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Thread: Obama's naivete

  1. #1
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    Obama's naivete

    Obama supporters should be concerned about the points Krugman makes here.

    December 17, 2007

    Big Table Fantasies
    By PAUL KRUGMAN
    Broadly speaking, the serious contenders for the Democratic nomination are offering similar policy proposals — the dispute over health care mandates notwithstanding. But there are large differences among the candidates in their beliefs about what it will take to turn a progressive agenda into reality.

    At one extreme, Barack Obama insists that the problem with America is that our politics are so “bitter and partisan,” and insists that he can get things done by ushering in a “different kind of politics.”

    At the opposite extreme, John Edwards blames the power of the wealthy and corporate interests for our problems, and says, in effect, that America needs another F.D.R. — a polarizing figure, the object of much hatred from the right, who nonetheless succeeded in making big changes.

    Over the last few days Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards have been conducting a long-range argument over health care that gets right to this issue. And I have to say that Mr. Obama comes off looking, well, naïve.

    The argument began during the Democratic debate, when the moderator — Carolyn Washburn, the editor of The Des Moines Register — suggested that Mr. Edwards shouldn’t be so harsh on the wealthy and special interests, because “the same groups are often responsible for getting things done in Washington.”

    Mr. Edwards replied, “Some people argue that we’re going to sit at a table with these people and they’re going to voluntarily give their power away. I think it is a complete fantasy; it will never happen.”

    This was pretty clearly a swipe at Mr. Obama, who has repeatedly said that health reform should be negotiated at a “big table” that would include insurance companies and drug companies.

    On Saturday Mr. Obama responded, this time criticizing Mr. Edwards by name. He declared that “We want to reduce the power of drug companies and insurance companies and so forth, but the notion that they will have no say-so at all in anything is just not realistic.”

    Hmm. Do Obama supporters who celebrate his hoped-for ability to bring us together realize that “us” includes the insurance and drug lobbies?

    O.K., more seriously, it’s actually Mr. Obama who’s being unrealistic here, believing that the insurance and drug industries — which are, in large part, the cause of our health care problems — will be willing to play a constructive role in health reform. The fact is that there’s no way to reduce the gross wastefulness of our health system without also reducing the profits of the industries that generate the waste.

    As a result, drug and insurance companies — backed by the conservative movement as a whole — will be implacably opposed to any significant reforms. And what would Mr. Obama do then? “I’ll get on television and say Harry and Louise are lying,” he says. I’m sure the lobbyists are terrified.

    As health care goes, so goes the rest of the progressive agenda. Anyone who thinks that the next president can achieve real change without bitter confrontation is living in a fantasy world.

    Which brings me to a big worry about Mr. Obama: in an important sense, he has in effect become the anti-change candidate.

    There’s a strong populist tide running in America right now. For example, a recent Democracy Corps survey of voter discontent found that the most commonly chosen phrase explaining what’s wrong with the country was “Big businesses get whatever they want in Washington.”

    And there’s every reason to believe that the Democrats can win big next year if they run with that populist tide. The latest evidence came from focus groups run by both Fox News and CNN during last week’s Democratic debate: both declared Mr. Edwards the clear winner.

    But the news media recoil from populist appeals. The Des Moines Register, which endorsed Mr. Edwards in 2004, rejected him this time on the grounds that his “harsh anti-corporate rhetoric would make it difficult to work with the business community to forge change.”

    And while The Register endorsed Hillary Clinton, the prime beneficiary of media distaste for populism has clearly been Mr. Obama, with his message of reconciliation. According to a recent survey by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, Mr. Obama’s coverage has been far more favorable than that of any other candidate.

    So what happens if Mr. Obama is the nominee?

    He will probably win — but not as big as a candidate who ran on a more populist platform. Let’s be blunt: pundits who say that what voters really want is a candidate who makes them feel good, that they want an end to harsh partisanship, are projecting their own desires onto the public.

    And nothing Mr. Obama has said suggests that he appreciates the bitterness of the battles he will have to fight if he does become president, and tries to get anything done.

  2. #2
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    I wonder how much Krugman gets on the side from the Clinton Family......;)

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    Well, Mr. Edwards I would think the high cost of insurance that Doctors and other Medical Professionals have to pay because of malpractice suits are a very big part of the problem. How about getting your Fellow Lawyers under control!

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    the US health care system is screwed on so many levels, at least these men are talking about changing it... maybe they are both being naive.

    ask me it starts with the lawyers. Malpractice penalty caps is something the lawyers in congress (both parties) won't abide. insurance is out of control, doctors can't do their jobs and alot of good people are avoiding the industry.

