What Jared Hath Wrought

Politico’s Mike Soraghan reports:

Democratic leadership staffers scolded freshman chiefs of staff Monday for blindsiding House leaders with a letter protesting the tax on the wealthy designed to pay for President Obama’s healthcare overhaul.

“They said that letters like this don’t help anybody,” said a freshman Democratic aide. [Pols emphasis]

A bare majority of the Democratic freshman class, 21 of 39, signed the letter circulated by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) opposing their leadership’s plan to raise taxes to finance a healthcare overhaul. Another signer, Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.), is a second-term lawmaker.

It became one of the starkest signs of Democratic revolt against a healthcare bill that Pelosi had rolled out triumphantly days before…

But staffers for freshmen said they did give leaders a heads-up about their concerns and the letter. And they say freshmen want the bill to slow down.

And the Denver Post reports:

Polis led a mini-revolt of House freshmen last week against the surtax, circulating a letter that gained 21 Democratic signatures and claiming that it would take a heavy toll on small-business owners, many of whom don’t file as corporations.

Taken together with similar complaints by conservative Democrats, the revolt shook House leaders and produced a quick pivot by Pelosi, who said in a weekend interview that she would be open to a higher threshold – a tax on families making at least $1 million.

President Barack Obama called the doubting freshmen to the White House to hear their concerns on Friday, and Polis is set to meet with Sebelius today.

“What many Democrats criticized the Republicans for when they were in charge was that it was a rubber-stamp Congress,” Polis said Monday. “For health care reform to be a good issue for the Democratic Party, we need to succeed in reform that not only covers the 48 million uninsured but is also good for the economy.”

At the same time, Polis has come under attack by the Democratic left – a lesson on the complex politics of health care reform and the nervousness of grassroots groups who fear that the reform effort may collapse the way it did under President Bill Clinton. [Pols emphasis]

Apropos, the Washington Post reports:

Emboldened by divided Democrats and polls that show rising public anxiety about President Obama’s handling of health care and the economy, Republicans on Monday launched an aggressive effort to link the two, comparing the health-care bills moving through Congress to what they labeled as a failed economic stimulus bill…

Lacking unity on an alternative agenda to Obama’s health-care plans, Republicans have instead focused on a strategy of rallying public opposition and wooing the conservative Democrats in Congress, whose votes will ultimately determine the fate of any health-care bill. That plan depends in large part on Congress going on break before it votes on a bill. On Monday, though, Republicans made clear that they see an opportunity to derail the legislation now. [Pols emphasis]

As we’ve said, the peril this situation creates for health care reform doesn’t really have to do with the nature of Polis’ objection, which could have been dealt with in a less-visible way–any way that didn’t lead with the words “revolt” or “votes no.” The issue is precisely the high visibility of Polis’ opposition to the bill as introduced, and the secondary effect of that opposition as the story is retold–the wide-open opportunity this gives Republican opponents of the bill to attack it.

The conversation has not been about any alternatives Polis has proposed, just his problems with the current bill–because that’s what Polis wanted to talk about. And it’s far more damaging to the effort to pass a bill for Polis to do this than the Blue Dogs, since he’s not supposed to be one. In the end it doesn’t really matter if you call Polis’ office and are told that he really supports, golly gee, much more expensive pie-in-sky health care–on CNN the story is how the current proposal is “unfair” and “too expensive,” and a “liberal Democrat” named Jared Polis is their poster boy.

Depending on what happens next, Polis’ hamfisted ‘contribution’ to the debate could do more to scuttle health care reform this year than any Republican–a truly astonishing turn of events. Or, and this would be the thing to really give Polis’ liberal base in CD-2 pause, maybe it isn’t so astonishing.

