hair won't get you everywhere, it seems.

"...the US gov't has done a decent job organizing social security and medicare; I bet they'll be able to get a handle on healthcare."

I think that one qualifies as an absolute icon of lib-left stupidity. Or is it cynicism?

"...the US gov't has done a decent job organizing a Ponzi scheme with no real assets that would get any of you arrested if you tried it, and is scheduled to go broke. Not to mention a second program that is forecast to break the national budget in less than a generation. I know, let's give them the whole enchilada!"

Brilliant. Of course, those big Democratic Party trial lawyer donors who help make the system so expensive will still be rich enough in their old age to fly to special clinics set up in Mexico, just as the Canadians now come to the USA.

So I guess it's OK, then. The trial lawyers pay us now, the public sector unions pay us later. We get our money. All we have to do to keep it flowing is tell the rubes we're doing them a favor.

"How so? Don't you think people, i.e. democratic voters, party leaders, and government officials are bright enough to know that a healthcare system should be run differently than a political party?"

No. I have no illusions that that would be the case. In fact, i'd argue that some of the best and brightest politicians run the DNC. Someone the clod bureaucrats running healthcare inspire me MUCH less.

" I would guess that the vast majority of people who voted in this year's democratic primaries had no idea about the role superdelegates were intended to play."

And just like the voters in Florida and Michigan, i'd point out that THEY elected the people that made the arrangements, and therefore they are ultimately responsible for their actions. There is a strange meme that voters are at one time the holy grail of relevance that all fairness and legitimate procedure must bow down to no matter the cost, but also not responsible for what their votes incur. This is a rather typical save them from themselves and just cart them out to vote for the guy who promises them the most treats mentality.

"Finally, no matter how messy the nominating process of the dems, I'd maintain that the US gov't has done a decent job organizing social security and medicare;"

You really shouldn't judge how well a skydive is going until you reach the ground. There is a rather radical difference in outcomes that will color the preceeding experience in pretty different ways.

"I bet they'll be able to get a handle on healthcare. I hope so. My premiums are going through roof, my copays are higher than ever and the quality of care is mediocre."

I'm sure the folks that brought you your 1040 and the DMZ are ably equipped to solve your problems.

The comment thread was definitely more interesting than the post. The long drawn out flame war over what constitutes experience was entertaining. And they really do need a comparative hierarchical victim-group flowchart so they can keep straight who's the greater victim at all times.

But what really caught my eye was the insistence of Big Tent that Obama isn't 'lucky to be African American'. In fact that seems to be the only part of Ferrarro's little speech he actually disagrees with.

Different commentators kept bringing up that she meant it was lucky in this circumstance and he kept replying like this

That hardly makes him lucky to be (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Mar 10, 2008 at 04:39:00 PM EST

African American.

Full stop. Every time. Poor soul was born African American doffs cap, band plays mournfully.

If we hooked some magnets up to MLK Jr. we could solve our energy crisis.

The concept of individuality appears totally dead to them, Obama isn't a man to them, he's a playing piece in their war between group stereotypes. How sad.

Very sound argument, Joe. Whatever was I thinking? Oh wait, I wasn't, was I? I'm too stupid for that. Once I fully absorb your wisdom, I'll see what I can do to communicate it to my Dad. He'll be sorry to know that his retirement and healthcare are based on a Ponzi scheme. Hmmm, I wonder if he should put off that cancer treatment, then? Good thing my grandfather died before I had chance to let him in on all this. Man, he would have hated to give up his social security. But I am left wondering how those Europeans manage to do this? I mean, I'm not questioning the certain fact that it's all going to come crashing down on their head someday. I'm just wondering. Maybe I should move to the Congo where they don't have these ridiculous Ponzi schemes. What do you think, Joe? Think of the money I'll save with the lower taxes. Lord knows we don't want to break the national budget.

Mark B.,

"I'm sure the folks that brought you your 1040 and the DMZ are ably equipped to solve your problems."

Well, they couldn't do any worse than my HMO.

"Thats a valid point." How so? Don't you think people, i.e. democratic voters, party leaders, and government officials are bright enough to know that a healthcare system should be run differently than a political party?

After having had to read both health care proposals by the remaining two contenders in the Democratic primary, the answer is “no.”

You can get another HMO.

"Well, they couldn't do any worse than my HMO."

Heheheh.

"The mold, mice and rot of Walter Reed's Building 18 compose a familiar scenario for many soldiers back from Iraq or Afghanistan who were shipped to their home posts for treatment. Nearly 4,000 outpatients are currently in the military's Medical Holding or Medical Holdover companies, which oversee the wounded. Soldiers and veterans report bureaucratic disarray similar to Walter Reed's: indifferent, untrained staff; lost paperwork; medical appointments that drop from the computers; and long waits for consultations."

