Sunday, October 25, 2009

Some Thoughts About NY 23

I don’t think the big problem is that the Republican Party and associated stalwarts are now supporting the “too liberal” candidate, Dede Scozzafava, in the New York 23rd Congressional District's special election. Rather it is how did the New York Republican Party make such a controversial choice? My main concern here is in fixing the Party rather then defeating an aberrant candidate. If Dede Scozzafava wins, it matters little except that if we can win all three (VA, NJ governors and NY 23) then it will pressure the Blue Dogs to oppose the public option in the health care bill. If we win only one of the three or worse none of them, it’s going to be full speed ahead for Obama’s socialist policies. Conservatives by going with a third party are almost guaranteeing a Democrat win. Don’t forget that the most important vote any legislator casts is the one to organize the body!

On the other hand many leading conservatives seem to be saying, “Let’s defeat the Republican Party to send a message.” There can be a case for this in special situations. For example, I’m very happy to be rid of Arlen Specter. By not have a strong conservative as the lead Republican on the Judiciary Committee, we were continually at a disadvantage on the all important judicial confirmation process. So there are times when taking a tactical loss can be a strategic win. I don’t think the NY 23 race is a good example of this.

My real fear going forward is that Conservatives and Moderates will be at cross purposes in the upcoming elections leaving Obama and Pelosi in power. RINOs, moderates, and even Bill Clinton are/were better than the Obama/Pelosi Team and all of the czars. I do support the general idea of fighting the moderate leadership in the Republican Party but we must avoid third parties at all costs. Remember what Perot did to the Republicans in 1992 or even feeble Ralph Nader did to the Democrats in 2000? Third parties almost always lose. They almost always elect the candidate of the two major parties that is most unlike them, i.e. conservative third parties elect liberal Democrats!

At the same time, I want to warn the leadership of the Republican Party that their treatment of Sarah Palin has been reprehensible. More over it is dangerous. The one person that I could see who could reelect President Obama is a truly rogue Sarah Palin. A conservative-oriented third party movement would pull enough votes from the Republican candidate to allow Obama to have a minority win, e.g. Clinton’s. But, third party movements always need a charismatic personality to lead them. Palin is the only possibility that I see at the moment that could do this. This is why all Republican establishment types had best be very nice to Sarah. The fact that they haven’t been scares me.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Democrat's Health Care Conundrum

Health care “reform” is becoming a quite the conundrum for the Democrats as they struggle to get it passed in Congress. The bottom line is that there is no way to “solve” this problem that doesn’t harm one or more politically powerful segments of the public. For the moment the Obama administration and its allies in Congress have chosen the elderly as the principal loser. This is a very risky choice as the elderly are notoriously defensive about their benefits and vote disproportionately to the rest of the population.

As I have mentioned in my prior post, the Medicare/Medicaid programs are receiving massive de facto subsidies from the private health programs via the price controls contained in the government programs. The idea that we can reduce Medicare costs by 400 to 500 billion dollars by eliminating waste and fraud doesn’t receive much support even from the pro-administration talking heads and none from anyone else. With increasing numbers of doctors refusing to take Medicare patients, additional pressure truly will undermine the program. And, don’t forget this was already a crisis given the pending wave of baby boomers that are now entering the program.

On the other side of the issue, we have the uninsured that basically breakdown into various subgroups each with distinct problems. The most aggrieved are those with pre-existing conditions who can’t get or can’t afford coverage. Then we have those in jobs, usually low paying, that don’t offer health plans. These two groups clearly merit some help. One can pass regulations that prohibit insurers from dropping clients who have developed a serious health condition while covered and develop a system to attack pre-existing condition lockout. However, these reforms will increase the cost of insurance even more on the private insurance sector. Now we have aggravated the mainstream working middle class and their employers. The solution for the working poor most clearly will require massive government support which means taxes.

Then we have the largest group of uninsured those who are temporarily out of work. In a major recession this group is certain to grow. In one sense we have mostly solved this issue with the COBRA bill of the 1970s but the kicker is that in most cases buying your former employers health plan is too expensive for the unemployed. One could create an unemployment health insurance plan that would pay these costs but who would pay for it? The worker with yet an additional payroll tax, the employer, or some split between them?

Two additional groups to consider are those who don’t have employer insurance and can afford to by private coverage but don’t buy it for some reason. Most likely because they don’t believe they will get sick and they would rather spend the money on other things. And, then we have the illegal aliens who crowd the emergency rooms in some states. Bringing the former group into the system would clearly be helpful to reducing costs (probably the only uninsured group for which that was true) but given their choices, mandating coverage would hardly incline them to vote for those making that decision. The public will generally oppose insuring the illegals under a government program and they can’t vote. So providing for them is just a loser politically.

So even with the best of motivations finding an acceptable solution is problematic. But, given our Congress that is driven by diverse special interests, writing five forms of the bill to be hammered out in secret and voted on before it can be understood, one can hardly expect the best motivations. It remains to be seen if the Democrats can patch together a bill that will until all of them in order get it passed in the Senate. It also is unclear whether a success in the fact of public opposition would ultimately rebound to their benefit.