We're All Claire Milonas Now: Byron York places the blame for ObamaCare's unpopularity squarely on Orszagism-- specifically the claim that "you can insure millions of currently uninsured people and save money in the process." People don't believe it. Opponents of the bill don't believe it and half the supporters of the bill secretly don't believe it. (They think they are " stuffing the beast." or " feeding the beauty "). ... [ via Instapundit ] 1:24 P.M..
Hasen v. Kaus: We will find out soon enough, in the Citizens United case, whether Prof. Hasen was right (in thinking the Court will strike down most of the restrictions on corporate financing of campaign ads) or I was right (in thinking the Court would grope for at least a temporary halfway house/centrist position). Let me say that upon rereading I have somewhat less than rock solid confidence in my prediction--though it seems like the preferable outcome. ... 10:33 P.M.
Sudden Victory Suddenly Acceptable: Insiders scoffed when it was suggested that the House should simply pass the Senate bill, word for word, thereby avoiding the need for a second, risky Senate vote . Why, House liberals would never stand for it! They needed changes, if only to show they'd fought! The House must be allowed to work its will in conference! Now, with the prospect that a Republican might win Kennedy's Senate seat--denying Dems their 60th vote-- they're not scoffing anymore . ... Jon Chait is on board with this "Pong" strategy**, which maybe should be officially renamed Sudden Victory (to distinguish it from the standard "ping pong" approach of sending a modified bill back to the Senate). Chait also notes that many of the changes the House would want can be handled later through the "reconciliation" process, which only takes 50 votes (i.e. Pong Plus ). ... kf in December , TNR in January. ...
**-- Update: Shrum too . ... 2:34 P.M.
Truth About Cars hasn't completely lost its bite. It's Detroit Auto Show coverage trashes a) GM CEO Ed Whitacre's strategic dissembling about how the government will "make a lot of money" on its bailout, b) Chrysler's iffy forecasts and absurd new "lifestyle" trim levels (e.g. "Express, Hero, Heat, Crew and Uptown," plus "Detonator" and "Shock"), c) Honda's seeming inability to wring impressive mileage numbers from its hybrids, d) VW's new commitment to blandness , and e) Transpo Secretary Ray LaHood's general public cluelessness . .... P.S.: But they're wrong, so wrong about the looks of the Honda CR-Z 2-seat hybrid . The production version with its pug schnoz is much cuter than the excessively lean-mean concept car. ... 1:20 P.M.
kf is Stumped: Here are two seeming contradictions I haven't quite figured out how to resolve:
1. I admired the "military reform" movement championed by Col. John Boyd, Gary Hart, and James Fallows, which attempted to do more with less money by altering the culture that underlay defense spending. But I'm deeply skeptical of the "delivery reform" movement championed by Peter Orszag and Atul Gawande, which attempts to do more with less money by altering the culture that underlies health care spending. Why would a neoliberal find one proposition compelling but not the other? ...
Possible answers: 1) Military reform promoted a new doctrine for how to achieve the goal of beating the enemy--maneuver warfare (as opposed to attrition warfare). Health care reform proposes no equivalent new strategy, only a different means of pursuing the old strategies. Its military equivalent would be procurement reform, not strategic reform; 2) Maneuver warfare ultimately proved successful at winning wars but not so successful at cutting costs. A lot of the fancy high-tech weapons the military reformers derided turned out to work, especially in a fast-changing "maneuver" context. Now we have to pay for them; 3) All our military has to do is to be able to defeat our enemies. Once we have superiority, there's no reason to pursue ever-more-expensive weaponry. But the purpose of the health care system is to keep people alive--its enemy is, in effect, death, which will never be defeated. We can always do better, and there will always be legitmate reason to pursue ever-more-expensive treatments (which is why all of Gawande's hodge-podge trial-and-error efficiencies , however desirable, won't necessarily compensate for the rising cost of more complex, yet effective, procedures) ...
2. I'm skeptical of the ability of "sunshine" procedural reforms--open meeting requirements, or televised conference committeees, etc.--to actually show voters what is going on. More likely they just drive the real negotiations into an un-televised pre-meeting. But I admit that when you attend an actual debate in Congress, you do learn things. (Examples: During the 1996 welfare reform debate, when Bob Dole accidentally allowed an amendment that essentially restored the welfare entitlement after being assured on the floor by Sen. Chafee that it was non-controversial. Or during the immigration debate of 2007, when Harry Reid tellingly congratulated Sen. Byron Dorgan for pushing the dealbreaking amendment that effectively scuttled the bill.)
Possible explanations: 1) When the outcome is in doubt, Senators have to come to the floor of the Senate to do battle, and because they are adversaries they try to surprise each other in public. It's not all Kabuki. But in most conference committees--like the one the Dems are skipping on health care--the outcome isn't really in doubt. There are just deals to be cut. 2) Floor votes and debates are the only time Senators and Representative are all gathered in one place. Naturally they try to get in a lot of actual business. ....
None of these answers is completely satisfying. Suggestions welcomed. ... 11:18 P.M.
I went to my local Mexican diner and offered to give them a bundled payment to cure my hunger, but they insisted I pay for every dish I ordered under the archaic "fee for taco" model. ... 11:17 P.M.