"Sandy Karen was horrified when her 21-year-old son was discharged from the Naval Medical Center in San Diego a few months ago and told to report to the outpatient barracks, only to find the room swarming with fruit flies, trash overflowing and a syringe on the table. "The staff sergeant says, 'Here are your linens' to my son, who can't even stand up,"

Washington Post

Your HMO ever booked you in a hospital full of fruit flies?

I think you vastly underestimate how badly the government can screw things up.

I had to laugh at mark "defending" the ponzi schemes that Joe pointed out by claiming that his dad and grandfather didn't get ripped off.

Because as everyone who is familiar with the structure of a ponzi scheme knows, paying off the early investors is proof that the scheme is financially sound and will be able to provide puppies and unicorns to everyone forever!

Shad,
Let me know when this ponzi scheme crashes, will you? Do most of them usually last this long? What's it been? about 60, 70 years or so...and yet, every month, millions of those checks keep getting mailed and keep getting cashed. One day, though, right? Suckas!

Alan, your ban has not expired yet. Come back March 18th.

Mark B.,

"I think you vastly underestimate how badly the government can screw things up."

Not any more. Not after the last 7 years. But I am very optimistic.

Having lived and worked in both France and Britain and been enrolled in their respective national health care programs -- and received medical care, including surgery, from them -- I believe we can do just as well. Think positive, Mark. Think positive.

#10 from Paul A'Barge at 3:16 pm on Mar 13, 2008

Those who question Obama's depth and capacity are racists, right?

No, Those who question Obama's depth and capacity do so at their own risk. I remember telling friends in NY that Regan would be elected before the primaries in 1980 and they laughed.

Anyone that underestimates this guy is a fool, Hillary being a case in point.

alan - comment again before the 18th and you'll be banned permanently.

A.L.

"Having lived and worked in both France and Britain and been enrolled in their respective national health care programs -- and received medical care, including surgery, from them -- I believe we can do just as well. Think positive, Mark. Think positive."

Hope is not a plan. I think Australia might have the kind of plan that could work for us, if anyone. But the people who want national healthcare want a single payer system, and unfortunately unlike Canada and Britain we wouldnt have the United States to run to if the waiting list for surgery is 6 months long and you have 4 months to live.

Joe -

I won't even concede points to Kerry for longevity. He's a liberal senator from Massachusetts with good hair; it's a lifetime entitlement, like being the Duke of York. You'd have to kill somebody to lose your seat, and even that doesn't seem to work. You could stumble drunk through an entire six-year term and still get reelected; it's been done.

The first black president will have to have something in his head besides booze, botox and hair treatment. The bar is definitely higher. If Obama is to be that man he will have to show more capacity than he has so far, but so far he has shown considerably more than Kerry ever did. And considering Clinton's miserable performance, I think Obama would be beating her with his black half tied behind his back.

And when it comes to the more-aggrieved-than-thou war between the feminists and the self-appointed black leaders, compare the leadership there. Say what you want about Jackson and Sharpton, neither of them is stupid. While they engage freely in demagoguery, both are capable of confronting and seriously engaging people who disagree with them. Jackson frequently appeared with William F. Buckley. Sharpton regularly goes head-to-head with Hannity.

Now look at the feminist leaders - Pelosi, Ferraro, Schroeder, and even Hurricane Rodham herself. They don't engage and demand respect from their enemies; they think they can pretend their enemies either don't exist or are so far out of the "main-stream" that they can dismiss them with ridicule. They are mostly good for rah-rahing the sisters with 70s rhetoric, and if they appear on a forum that isn't rigged in their favor they treat it as an imposition and a male conspiracy.

Besides, I thought it was understood that Feminism is dead, as in Polish Communist Party dead. It died without a whimper during the Clinton administration, and the survivors are so defeated that they envy veiled Muslim women.

Here's what I don't get: On one hand people complain that, when it comes to policy, there's barely an inch of daylight between Obama and Clinton. Their differences are in the details and those all get hashed out in compromise anyway. Fair enough. So how come she's regarded as some Brilliant Policy Wonk and Smartest Woman Who Ever Lived and, for putting forth nearly the same policies, he's tagged as an Empty Suit with no substance?

Any woman who resents the "experienced and qualified" Clinton being somehow passed over by Obama wouldn't know experienced and qualified if it bit her in the ass.

"unfortunately unlike Canada and Britain we wouldnt have the United States to run to if the waiting list for surgery is 6 months long and you have 4 months to live." And yet Canadians and Britons still manage to live longer than Americans. How very odd! Must be something in the beer.

