Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Weekend in the country

I'm going to be out amongst the cornfields and the cows for a couple of days, so if you're lucky (Hah!) I'll get something up here Saturday afternoon, but maybe not till Sunday. Meanwhile, I'm very pleased to announce that Missy will be posting on the Dialogue blog, offering a take on the Bible and matters philosophical from a religious point of view. It was our hope in establishing the blog to have such dialogue, of course, and I know we'll have a very worthy interlocutor. (No pressure Missy, but I will hold off on my next post until she has a chance to get started.)

For today's Stayin' Alive, I will just say that the Democratic presidential debate last night signaled that substantial health care reform will be on the campaign agenda. However, the front runners are still rather vague. Sen. Clinton, of course, is once bitten and twice shy, and she largely discussed health care in terms of her regrets about the failure of her effort in the her husband's first administration. Good luck finding anything about health care on her campaign web site. Obama, as usual, is rather more full of stirring rhetoric than precise policy proposals. (I'm sorry Senator, but this is largely bullshit. His most specific promise is that he "wants to hear" from us.) John Edwards proposes an incremental reform similar to the Massachusetts state plan, which includes an employer mandate, expansion of publicly financed insurance for low income people, creating large community-rated pools, and ultimately an individual mandate. It is far from clear that these steps can truly contain costs and make insurance affordable for middle income people, but the incremental steps could help and will provide a basis for more fundamental reform should it become politically possible.

Bill Richardson wants to establish some (unspecified) employer mandates, and more important, let people buy into the federal employee's plan, let people 55-65 buy into Medicare, and he wants to offer some subsidies, characterized as an "advanced, refundable tax credit." I actually think this is one of the most meaningful proposals -- it represents genuine progress toward a single payer system and does not require that private corporations skim profits from expanded coverage.

Joe Biden is watching reform efforts at the state level and waiting to see what he likes. Chicken shit. Christopher Dodd is proud of his record but what he plans to do as president is still a secret. We all know that Dennis Kucinich is for universal, comprehensive, single payer national health care but I'll be president before he is. And, uhh, there's some guy from Alaska.

So, as of now, I'm putting Richardson in first place and Edwards in second. Obama has barely gotten out of the blocks and the rest of them haven't even heard the starting gun yet. We're really going to have to make this into a powerful grassroots movement, I think, if we are to move from rhetoric to substantive progress.

No comments: