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March 22, 2010

Comments

But what am I supposed to do with hagiography like this?

Whatever you'd like. Make fun of it. Put it on a bumper sticker. Have your grandma embroider it into a sampler. Ignore it. What did you do when it happened with previous presidents? That's probably what you're supposed to do with it now.

I agree that this is just an "opener in the debate", von, and since the debate had to be opened, it was one of the reasons I was in favor of the bill despite its flaws. If this is your definition of opening the debate, though, no other president had even managed to do *that*. Obama actually moved the debate on health care forward, which is more than any president has done in 50 years. That's a huge accomplishment.

Its precisely because its a first shot that Obama is guaranteed to go down in history as a hero on this. The first mover is likely to get the credit for the overall project rather than the year by year details.

But if it's tweaked, or even largely repealed and reformed, it is President Obama and the Democratic congress who set up the platform. They (well, the President) get the history book entries. The later reformers may do important work, but they will be footnotes.
Even Paul Ryan's post-HCR plans will become a tweak to the President's plan.

March 21: "I am not going to blog about the Health Care bill".

March 22: "...The Democrat reform bill is big, no doubt, but it barely addresses the fundamental problems in health care and entitlements. The deficits it runs are still unsustainable..."

How can this possibly be considered opening the debate? The debate *on this bill* has been going on for a year and a half. The debate on whether there should be such a bill has been going on for decades, most notably at the beginning of the Clinton years (that's almost two decades right there and yes that makes me feel old). It doesn't take passage of a bill to open a debate. Characterizing last night's progress that way reeks of denial, or perhaps is akin to the "teach both sides of the controversy" tactic used by creationists. To most people, last night wasn't just a beginning of a debate or a continuation of a controversy. It was a conclusion to at least part of the story, to the extent that anything in politics is ever fully concluded.

Even if that weren't the case, Patrick's comment still applies. Even if this were just the beginning, getting to the start line has proven so difficult that starting the race might still stand as a greater accomplishment than finishing it.

I wonder if the ultimate step will be taken to challenge the bill/law before SCOTUS. Given the 'totally non-activist' nature of the court, it may even do another Citizen United and turn everything back to 'when America was still free' (to quote St.Ronny).
Some states already prepare to nullify it for themselves citing the 10th amendment.
---
No reason for celebration or hagiographing yet imo. This is either just the first step or the stop-gap that it is will prove insufficient in the medium run.
Also there are many other problems with Obama's administration and some of them of their own making (especially the adoption of far too many of Bush's policies). If this goes on, Obama will imo be remembered for rhetoric skills, being the first black POTUS but mainly for lack of actual leadership. And if he turns out to be a one-termer, he'll be the last lost hope of the republic when the insane new GOPster in chief will do the blind Samson act on the edifice.

Von, you have to understand how low the bar is here. How hard do you think it is for a president to get into the top five for the last century? (Really, think about it: FDR, Truman, Nixon, LBJ, GHWB stand above the rest, and 3 of those 5 have a whiff of failure about them. What, you want to put Wilson in there? Hoover?)

Charley: what, no mention of Ike? It's not like he was chopped liver.

ajay:

I don't mind Von blogging about health care so soon after declaring he wouldn't.

When he wrote yesterday's post, I kind of know we'd get an earful, like I know I'm going to get an earful when my mother starts off a sentence with "It's not for me to say, and we aren't going to talk about this anymore, but ..."

After all, Bloomsday in Joyce's "Ulysses" was one heck of a long day and Leopold Bloom was a man of many facets as he went about his peregrinations.

I predict by the time the week is out, Von will give us a 90-page soliloquy about the subject sans punctuation a la Molly Bloom.

But what am I supposed to do with hagiography like this?

Realize that his incompetent, reckless predecessor got infinitely more.

I think this is a fine example of inside the Beltway at it's best (or worst of course). For all of those crowing today about change, this was not change.

It was in the dirt,classic politics executed by someone who grew up politically in an environment (Southside Chicago politics) that absolutely prepared him for this day.

Interesting that the list above, by Charley, was the list of the most political of our Presidents. LBJ got caught in the Vietnam war but, aside from that, he was the best deal maker President of the century. He also had more chits in hand when he took over the job than anyone, we are still trying to fix the things he did. (I am not sure I think Truman belongs on the list.)

Obama could achieve the level of those Presidents but, to be clear, not because he brought change.

But if it's tweaked, or even largely repealed and reformed, it is President Obama and the Democratic congress who set up the platform.

windshouter is right here, as is CharlyCarp, when he points out that the bar is not very high. And I think Obama deserves a lot of credit for making an extremely dysfunctional political system work at all - no mean achievement.

Aside from Reagan, who, as we all know, single-handedly won the Cold War and restored America to her former greatness (although, evidently,for only a shockingly short amount of time), who in the modern era would you nominate in his place, von? Or any era? I think Yglesias said 'one of our finest', not 'greatest'. Who?

If you want true hagiography, let's recall John Hinderacker's assessment of George W. Bush:

A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile. Hyperbolic? Well, maybe.

'Maybe'? THAT'S hagiography.

You are wrong, as usual.

Universal healthcare has been a plank in the Democratic party platform as long as I can remember.

Obama has come closer than any previous president to achieving it.

It is not over yet but his place in history is established.

His place in history is established by being POTUS alone (nothing necessarily to do with himself, presidents are noted by history) as long as the history books are not written by the Texas Board of Education (if they can eliminate Jefferson and almost doing the same with Lincoln...).

Take a look at Rep. Paul Ryan's bill.

Oh, please, you have some gall to call that bill serious when it is such a complete joke. It's the culmination of the class warfare that has been fought by one side only for the last thirty years. It is nothing more than a giveaway to the wealthiest of the wealthy.

Riddle me this, how exactly can a bill that eliminates taxes on interest, capital gains, dividends and inheritance cut the deficit? Hmmm, yes, where would the money come from?

Von --- really, you are arguing that Ryan's plan (just assume the revenue is actually there he told the CBO) is a legitimate plan when someone did not assume that the revenue was there, it is frakking mess.

You bitch and moan about the size of the deficits, but the CBO is scoring the entire thing as a significant deficit reducer over the next twenty years, and it extends Medicare's trust fund solvency by 9 years according to CBO.

Argue with CBO's assumptions and modeling, and I'll respect that, but handwaving Ryan in as a serious alternative makes you wade into the territory of a hack.

"Von, you have to understand how low the bar is here. How hard do you think it is for a president to get into the top five for the last century? (Really, think about it: FDR, Truman, Nixon, LBJ, GHWB stand above the rest, and 3 of those 5 have a whiff of failure about them. What, you want to put Wilson in there? Hoover?)"

What about Teddy Roosevelt? I'd put the top 5 as TR, FDR, LBJ, Truman and, yes, Wilson. For all his flaws he's miles above Nixon or Bush I. I mean, he passed the first income tax. Doesn't that get you into the top 5 by itself?

Well, my opinion is that any health care system that depends on for-profit corporate monopolies is destined to go down in flames. So Obamacare will end up in the same place as Ryan's plan would. YMMV.

For all of those crowing today about change, this was not change.

says you.

my wife and i, with our long list of pre-existing conditions, call it change.

BTW, did Rush move to Costa Rica yet?

Side note: I kind of like the post title.

BTW, did Rush move to Costa Rica yet?

don't think so. but you can donate to the cause, here.

C'mon publius, you know you want to come out of retirement and provide a response!

hagiography

With respect, I think you're missing the significance of what just happened. A President got something done for a bunch of people - about 30 million - who truly needed help in alleviating actual suffering, the kind of suffering where you are in pain and can't get help.

That kind of action has happened so rarely that it is no exaggeration to say that managing to do so will put you up there with the finest Presidents, at the very least in the eyes of those who believe that the relief of real suffering ought to be the primary purpose of government.

What we see, and perhaps you just haven't seen it yourself, but what we see is a large group of people in real pain, physical pain, not "can't get a flatscreen TV" pain, who have suffered but been ignored for a long time. Those people are mostly working people, not the truly impoverished, and yet those who benefit from their work have been too busy to notice their pain and to do something about it, despite the small cost of doing so and the immense wealth of this country.

So yes, doing something about that, taking a large step towards a shared understanding that no person in this country should need to suffer when medical care at moderate cost can alleviate their physical suffering - that is a fine thing. You truly don't think the suffering was severe, or that this bill will alleviate it? You don't think that 30 million of your fellow citizens suffering without regular access to healthcare mattered? Or that doing something for them is a great accomplishment?

"You truly don't think the suffering was severe, or that this bill will alleviate it? You don't think that 30 million of your fellow citizens suffering without regular access to healthcare mattered? Or that doing something for them is a great accomplishment?"

The question you have to ask yourself is, are you feeling lucky? Do you feel like this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship? or do you think maybe we could have covered 50M and not created a whole new bureaucracy?

And, as an aside (that turned into a rant), I object to the "cant get a flat screen tv" pain stuff. I also object to the whole "immense wealth of this country" stuff.

Why?

We keep adding trillions to the debt and no one will have enough money to pay for this bill or anything else. Yeah, CBO numbers blah, blah.... We just spent 950 billion dollars. It wasn't revenue neutral, it wasn't spending neutral, best case it was deficit neutral.

Which is like my wonderful wife coming home and telling me how much money she saved at the outlets last weekend. I still had to write the check for the other 60%.

We spent 950B Dollars. We didn't save anything. We didn't reduce the debt, we just hope we raised a little more money than we spent, and thats giving them EVERY benefit of the doubt.

And don't lecture me on not understanding pain. I pawned our plain gold band wedding rings (25 bucks) lots of times in the first 5 years I was married to pay for food or electricity until payday.

So don't lecture me about the pain of "not having a flat screen tv". The pain is in not being able to eat when I retire, or go to my doctor or keep my house, unless I get it from the government. If you take everything from everybody who has anything then everyone lives on the dole.

Maybe you weren't old enough to watch that happen with welfare, and before you call me a racist, I lived in poor white Texas, I had former friends who lived on it in Arkansas, not because they couldn't work, but because they just didn't have to. I spent lots of nights wondering why I didn't just lay around with them drinking Red, White and Blue at 6 bucks a case rather than going to work everyday. If you want to create a safety net I am great with that. If you want to protect seniors from a life with no respect, I am for that.

But a few more safety nets like this and no one is left to pay for it, then there is no "immense wealth of this country".

And the next time you want to know how that works, ask jes what the percentage of home ownership is in Britain, what percentage of people over 65 live on the dole, and whether, like hsh, you think owning where you live is overrated.

We spent 950B Dollars.

That's 95 billion dollars a year. To put that in context, we are going to spend 2.7 TRILLION dollars on health care this year, collectively. By 2016, when this bill is in full effect, we will be spending 3.7 trillion dollars a year. In 2018, we will be spending 4.53 trillion dollars a year, of which 180 billion will be on this bill.

It's a drop in the bucket. A big enough drop to cover 30 million people, but a drop. The bigger threat is the tide coming in. See the figures above? Our annual bill will be going up $950 billion dollars in just the next six years. That's over and above what this bill costs. This bill contains important cost controls. Not as much as I would like, but it has some. We can add more. If we just bring the rate of increase down a couple of percentage points, as the CBO believes it will do, we're saving far more than the cost of this bill.

If you take everything from everybody who has anything then everyone lives on the dole.

This appears a real risk in America. Bill Gates is currently trembling.

Maybe you weren't old enough to watch that happen with welfare

Right. Which Prez reformed welfare again?

But a few more safety nets like this and no one is left to pay for it, then there is no "immense wealth of this country".

Sure. Deficit reducing legislation will bankrupt us all!

Yaaaawwwwwn.

...and whether, like hsh, you think owning where you live is overrated.

Assuming you're referring to me, Marty, what makes you bring me up specifically in this context? I don't think owning your own house is bad, but I suppose I would say it's overrated in the US in terms of a personal-finance prescription for the middle class. I, myself, own my house, at least in part. Regardless, it seems odd that you would think to bring me up as The Guy Who Thinks Home Ownership Is Overrated, so I'm curious, having only the vaguest recollection of discussing that here.

"Sure. Deficit reducing legislation will bankrupt us all!

Yaaaawwwwwn."

The problem is that you really believe this.

In one of the most telling conversations I ever had with one of my kids(about your age from the pictures) he said "Dad our generation is just not as afraid as your generation. We don't remember atomic bomb drills in the school, air raid sirens, and we weren't raised by those people who lived through the depression. We don't remember forced bussing and the violence of the sixties, we don't remember the draft, the constant fear of being forced to go to Vietnam. We just don't think anything really bad will happen."

So he doesn't have perspective, like you, but he is aware enough to actually listen a little. It is amazing to me that, after last year, after all the well off people, you had to know, in the city that went broke, that you still are so cocksure you're right that, you still yawn.

Wow, you're actually claiming Ryan's plan is good? A plan that won't balance the budget, slashes public services and distributes even more wealth to the wealthiest Americans? Yeah, Reagonomics worked out so well over the last few decades, and Paul Ryan, a fan of Liberal Fascism and Ayn Rand, is considered a "serious" conservative "intellectual" these days. I don't believe in unicorns, but they're more credible than supply-side ponies and voodoo economics.

"Assuming you're referring to me, Marty, what makes you bring me up specifically in this context"

Not a slight, just a reference point, it was a short converstaion we had several months ago where you actually said it was over rated.

The problem is that you really believe this.

The problem is, you don't actually cite evidence and provide argumentation beyond your "gut."

Dad our generation is just not as afraid as your generation. We don't remember atomic bomb drills in the school, air raid sirens, and we weren't raised by those people who lived through the depression. We don't remember forced bussing and the violence of the sixties, we don't remember the draft, the constant fear of being forced to go to Vietnam. We just don't think anything really bad will happen.

I remember atomic bomb drills.

I was also raised by an extended family, many who had lived through the depression.

They taught me the value of Social Security, of welfare, of food stamps, of an education, etc.

You mention the violence of the sixties, and racial tensions, my family was impacted directly.

Thing is, I KNOW bad things will happen. I've had very BAD things happen to me and my family. I've been as poor as anyone could be at various points in my life.

I believe. I know. I've experienced.

That's why I fight for working people.

It is amazing to me that, after last year, after all the well off people, you had to know, in the city that went broke, that you still are so cocksure you're right that, you still yawn.

It's becaus I know how little value they add, and how corrupt the world of finance is, and how they take taxpayers for a ride, that I don't shed tears for slight increases in their tax rates (not to rates that existed during the boom years of the 1950s and 1960s, but to 1990s levels).

I know so many unqualified people that make millions a year - MILLIONS - because their daddy got them a job in finance. Many are friends/acquaintances.

They are a much bigger threat to our financial well being than a safety net program that pays for itself and then some.

And for the record, I'm 35. Will be 36 in late May.

Ok So you are 4 years older than my kids. So you know, then you know someone has to pay.

BTW, I don't care who finished welfare reform they are my hero(heck I even voted for him once), THAT was the most positive social agenda legislation of the past 50 years. We.Were.Going.Broke this legislation could do that.

We.Were.Going.Broke this legislation could do that

How? What parts of this legislation will lead to bankruptcy?

How could the CBO be so wrong?

I mean, how do you go from reducing the deficit by many, many billions, to not ony break even, but bankruptcy?

I need more than "things could go wrong." Which is universal.

"How could the CBO be so wrong?"

The answers lie in the numbers being wrong from the start. THERE ARE NO IDENTIFIED SAVINGS FROM MEDICARE. They have a commission that is going to find the savings, the CBO has to count that because the bill says they will find it. Thats 500B dollars that they are wrong about to start, when they find a dollar I will count it.

Then we can talk about the other half that Seb has so eloquently questioned. Again one of those things where skepticism is a matter of experience. The politicians in eight years will be just as unlikely to raise taxes as the ones now. Anyone believing different doesn't have enough historical reference.

So neither funding mechanism is actually in place.

So we have spent 950B dollars with no actual way to pay for it, but gosh we closed that donut hole that Bush created with all this mythical money.

"Things could go right" is the principle the administration and Congress is working on, things could go wrong would include the whole thing costing much more in addition to the funding not being real.

Marty,

You know what was a totally unfunded plan: Bush's Medicare expansion. Cost more than this to boot.

But we'll have to wait and see, I suppose, if the Medicare commission can find any waste.

Of note: Republicans have been saying that there is waste for decades. McCain ran on a plan to cut trillions in waste. But now we are to assume that there is no way to find 500B in waste.

Funny.

Anybody else wish that the right spent half this much time ringing their hands over how we pay for our bloated military and its unnecessary wars of choice?

Eric,

And on a more general note I will just point to Douthat

Marty,

I see your Douthat, and raise you

a Benen

.

Money quote:

"[A] 52% majority either support the Democratic plan or want it to be even more ambitious in a liberal direction."

Not exactly the stuff of waterloo.

Congratulations to Speaker Pelosi, President Obama, and Senator Reid.

This will make a substantial improvement in the quality of life for millions of people and significantly improves the health security of every person in this country.

Of course I would have preferred a bill that went further. The current reform leaves too much of our health care in the hands of unaccountable private bureaucracies. But that's a fight for another day.

Sour grapes posts from people who opposed even this minimal reform make it even better.

And on a more general note I will just point to Douthat

Le requin a sauté

The French being used just to be snarky.

I have no interest in engaging with Marty's fact-free anxieties about the consequences of this bill, but his invocation of his experiences with lazy layabouts is entirely off the mark: the people helped by the bill are the lower tranches of the working class; those who work but receive no healthcare. By definition they are not lazily choosing not to work.

Having read the Douthat article Marty links to, I find myself, once again, baffled and amazed at what passes for "bold" or "aggressive" liberalism in the US today.

I'm old enough now that I get to say crap like "when I was a kid". So: when I was a kid, "liberalism" did not mean incremental changes to regulations in selected sectors of the economy.

Liberals used to kick some @ss.

Time to re-adjust the Overton window.

Along that line, and regarding this from Douthat:

Barring an extraordinary economic boom, the American situation will soon require the slow and painful restructuring of the welfare state that liberals have spent decades building.

Damned straight. And I doubt we have an extraordinary economic boom to look forward to.

So by all means let's restructure the welfare state.

Since the 70's, *virtually all* of the increase in the national wealth created by greater productivity has gone to the top 20% of the population.

We don't need a welfare state. Let's blow it the hell up.

What we need is a more equitable distribution of income in the first place.

More of the wealth created by this economy needs to go to people who work for a living. When that happens, we will not need a welfare state.

This country is in some kind of freaking oligarchic trance.

Funny, I thought the money quote was:

"A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found that 59 percent of those surveyed opposed the bill, and 39 percent favored it."

I will give the President credit though he finally created bipartisanship,in opposition, and then forced the bill on both sides. :)

"Le requin a sauté"

Il ne fait aucun doute ???

I lived in poor white Texas, I had former friends who lived on it in Arkansas, not because they couldn't work, but because they just didn't have to. I spent lots of nights wondering why I didn't just lay around with them drinking Red, White and Blue at 6 bucks a case rather than going to work everyday.

"And another thing...", I hear myself say.

I've had the "layabout" conversation with a handful of people recently. All of the folks I've spoken to who think HCR is going to expand the population of freeloaders are poor to lower middle class rural whites, living in red states or red parts of purpley states.

And they all cite their buddies who will use any public relief program as a good reason to go fishing.

I am born, raised, and have lived my entire life in the northeast, mostly near large cities. I've also known a number of folks who have been on some combination of welfare, food stamps, and/or other similar programs.

Excepting the folks who were actually disabled, all of the folks I've known who were on any form of public assistance worked their butts off, on and/or off of the books, so they could put a stake together, get an apartment, and get the hell off of welfare.

They did stuff like housecleaning, house painting, babysitting, carpentry day labor, whatever they could do under the table to get some $$$ together and get off of the freaking dole, as fast as they could.

We all have our anecdotal context for thinking about this stuff. That's mine.

I think we should round up all of these rural layabouts and ship them up to Boston, or NYC, or Philly, where it's cold as hell in the winter and apartments are $1,000 a month. That will put a freaking work ethic into them.

/rant

So we have spent 950B dollars with no actual way to pay for it

oh fer crying out loud. that's over ten years. we can pay for it, no problem.

has there ever been a Democratic presidency during which "conservatives" haven't predicted the OMGOMGOMG imminent bankruptcy of the country ?

"I have no interest in engaging with Marty's fact-free anxieties about the consequences of this bill, but his invocation of his experiences with lazy layabouts is entirely off the mark:"

Sometimes people discuss because things because they are interested in each others views/opinions. I really enjoyed exchanging personal views with Eric. I am pretty sure we were talking about the same bill with the same facts and exchanging our views about them, and then why we thought what we thought.

Perspective in evaluating these things interests me, so I won't get yours, too bad.

As for my experiences with layabouts, there was some reason that welfare was massively reformed.

Marty: And the next time you want to know how that works, ask jes what the percentage of home ownership is in Britain

A little higher than it is in the US. (See, Marty, this is why it pays to look up facts before you try to make arguments. In 2007, 70% of homes in the UK were owner-occupied, and in the US, 68%.(cite, cites)

what percentage of people over 65 live on the dole

None. If you're over 65, you're entitled to the state pension, not "the dole". The basic state pension is £97.65 from this April. The minimum income guarantee (which is what you get "topped up" to if you have less than £6000 in savings) is £130 a week. If you have a work-related pension (and most people do) and if you're over 65, you can have an income well over £9000 a year before you have to pay income tax on it.