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    [QUOTE=bitonti;2271622]the US health care system is screwed on so many levels, at least these men are talking about changing it... maybe they are both being naive.

    ask me it starts with the lawyers. Malpractice penalty caps is something the lawyers in congress (both parties) won't abide. insurance is out of control, doctors can't do their jobs and alot of good people are avoiding the industry.[/QUOTE]

    Provide some numbers. I don't think there is any evidence, or certainly not sufficient evidence, to support your assertions.

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    The main problem with "discussions" evident from the above responses to the article is that it is so easy to get off the track from what the main point is.

    Putting aside how much you think health insurance is a problem, or who is responsible. Do you think the insurance and drug companies and their lobbyists will voluntarily agree to reforming the current system by sitting down at the table with Barack Obama in a kind of Kumbaya moment?

    Obama supporters need to answer this question. If they say yes and feel comfortable with that, I guess I can merely question their judgment. If they are not comfortable with that answer, then I assume they are supporting him for some other reason.

    But Krugman is correct - if a Democrat is elected president and fails to accomplish a restructuring of the health insurance situation we presently have, nothing else will really serve to advance the progressive agenda.

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    All I can say if a Group of Doctors or even a hospital is sued for malpractice and the Insurance goes up dramatically guess who will pay for it. We the public. Doctors and Hospitals are not in the business of losing money.

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    [QUOTE=MnJetFan;2273186]All I can say if a Group of Doctors or even a hospital is sued for malpractice and the Insurance goes up dramatically guess who will pay for it. We the public. Doctors and Hospitals are not in the business of losing money.[/QUOTE]
    Actually the government sets the rates that doctors can charge through the medicare fee scales (which is a guideline for the private insurers also), so physicians raising their fees is easier said than done.

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    [QUOTE=Big Blocker;2271857]Provide some numbers. I don't think there is any evidence, or certainly not sufficient evidence, to support your assertions.[/QUOTE]

    if i could show you the increases in malpractice insurance rates over time would that be sufficient evidence?

    or are you a lawyer? ;)

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    The issue here is not malpractice, it is whether Obama is truly the better candidate to achieve a restructuring of our health care and insurance situtation.

    What do you guys all have ADD or something? You act like you didn't read Krugman's article.

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    [QUOTE=Big Blocker;2270403]Big Table Fantasies
    By PAUL KRUGMAN

    O.K., more seriously, it’s actually Mr. Obama who’s being unrealistic here, believing [B]that the insurance and drug industries — which are, in large part, the cause of our health care problems — will be willing to play a constructive role in health reform. The fact is that there’s no way to reduce the gross wastefulness of our health system without also reducing the profits of the industries that generate the waste. [/B]

    [/QUOTE]

    What does gross wastefulness mean? What Krugman and the Democrats are really proposing is rationing health care to distribute more of it to Democratic voters. The Government through the executive branch generally takes care of it's constituents. Do we really want to put our health care into the hands of either Democrat or Republican lobbists? The idea that it's only Insurance and Drug company lobbies, not labor unions and others that have an axe to grind is absurd. Drug companies have created increased costs of health care by extending lives. Gee whiz that's a dumb idea. You want to lower the waste let people die in their 50's instead of their 60's, 70's and 80's.

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    [QUOTE=Big Blocker;2273611]The issue here is not malpractice, it is whether Obama is truly the better candidate to achieve a restructuring of our health care and insurance situtation.

    What do you guys all have ADD or something? You act like you didn't read Krugman's article.[/QUOTE]

    Truth be told, Krugman seems far more naive in this article than Obama. Do you really think you can successfully reform health care without involving the industries that provide it? Clinton tried that in the early 90s. It failed. Spectacularly.

    The reality of the situation is that reform will be a give and take, gradual process. The hospitals, pharmaceuticals and insurers will give concessions if they get some, too. Perhaps, in order to get private companies to insure hundreds of thousands (millions) of additional citizens, they might have to get a malpractice cap in return.

    Maybe they'll agree to much-needed marketing regulations (advertising costs are a huge reason drugs are so expensive) if they get concessions involving a crackdown on drugs from Canada.

    That's how things get done in the real world.

    The idea that John Edwards or whoever is going to ramrod through wholesale change to an industry that is something like 1/6th of our GDP without buy-in from any insiders is beyond absurd.

  13. #13
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    [QUOTE=Big Blocker;2273611]The issue here is not malpractice, it is whether Obama is truly the better candidate to achieve a restructuring of our health care and insurance situtation.

    What do you guys all have ADD or something? You act like you didn't read Krugman's article.[/QUOTE]

    Here's an idea close down most of the big hospitals that cost a fortune to run and are full of union employees. Do you think the Dems are going to do that? Most procedures can be done safer, quicker with less risk of infection in small inexpensive none union medical facilities. Some how I don't believe either Obama or Edwards is going to advocate closing down these big outdated facilities that are costing us a fortune to operate.

