The End of Universal Healthcare As We Know It?
Paul Krugman writes:
Obama does Harry and Louise, again
The Obama campaign sends out an ugly mailer. Sorry, but this is just destructive — like the Obama plan, the Clinton plan offers subsidies to lower-income families. And BO himself has conceded that he might have to penalize people who don’t buy insurance until they need care. So this is just poisoning the well for health care reform. The politics of hope, indeed.
Update: Ezra Klein adds a screenshot of the original Harry and Louise ad — they’ve obviously deliberately copied it. Just to remind everyone, Harry and Louise were the center of the vile smear campaign the insurance lobby waged against health care reform in 1993 — and this time a Democratic candidate is doing the smearing for them.
Ezra also points us to an Urban Institute study that shows that yes, mandates are essential. The key passage:
Voluntary measures would tend to enroll disproportionate numbers of individuals with higher cost health problems, creating high premiums and instability in the insurance pools in which they are enrolled.
I know that Obama supporters want to hear no evil, but this is really, really bad.
I'd like to make a couple of points on this.
First, Sen. Obama's false and wrong-headed attacks against the Edwards and Clinton healthcare plans have made it virtually certain that universal healthcare for Americans is essentially dead at least until 2012, if not much longer. If Sen. Obama wins the nomination, it would be dead by definition. However, even if he does not win, he has poisoned the well as Krugman rightly points out, and Sen. Clinton will face one false attack ad after another from the GOP and healthcare special interests - using statements and ads that Sen. Obama has run - to destroy her universal healthcare plan. I have a hard time seeing how we get through and pass universal healthcare as a result. (This is not to say Sen. Clinton cannot be successful - maybe she will given she is a fighter - but the bar has been raised even more now).
Second, I see the usual round of Krugman-bashing going on in the comments section of his post by some Obama supporters - who are robotically repeating his talking points without actually thinking about the implications of his position. Since a top Democrat (Sen. Obama) believes that it is wrong for the Government to ask people to pay for their own healthcare (even with substantial subsidies that make it affordable), then except for the kool-aid drinkers, let's be clear on one thing. Republicans will use Sen. Obama himself, repeatedly, to destroy any universal healthcare plan from any Democrat by arguing that it is wrong for the Government to ask citizens to pay for the healthcare of someone else (via taxes).
Further, Sen. Edwards also had it right in the South Carolina debate:
EDWARDS: No, no. Here's the problem. The problem with this argument is you can make exactly the same argument about Social Security.
I mean, you think about the analogy. What George Bush says is he wants people to be able to get out of the Social Security system, choose, elect to get out of the Social Security system. Well, that's exactly what this argument is.
It's not a perfect analogy but it is close enough.