Monday, February 04, 2008

What's the Dif?

Actually, Paul Krugman writes there may be an important difference($) between Hillary and Obama:

...the big difference is mandates: the Clinton plan requires that everyone have insurance; the Obama plan doesn’t.

Mr. Obama claims that people will buy insurance if it becomes affordable. Unfortunately, the evidence says otherwise.

No one knows when they'll get sick. Personally, I think we need universal health care, but if we can't manage that, we ought to cover as many of us as possible. And it appears there are significant advantages to one plan:

...a plan without mandates, broadly resembling the Obama plan, would cover 23 million of those currently uninsured, at a taxpayer cost of $102 billion per year. An otherwise identical plan with mandates would cover 45 million of the uninsured — essentially everyone — at a taxpayer cost of $124 billion. Over all, the Obama-type plan would cost $4,400 per newly insured person, the Clinton-type plan only $2,700.

That doesn’t look like a trivial difference to me. One plan achieves more or less universal coverage; the other, although it costs more than 80 percent as much, covers only about half of those currently uninsured.

And while no one knows what will happen with either plan when it goes through the sausage grinder that is our Congress, there could be problems for Obama if he tried to improve his plan. After all, he's already run commercials criticizing Hillary's plan, and they're reputed to be much like the Harry and Louise ads that trashed universal health back in 92.

So if he were to try and fix his own plan, he'd become one of the dreaded "flip-floppers." As you know, that's potential death for a politician (even though they're all probably just as guilty). Unless you're Ronald Reagan, of course. Mr. Reagan signed the largest peacetime tax increase in history, and the whole world simply forgot about it.

Will Obama be able to pull off something like that? Times have changed, and I have to doubt it.

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