One more word on the demographics of CD-2: The Wall Street Journal and other out-of-state news sources have been quick to describe CD-2 as Polis’ “wealthy Democratic district,” focusing on the affluence of communities like Boulder and Vail: presumably an attempt to show sympathy for Polis’ position on the bill among his electorate. After all, if Polis was elected by rich folks who would “unfairly” suffer from higher taxes–as opposed to working people with the most to benefit–well, he’d be representing his district, wouldn’t he?

But aren’t the biggest cities in CD-2 the blue-collar suburbs of Thornton and Northglenn?

67 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. and another thing says:

    Let me get this straight, the Denver Post runs the headline “Polis gets top Dems rethinking,”  and this is supposed to be BAD press?  I guess I’m missing the point.

    I understand that some people are mad at Jared’s position, but the press certainly aren’t among that group.  They seem to be lauding him.

    Also, I would note that according to  Boulder is much larger than Northglenn in population and about the same size as Thornton.  http://www.citypopulation.de/U…  However, I don’t think that fact changes your valid criticism.  Adams County makes up a large portion of the district.

     

  2. sxp151 says:

    he would have proposed an amendment on his own damn committee.

    He’s a showboater and a useless hack. And his only defense has been “you morons don’t understand how things work in D.C.”

    Thankfully, the Democratic leadership is there to tell Polis and other defenders of the rich, “No, you morons don’t understand D.C.”

    Hopefully he hasn’t destroyed our hopes of getting health care.

    I’ll repeat my offer to give the maximum contribution to anyone who primaries Polis.

  3. sxp151 says:

    Polis voted against the plan at the Education and Labor Committee markup Friday as a protest against the tax.

    What a fucking twat.

      • redstateblues says:

        And if this “leadership” from Jared does end up killing this bill, he has a right to be. We all do.

        Right now the GOP has openly admitted that their #1 goal is to make sure Obama’s health care bill dies in the first year of his first term. If they can do to Obama what they did to Hillary, it might be another fifteen or twenty years before we get another shot at this.

        I am a huge fan of Jared Polis, but he’s just wrong on this. Not only is he having terrible message communication problems (more C-corp, less S-corp, how hard is that?) but he’s literally making the GOP’s job easier. He’s writing their talking points right now, and that is simply unacceptable.

        We worked too hard to get Obama elected so that we could pass this health care overhaul, and we are too close now to let something like this get in the way.

        Jared has been good on almost every other issue, but he’s letting his district–and the progressive community in general–down with this crap.

    • Ralphie says:

      The way I like it

      Is the way it is

      I’ve got mine

      Don’t worry ’bout his

    • can elicit such an irrationally outraged response. Polis is refusing to do what the Republican legislature did under Bush; follow leadership blindly off a cliff.

      And yes, he is definitely representing his wealthy Boulder constituents who, for all of their liberal ideals, still don’t think they should be penalized for being successful.

      • sxp151 says:

        Irrational? Hardly.

        Polis’ Boulder constituents are pissed off, wealthy or otherwise. And almost all of them don’t view paying their fair share as a “penalty.” That’s the point of view of children, Republicans, and Polis himself.

        Whether you agree with him or with me, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to demand he represent the people who voted for him in November. He’s doing a piss-poor job of that.  

        • “almost all” of Polis’ constituents. Do you use language like “fuckin twat” and “piss-poor” at your weekly meetings?

          And I’d say our disagreement, and your problem with Jared’s position, is a difference in definition of “fair share”. The wealthy already pay a much higher percentage of their income in taxes.

          To add to that because Washington pandered to Health Industry lobbyists for 30 years, driving up the cost of care irreparably, is just ridiculous.

          • Pay Inequity Is Bankrupting Social Security

            When the Wall Street Journal is telling you that the growing pay gap between the wealthiest Americans and “the rest of us” is the primary cause of the impending doom of the Social Security system, it’s time to pay attention.

            Wealthy people pay less today – percentage-wise – than during most of this country’s experiment in Federal taxation.  And over time, I’m sure the formulas will be adjusted even more.  But to let such a huge controversy arise during the important health care reform debate over increasing taxes on the wealthiest in the country, who’ve taken home a significantly larger piece of the American Pie lately, is ridiculous.

          • Steve Balboni says:

            Take a look at this data and let me know if you still stand by your assessment of “fair”

            http://yglesias.thinkprogress….

            http://yglesias.thinkprogress….

            • the group of earners that this taxation will effect the least; those that have so much money that most of it is housed in tax-free shelters.

              The moderately wealthy and small business owners will be hit the hardest by this and by any “tax the wealthy” campaign that targets the wealthiest 1% by taking aim at every operation turning a profit.

              I’m no fan of excess. Launch these outrageous taxes exclusively on the uber-rich and you’ll hear no complaints from me.  I’m simply protecting my viability as a small business owner who is already overtaxed.

              • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

                Tax me! If my paying 1% more means we fix healthcare, I’m thrilled to contribute that.

                – David Thielen (rich Boulder S Corp voter)

                • Congratulations on being so willing to throw your good money after bad.

                  If I had even the slightest inclination to believe that my taxes would be spent wisely, and that the system would function well on its propose budget, I may be willing to pony up the cash as well. But this isn’t a fix. It’s another in a series of ploys to keep federal politicians in their seats, and it too will be revealed as such in due time.

                  Meanwhile, you and I will be adding another 1% (or more) to the percentage points and half and quarter points that have accumulated over time to constitute nearly 10% of wages earned.

                • Karate Kid says:

                  The government should take over auto repair shops.  If they can do health care, Katrina, the stimulus and dictate a bogus energy policy better than the private sector, why shouldn’t we have taxpayer-financed and government run auto repair shops!  The government can do everything better.  Oh yeah, and why the heck do we have private grocery stores and private farming?

                  • See – the problem with your thinking is that you believe that a simple declaration by the government is enough to create the “need” for liberals to take over something.

                    Health care (insurance) isn’t just a problem about health care – it’s a problem with our nation’s competitiveness.  It’s hard to compete in an environment where you’re paying 16% of your GDP in health care while everyone else is paying 10% and under – and seeing better health on top of it.

                    Auto repair doesn’t have that problem.  There’s no need to “fix” it with such a drastic solution, and no support for it either.

                    But I guess us liberals will have to figure out how to get it done…

                  • soon it will be illegal to grow your own food in the United States. Combine that with recent legislation to further control the availability and use of water (including rainwater), and you’ve got yourself a bona fide fascist government that administers the use of basic sustenance.

                  • Danny the Red (hair)Danny the Red (hair) says:

                    The private sector is a fine mechanism for allocating resources when you have choice about consumption, but not when you don’t and not when the externalities are not properly internalized (topic for a later discussion).

                    This is what makes health care different.

                    When you consume auto repair, you must have chosen A) to buy a car B) and made a choice of how much its average cost of ownership is (even though that may have been driven by your budget).  Living without a car won’t kill you, but living without health insurance could and will cost the insured more. Whether to fix it or not is a choice with limited social ramifications although where it does have ramifications the state does intervene (safety & environment).  I am perfectly content with the private sector allocating resources in this situation and think the government can deal with areas of state interest by internalizing the externalities through tax credits/penalties (budget neutral of course).

                    On the other hand people do not chose to get sick and unless you are suggesting that those who get sick and can not afford to get treatment should just die, the private sector can not adequately allocate resources.

                    Even if you are fortunate enough (or to use counter frame language, have forethought enough) to have insurance through your employer, that only lasts as long as you are employed and your employer provides it.

                    Which brings me to the 2nd great falsehood conservatives are pushing: choice.  Unless the only factor determining where you work is health insurance and your skills are such that you can work anywhere in any field, your employer chooses your health plan for the majority of Americans.

                    Along this topic, but leading to the 3rd great falsehood is the insurance companies role.  While the notion of choice is ludicrous to anyone who has actually dealt with an insurance company, the real great lie is quality.  In survey’s most Americans that have health insurance are satisfied with it, why? Because most Americans have never made a serious claim–their opinion changes the second they are diagnosed with a serious illness.

                    There is one thing that I agree with conservatives about on this topic.  Most people in the US are unaware what the health industry is costing their employers.  If people were confronted with the true cost of their health insurance I believe the majority would opt for Canadian style in a second: they already love Medicare which is basically Canadian style for the AARP set (we can talk about demographic driven funding problems later).

                    Final point.  Unless you are against the US military you have already decided against the ludicrous notion that the private sector is always better and I assume just for a moment that you believe the government does some things the private sector can not provide well.  If you do not accept a government role for anything I will let you get back to knitting tin foil hats.  Otherwise please try to keep the criticism in the realm of the rational.

                    • it’s with THIS solution to the problem of health care.  Don’t presume to know my argument when you never asked.

                      In plain terms, I don’t believe that it is the responsibility of the wealthy to keep all of society alive. If you want to raise taxes to pay for universal health care, tax everybody. I’ll still have a problem with it, but at least it’s not punishing success.

                      Your plea for rationality intrigues me, so I’ll lay it all out.

                      First, “Health Care” is a broad term that includes, primarily, keeping people alive. But simplifying the argument to a matter of life or death is asinine, because it also includes routine (and sometimes unnecessary) visits to a physician, along with your neighbor’s erectile dysfunction and your other neighbor’s addiction to mind-altering happy pills.

                      Second, keeping people alive is much more involved than it once was.  The technology exists to fight cancer, AIDS, and even the pesky circumstances of old age.  And our social norm is to fight death at every turn.  It’s an expensive battle, and we’re preparing to put the cost on the public docket permanently.

                      As more treatments become available to keep people alive into their 100’s, everybody will want it. As more treatments become available to battle deadly ailments like cancer and AIDS, every patient will assume their right to treatment.

                      We are talking about an immense burden placed on (in this case) the wealthy and business owners to pay, indiscriminately, for the health care of everybody.

                      The old system had choice, despite your assertion.  Business owners CHOSE to pay for health care for their employees, and in many cases employees assisted in paying those costs. The system had all sorts of holes, and for-profit drug and health insurance companies manipulated the system and cost countless millions of deaths and dollars with their Congress-assisted profiteering, but there was a semblance of choice.

                      However, this new model for health care is no better, and involves zero choice.  Now the responsibility for life and death (and narcotic distribution) will lie in the hands of a single entity; the US Government.  The same government responsible for many of the failings of the old system, which distributed control from itself down to private companies, and then to employers and their employees, and on down to the unfortunate self-insured who paid out the nose for basic care. ::raises hand::  The government will now tell you what health package you are eligible for, how many times you can visit the doctor in a year, and what the ceiling is for funding to combat your particular ailment.

                      Will this system save lives in the long run?  Will your heart valve replacement funnel through a half-dozen layers of bureaucracy in time to save your life?  Will your government-ordained physician be the best doctor to treat you?  Will every single cancer and AIDS patient receive the maximum level of care capable of keeping them alive indefinitely? (Treatment that is currently only available to those able to pay for it.)  If so, who will pay for that?  And if the answer is no to one or more of the above questions, who will you complain to then?  Your local representative?  Your US Senator?  Or more likely a paper-pusher whose job it is to field such complaints and place them in neat piles?  At least before you could complain to your boss, or switch health plans of your own accord.

                      Wanting everybody to be healthy and cared for is a noble notion.  I share that sentiment.  But just because a handful of politicians in Washington tell you that this system is better, and give you vague reasons (predominantly based on the failings of the old crappy system) why you should accept it, doesn’t mean that you are any closer to attaining that goal.

                      And I hope for all of our sakes that I’m wrong, because it looks to me like we’re trading down universally so that everybody can be uniformly poorly cared for.

                    • sxp151 says:

                      Tax the poor! The first week of Econ 101 tells me that if you tax something, you get less of it. So we should soak the poor to motivate them to get rich.

                    • to understand these complex issues. Try reading something other than Pols as your source, and then you can start playing with the big kids.

                      But really, keep it up. You already have a natural talent for simplifying issues to their base elements to promote argument instead of dialogue. You’ve definitely got a future in politics.

                    • of how far you can go…

                      </snark>

                    • sxp151 says:

                      No seriously, hahahaha!

                      Get a job, whiner.

          • sxp151 says:

            and I resent the implication. If I’m going to call someone a “fucking so-and-so,” I enunciate.

  4. SaveCoH2O says:

    Grandstanding and making it all about him. Unless he is stiring the pot and in the limelight he is not happy.

  5. TheDeminator says:

    He is showing leadership.  Jared understands small business… he’s started a few.  Good for him because they are paying attn.    

  6. mtnhigh says:

    This health care topic is SO important that we need ALL views on the table- including the views of Baby Polis!

    That is the ONLY way we are going to craft some legislation that works.  If you want to be angry at someone, try Reid and Polosi. Their antiquated democratic party politics are going to kill this country.  

    And that complaint is from a registered democrat!  

    • RedGreenRedGreen says:

      There’s a difference between fixing the bill (which Polis is in a position to do) and giving opponents of health-care reform ammunition. Republicans have declared that health care will be Obama’s Waterloo, and a public revolt led by liberal Democrats only helps their cause.

  7. Gilpin Guy says:

    who isn’t a wealthy millionaire would have championed the plight of millionaires.  The problem for Polis is that he ran a primary campaign touting his credentials as a progressives progressive.  He was the uber-liberal who was going to work for the people and end the war and make the world a better place.  Now it looks like he is working to make the world a better place for millionaires.  Who would of thunk it?

    • Jambalaya says:

      …I thought she and her husband were doing quite well, even if they don’t have Polis-dollars.  Maybe I misunderstood.

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        Based on all the mailings I got from the Polis campaign, it appeared that he was trying to out-liberal FitzGerald.  I’ve met both and thought both would represent their constituents well.  Will Shafroth ran a horrible campaign about how he didn’t want to be identified as a Democrat.  He was suppose to be the magnificent moderate who could get along with anyone.  The Democratic voters in CD 2 were ready to throw the bums out and wanted a real fire breathing liberal who would walk the walk.  Shafroth was toast and the race was between Polis and FitzGerald.  If health care gets buried because of this grandstanding stunt by Polis then the rabid Democratic voters in CD 2 are going to be wondering what happened the real liberal that they thought that they had elected to replace milquetoast Mark.  FitzGerald looks better in hindsight.

  8. Are they going to charge Jared with desecration of a corpse? The Obama Health Care plan was DOA. Don’t blame Jared for this one even if Fox News is praising him.  

  9. Laughing Boy says:

    of why Obama wanted to cram this thing through before the recess and before Congress had a chance to hear from their constituents:

    This is truly brilliant.  The audience is laughing in his face, as they should be.  Get your resumГ© together, Carnahan.

  10. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    Lots of comments above and I want to speak to the general issues across all of them. The central point we need to address is that healthcare cost is destroying our economy. And it’s growth rate makes the problem worse every day. We must do something to address this and that means a major change in the system.

    The free market is a tool. It is really good at some things, decent at a lot of things, and very poor at some. Very few people would suggest that we leave the military, fire protection, or local roads to the free market. (And where we did privatize some of the military – Blackwater showed us the downside of that.)

    The free market has failed on health insurance. Our most efficient insurance provider is the federal government. In that sense, the free market has shown us the winner. That’s not to say we should go single payer, but the public option sure seems like a good way to try both.

    Also keep in mind that there is no proposal for the federal goverment to provide medical care. All that is being proposed is for the federal government is to provide insurance. And the feds have a great track record here from social security to medicare to the FDIC to flood insurance. All efficient well run federal insurance programs.