Marty: As for my experiences with layabouts, there was some reason that welfare was massively reformed.

Which has nothing to do with the current HCR bill, since it is targeted at the working poor.

Not all perspectives are created equal. Angry recitation of inner anxieties without a real grounding in fact doesn't seem very useful to me, although this is a free country, etc etc. If you had an argument beyond "Britain has a welfare state and just look at their homeownership statistics!" I might be more inclined to listen. As it is I'm about the last person you can persuade with that line of argument, since I grew up in Britain, and in fact for the early part of my childhood was kept from homelessness and misery by the very welfare state you are claiming is a disaster. I know very well that Britain remains an extraordinarily wealthy country, albeit not as wealthy as the US, and that the difference in homeownership stems more from cultural factors and the higher density of British cities than from any basic difference in economic freedom. So this is not a convincing argument.

Further, I went to Yugoslavia when it was still Communist, and even in my glancing tourist experience and even though Yugoslavia was one of the milder Communist states, I saw very well the vast political and economic distance that lay between the Communist countries and even the most comprehensive welfare states of social-democratic Western Europe. I have no time for Communism and strongly favor a mixed economy in which private enterprise dominates. But that's also why I know that it is laughable to think that very mild measures like this healthcare bill are going to set the US on a path to Communism.

Jes has some more up-to-date figures. It is true that home ownership levels in the UK were historically lower than those in the US.

It is true that home ownership levels in the UK were historically lower than those in the US.

It's also true that the high home ownership levels in the UK are not necessarily positive; they derive from the denial of new affordable rented housing built and owned by local councils, the ugly policy of the Thatcherite years. But it did amuse me that Marty was once again happily demonstrating that he can't ever be arsed to go look up facts... even nice, simple facts such as "what proportion of households in the US and the UK are owner-occupied"?

This country is in some kind of freaking oligarchic trance.

And it takes decades to make that trance really deep.

This is how stupid people are: they are more concerned about someone else somewhere possibly getting something they might not deserve than they are about catching a break themselves. That is practically a working definition of 'stupid'. There are always going to be a few people who game a system. When Wall Street guys and the banksters do it, it's 'free enterprise'; when a few poor people do it, it's 'destroying the fabric of the nation'. Balls.

HCR is all *about* fiscal sanity. That's why Clinton made it his #1 domestic item. If we don't start to rationalize what we've got, we WILL be bankrupt, and in a hurry. This country is no longer an adolescent with unlimited funds to waste pointlessly - yes, the ability to do that is tied up in our image of ourselves as a vastly rich country, but it's neither sustainable nor healthy, just morally.

I'm not throwing spitballs at Marty here, but it is rich to the point of absurdity to hear modern 'conservatives' fret about fiscal responsibility. Please. Debt - and plenty of it - is the modern GOP's frigging main legacy to this country.

We have to deal with everything we pointlessly waste money on.

Eric:

"They are a much bigger threat to our financial well being than a safety net program that pays for itself and then some."

"How? What parts of this legislation will lead to bankruptcy?

How could the CBO be so wrong?"

Sometimes I wonder, do my comments even exist? I feel like I put out something like a couple hundred words on the subject. Did it just not ever happen? I know Bernard Yomtov saw it.

Debt - and plenty of it - is the modern GOP's frigging main legacy to this country.

"Reagan proved deficits don't matter"

I'd be less interested in what the homeownership rates are in the US and the UK than I would be in what the homelessness rates are. I'd rather not own my home than not have a home at all.

"Just as every nation has a ‘natural’ unemployment rate, every nation therefore has an ‘optimal’ homeownership rate, one that balances population growth, rates of household formation and dissolution, labor and employment mobility, and large-scale demographic shifts. We don’t know what that rate is, and it can shift over time."
Is There An Optimal Homeownership Rate?

Charles, are you some kind of compulsive reference librarian?

Somebody says something, and you go find a cite.

Got anything of your own to say?