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    [QUOTE=nuu faaola;2273693]Truth be told, Krugman seems far more naive in this article than Obama. Do you really think you can successfully reform health care without involving the industries that provide it? Clinton tried that in the early 90s. It failed. Spectacularly.

    The reality of the situation is that reform will be a give and take, gradual process. The hospitals, pharmaceuticals and insurers will give concessions if they get some, too. Perhaps, in order to get private companies to insure hundreds of thousands (millions) of additional citizens, they might have to get a malpractice cap in return.

    Maybe they'll agree to much-needed marketing regulations (advertising costs are a huge reason drugs are so expensive) if they get concessions involving a crackdown on drugs from Canada.

    That's how things get done in the real world.

    The idea that John Edwards or whoever is going to ramrod through wholesale change to an industry that is something like 1/6th of our GDP without buy-in from any insiders is beyond absurd.[/QUOTE]

    Wow nuu I actually agree with you. Doctors,Lawyers, Insurance have to involved in the process

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    [QUOTE=MnJetFan;2273914]Wow nuu I actually agree with you. Doctors,Lawyers, Insurance have to involved in the process[/QUOTE]

    We'll make an Obama supporter out of you yet, MN!

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    [QUOTE=nuu faaola;2273693]Truth be told, Krugman seems far more naive in this article than Obama. Do you really think you can successfully reform health care without involving the industries that provide it? Clinton tried that in the early 90s. It failed. Spectacularly.

    The reality of the situation is that reform will be a give and take, gradual process. The hospitals, pharmaceuticals and insurers will give concessions if they get some, too. Perhaps, in order to get private companies to insure hundreds of thousands (millions) of additional citizens, they might have to get a malpractice cap in return.

    Maybe they'll agree to much-needed marketing regulations (advertising costs are a huge reason drugs are so expensive) if they get concessions involving a crackdown on drugs from Canada.

    That's how things get done in the real world.

    The idea that John Edwards or whoever is going to ramrod through wholesale change to an industry that is something like 1/6th of our GDP without buy-in from any insiders is beyond absurd.[/QUOTE]

    Read your own statement closely.

    Of course they will be involved. The question is how much say they should have in what goes into the end product. Obama is saying he can get these people into a room and they will voluntarily give up things that they profit from. That is naive. It will not happen.

    You say a give and take will be involved. What is Obama prepared to give the drug and insurance companies that they don't already have? Something tells me you won't be able to answer this, because I don't believe Obama has said.

    The issue of not including mandates goes along with this. I think the two together show that Obama is not really serious about getting this done in an effective manner, or does not have the courage or insight to see it through.

    The nineties comparison is inapt. The Clintons let the issues get sidetracked with the whole secrecy thing. Then they panicked and thought they could pursue incremental measures, but did not, although they did in other areas. Hillary herself says that would not happen this time, but of course she is also taking money from lobbyists for the drug and insurance companies.

    If the public goes into this and understands the stakes and the need for comprehensive reform, the only way it will work is to not give a veto to the insurance companies.

    In short, involved, yes. A say in the outcome, no.

    The larger concern I have about this is that Obama feels he can sell the public on the notion that he will be able to change the paradigm for political exchanges and processes in this country in a way that will be painless. His followers want to believe this, that he has that kind of influence, and power. There is absolutely nothing to support this notion. Thinking there is is, well, naive.

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    [QUOTE=Big Blocker;2274103]Read your own statement closely.

    Of course they will be involved. The question is how much say they should have in what goes into the end product. Obama is saying he can get these people into a room and they will voluntarily give up things that they profit from. That is naive. It will not happen.

    You say a give and take will be involved. What is Obama prepared to give the drug and insurance companies that they don't already have? Something tells me you won't be able to answer this, because I don't believe Obama has said.

    The issue of not including mandates goes along with this. I think the two together show that Obama is not really serious about getting this done in an effective manner, or does not have the courage or insight to see it through.

    The nineties comparison is inapt. The Clintons let the issues get sidetracked with the whole secrecy thing. Then they panicked and thought they could pursue incremental measures, but did not, although they did in other areas. Hillary herself says that would not happen this time, but of course she is also taking money from lobbyists for the drug and insurance companies.

    If the public goes into this and understands the stakes and the need for comprehensive reform, the only way it will work is to not give a veto to the insurance companies.

    In short, involved, yes. A say in the outcome, no.

    The larger concern I have about this is that Obama feels he can sell the public on the notion that he will be able to change the paradigm for political exchanges and processes in this country in a way that will be painless. His followers want to believe this, that he has that kind of influence, and power. There is absolutely nothing to support this notion. Thinking there is is, well, naive.[/QUOTE]

    The article you posted and endorsed plainly criticizes Obama for offering a seat at the table to the industry. Now you say they can be involved, too, yet you continue to criticize Obama for offering a seat at the table.