    Finally, keep in mind you don’t get perfect in politics. (Plus I don’t think anyone knows what perfect is in this case.) So we will see an imperfect bill with some trade-offs we don’t like. They key thing is to get the fundamentals set to what we think will give us a significantly better approach – and then pass the damn thing. Because insisting on better is actually insuring it fails.

    • Laughing Boy says:

      The bill is a turd.  It’s a power grab more than any kind of solution.

      More than 80% of Americans are happy with their coverage.  How about mandating it, having a needs-based assessment and then providing catastrophic coverage for the people who can’t afford it?  With a $5k deductible or so.

      That would save the uninsured from going bankrupt, and it would stop the government from being both a regulator and a participant.  It would actually also probably lower costs.

      • harrydobyharrydoby says:

        Is that 80% of people with coverage, or do you want to believe that applies to everyone in general?

        Here are the actual numbers:

        Conservatives and some in the media think these voters are not serious about change, but that misreads them, as we realize from our focus groups last week. They are “satisfied” with their choice of doctors, that their employer is picking up most of the cost and that they may have better insurance than others. But, they are not happy about having traded off wages or gotten locked into a job because of health care or about the fate of a child with a chronic ailment who may not be able to get insurance in the future. So, they are nervous about change, but they want it.

        Econ 101:  Employee-sponsored healthcare puts both the employers and employees at a disadvantage.  

        Insurance companies have a captive market.  Employers don’t have the leverage to keep insurers from raising prices, can’t afford to hire more employees, and employees are effectively paying a tax on earnings in the form of lower wages as premiums increase.

        Getting a bill passed on principles is the admitted goal.  Then the real work begins by using the fait accompli of a reform process to reign in the out of control insurance lobby.

        • Laughing Boy says:

          Thank God. Because if we’re able to put this piece of shit off, we might actually be able to do something about fixing healthcare.  This would be fixing it by halving the level of service, doubling the price, and handing it over to an ineffective bureaucracy to run it.  No thanks.

          As President Barack Obama pushes back against critics of his health care plan, a new national poll indicates that half the country disapproves of how he’s handling the issue.

          That’s the finding in a USA Today/Gallup poll released Tuesday. Forty-four percent of those questioned in the survey approve of how Obama’s dealing with health care, while 50 percent do not.

          The poll is the fourth national survey in the past month to suggest that the president’s approval rating on health care reform is now under 50 percent, joining an ABC News/Washington Post poll, a CBS News survey, and a Quinnipiac University poll. It is the first poll to show the number who disapprove of Obama’s track record on health care higher than the number who give Obama a positive rating on that issue.

          • ardy39 says:

            of how President Obama is handling the issue.

            I think he should stop trying to appease the rabid, idea-less members of the Party of No and just tell the members of his party to get this thing passed. By COB Friday.

            Have all Republican sponsored amendments to the bill be contingent upon at least 30% of Republican Senators and Representatives voting for the bill.

            Tell the American people that what is being decided this week is whether Congress works for the good of all Americans, or just for a few powerful corporations that can afford a stable of lobbyists.

            But for crissakes, just get us started towards a health care policy that actually promotes affordable health care for people.

          • harrydobyharrydoby says:

            Fortunately, according to the article you linked to, only 34% appear to be swallowing the FUD 😉

            Fifty-four percent of those questioned say they trust Obama to do a better job handling health care than Republicans in Congress, with 34 percent putting more faith in congressional Republicans than the president.

            According to Kaiser Foundation’s Mollyann Brody (see link in prior post):

            Yes, in this climate, as KFF’s Mollyann Brody told me, “it is really easy to scare people into thinking that reform will make their own situations worse off.” But at the same time, people are also very anxious about their costs and future coverage under the status quo. It is that latter anxiety — much less than any altruistic desire to help out Americans without health care coverage — that drives the huge general desire for change and reform.

