Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Today's New York Times reports on John McCain's health insurance proposals; if you haven't read the article, I'm not spoiling much when I tell you that his plan clones much of Bush's health-care approach, which means it throws people on the mercy of the market, and what subsidies it provides are inadequate if the goal is ensuring that all Americans (or even more Americans) are covered.

If you haven't read it, you absolutely need to read this post from Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings, which totes up the plan's deficiencies. (On the question of what a private citizen in Elizabeth Edwards's condition would get out of this plan, she'd get, well, another year older and quite possibly about $100,000 in debt.) Really, read it.

What I can add is purely political. I note this in the Times article:

"I'll work tirelessly to address the problem," Mr. McCain said in a speech here at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. "But I won't create another entitlement program that Washington will let get out of control. I won't do it...."

If I were a Democratic candidate, in addition to denouncing the McCain plan along the lines of what's in Hilzoy's post, I'd also react to the pronouncement above. Here's what I'd say:

When John McCain talks about entitlement programs that are out of control, you know what he's referring to, don't you? He's referring to Social Security. He's referring to Medicare. Programs like that.

Now I know some of you are collecting Social Security benefits, and some of you are on Medicare. I know some of you have parents and grandparents who are benefiting from Social Security and Medicare.

How many of you think you and your parents and your grandparents are what's wrong with this country? John McCain does. How many of you think you and your parents and your grandparents are the greedy ones whose benefits are out of control? John McCain thinks so.

John McCain doesn't think tax cuts to the rich are the problem. John McCain thinks your grandma and grandpa are the problem.

Do you think your grandma and grandpa are the problem? ...

Establishment wonks will, of course, argue that your grandma and grandpa are the problem, at which point Paul Krugman will tell them they're full of it.

This isn't a wonkish, nuanced riff. Nothing wrong with that. This is politics.

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