Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Health Care Reform: Paul Krugman, Bob Dole, and Robert Samuelson

The weather's gotten beautiful the past two days (here comes the fall!!), and everybody's got an opinion on what Obama should be doing -- both substantively (as regards policy) and stylistically (as regards leadership) -- on health care.

Some recent highlights:

Paul Krugman: He argued in yesterday's Times (here) that Obama is hamstrung by a barely functioning political system that is dominated by corporate interests, and he yearns for the days of Richard Nixon (!) when "both parties were capable of speaking rationally about policy ... and policy decisions weren’t as warped by corporate cash as they are now."

Bob Dole: Dole writes in the Post (here) that Obama needs to sack up and show some actual leadership (I am entirely on board with this perspective): "Obama's approval numbers would jump 10 points if Americans knew he was fully in charge. A tactical move of introducing his own plan would also stir more Republicans to become active for reform in critical areas." On the substance, though, Dole is fairly retrograde -- he says the public option and co-ops can wait for at least five years while the insurance companies get their acts in order.

Robert Samuelson: Samuelson struggles to not focus on the economy. He says (here) that both sides need to put an absolutely priority on assessing how health care reform will affect the deficit: "Liberals and conservatives agree to evade. Spending for the elderly dominates the federal budget, but no one discusses who among retirees deserves government subsidies and at what age. Liberals would increase spending (aka, President Obama's health proposal) even before addressing existing deficits. President Bush and congressional Republicans could have curbed spending. But they increased it even while cutting taxes, and Obama would keep most tax cuts except for people making over $250,000."

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