Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Today in Yglesias Blogging

It just so happens that on many policy matters liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias and I hold opposing viewpoints. But it is also true that he is a smart guy who really knows how to write a blog, so it's not surprising that many of the things I read on his blog I find thought provoking. Two such items caught my eye today.

First, Yglesias on health care:
David Leonhardt has a great column laying out how a lot of the scare stories you’re reading about “unintended consequences” of the Affordable Care Act are in fact intended consequences. For example, instead of getting incredibly terrible and useless health insurance, in the future McDonalds workers will have access to a better insurance program.

Faced with the possibility of McDonald's and other employers dropping plans that don't meet new coverage minimums all together, the Obama administration relented and has issued a waiver from the rules.

In 2014 these employees may be covered by insurance which is subsidized by the government. Now for Yglesias, this may undoubtedly represent "better" insurance. For me, this is still a long way off and a lot of the details have yet to be demonstrated. It's not as if this administration has a great track record of delivering on the promises used to sell their policy initiatives (see also, stimulus).

I'll also quickly note that there is a certain irony that the side of the political spectrum known for diversity is also the side most wedded to the idea of one-size-fits-all health insurance.

Here's Yglesias on Congress:
Among other things, this congress passes a comprehensive overhaul of student loans. It also mandated calorie labeling on chain restaurant menus nationwide. It created a pool of community transformation grants to help municipalities reconfigures their infrastructure in a more public health-friendly way. In fact, those things were all in a single bill. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, an act whose major changes are in totally different areas. Plus there were all these other bills!

You can like the 111th Congress or you can dislike it, but there’s just no way to deny that it did a lot more stuff than the four or five congresses before it. That said, I’m not really sure how people are supposed to know about all this since the incumbents responsible for a lot of this sweeping change to come seem almost embarrassed to talk about it at times.

It really shouldn't come as any surprise that incumbents don't want to talk about these things since they are incredibly unpopular. We've got nearly 10% unemployment and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, meanwhile our military is engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan. Was there a single American voter who thought that what this country needs right now is calorie labeling at chain restaurants?

This really hits close to home since my own Congressman, Steve Kagen, is a stone cold Nancy Pelosi acolyte and can't seem to string together two sentences without the phrases, "end of Social Security," "shipping jobs to China," or a vague threat involving, "Wall Street." Not a word about his vote for the health reform or his vote in favor of Cap and Trade.

Having said all that, I really enjoy the blog Matt. If you are ever in Green Bay let me know and I'll take you to Kroll's, just don't ask me how many calories there are in the burgers.

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