Winners and losers

The Democrats will win the vote tonight, but the Republicans won the debate. Their speeches were uniformly mendacious, but they were logical in form (though not in substance) and conveyed apparently sincere fears about the consequences of passing the bill. The Democrats rarely challenged the untruths, and their speeches were about as exciting as laundry lists, and about as passionately delivered. I was waiting for some Democrat to say:

Let me tell you what the opponents of this bill are voting for: for unrestrained increases in health insurance premiums, for leaving open the “doughnut hole” in seniors’ prescription drug coverage, for burdening American employers with health-care costs their foreign competitors never face, for allowing insurers to cancel insurance when someone gets an expensive disease, for threatening anyone who loses his job – including those who lose their jobs because they get sick – with loss of health insurance, for lifetime coverage caps that threaten even those with health insurance with bankruptcy, for denying health coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, and – finally – for continuing to allow banks to rip off tens of billions of dollars from the student loan program. If Members want to go home and explain that to their constituents, I wish them the best of luck. But I for one cannot find it in my conscience to support the perpetuation of a broken system.

So far, no such luck.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

9 thoughts on “Winners and losers”

  1. I couldn't disagree more. This is like the closing seconds of a football game that was close but whose outcome is no longer in doubt. Often, the guys on the losing side start jawing, slap-fighting, even chop-blocking and late-tackling the winners. But for the winners to give measure for measure would spoil the moment.

  2. There are no restraints on increases in health care premiums in this bill (and thus no restraints on public subsidies for insurance). And the "American employers" line has been so thoroughly discredited that I can't believe you'd bring that up. This is a job killing bill, and will be a job killing law. There are apparently some people who think that this monstrosity is a good way-station on the way to single-payer, and thus have strategic reasons for voting for it (they want to "heighten the contradictions") . And then there are people who operate hospitals or sell prescription drugs, who made business decisions to maximize profits subject to constraints. But there are simply no good public-spirited reasons to think that it's good policy as it stands. But maybe believing things that simply aren't true–as you apparently do–provides all that you need.

  3. I think Alan Grayson said more-or-less what Mark was waiting for. What's interesting is that (a) his partisanship has apparently only increased his popularity in his R+2 home district, and (b) no other democrat has tried to duplicate his success, as far as I know. I wonder why.

  4. Rob Andrews of New Jersey took a pretty good shot at knocking off the major Republican lies.

  5. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww, Brett – don't worry; by the the time that it's clear beyond a doubt that this was a big step forward, it'll be difficult to find your opposing comments, and you can come up with something to justify yourself.

  6. Barry:

    The one comfort I can find in this monstrosity is that you and your gang of "progressives" will suffer its direct ill effects, worse health care and reduced medical inventions,like the rest of us. When the doctor you need to see can't fit you in for 9 months, the new Health Care Commissioner determines that the treatment you need is not cost effective and can't be part of any Qualified Health Benefits Plan that is part of the new Health Care Exchange, or when there is yet another shortage of vaccine that you need, perhaps you will understand what a big step this was into an abyss. Probably not. As you and the other Borgs fight with one another to see who can be the first off the cliff, we will undoubtedly hear the progressive mantra, "we did it for the greater good."

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