And, of course, without insurance, you might be waiting a lot longer than 6 months.

""...the US gov't has done a decent job organizing a Ponzi scheme with no real assets that would get any of you arrested if you tried it, and is scheduled to go broke."

Well then we don't have to worry about the Chinese after all because obviously T-Bills aren't worth the paper they are written on!

And given this definition of a ponzi scheme we should probably forget Aetna, The Hartford Group, heck even that cute Geico lizard!

Long ago I realized there were two types of people who pushed this line.

Those very smart folks who are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure the US government can default on it's Social Security debt responsibilities. And those not at all bright people who believe everything the first group says.

"And yet Canadians and Britons still manage to live longer than Americans. How very odd! Must be something in the beer."

Canadians and Britons were living longer than Americans long before their healthcare Utopia.
Unless their is a time machine involved I dont see the correlation.

Canadians and Britons are a lot less fat than Americans as well... which probably is no coincidence. Maybe we need universal mandatory calisthenics to go with the mandotory check ups and wage garnishing? We also kill each other much more often, maybe mandatory anger management?

Regardless of social security's relative merits, anyone who wants to use that as an example of Government managerial competence needs to explain to me why, what is theoretically a save now-pay later retirement savings system contains a trust fund that is...empty.

As for European health care, sure it works (if there is anyone in Europe still paying into the system in 40 years anyway) but do you really want to do it like they do? April 15th is coming up, go look at your gross taxes and imagine the kind of health care you could get in the US for that kind of money every year. Because doubling your taxes is exactly how they do it.

"Because doubling your taxes is exactly how they do it." That would be a net savings for me since I wouldn't be paying insurance premiums. Sign me up.

There is an aspect of the concept of Universal Health Care that an informed electorate needs to examine a lot more closely than seems evident to me. It revolves around the difference between the concept of Universal Health Care, and Universal Health Insurance. The problem is that no real or postulated provider of 'health care' can afford the infinite range of service the term implies. With new technologies emerging daily, the possibility [and costs] of intervening in just the strictly medical aspects of health have already exploded beyond reason. Furthermore, dozens of preventative practices [from vaccination through dental hygiene] probably improve health, and yet few claim sufficient wisdom to draw the hard lines between that which is 'necessary', versus that which is just desirable. Yet again, given the well accepted notion that mental health begets physical health, we are provided with another staggering number of possible 'health' interventions, each with a cost. Thus we are presented with the prospect of seemingly infinite costs in conjunction with the reality of finite resources.

Consider the insurance one carries on an automobile. It exists to ameliorate the costs of a finite list of somewhat random, accidental events. As a self funding insurance scheme it requires payout limits and inducements to prevent overuse such as variable premiums and deductibles. What it can never be is some sort of prepayment scheme to provide the perpetual care one might wish for their automobile. The car will break down, it will rust, and no insurance company can afford to offer you a policy to cover those inevitable expenses. Unqualified promises to provide 'universal health care' and what this implies to most hearing that statement, equates to the class of political promise I encountered while living in the third world. In that instance, the promise was 'A free house for everyone - and no more taxes.' [By the way they were elected - and no, the promises were not kept].

The track record of government services/agencies in the area of cost benefit is dismal, and relevant. The objection is less about health care than it is about the general management of the public purse. A practical Universal Health Insurance plan would require a radical shift in the electorate's expectations with regard to meaningful cost benefit review of publically funded service providers. At present there seems to have evolved a tolerance for publicly funded services that renders them somehow exempt from rigorous cost benefit analysis. Only in concert with the implementation of a policy of cost benefit analysis of publicly funded [read government] programs, along with the management authority to correct problems so identified, could legitimate concerns about traditional inefficiencies in public sector services be overcome. Unfortunately, I don't see much evidence that this prerequisite is being met.

Universal Health Insurance is a concept that could work, but would require further radical shifts in the mindset of the consumer. The first is the acceptance that there can only be a finite list of medical and/or preventative procedures provided. Present day technology already presents us the dilemma of possessing the ability to keep people on life support [at prohibitive cost] while we research a 'cure' for what ails them. Traditionally life and death decisions regarding health were ceded to physicians, who without overtly recognizing it, have already had to give up their traditional stance of 'doing everything possible' to save the patient. Unless of course that patient just happens to have vast sums of money, and then any and every option up to and including cryogenic preservation could be on the table. Needless to say, this level of care for all would bankrupt the scheme on day two. So a critical issue to be addressed is; who now will make the life saving - life ending decisions that come with the inclusion or exclusion of a given service, on what would be a necessarily finite list. No insurance scheme can proceed without this list, and yet I suspect its determination has the same liklihood of speedy and satisfactory resolution as does the ongoing abortion debate. What are the payout limits, and what sort of disincentives to overuse are contemplated?

