The Lonely Centrist

A place for reasoned debate about the issues of the day.

See my complete profile

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Same Ole Same Ole Obama

Today Bloomberg has up a puff piece on Barack Obama's economic policy team. The article opens with this hard-hitting, objective paragraph:
Senator Barack Obama portrays himself as a new kind of leader who transcends conventional politics. Judging by the economists he has enlisted in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, he may just be.

In the second paragraph, we learn that they are "up-and-coming-academics... with a fondness for backing innovative solutions to the nation's problems." Hey, my heart is already atwitter. Next, Alan Blinder is trotted out to reveal "They bring to the campaign some fresh thought on approaches that are non-status quo." We learn that they are "top-notch" and that their solutions "can help us get past ideological battles." From one of the economic advisors himself we learn that Obama, "wants to get beyond the normal debate between A and B, to try to dream up things that are different and better." Finally, a change from candidates such as John Edwards and Mitt Romney, dreaming up plans that are the same, only worse. This is a new strategy! And so on goes Bloomberg, at some length.

The Centerman wonders what story this is worth to the Obama campaign. $50,000? $75,000? $250,000? More? Lots more?

When all is said and done, the proposals don't sound all that new. Let's see... they want the federal government to pick up automakers health care and pension costs - subsidies for industry, an idea at least as old as Lee Ioccoca and the Chrysler bailout, and something every manufacturers association longs for - but to link these subsidies to more greater investment in "fuel efficient vehicles." Fuel efficient vehicles? Whoa, where did that come from? These guys are fresh!

To put it another way, Obama wants to take over the auto and health care industries in one fell swoop.

But Obama's health plans go further.
[He] has tried to go beyond the long-running debate between advocates of a government-run ``single-payer'' system and proponents of a market-driven approach based on health savings accounts for consumers.

Under a pay-for-performance system devised by [Obama advisor] Cutler, doctors would be reimbursed not for the services they provide but for the improvements they make to patients' health. Patients would be encouraged to take better care of themselves through preventive care and comparison shopping for medical cost savings.

Oh, I love that. A government run health plan in which my doctor gets paid or not by the government based on my personal health habits. Isn't the way to comparison shopping easy - expanded personal health accounts, with less reliance on government or employers to pick up the tab? I don't quite know how you get consumers to comparison shop costs when they don't pay the bill directly. But less reliance on third party payers is anathema to the Democratic Party, so Obama's folks are dreaming up gimmicks that probably can't work.

Maybe I've just grown cynical. Perhaps there really are no truly new solutions to our various problems. But man, what does a candidate have to do to get such coverage? Poor Hillary Clinton - her health plan never had it so good. Is there a fairness doctrine anyplace for Obama's rivals?

  • The Skeptic
  • Andrew Sullivan
  • Michael Barone
  • The New Republic
  • National Review
  • Democracy Project
  • Bob Bauer
  • Center for Competitive Politics
  • Ryan Sager
  • Going to the Matt
  • Professor Bainbridge
  • Volokh Conspiracy
  • Mystery Pollster
  • Amitai Etzioni
  • Alexander Chrenkoff
  • Middle East Media Research Institute
  • Right Democrat
  • Democrats for Life