Friday, June 30, 2017

The same old youth

Matt Bai had a piece yesterday about why older Democratic leaders should step aside and make room for young blood with fresh ideas.

The strongest part of the argument was the idea of accountability for failure. Since winning the White House and both houses of Congress in 2008, the Democrats have steadily lost ground, not only at the national level but in state and local government as well.

Now we have Republicans in charge of the White House and Congress, in position to nominate lots of federal judges (and probably a couple of more Supreme Court justices), and in control of almost enough states to call a national constitutional convention.

That's an "impressive" record, the kind that reasonably leads to the thought that maybe some new folks should be in charge.

Less impressive is his observation that the last Democrat to become president by election while older than 55 was Woodrow Wilson (Truman and Johnson were older when they won their first elections, but they had already become president by death of their predecessor). At the same time, "before George W. Bush, the last nonincumbent Republican under 55 to win the White House was Herbert Hoover."

Bai says this makes sense because "Democrats win when they embody modernization." But Michael Dukakis had turned 55 just 5 days before the election that he lost to George H.W. Bush in 1988, and he campaigned on his success at having run Massachusetts in an efficient, modern way. Al Gore was 52 when he lost (sort of) to George W. Bush in 2000, and he had been specifically in charge of modernizing government under Bill Clinton.

So youth and modernity hardly guarantee Democratic success.

But the biggest problem with Bai's article is contained in this paragraph:
Anyway, it’s not just that all these iconic Democrats are older; it’s that their vision for the party — with the possible exception of Biden, who’s pro-trade and pro-growth — is relentlessly backward-looking. They’re for government-run health care, expanding Social Security benefits (even for the wealthy) and free college for everyone. They’d pay for all of it with tax increases that magically cover the cost.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Factual truths, substantive lies

The Washington Post is trying to scare you away from supporting single-payer health insurance.

First, they claim that "it would raise government spending by $32 trillion over 10 years."

Second, they go for the old "government is inefficient canard:
The public piece of the American health-care system has not proven itself to be particularly cost-efficient. On a per capita basis, U.S. government health programs alone spend more than Canada, Australia, France and Britain each do on their entire health systems. That means the U.S. government spends more per American to cover a slice of the population than other governments spend per citizen to cover all of theirs.
My colleague Jason Antrosio got into the comments section and pointed out two of the three flaws with this pair of "arguments," if that's what they deserve to be called.

On the second point, the Post's statement is factually true, yet misleading enough to be a sort of lie in substance. As Jason observes, the populations covered by Medicare and Medicaid are more expensive than average (old people and people with lower incomes).

Monday, June 12, 2017

More wind-spitting (health insurance take whatever)

Today's call to John Faso's office was to confirm that he still hasn't found the spine to have an opinion about the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the bill Faso voted for, the trillion-dollar tax cut dressed up as a health-insurance bill.

And no, he doesn't have an opinion that he's willing to share.

It seems like there are three reasonable choices:
  1. Accept the CBO’s findings
  2. Put forward your own findings, with an equal level of transparency as to how you made your estimates
  3. Admit you really don’t care what effects the law will actually have.
If Faso’s not willing to say what effect he thinks the law will have on people’s ability to get health insurance, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that that’s absolutely unimportant to him.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Maybe a position on being a nation of laws?

Another week, another call to John Faso's office in D.C. (202 225-5614).

I asked if Mr. Faso had a position on yesterday's testimony by former FBI director Comey.

Not yet.

I asked if he had a position on Comey's allegation that Trump asked for loyalty to him personally.

Not yet.

I suggested that a request like that showed a complete lack of understanding of the concept that we are a nation of laws; people's loyalty should be to the law, not to a particular person.

I mentioned Paul Ryan's defense that Trump didn't know what he was doing because he's new at this, and pointed out that this defense is ludicrous, given that Trump allegedly cleared the room before asking for loyalty.

I suggested that if Mr. Faso doesn't see a problem with asking loyalty to a person rather than to the law, then he is fundamentally unqualified to be an elected representative in a democracy.