There are many hard questions to be asked and answered on the topic, but the majority I have seen so far have failed to rise much above the usual partisan outright acceptance or dismisal.

Mark B.,

"Canadians and Britons were living longer than Americans long before their healthcare Utopia.
Unless their is a time machine involved I dont see the correlation." I guess my point would be then that since those long waits for life-saving surgery that you mentioned haven't shortened their life expectancy any, maybe it isn't quite the problem you suggest it would be. Are Canadians & Brits really dying that much while waiting for surgery? You'd think there'd be some impact. How long is the wait for surgery here for the uninsured?

Universal Health Insurance is a concept that could work, but would require further radical shifts in the mindset of the consumer.

But it doesn't just have to work. It needs to be better than the current health insurance market. In order to do that you have to either believe the government would be more efficient and cost-effective than the private sector or you have to admit that you need to force healthy young people to cover the costs of older folks.

The first proposition has failed every real world test ever conducted, so it's hard to avoid the point that the real purpose is the second.

So really the whole thing is just a song and dance to avoid admitting that they really just want to tax healthy young people extra and transfer the money to older people. But they'll get 'free' health care they didn't want and don't statistically use or else there's not benefit to putting them in the national plan in the first place.

Treefrog, "It needs to be better than the current health insurance market. In order to do that you have to either believe the government would be more efficient and cost-effective.." Well, now hang on a sec. Some of us have a different version of what "better" means. We're thinking along the lines of "accessible to more people" as a definition of better. "Lower percentage of claims denial" would be an improvement. The idea behind universal healthcare is not just for efficiency and lower costs but to have a healthier citizenry. It might cost more than what we've got. It might be less efficient, but that could be considered a necessary price for the wider reach. The Europeans may have more expensive and more cumbersome systems, but on the whole they have healthier people. It all depends on what you want out healthcare...out of life, really. (In my case, as I've said, there would be the added bonus of saving money.)

"Are Canadians & Brits really dying that much while waiting for surgery?'

It happens, yes. Or waiting for critical tests, which don't happen until too late. Socialism doesn't abolish currency and favoritism, either, just substitutes influence for money. Seen that first-hand, too.

Meanwhile, the proposals I've seen appear to have learned very little from government failures of the past 40 years (of which mark's comment was a perfect exemplar) - but do seem cynically primed to benefit their proposers' party with cash.

There should be a better way than the current American system. Conservatives might consider what kind if beneficial labor mobility and small business creation a good national health scheme could foster. Ian pretty much nails the core human nature & policy issues at work, however, in order to expect anything like success. I dinged you, mark, because that kind of no-thinking response isn't going to get us there - in fact, it's sure to get a lot of people hurt.

Come to think of it "no-thinking response" is pretty much what I dislike about Obama and his cadre, too. Obama certainly doesn't have Reagan's successful political record as a governor, but I do take him seriously at a campaigning level.

Beyond that, no, I do not take him and his self-referential salvation rhetoric seriously - certainly not as I do Ms. Clinton.

If he had more actual legislative accomplishments to his credit that demonstrate the ability to deliver more than a speech, that would be different. Maybe all he needed to do that was the time he declined to give himself. Or maybe not - Mr. Ethics being MIA on key ethical issues in Congress being a case in point. And his Chicago dealings are surely worth a much closer look. Meanwhile, absent that substance of accomplishment and experience, I still see the guy as an empty suit, however fine its material.

I find the substance of Ferraro's remark, that Obama would not be the leading candidate if he were not Black, to be quite correct.

He's inexperienced. He has much baggage. He's got no record of winning in Republican states (ala Clinton).

Now we have his Pastor all over the news saying "God Damn America" to the fervent "Amens!" of the congregation. It gets worse from there.

Barack Hussein Obama is the Black Candidate first and foremost. It's more a feature of the weakness of the Democratic Party that a pure racialist candidate such as Obama could capture the nomination.

The Republican Party fielded Michael Steele in Maryland for Governor (he lost the Black vote btw). So Obama is not exactly trailblazing in his Party to the degree that Steele was. Steele indeed rejected criticism that as a Republican he was "not Black enough" while Obama as his pastor shows has hewn closely to orthodoxy.

That Ferraro herself benefited from PC identity politics does not make her argument WRONG. Obama gets the Black vote and very little of the white middle/working class vote. Hillary gets those. In the general, that's probably McCain.

Treefrog-

So really the whole thing is just a song and dance to avoid admitting that they really just want to tax healthy young people extra and transfer the money to older people.

Which is just another redistribution of wealth scheme as in socialism...

