Is our president really that fragile?

I think it was David Brooks, or it was Mike Murphy, this morning who said you shouldn’t put the president out there unless you know the results.  This is a reference the supposed humilation he suffered, and by extension that America suffered since he went out an advocated for the 2016 Summer Olympic bid and didn’t get it.

Basically what is being said is that the only way that our president can show strength is by winning every time.  That losing makes him look smaller, and by extension America.  I think this is a load of crap.  If you really wanted to extend that to its logical conclusion, then if he loses the debate on health care or stimulus funding, then he is showing the weakness of America.  You could even say this is being done by traitors, you know those Republicans in Congress, because at least the IOC was by international voters who probably hate America.  Except for those times when Obama is perceived to be more popular abroad than at home, but maybe not on the IOC.

I would rather have a president that advocates for an American city to host the Olympics.  I would rather have a president strong enough to handle a setback that really doesn’t impact our standing in the world.  I believe we have that president, now if he would get a bit bolder and stronger and kick some ass on this lame attempt at bi-partisanship and just go it alone on health care reform.

-Josh

Senator Gregg (R-NH) thank God he withdrew his nomination

On March 27, 2009, Senator Gregg (R-NH) gave the Republican weekly radio address.

This very serious man (fiscal conservative equals serious), this US Senator, this former nominee for US Secretary of Commerce in the Obama administraion, well he just doesn’t get numbers very well.  This stuff isn’t too hard, we aren’t talking about calculus or multi-variable algebra, this is basic arthimetic.

Taking a couple of snippets out of his radio address, transcript via Christian Science Montior.

Lets start with this scariness from Gregg:

“In the next five years, President Obama’s budget will double the national debt; in the next ten years it will triple the national debt.

That is like saying if you have a $10,000 balance on your credit card, it will be $20,000 in 2014 and $30,000 in 2019.

To demonstrate in real numbers, after all we may not know what the current national debt is, we get this information from Gregg about the run up of the debt in the next 10 years.

“His budget assumes the deficit will average $1 trillion dollars every year for the next 10 years and will add well over $9 trillion dollars in new debts to our children’s backs.

Well, we know $9 trillion is a lot of money.  Heck it is more than the amount that increased during the Bush years ~ $5 trillion.  But to put in proper context, we need to know what the current debt is.  After all, if Obama’s budget triples the amount in 10 years and costs $9 trillion over 10 years, then clearly our national debt is $4.5 trillion, right, that is how the math works out.  $4.5 trillion times 3 = $4.5 trillion plus $9 trillion.  I skipped the algebra part and just gave you the answer, but it looks like this:

3x=x+$9 trillion (subtract x from each side)

2x=$9 trillion (divide both sides by two)

x=$4.5 trillion

But, when I go to the US Treasury Department’s to the penny debt clock, it shows $11,043,588,980,678.90 or a tad more than $11 trillion.  Now clearly, you can see where I am going, Senator Judd “can’t do simple math” Gregg is saying that $9 trillion over the next 10 years will triple the debt, when clearly it won’t even double the debt.

I would have to say, that Senator Judd would do well to skip the math portion of “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader” because I can’t see him doing well.

-Josh

A Republican’s view on racism

Mitch Pearlstein had a commentary in the Strib this week defending Republicans as not being racist.  Personally I don’t think all Republicans are racist, and I dont’ think all Democrats are not racist.  That being said, lets look at what Pearlstein had to say, and examine how valid his points are.

He starts off with a little history lesson from the 60s.

The two most important pieces of domestic legislation in my lifetime (I’m 60) were the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Question: Members of which party voted for them in higher proportions, Republicans or Democrats? I suspect only a small slice of Americans knows it was Republicans, and by significant margins.

Eighty-two percent of Senate Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act, as opposed to 69 percent of Senate Democrats.

Eighty percent of House Republicans voted for it, as opposed to 63 percent of House Democrats.

As for the Voting Rights Act, 97 percent of Senate Republicans voted for it, compared with 73 percent of Democrats.

And 85 percent of House Republicans voted for it, compared with 80 percent of Democrats.

