Monday, December 31, 2007

Unhealthy comparisons

Others try it: none do it better. As usual the New York Times has produced an essential overview of the candidates and their positions on half-a-dozen key issues.

The choice of those issues tells the rest of us how far the battle ground has shifted (or not) over the Bush interregnum: health insurance, abortion, climate change, immigration, Iraq and Iran.

It also shows how the Republicans are still what Malcolm's Democrat-voting son-in-law would pointedly describe as "retards".

The summary of six of the seven GOP contenders' health position starts with the same mantra:
For free-market, consumer-based system...
-- precisely that which has failed so many Americans, and (in a dodgy employment market) terrifies far more. The evidence is in Table C-1, on page 58, of Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006, published by the Economics and Statistics Board of the US Census Bureau, last August. There is no need to plough through the whole document; just one line tells all:
  • Covered by private health insurance: 67.9%
  • of which, covered by employment-based private health insurance: 59.7%
  • covered by direct-purchase private health insurance: 9.1%;
  • Covered by Government health insurance: 27.0%
  • of which, covered by Medicaid: 12.9%
  • covered by Medicare: 13.6%
  • covered by military health care: 3.6%;
  • Leaving 15.8%, some 47M people, with no health-cover at all.
Nor do we need to look very for for whom to blame.

At the end of the first Bush Presidency, in 1992, about 15% of the population had no health cover. By the end of the first Clinton Presidency, 2000, with sooo much cooperation from those sooo moral Republicans in Congress, that was down to 13.7%. Now the second Bush has ramped it up to the highest-ever figure, that 15.8%.

And, inevitably, there are racial discrepancies: 10.8% of white Americans are not covered, but it is 20.5% for black Americans.

Meanwhile, also in today's New York Times, William Safire does his annual Office Pool,
a New Year’s tradition that has become the most excruciating multiple-choice prediction test in world media. Nostradamus himself couldn’t score over 50 percent.
This includes:

13. The issue most affecting the vote on Election Day will be:
(a) immigration: absorb ’em or deport ’em
(b) taxation: soak the rich or lift all boats
(c) health plans: incentivize or socialize
(d) diplomacy: accommodating realism or extending freedom

Safire's own choice there is for (b). That's predictable in a self-described "libertarian conservative", who served his stint as a speech-writer for Nixon and Agnew.

To which Malcolm says: Hmm, wait and (c). Sphere: Related Content

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