The basics folks, the basics. The Feds under the Dems will not be able to bring the health care system in 'on time and under budget'.

Ain't.

Gonna.

Happen.

Or any of their other redistribution of wealth schemes currently being floated.

I have to cut 'n paste this but it is worth reading:


bq. CAPITAL GAINS TAX
bq. MCCAIN 15% (no change)
bq. OBAMA 28%
bq. CLINTON 24%

bq. How does this affect you? If you sell your home and make a profit, you will pay 28% of your gain on taxes. If you are heading toward retirement and would like to down-size your home or move into a retirement community, 28% of the money you make from your home will go to taxes. This proposal will adversely affect the elderly who are counting on the income from their homes as part of their retirement income.

bq. DIVIDEND TAX
bq. MCCAIN 15% (no change)
bq. OBAMA 39.6%
bq. CLINTON 39.6%

bq. How will this affect you? If you have any money invested in stock market, IRA, mutual funds, college funds, life insurance, retirement accounts, or anything that pays or reinvests dividends, you will now be paying nearly 40% of the money earned on taxes if Obama or Clinton become president. The experts predict that "Higher tax rates on dividends and capital gains would crash the stock market yet do absolutely nothing to cut the deficit."

bq. INCOME TAX
bq. MCCAIN (no changes)
bq. Single making 30K - tax $4,500
bq. Single making 50K - tax $12,500
bq. Single making 75K - tax $18,750
bq. Married making 60K- tax $9,000
bq. Married making 75K - tax $18,750
bq. Married making 125K - tax $31,250

bq. OBAMA & CLINTON
bq. Single making 30K - tax $8,400
bq. Single making 50K - tax $14,000
bq. Single making 75K - tax $23,250
bq. Married making 60K - tax $16,800
bq. Married making 75K - tax $21,000
bq. Married making 125K - tax $38,750

bq. How does this affect you? No explanation needed. This is pretty straight forward.

INHERITANCE TAX
bq. MCCAIN 0%(No change, Bush repealed this tax)
bq. OBAMA & CLINTON keep the inheritance tax

bq. How does this affect you? Many families have lost businesses, farms and ranches, and homes that have been in their families for generations because they could not afford the inheritance tax. Those willing their assets to loved ones will not only lose them to these taxes.

bq. NEW TAXES BEING PROPOSED BY BOTH CLINTON AND OBAMA

bq. * New government taxes proposed on homes that are more than 2400 square feet
bq. * New gasoline taxes (as if gas weren't high enough already)
bq. * New taxes on natural resources consumption (heating gas, water, electricity)
bq. * New taxes on retirement accounts
and last but not least....
bq. * New taxes to pay for socialized medicine so we can receive the same level of medical care as other third-world countries!!!

Can you afford Clinton or Obama? I can't!

bq. In case you want more information on Obama's tax and spend agenda:

bq. If Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) Could Enact All Of His Campaign Proposals, Taxpayers Would Be Faced With Financing $874.35 Billion In New Spending Over One White House Term

I have more if you want to read it.

Nortius - I apologize, I messed up the block quotes. Mea culpa....

It's kind of a howl to listen to the supporters of 2 Ivy League educated millionaires argue over who's the biggest victim.

"The Europeans may have more expensive and more cumbersome systems, but on the whole they have healthier people"

And like I said, they were healthier before the system. Isn't incumbent on the side asking for radical change to, well, demonstrate that their system will improve health? Not making things worse isnt the most lofty of goals.

And again- if we are going to use government coersion and economic command economy principles in heath care, why not address the issues that really make Americans less healthy? Diet and excersise. Its an honest question, if we are using government as a coersive tool, why not go all out and shut down McDonalds and force people into the gym? We KNOW those solutions would save lives (and not just not cost more lives).

Mark,

I'm not sure that what you say is true. I'm not sure there's any way to measure the relative states of health of Europe and the US prior to WWII. But in any case, what I meant by "they have healthier people" was not so much that each individual lived a more healthy life, but that a higher percentage of individuals had access to healthcare. I'm not talking about diet, exercise, etc. I'm talking about regular access to basic healthcare. For me this is a problem that needs to be addressed in this country. There is too big a discrepancy in the quality of healthcare available for some than for others. The standard on the low range is inadequate.

I certainly don't see anything wrong with promoting diet and excercise..and it seems that if people had more access to healtcare professionals they might be better informed of the benefits. But healthy people still get infections, still get cancer, still need treatment for all sorts of things that are unrelated to diet and exercise, and so I don't think your suggested solutions really get to the heart of the problem, which is that too many people have inadequate access to the decent healthcare. If you break your arm playing basketball after a diet of salad & juice, you still need a doctor.