What conclusions or plausible guesses can be extrapolated from such barely recalled votes plus several other bypassed facts?

So we are looking at legislation that was passed 43 and 44 years ago, which happens to be before I was born (just for a frame of reference).

Starting with the Civil Rights Act, if you look at the vote percentage for the act by party and region, then the percentages favor the Democrats over the Republicans in the South (former Confederate States of America) and the rest of the country.

From wikipedia on the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

The original House version:

  • Southern Democrats: 7-87   (7%-93%)
  • Southern Republicans: 0-10   (0%-100%)
  • Northern Democrats: 145-9   (94%-6%)
  • Northern Republicans: 138-24   (85%-15%)

The Senate version:

  • Southern Democrats: 1-20   (5%-95%)
  • Southern Republicans: 0-1   (0%-100%)
  • Northern Democrats: 45-1   (98%-2%)
  • Northern Republicans: 27-5   (84%-16%)

Interesting what the statistics look like when you break them down by region.  So those are my counter stats that give a very different perspective for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Sadly I don’t have regional breakdown of the votes for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but it is very likely that it breaks similarly to the Civil Rights Act in the two regions.  Interesting when broken down into these two regions that Dems have a higher percentage than Republicans in each region.

Back to Pearlstein,

For one, while fully acknowledging the watershed importance of Barack Obama’s victory last week, I would argue the United States actually has been equipped and poised to elect an African-American as president for more than just the last few months.

In no way does claiming so downplay just how stunning a moment last week’s election was in the history of our nation. And neither does it grant too little credit to President-elect Obama’s remarkable political skills, as they would seem to be possibly matched over the last half-century only by those of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and maybe John F. Kennedy.

The point, rather, is that we have made more racial progress than has been routinely acknowledged, and this has been the case for years. How much progress had we made in terms of presidential politics before Obama’s candidacy? I would contend, for instance, that Colin Powell was eminently electable in 2000. In saying so I concede he was too socially moderate to win the Republican nomination and likely too closely identified with Reagan to win the Democratic nomination. But those two nonracial reasons had measurably more to do with blocking his path to the White House than his race ever would have posed. I can’t prove this, of course, but I’m confident.

I do agree with Pearlstein, we have made much progress.  Yet, he has to throw in the framing that Obama is exceptionally eloquent, which we saw McCain use during the campaign, to attribute the success of Obama’s election to his skills as an orator, not the American public wanting a shift in domestic economic policy-universal health care, worker rights, rethinking free trade, etc…

One reason I’m trusting, beyond the fact Powell is an uncommonly compelling figure, is that the overwhelming majority of Americans have long been of bone-deep goodwill when it comes to respecting the religious beliefs of their fellows, and it’s no leap to envision a similar sense of tolerance and maturity expanding, decade by decade, in akin spheres. The fact, for example, that vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman’s (orthodox) Judaism had nothing to do with Al Gore’s defeat in 2000 is evidence of this former spirit.

Well, if you know me, then you know this a load of a crap.  And the crap gets piled on in using Joe Lieberman as an example of religious tolerance.  Yeah, a lot of people identify the US as being founded based on Judeo-Christian, but that includes Lieberman, not necessarily Muslims or those of no faith, like myself.

Lets start with some of Lieberman’s words.

In another recent sound bite, Lieberman warned against “indulg[ing] the supposition ‘that morality can be maintained without religion.’ “

That is an attack on those of no faith.  Looking at the Pew Forum on Religion, 16.1% of Americans identify as Unaffiliated which is Atheist at 1.6%, Agnostic at 2.4%, and Nothing in Particular at 12.1%.  That is about 1 in 6 Americans that Lieberman would assume lack morals.

And what about tolerance for Muslims?  It isn’t like we don’t know about Muslims here in Minnesota, especially in Minneapolis where we are represented by the first member of Congress who is Muslim, my US Rep. Keith Ellison.

Well US Rep. Virgil Goode was warning of a Muslim invasion, because a Muslim was elected to Congress, despite the fact that Ellison was born in Detroit, not an immigrant.

You can read the letter here at Talking Points Memo.

You had Glenn Beck asking if he can trust Ellison to not be working with terrorists because he is a Muslim.

