Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Democratic National Debate #20

I would have blogged this last night, but after enduring pre-debate coverage of Cunningham's introduction to McCain's speech (I won't dignify it with a link), I needed a a glass of wine. It was best for everyone not to hear the things I was willing to say after said glass of wine.

On health care: Despite repeatedly interrupting and re-introducing the topic for 16 minutes (by Brian Williams' count), HRC did not effectively counter the argument below, and it's a good one. Given the caving in and corporate pandering that is central to her voting record, there is no reason to trust that HRC's mandate on individuals to purchase health insurance will be coupled with mandates on the industry. She does not explain how she would enforce a mandate and she does not elaborate on the subsidies she would provide. And as I've said before, mandates on individuals tend to outlast regulation on industry, even if she did enforce regulation on industry. A mandate would enable her to say later, "When I took office, 48 million people were uninsured, and now..." (Pan out to all of us peeping through the bars of debtors' prison).

Additionally, her claim that 15 million people will be left out under Obama's plan is questionable. Perhaps there are 15 million people who "can [ostensibly] afford" health insurance but don't have it. What is the measure by which she can determine this? A crystal ball? She has no way of determining the financial obligations of those 15 million whose salaries suggest that they can afford health insurance. They may be paying child support, massive student loan debts, and/or sub-prime mortgages.

OBAMA: The reason she thinks that there are more people covered under her plan than mine is because of a mandate. That is not a mandate for the government to provide coverage to everybody; it is a mandate that every individual purchase health care.

And the mailing that we put out accurately indicates that the main difference between Senator Clinton's plan and mine is the fact that she would force in some fashion individuals to purchase health care.

If it was not affordable, she would still presumably force them to have it, unless there is a hardship exemption as they've done in Massachusetts, which leaves 20 percent of the uninsured out. And if that's the case, then, in fact, her claim that she covers everybody is not accurate.

Now, Senator Clinton has not indicated how she would enforce this mandate. She hasn't indicated what level of subsidy she would provide to assure that it was, in fact, affordable. And so it is entirely legitimate for us to point out these differences.

But I think it's very important to understand the context of this, and that is that Senator Clinton has -- her campaign, at least -- has constantly sent out negative attacks on us, e-mail, robocalls, flyers, television ads, radio calls.

And, you know, we haven't whined about it because I understand that's the nature of these campaigns, but to suggest somehow that our mailing is somehow different from the kinds of approaches that Senator Clinton has taken throughout this campaign I think is simply not accurate.
While we are on the topic of whining: HRC's whining to Tim Russert that she often gets the first debate question came off as immature and undignified. Obama was often wise to let her carry on in this vain. Whining that the press is Obama-biased is ridiculous, given that that man has 11 straight wins, and she should thank her lucky stars that commentators at large continue to spin for her. Notice that since it's now very unlikely that she will win Texas, the media focus is on her imminent win in Ohio. I've never seen a candidate maintain the spotlight because s/he is perpetually one state away from domininating the race. How long can this go on?

But back to health care and a blatant untruth that shouldn't be perpetuated:

CLINTON: We will continue to have a hidden tax, so that when someone goes to the emergency room without insurance -- 15 million or however many -- that amount of money that will be used to take care of that person will be then spread among all the rest of us.
When these 15 million (?) people go to the emergency room without health insurance, the debt is not spread among all of us. The uninsured patient is billed at a much higher rate than one who has insurance (which caps the amount that a hospital can charge for its services). If the uninsured patient is unable to pay, the hospital can and will hold that individual responsible in the same manner that any financial institution can and will. The only way of avoiding the debt is by claiming bankruptcy, which the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform bill, first introduced in 2001 with HRC's blessing, as Obama later pointed out in the debate, made it near impossible to do for anyone whose income exceeds the median income for their state. I've blogged on this before, and I hate to belabor the point, as I've accused her of doing. But she irks the hell out of me by trying to create a delusion about "universal health care," assuming we'll think that means a single-payer system.

Stumbles for HRC: Pro-Iraq war, then against it. Pro-NAFTA, then against NAFTA, well kind of. Confident on creating 5 million jobs, actually losing 30,000 once in office, then admitting her estimate was contingent upon Al Gore becoming president, then having the gall in this debate to promise 5 million jobs again. Gleefully joining into the Rev. Farrakhan smear (yet another attempt by the press to associate Obama with the concept of "Islam" one way or another--would he have to "denounce" Muhammad Ali's support, too?) when it was none of her business, implicitly accusing Obama of anti-Semitism, and, by a very weird extension, trying to march him into the appalling lock-step favoring Israel's policies carte blanche.

Good things for Obama to call her out on: Counting her period as First Lady as "experience," cherry-picking and taking responsibility for popular [Bill] Clinton legislation, and most most most of all, driving the bus into the ditch.

Full transcipt of the debate.


Anonymous said...

Check this out:

A.F. said...

That's amazing! I saw his interview, which was posted at, and was blown away by the way he handled the interview--more deftly than anyone I know could have. Bravo! Thanks for the link!