    What, may I ask, is the difference between having them involved and having them sit at the table?

    You also say you want them involved but you don't want to give them any say in the outcome. Why would they be involved if that was your public stance going in. If that's how you approach a negotiation publicly, they aren't going to buy into it, and it will go nowhere because they will do exactly what they did in 1992 -- when a Democratic president and a Democratic congress were unable to ram it down their throats.

    Obama's tack is entice the industry to buy into the process. What can he give them in exchange? As I wrote earlier, there's plenty they want, like malpractice caps, for instance, that they don't currently have.

    That's how negotiations work. Were Obama to win office with a clear mandate, he'd also have the leverage of popular support in those talks. You can always get tougher later. But if you're beligerent from the start you have no chance of achieving anything.

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    [QUOTE=nuu faaola;2274134]The article you posted and endorsed plainly criticizes Obama for offering a seat at the table to the industry. Now you say they can be involved, too, yet you continue to criticize Obama for offering a seat at the table.

    What, may I ask, is the difference between having them involved and having them sit at the table?

    You also say you want them involved but you don't want to give them any say in the outcome. Why would they be involved if that was your public stance going in. If that's how you approach a negotiation publicly, they aren't going to buy into it, and it will go nowhere because they will do exactly what they did in 1992 -- when a Democratic president and a Democratic congress were unable to ram it down their throats.

    Obama's tack is entice the industry to buy into the process. What can he give them in exchange? As I wrote earlier, there's plenty they want, like malpractice caps, for instance, that they don't currently have.

    That's how negotiations work. Were Obama to win office with a clear mandate, he'd also have the leverage of popular support in those talks. You can always get tougher later. But if you're beligerent from the start you have no chance of achieving anything.[/QUOTE]

    Well, it is an interesting question, to say the least.

    When I said they would be involved, I meant they would be involved in implementing the reforms according to the laws that result from the process. I did not mean and did not say that they would be involved in negotiating the result, because to do so in my opinion will inevitably destroy the effort.

    They don't want things to be different. They don't want reform. They profit from the way it is now. They will not be enticed into anything that cuts into their power and profits.

    Your reference to malpractice is interesting. First of all, if that is the give Obama is offering, it in no way will compensate them for the lost power and profits it will be necessary to strip away. Second, what do you propose to do for people who are injured? Leave them without compensation?

    I already addressed your point about the failed Clinton effort.

    As for the mandate question, if Obama has not run on the position that it will be necessary to "get tough" with the insurance companies, and in fact has said it will not be necessary to do so, and also has said mandated coverage need not be part of the reforms (Krugman had an earlier, excellent column on that subject as well), then what "mandate" will he have to get tough with them later and also claim the public supports including a mandate of coverage? That is contradictory.

    I do think the success or failure of a Democratic president to achieve health insurance reform is critical at this time of history to the progressive movement. It is why the GOP and vested interests will fight it with everything they have. They will not make nice while Obama or anyone else "shows" that substantial public good can be acheived through a government program, to their detriment. Thinking otherwise is pure foolishness and audacious hope bereft of any connection to reality.

    It is also unfortunately part of my larger concern about the Obama campaign. I sense his supporters see him in almost messianic terms as someone who will magically accomplish big things in a way that will be painless. Edwards is much more honest and up front about this. I have no illusions about the nature of the struggle ahead.

    Which makes me wonder whether some big chunk of Obama supporters even care about this. I wonder whether they will be completely satisfied electing our first black president, and not having W in office anymore. That sounds nice, but I firmly believe much more will be needed to get this country back on the right track. So far I don't see that Obama is prepared to take the country in that direction. I do see that from Edwards.
    Last edited by Big Blocker; 12-19-2007 at 09:25 AM.

  19. #19
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    [QUOTE=Big Blocker;2275352]Thinking otherwise is pure foolishness and audacious hope bereft of any connection to reality.

    [/QUOTE]

    Now *that* is a $5 sentence right there.

    Do you really talk like that? Awesome.

    As far as this debate, we'll just have to agree to disagree. We are basically arguing about styles of leadership -- which is like arguing about taste in clothes. It's personal preference.

    I suspect we agree on most of the issues anyhow, as the candidates we support do, after all.

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    [QUOTE=nuu faaola;2275580]Now *that* is a $5 sentence right there.

    Do you really talk like that? Awesome.

    As far as this debate, we'll just have to agree to disagree. We are basically arguing about styles of leadership -- which is like arguing about taste in clothes. It's personal preference.

    I suspect we agree on most of the issues anyhow, as the candidates we support do, after all.[/QUOTE]

    Heh. Thanks.

    I actually was hoping an Obama supporter could answer the concerns I have about him, here and elsewhere. So far I have not found anyone who has. I don't think it merely a question of style, but one more about effectiveness and goals.

    Oh well...

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