Jonathan Cohn's "defense" of Obama's emphasis on Orszagistic curve-bending --against what he perceives as the looming Blame Orszag CW--isn't really a defense at all. Cohn assumes it was a big mistake, and basically argues "who knew"?
Obama surely has made mistakes, among them focusing so heavily on how reform would reduce the cost of medicine. Had he spent more time reminding voters that reform would provide them with the security they now lack--security from financial ruin and medical catastrophe, the type private insurance too rarely provides--he probably would have been better off.
But I'm not so sure this was obvious a few months ago , when Obama kicked off his campaign for health reform. ... [E.A.]
P.S.: Cohn even takes as mitigating evidence the proliferation of puffers on Orszag himself:
I seem to remember quite a few writers and television commentators gushing over how Obama and his advisors aggressive approach to the cost problem. Remember, these were the days when Washington feted Budget Director Peter Orszag as a celebrity and turned "bend the curve" into a bumper sticker.
And if Obama had a Budget Director who'd said, "Security First, We'll Bend the Curve Later," the press wouldn't have sucked up to him too? ...
P.P.S.--Orgy of Recrimination, Please! Before we get to the unconvincing contrarian pieces defending (or explaining) Obama's mistake, let's have a decent CW interval in which we bash him for it, OK? Otherwise he might make it again. It's a "teachable moment"! ...
Least poll-tested argument: Cohn combats the idea that it doesn't matter so much if we spend more of our GDP and our budget on health care:
But the money spent on medicine is money not spent elsewhere--it's government dollars that didn't go into schools or public housing;
"Public housing"! Now there's a government expenditure with a good track record. By all means, let's spend less money treating sickness and disease and more money on the beloved public housing program. ... Suggested bumper sticker: "Less Healing, More HUD!" ... I mean, how could these guys be losing the debate? ...
Update--Orszag's Won Time Magazine! Cohn's very civil response . He defends the substance of "curve-bending," not the (disastrous) politics. ... Michael Grunwald, in a Time piece that reads like it was written in May, is still making the Orszagist case . "[R]eform won't be worth selling if it doesn't include real cost restraints ..." he announces. Why? Why does everything have to be done at once--the Comprehensivist Fallacy? We can give security now and try to bend the curve over the long run, as Uwe Reinhardt recommends . ... 2:35 A.M