          • but we’d have a hell of a lot easier time reforming for health care if we weren’t spending billions in Iraq.  I do believe President Eisenhower’s warnings about the military industrial complex being a theft are coming true.

            “The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, and the future of its children.”

            The war in Iraq could end up costing us health care.  Which is more valuable?

          • Where is this “ineffective bureaucracy” that can’t run a health insurance program of which you speak?  I’d take Medicare any day of the week over my current plan, and I’m pretty much in need of health care reform if I ever want to run my own company.

            IMHO, nothing that this country could produce would be worse than our current health insurance scamscheme.

          • AristotleAristotle says:

            all I read that number is as a measure of the effectiveness of the scare ads going ’round the airwaves.

            • Laughing Boy says:

              The fact that he’s trying to jam it down our throats like a used car dealer, and people are starting to see how much it’s going to really cost.

              Why did Obama meet with the CBO?  Could it be that he’s applying pressure on them to stop letting the public know the true nature of this bill?

              • AristotleAristotle says:

                If people really cared that much about the budget they’d have put the kibosh on so many costly ventures, especially from people who claim to be conservatives (think Reagan’s astronomical military budget expenditures and W’s adventures in the Middle East). A few hardcore budget activists might care, but it’s too abstract for the typical voter to get worked up about.

                No, it’s all FUD as someone else has said on this thread, coupled with discontent among liberals for how Obama is handling it.

      • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

        And at a minimum that means 3 private companies putting a real effort in to compete for my business. Because at present we basically have 1 choice for a quality plan – Wellpoint (in our case via Anthem).

    • indipol says:

      And the feds have a great track record here from social security to medicare to the FDIC to flood insurance.

      The NFIP has been an unmitigated disaster (pun intended) and my guess is Fed-run health insurance will go down a similar path.  Almost from the beginning, the NFIP has been prevented by legislators from charging actuarially-sound rates, and that in turn has meant that when major catastrophes occur there isn’t enough money in the pool and Congress has to appropriate from the general treasury into the NFIP to keep it solvent.  That happens precisely because it is a government-run insurance pool, not in spite of it.  Legislators have the ability to tweak the insurance system for political purposes, so they do.  And because of that, it doesn’t work right.

      The only major technical difference in an insurability sense between flooding and health insurance is that natural disaster insurance is plagued by the problem of correlated risks (when one person gets flooded, likely hundreds of thousands are also getting flooded at the same time), whereas health insurance will be more akin to auto or fire insurance (fairly even baseline of claims).  

      • was my response to the assertion that Social Security & Medicare which are headed for bankruptcy are efficient, well-run federal programs.

        Not only are both funds in danger of running dry, but the President and Congress are

        ignoring the problem until it becomes a full-blown disaster that dumps funding responsibilities on the general revenues provided by taxes outside of Medicare and Social Security.

        Add those programs to the new publicly-funded health care system, and you’ve got no choice but to… I dunno… print some more borrowed money? Cut each program’s budget in half? Continue plugging ears and whistling?

        • Poorly designed, but well run.

          Social Security was designed such that the current working generation pays for the current retired generation’s security.  I’d like to think that this was due to the need to prime the system quickly, though I’m not 100% sure.  I pointed out yesterday that the Wall Street Journal put the blame for Social Security’s demise almost solely on the rising income disparity between the rich and the rest of us.  The WSJ isn’t exactly a liberal paper…

          As for Medicare, it’s saddled with a number of its own funding burdens, as well as the fact that it covers many of the sickest Americans, driving its costs up beyond the costs of private insurers.  Health care reform could actually save Medicare money…

          Finally, the new health care system is supposed to be largely self-funding.  The public option itself is revenue neutral – it’s the rest of the bill that costs money.  Some of that is investment in medical infrastructure, some is in subsidies for the poor.  Both will benefit the overall cost of healthcare; the CBO estimates don’t include savings and benefits to the private sector or economic effects from a healthier population.

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