So Pearlstein, where is the religious tolerance that you are talking about?  Actually Colin Powell has been the best in defending Muslims in his endorsement of Obama, but Republicans in general have not been standing up, and the Democrats are not stellar either – particularly the defense of Obama that he is not a Muslim, when the right answer, which Powell stated, is “so what if he was?

Back to Pearlstein,

Remember when Trent Lott was too effusive in congratulating Strom Thurmond, his Republican Senate colleague, on Thurmond’s 100th birthday in 2002? Did conservative columnists try to bail Lott out after he “misspoke”? The opposite was predominantly the case, and not just because he had undercut his party’s political prospects. They also railed against him because they were morally offended by his comment that the nation would have been well-served if the then-segregationist (and non-Republican) Thurmond had been elected president in 1948.

Then there’s what I’ve personally heard — as well as what I haven’t heard — in decades of daily proximity to right-of-center men and women.

I have no patience for the kinds of absurd constraints imposed on language by politically correct censors and scolds. But that’s not to say I’m not acutely alert to matters of decency and civility when it comes to words, especially when the subject is as sensitive as race. Yet if you were to ask me the number of times that I’ve heard conservative colleagues say anything racially unacceptable in all that time, the answer — unbelievably, I’m sure to many — would be maybe once every half-dozen years or so. I can’t imagine liberals being any purer.

One instance, Lott’s comments, that isn’t defended.  What about what Senator Chambliss has said recently?

The development is not lost on Mr. Chambliss. “There has always been a rush to the polls by African-Americans early,” he said at the square in Covington, a quick stop on a bus tour as the campaign entered its final week. He predicted the crowds of early voters would motivate Republicans to turn out. “It has also got our side energized, they see what is happening,” he said.

“They see what is happening,” that African-Americans are rushing to the polls.  Not straight up racist, but definitely language of us vs them in the South.  Or Jesse Helms in the 90s,

Mr. Helms has also made his views on race clear through a series of merely symbolic actions. Soon after a Senate vote on the Confederate flag insignia, Mr. Helms ran into then-Sen. Carol Mosely-Braun of Illinois, who is black, in a capitol elevator. Mr. Helms turned to his friend, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, and said, “Watch me make her cry. I’m going to make her cry. I’m going to sing ‘Dixie’ until she cries.” He then proceeded to sing the song about the good life during slavery.

That is definitely racist, no two ways about it.  Or former Senator George Allen calling someone “macaca.”

Or that Republican politician in Michigan saying,

There is rarely hard proof of the Republicans’ real agenda. One of the few public declarations of their intent came in 2004, when then state Rep. John Pappageorge of Michigan, who’s now running for a state Senate seat, was quoted by the Detroit Free Press: “If we do not suppress the Detroit [read: 81.6% black ] vote, we’re going to have a tough time in this election cycle.”

So maybe they have gotten better at hiding their true feelings trying to be politically correct, but clearly these examples show that the true feeling isn’t that well hidden, and these are pretty recent.

So before you start patting yourself on the back for the role of Republicans almost half a century ago, you really need to ask, what have you done lately for civil rights.  More often than not, your party continues attacks on minority populations, many times hidden in coded language, but other times quite openly.

-Josh

Dog in the White House

Does this really qualify as news?  This isn’t the supposed liberal media, this is the crappy fluff/human interest story media.

This is the coverage in Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, and MS NBC on the Obama family getting a dog!

How about spending more time reporting on the employment numbers, and possible stimulus packages to help working Americans not the golden parchute crowd (read Wall Street bailout)?  That would be really valuable journalism.

-Josh

Does Sarah Palin have more experience than John McCain

Yesterday my sister and her husband renewed their wedding vows.  Both of them and my parents were all wearing light colors or white.  Me, I was wearing a blue shirt, clearly I didn’t get the memo.

Now listening to every single Republican defend Sarah Palin’s experience, it is clear that they ALL got the memo.  The most common way to describe her experience, and in a way to make it superior to Barack Obama is to focus on her executive experience.  This executive experience that they mention is being the mayor of Wasilla and governor of Alaska, but not at the same time, now that would be multi-tasking.