BTW, Have you been to Europe lately? McDonalds all over the place. Not really the issue.

'm talking about regular access to basic healthcare. For me this is a problem that needs to be addressed in this country. There is too big a discrepancy in the quality of healthcare available for some than for others. The standard on the low range is inadequate.

And the government is going to beat private industry at this for the same pricing? This is where the efficiency thing comes in. To get better care for the same price requires...increased efficiency.

And I'm saying that doesn't make sense. If it were just the poor getting inadequate coverage, then simply be honest and shovel them money to buy better quality care.

Think foodstamps, redeemable vouchers that can be used to purchase/supplement existing health services. Combine that with some regulation to eliminate the tiered individual/corporate pricing game and you're in business.

If you want to income redistribute, let's just be honest about it and do it. What does a huge government power grab gain us exactly? National health care is the worst of both worlds, income redistribution coupled to government bloat, a dream system for empire builders to vote themselves more money into an unaccountable nightmare answerable to no reality except their own.

There should be a better way than the current American system. Conservatives might consider what kind if beneficial labor mobility and small business creation a good national health scheme could foster.

Don't need a national anything to do that. We could accomplish this by 1) breaking the explicit funding of health insurance by employers and 2) make insurance companies offer flat pricing to individuals (I'd be okay with some tiering systems depending on details).

In other words make health insurance a little closer to auto insurance. Employers take the money they pay into insurance and dump it into the general compensation pool. Employees get to buy insurance to their needs, can take it from job to job, hang onto it between jobs, switching insurance becomes easier - encouraging greater competition between providers.

The conservative response to a poorly performing industry is to, in a neutral manner, alter the game rules so industry is encouraged to produce the results required. Not to jump onto the playing board ourselves as a player.

"But in any case, what I meant by "they have healthier people" was not so much that each individual lived a more healthy life, but that a higher percentage of individuals had access to healthcare."

But all Americans have access to healthcare? I fail to see how waiting in line at a free clinic or emergency room (for the truly destititute) is any worse than waiting in line at the Government controlled clinic. The only difference is everybody has to wait in Europe (aside from the elite of course) while most Americans dont. Are we trying to make healthcare better for the poor or worse for everyone else so we're all equal in misery?

"I'm not talking about diet, exercise, etc. I'm talking about regular access to basic healthcare. For me this is a problem that needs to be addressed in this country."

Im still not clear how this isnt available. Between medicaire, medicaid, and the billions spent by the federal government alone outside of the big programs, not to mention the states, cities, and charities, how is healthcare access not available? You are saying the healthcare that is available isnt up to your standards I think.

"There is too big a discrepancy in the quality of healthcare available for some than for others. The standard on the low range is inadequate."

Ok, lets say you are correct. I have no problem working out a system similar to Australia or Switzerland that provides for universal insurance coverage... although i think it will be hugely expensive. The problem is once the bills start rising the voices of the single payer people get louder and louder. Next thing you know the guys that run the DMV are running your healthcare. If you dont like your HMO, just wait.

"I certainly don't see anything wrong with promoting diet and excercise..and it seems that if people had more access to healtcare professionals they might be better informed of the benefits."

Neither do I, but we're talking about government coersion here. If we could give everyone in America awesome healthcare without bothering the majority who alraedy have it, great! But nobody thinks that is possible. Which is why already we hear about mandatory check ups and mandatory participation etc. And we're still in the honeymoon stage.

"BTW, Have you been to Europe lately? McDonalds all over the place. Not really the issue."

Europe is indeed catching up in fatness. Which will make it quite interesting to see how viable their healthcare systems are when faced with declining healthy living and aging populations. Again- this is not something you should judge too early. There are demographic forces at work that NOBODY has an answer to, and most dont even want to think about. The scary thing is the people running these things seem to be the nannystatists that will try to solve their problems by getting rid of the McDonalds etc. Thats what scares me, because these programs make those people very powerful, and i have no idea how you turn that off once its innacted.

Jim,

I have to disagree. I'm not naive enough to deny that Obama's "blackness" is part of what has got him where he is, but it's only part. His relative youth helps, as does his promise of (unspecified) change, his hopeful (and equally unspecified) "yes we can," and his nonsensical but profound-sounding non-sequitors ("We are the change we seek!") There's an old saying, "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit." Obama has an absolutely uncanny talent for dazzling with brilliant bullshit.

Mark B.,

The present state of affairs here is that people poor enough to qualify for medicaid have access to healthcare, though it is below the standard. People who have insurance have access to healthcare, though it is of varying quality depending upon the type of insurance they can afford. Wealthy people without insurance have access to the best healthcare in the world. But about 50 million people have no access to healthcare at all because they have no insurance, they aren't poor enough to qualify for medicaid and they are not wealthy enough to pay out of pocket.