[...]
The Grand Complication by Alan Kurzweil was well worth the read and the most succinct description I can provide is that it's very clever. Not only does this story about a watch end exactly on page 360 (as in degrees!) but its protagonist is an obsessive compulsive reference librarian. Not that this would recommend it to everyone, and sometimes it's not even enough for me; however, this novel offered stories within stories (one character's family crest includes a book within a book), and deceit upon deceit. The cleverness ranges from the bawdy to the sublime, or to put it another way, from humor that will be apparent to all--to insider librarian humor (no that is not an oxymoron).
[...]

Somewhat complicated and pretty entertaining

Brilliant. Well played.

Charles, I bow.

I don't think "one of the best presidents" is really that hard to aspire to. The big three (Washington, Lincoln, FDR) were those who faced massive existential crises. With things like that, either you deal with them and are remembered as one of the best presidents, or you fail and are remembered as one of the worst. Not much margin for error there.

But once you move past that to things like health care reform, things inherently get a lot more squishy. Look at Teddy Roosevelt, often ranked as the next best President after those three (sometimes beating Washington). Teddy Roosevelt was not a Unicorn Warrior of Destiny. A lot of the major legislation he supported was fairly flawed, and a lot of his later aspirations did not get passed. And his foreign policy although certainly "influential" was certainly flawed. But he changed the direction of government and the net effect is generally regarded as positive. And the other top ranked Presidents tend to be similar.

Passing comprehensive health care reform is a really significant accomplishment and Yglesias (and myself) think an ultimately beneficial one. Throw in some other modest accomplishments and avoid any major screw ups, and you've earned yourself prime real estate in history. You don't have to be Lincoln to be one of the best.

Phil: I'd be less interested in what the homeownership rates are in the US and the UK than I would be in what the homelessness rates are. I'd rather not own my home than not have a home at all.

Unfortunately, reliable homelessness statistics are much less easy to discover...

The official UK government statistics say just under 60,000 households are homeless, but that counts only those who have applied for help and been accepted as homeless by local government. Charities which deal directly with homeless people calculate that the real figure is more like 400,000. cite. That would be about 0.65% of the population, and at that it may still be an underestimate.

I don't know where to find equivalent facts about US homelessness.

Marty,

It is kind of ironic that your proposal for a health care fix is to expand Medicare baselines (for preexisting conditions too?), but at the same time, you bemoan Medicare as an unworkable failure that will doom us all in the long run.

Just sayin.

Folks,

The reason Obama accomplished what no other president could is that the bill stinks so bad no other Democratic president would sink this low. Will he go down in history? Yes, as the corrupt joker that bargained with the CEO of a health insurance firm to ensure that he had the delegates to win his party's nomination even if he didn't actually have the votes. James Roosevelt, chair of the Rules and Bylaws Committee and CEO of Tufts Health Care, got the exact health care plan he wanted. Isn't that special? Oh, I know, the roolz, the roolz!

This bill makes things much worse for ordinary people and most Democrats aren't willing to do that. Congrats on supporting the worst Democratic president since James Buchanan.

Oh boy, we got a live one here.

Yes, as the corrupt joker that bargained with the CEO of a health insurance firm to ensure that he had the delegates to win his party's nomination even if he didn't actually have the votes.

Um, what?

This bill makes things much worse for ordinary people and most Democrats aren't willing to do that.

Three things:

1. How does it make things worse for ordinary people?

2. What are "ordinary" people?

3. If most Democrats wouldn't suppor the bill, why did almost every Democratic legislator vote in favor of the bill? And why do the vast majority of Democratic voters polled support the bill?

I know, DNFTT.

" If most Democrats wouldn't suppor the bill, why did almost every Democratic legislator vote in favor of the bill? ..."

"Almost all" could be considered an exaggeration in the first place and the answer is good old fashion backroom politics.

So, as a mental exercise, what happened between the time Kucinich got on Air Force One and when he got off four hours later that made him change his mind 180 degrees? He "saw the light"? Do you think Stupak really traded his vote for an executive order? Really, that was all?

I am not complaining, you asked about legislators. This is how I expect it to work. I think it was a battle and the Democrats won the battle. They got their way this time.

"Almost all" could be considered an exaggeration in the first place and the answer is good old fashion backroom politics.

90% of 315 lawmakers isn't almost all?

So, as a mental exercise, what happened between the time Kucinich got on Air Force One and when he got off four hours later that made him change his mind 180 degrees? He "saw the light"? Do you think Stupak really traded his vote for an executive order? Really, that was all?

What do you think?

I think it was a battle and the Democrats won the battle. They got their way this time.

Huh? But I thought Democrats would never vote for this bill?

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