Now it is true that she has more executive experience than Obama, and more than John McCain.  So if we follow this line of reasoning, shouldn’t she be at the topic of the ticket as she has more executive experience than John McCain?

Of course if the Republican party could make a rational argument, we might see it, but right now they are applying two standards in defending her experience, she has more executive experience than Obama, McCain, and Joe Biden, but only mention it in comparison to Obama, not McCain.  Or at least not in comparison in McCain to make he seem less worthy of being on the top of a ticket.

-Josh

Does God support Obama?

Stuart Shepard of Focus on the Family asking followers to pray for rain on Obama’s outdoor speech at the DNC last Thursday.

Stuart Shepard of Focus on the Family, one of America’s leading evangelical groups, was shown in a video filmed at Denver’s Invesco Field, where 75,000 are expected to cheer Mr Obama on Aug 28, asking Christians to pray for “torrential” rain.

Or just watch the video:

Since it didn’t rain as Shepard asked and prayed for, does that mean that God supports Obama?

-Josh

More Krugman on Obama

Paul Krugman had a another column yesterday on Barack Obama and his big table approach to governance. Like his other recent columns on Obama, this one is critical.

Krugman starts by comparing the rhetoric from Obama and Edwards,

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.

I haven’t finished Krugman’s new book The Conscience of a Liberal yet, but his central premise is that political partisanship (from the right) precedes growing income inequalities, which is different from what his belief was before he started researching his book. It is from this premise, that he believes a more equitable America requires increased partisanship from liberals and progressives. Knowing this, it will help to explain his concerns with Obama’s style.

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.

Ouch!

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.”

Not only are they not going to voluntarily give up their power, they are going to continue to fight to increase their power. Or maybe fight is the wrong description, more like bribe and influence congress and the president.

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 I wrote in another post highlighting Krugman’s criticism of Obama on Social Security and Health Care, I favor Edwards as the Democratic nominee. Apparently I am not alone in this, according to an article by Joshua Holland (writes great stuff) at Alternet, Edwards would do better than Obama or Clinton in any match up against the top potential Republican nominees.

According to the New York Times/CBS News poll taken Dec. 5-9 (PDF), 63 percent of likely voters believe Hillary Clinton “has the best chance of winning in November” — the dreaded “electability” question that haunts candidates like Dennis Kucinich. Following Clinton, 14 percent thought Barack Obama was the best equipped to take on the GOP, and just one in ten gave the nod to John Edwards. Of the rest of the field, only New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson got even a single percentage point.

Despite having the highest “unfavorable” numbers of all the top candidates in both parties, Americans think Clinton is the most electable. Go figure.

But according to the CNN poll (PDF) taken Dec. 6-9, a starkly different picture emerges when voters are asked about head-to-head match-ups in November; when the leading Dems are pitted against the top Republicans, it’s John Edwards — not Clinton and not Obama — who simply wipes the floor with the whole GOP field. “Edwards is the only Democrat who beats all four Republicans,” said Keating Holland, CNN’s polling director, “and McCain is the only Republican who beats any of the three Democrats.”

If you like graphics, much prettier than columns of numbers, then this one from the article credited to creator Atlantic’s Matt Yglesias shows how Edwards is polling better in head to head match ups than Obama or Clinton

storyimage_matchups.png

So it looks like I might have good instincts in liking Edwards.

-Josh

Oprah vs Paul Krugman

This title isn’t to imply that Oprah and Paul are fighting. However, Oprah has started to campaign for Barack Obama in Iowa.

“For the very first time in my life I feel compelled to stand up and speak out for the man who I believe has a new vision for America,” Ms Winfrey told the crowd.

While Paul Krugman has been challenging Barack Obama’s position on the urgency of the Social Security “crisis” and has two columns on the Obama’s health care plan its lack of mandated coverage, 1st column and 2nd column.

Now Oprah carries a lot more influence in America than Paul Krugman, so her support will probably be more helpful than his criticism. However, for me Paul’s criticism deserve a serious look. And so lets look at them.