I don't think I'm an unusual example. I can afford only a rock-bottom HMO, which I cannot change because it is tied to a group plan that selects the HMO. (Without the group plan, I could not afford any insurance at market prices.) The plan I do have is expensive. The deductibles and copays are high. My wife and I are of an age where it is necessary to receive medical care fairly often. Our annual medical expenses, including insurance, approach 10,000 a year. We have a very limited choice of doctors. Claims are often denied and the bureaucracy for appeals is cumbersome. I think this system is in need of vast improvement.

As I've said, I've lived and worked under 3 different European healthcare systems. None are perfect. All are preferable to ours, as far as I'm concerned. There are dozens of working models. They do work. Some 300 million people get up and go to work everyday, successfully, and live under these systems. They are no more or less unhappy than we are. I understand there are tradeoffs and I understand there may not be consensus in this country to take a different approach to healthcare. But despite the flaws and difficulties inherent in the various European models, I believe they are superior to our system.

The guys at my local DMV are much better than the guys at my local HMO. The guys at the DMV have no incentive to deny my application for a license renewal. The guys at my local HMO have every incentive to deny my application for medical claims. They guys at my local HMO are incompetent boobs as far as I can tell. The guys at my local DMV have quickly and efficiently provided me with what they are supposed to.

But about 50 million people have no access to healthcare at all because they have no insurance, they aren't poor enough to qualify for medicaid and they are not wealthy enough to pay out of pocket.

Absolutely nothing in the preceding sentence is true.

Hmm, let's see mark, from the handy post up above

before National Health Care you'd be at (taking the lowest bracket listed)...

Married making 60K- tax $9,000

under Clinton/Obama new tax plan you'd be at

Married making 60K - tax $16,800

so that's a $7,800 a year increase alone even without ANY of the other new taxes listed.

It looks like the best case is a break even scenario here...

Honestly, it sounds like you have a lousy provider, mine is not spectacular but it's head and shoulders better than yours. They get away with it because you're locked in and don't have another option.

So how is the solution to being stuck in a cage to lock yourself into a sturdier cage?

Well, Treefrog, as I have pointed out, my personal experience with other systems in Denmark, UK and France are such that I don't regard them as the same or worse, i.e., sturdier cages. They were much better than my current situation (Denmark being the best of the lot). And while I would break even on the deal financially -- though I hope with less claims-denied-headaches-- I think that I might have a little broader choice in PCPs, etc. But more importantly than my breaking even, the attraction is that 50,000,000 people who are currently uninsured would have better access to healthcare than they do now. Since every other industrialized nation in the world has universal health care, and they all seem to be doing all right with it, why shouldn't we give it a shot? I don't see what we have to lose, frankly.

You are right, I do have a shoddy provider and it is probably due to my being locked in. But that situation is inherent in the overall system.

There has to be someone in charge of picking the HMO and evaluating their performance. Complain to that person,and ask other members to complain, and maybe you'll have a new provider for the next fiscal year.

We can all agree that there are many distortions in the US health care market, with employer provided plans being the norm as one of the major ones. But, there is something of a market even there; and as an employee you do have a collective voice in the selection of an HMO.

lurker, you are right. And in fact, there were so many complaints that the group did switch HMOs quite recently. So far the results of the new one have been mixed. We'll see. All that said, I'm not advocating building an argument for public policy based on one person's experience. But I do seriously question the validity of the objections being raised to National Health Care. Most objections seemed to be based upon speculation and worse-case assumptions and also a lot on myths. E.g., the abstract below of a 2002 study --pretty comprehensive from what I can see -- from Health Affairs seems to let the air out of one very popular myth. There's far too much ideological-based opposition trying to pass itself off as reasoned opposition.

Abstract:
To examine the extent to which Canadian residents seek medical care across the border, we collected data about Canadians' use of services from ambulatory care facilities and hospitals located in Michigan, New York State, and Washington State during 1994-1998. We also collected information from several Canadian sources, including the 1996 National Population Health Survey, the provincial Ministries of Health, and the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association. Results from these sources do not support the widespread perception that Canadian residents seek care extensively in the United States. Indeed, the numbers found are so small as to be barely detectible relative to the use of care by Canadians at home.

But more importantly than my breaking even, the attraction is that 50,000,000 people who are currently uninsured would have better access to healthcare than they do now.

And at the rate that number is growing, it'll exceed the number of living Americans by 2010.

Since every other industrialized nation in the world has universal health care, and they all seem to be doing all right with it, why shouldn't we give it a shot?