Social Security

Krugman opens his column with a nasty title, Played for a Sucker. That is got to hurt when you are running for president. So why does Krugman open with such a tough title, well the first is this recent analysis [emphasis added]:

As Peter Orszag, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, put it in a recent article co-authored with senior analyst Philip Ellis: “The long-term fiscal condition of the United States has been largely misdiagnosed. Despite all the attention paid to demographic challenges, such as the coming retirement of the baby-boom generation, our country’s financial health will in fact be determined primarily by the growth rate of per capita health care costs.”

Now if you want to watch an interesting interview on Social Security with Fred Thompson who is credited by inside the beltway pundits as being “serious” on the “crisis” then check out this you tube clip between 2:00 to 6:20.

  • At 3:50 Fred starts putting Medicare with Social Security and George Stephanopoulus calls him on putting the two together as the fiscal crisis (remember above health care costs is the real problem).
  • They also discuss differences with Obama’s plan.
  • Note that Thompson mentions support of his plan by Investors Daily Business, and yes I do think they would benefit from partial privatization of Social Security, which means they have a vested interest in pushing the manufactured crisis.
  • Also in this clip, is Hilary Clinton pointing out Medicare is a bigger problem which is what the experts say.

This is what Krugman had to say about inside the beltway pundits on Social Security

Inside the Beltway, doomsaying about Social Security — declaring that the program as we know it can’t survive the onslaught of retiring baby boomers — is regarded as a sort of badge of seriousness, a way of showing how statesmanlike and tough-minded you are.

Krugman goes on to talk about those who understand the numbers, not just the pundit class.

But the “everyone” who knows that Social Security is doomed doesn’t include anyone who actually understands the numbers. In fact, the whole Beltway obsession with the fiscal burden of an aging population is misguided.

The problem is the Social Security is solvent until 2041 or 2046 depending on if you ask the Trustees or the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), until that time it will not need to reduce benefits or increase payroll taxes to fully fund the promised benefits. If nothing is done, the benefits will be able to pay out 79% of the promised benefits after the trust fund is used up.
Of course the unsaid problem by the media or politicians is that the Social Security Trust Fund (SSTF) is the fund that the federal government borrows from to hide the true size of the federal deficit. See right now the federal government collects more in payroll taxes then it pays out in social security benefits. According to the CBO [emphasis added]:

Beginning in 2019, annual outlays for Social Security are projected to exceed revenues. At that time, the Social Security system will no longer, on net, offset a portion of the deficit in the rest of the budget but instead will increase the total deficit (or reduce the total surplus, if one materializes).

Now the easiest way to deal with this issue in 2019 is to raise taxes, not payroll, but income, capital gains, corporate, and estate taxes. That is raise taxes to pay the debt owed to the trust fund. Of course if you believe that our government looks out for the interests of the wealthy and corporations, more than the average person, you could see why they see this as a “crisis” that must be solved to prevent or delay the pressures to raise taxes in 2019.

Now if you really want to brush up on Social Security, then go to this link of Dean Baker’s blogs on Social Security media coverage and plans by politicians.

So for Social Security, the CBO expects that payroll taxes can fully pay the benefits without having to touch the trust fund until 2019. After that point, unless federal government defaults on its debt, it will still be able to pay the benefits until 2046 (uncertainty by the CBO ranges it from 2035 to 2074). I agree with Krugman, where is the urgency?

Health Care

Now I had the chance to hear Paul Krugman on tour to promote his new book Conscience of a Liberal, and one of the audience members asked him about his support of the Edwards and Clinton plans, as opposed to single payer. Basically his answer is that the Edwards (it came first so I credit him, and Clinton’s mimics it) plan is politically feasible in the next presidency, he thinks implementation by 2011 is possible, and would eventually lead to single payer. If you have the time, Krugman has a great 18 page analysis of health care in the New York Review of Books.

According to Krugman, the weakness of the Obama plan is that it doesn’t mandate insurance, but that isn’t the biggest problem according to Krugman.

Now, however, Mr. Obama is claiming that his plan’s weakness is actually a strength. What’s more, he’s doing the same thing in the health care debate he did when claiming that Social Security faces a “crisis” — attacking his rivals by echoing right-wing talking points.

Now the point of universal health care, is sharing the risk by spreading it as widely as possible. This means that the healthy (healthy right now) and those with health issues pay a lower rate. One of the most perverse parts of our current system is the denial of coverage based pre-existing conditions. It is language that allows insurers to deny coverage to the less healthy. In fact two hospitals in New York filed a racketeering lawsuit against United Health Group and some of its affiliates, as Krugman reported in his column Health Care Racket.

Of course, rejecting claims is a clumsy way to deny coverage. The best way for an insurer to avoid paying medical bills is to avoid selling insurance to people who really need it. An insurance company can accomplish this in two ways, through marketing that targets the healthy, and through underwriting: rejecting the sick or charging them higher premiums.

But without mandates, you will have people that will take advantage of the system.

Look, the point of a mandate isn’t to dictate how people should live their lives — it’s to prevent some people from gaming the system. Under the Obama plan, healthy people could choose not to buy insurance, then sign up for it if they developed health problems later. This would lead to higher premiums for everyone else. It would reward the irresponsible, while punishing those who did the right thing and bought insurance while they were healthy.

So when Krugman calls Obama’s plan weaker, he is right, because it is inviting people to abuse the system. Apparently Obama is also talking about families that can’t afford the cost of coverage, but Edwards and Clinton (and Romney in MA) subsidize the coverage.

The second false claim is that people won’t be able to afford the insurance they’re required to have — a claim usually supported with data about how expensive insurance is. But all the Democratic plans include subsidies to lower-income families to help them pay for insurance, plus a promise to increase the subsidies if they prove insufficient.

In fact, the Edwards and Clinton plans contain more money for such subsidies than the Obama plan. If low-income families find insurance unaffordable under these plans, they’ll find it even less affordable under the Obama plan.

By the way, the limitations of the Massachusetts plan to cover all the state’s uninsured — which is actually doing much better than most reports suggest — come not from the difficulty of enforcing mandates, but from the fact that the state hasn’t yet allocated enough money for subsidies.

And subsidizing the coverage, not just providing tax credits like Giuliani has suggested, which Romney rightfully challenged him, is of no help at all to low income families.

Now if you want to know what Krugman’s biggest beef with Obama, then this makes it the clearest.

O.K., before I go any further, let’s be clear: there is a huge divide between Republicans and Democrats on health care, and the Obama plan — although weaker than the Edwards or Clinton plans — is very much on the Democratic side of that divide.

But lately Mr. Obama has been stressing his differences with his rivals by attacking their plans from the right — which means that he has been giving credence to false talking points that will be used against any Democratic health care plan a couple of years from now.

Basically Obama is lending credibility to right wing talking points to maintain the status quo, or hinders the superior plans of Edwards and Clinton. In fact Krugman ran into this problem (on Social Security) recently on conservative talk radio, as he reported in his blog.

So I just spent a fairly unpleasant 15 minutes on right-wing talk radio. And the host said — this is rough, not a verified quote — “Look, everyone knows that Social Security is going bust, and we’d all be better off if we could put out money in 401(k)s. Even Barack Obama says so!”

Summary

As I opened this piece, the criticism of Paul Krugman are not going to carry as much weight with the general populace as Oprah’s support. It is part of the celebrity worship in society, and it is part of the media’s electoral coverage focusing on horse races, not detailed policy issues.

There is a lot of partisanship in politics and they have been used to roll back the social welfare state as far as possible. Obama’s more cautious plan for health care, in seeking bi-partisanship, or at least to fend off the most vicious attacks from the right wing echo chamber, has caused him to attack the more progressive Edwards and Clinton plans and to attack those plans with the right wing talking points. This will hurt efforts to reclaim the language, to frame the debate and move forward on policies that really can help the most people. Of course, I fear that these criticisms will not cause him to move to the superior Edwards and Clinton plans, at least not until after the election (if he is the nominee) to avoid the flip-flop label.

As an Edwards supporter, it gives me some comfort knowing that Clinton’s plan basically mimics Edwards’, and that she understands Medicaid and Medicare are a much bigger issue than Social Security for our country’s long term fiscal health.

-Josh