Because they free-ride on the US system. The EU has a larger overall economy than the US but the US dominates in medical R&D. They also fly over all the specialized/bleeding edge stuff to the US, which provides a societal safety valve for those with money (or who can raise it) and need the really exotic stuff that the socialized system can't or won't provide.

But more to the point, for the per-capita cost they pay, you can get better care in the US even under the current system (which has some nasty flaws I'd love to see opened up to encourage more competition).

Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater here, if the problem is that a certain segment of the population can't afford sufficiently high quality health-care (however that's defined) then just be honest and do some friggin' income redistribution and get them the funds.

Again, this seems to me to be a complicated dance to avoid some kind of psychic guilt involved with just rearranging the money. We're not taking money from the rich to give it to the poor, nosirree, we're giving everyone FREE HEALTHCARE.

An interesting comparison might be to look at the education system and vouchers and see how well the income redistribution combined with free market principals works everywhere it's been tried.

"But about 50 million people have no access to healthcare at all"

Thats patently false. If it were true people would be bleeding out of every oriface in hospital parking lots on a daily basis.

Canada, on the other hand:

"In Canada, every citizen has coverage, but access can still be a problem. Based on 2003 data from the Canadian Community Health Survey,31 an estimated 1.2 million Canadians do not have a regular doctor because they "cannot find" one, and just over twice that number do not have one because they "haven't looked". Those without a regular doctor are 3.5 times more likely to visit an emergency room for treatment."
link

By population, in America that would equate to 12 million people unable to find a doctor. That doesnt seem likely to solve the problem you are talking about.

We have a health insurance problem, and an affordability issue. These are not problems a one size fits all government take over is likely to mitigate... at least without creating monstrously bigger problems.

"But about 50 million people have no access to healthcare at all"

Thats patently false.

Your right, Mark. I left out "affordable."

Speaking of leaving out words, you do realize that you took the phrase "regular doctor" above and changed it to "a doctor." Kind of makes a slight difference. Also, the difficulty of finding a regular doctor, or a doctor at all, for that matter, isn't necessarily related to their having a national health care system. It could be tied to any number of other factors, e.g. too many small towns in the middle of nowhere.

That's still false, mark. That so many people do not have health insurance does not mean that they do not have access to either health insurance nor health care itself.

The best thing for America is for the first President, who is not a white male, to be a REPUBLICAN.

People ask if America is ready for a female President. I say that, yes, if a woman like Margaret Thatcher was running, she would win easily and become legendary.

As far as a minority President, I think a VP stint would be a necessary step and pre-requisite.

Sadly, none of the three black Governor GOP candidates in 2006 (Blackwell, Swann, or Steele) did well. If even one of these gentlemen had won, they might be the ideal choice for McCain to tap as a running mate.

But it was not to be.

Thus, the next hope on the horizon is for Bobby Jindal to run in 2016, and make it to the VP slot at a minimum. Now, THAT would be something.

GK -

It has been said before....

The US IS ready for a black man to be President, just not this black man.

The US IS ready for a woman to be President, just not THAT woman.

GK, I would not bet against the proposition that Condi Rice will be tapped by McCain.

Now that would play havoc with a whole lot of identity politics. And I think she'd be a fine choice even if her pigmentation and her chromosomes were white/XY.

Mark

As my Danish friend would say, "Sure, Demark has free health care for everyone, and everyone pays well over 50% of their income in order to pay for these freebies however, I have to fly to NYC five times a year to hold week long yoga seminars in order to make enough money to live on".

In any case Mark, I don't go to doctors so please keep your nanny self out of my life.

That said: whether it's Clinton or Obama, black, white or kalidescopic America doesn't want a nosy collectivist nanny running our lives.

Treefrog,

make insurance companies offer flat pricing to individuals (I'd be okay with some tiering systems depending on details)...In other words make health insurance a little closer to auto insurance.

Sorry, there's a lot of underwriting in the auto insurance business, on both the liability end (ever paid for insurance for your teenage son as primary driver of your 3rd car?) and the comprehensive side (just compare rates if you live in a gated community versus the nearest urban-warfare zone.)

mark,

The guys at the DMV have no incentive to deny my application for a license renewal

Dude, that's because the DMV is not remotely commensurate with your HMO. Try rewriting it like this to see how preposterous your assertion really is:

"The guys at L & I have no incentive to deny my on-the-job injury claim."

"The guys at the DMV have no incentive to deny my application for a license renewal"

The DMV's budget isnt affected by how many licenses they issue or fail to. That wont be the case with any kind of government insurance/health care, the bureaucracy will have a powerful incentive to keep their costs down, particularly when they spiral out of control. If you think government wont ration care to control costs I'd like to see the evidence.

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