Monday, December 21, 2009

Matthew Yglesias is much to kind to Senator Conrad

Conrad argues the house better do what he wants in the confererence committee because it is hard to get to 60 votes in the senate. Yglesias says this is because of Senators like Conrad. If fact it is because of Senator Conrad himself -- one senator who can decide if the Senate operates by majority rule who decided that it shall not do so this time.

Very true about Senator Conrad. In fact you understate the case. He and he alone is the one most to blame for the failure of the senate to function democratically this time.

It is possible for 50 senators (plus Biden) to pass bill given current rules using the budget reconciliation process. Bloggers to your left argue that some progressive senator should vote against cloture to force Obama or Reid or someone to use reconciliation.

It's not Obama's call. It's not Reid's call. It's Conrad's call. Under Senate budget reconciliation rules must be reported out by the budget committee. The budget committee chairman can, if he chooses, block the process by not scheduling the vote on reporting out. Senator Conrad is that chairman.

Now, maybe Harkin (chairman of HELP) could try to run around Conrad by saying that Finance has sole responsibility (I'm not sure this is even allowed). But to report a bill out of Finance takes 13 votes and one of the 14 Democrats is Senator Conrad.

Recall that Reid said he would pass health care reform by any means necessary. Then he choose to pass it by negotiating with Nelson and Lieberman. I guess he was bluffing. I also guess that Conrad called his bluff.

In this case the bill needs 60 votes in the Senate exactly because Senator Conrad has decided that it be so. Note that he was the one in the Baucus caucus who kept arguing against the public option on the grounds that it couldn't get 60 votes.
Nate Silver vs Jon Walker

Jon Walker argues that the kill the bill left believes, with reason, that if the current Senate Health Care bill is killed, then there is a good chance that a better bill is passed via the budget reconciliation process.

Nate Silver has a long excellent counter argument.

I want to add two things.

First Walker must assume that there are at least 50 senators who would support the better bill. Each of them could kill the current bill by voting against cloture. It looks as if none will. So Walker says that he understands the way the Senate works well enough to ignore the unanimous opinion of at least 50 senators.

What is the chance of that ?

By the way the Senate works I mean not just the rules but the way the minds of senators work. However, I don't think that Walker understands the rules of the Senate. I sure don't. I may be demonstrating this with my second thought below.

Second: If I am not much mistaken, only the Senate budget committee can start the budget reconciliation process and the chairman of that committee is Kent Conrad. Conrad absolutely opposes a robust public option. He is very unenthusiastic about a level playing field public option. He is the one who kept arguing that the gang of 6 should abandone the public option because it couldn't get 60 votes.

I believe he is also the one who can make sure a bill needs 60 votes to pass the Senate.

I don't think it is just Harry Reid's call. I don't think that it is possible to get anything into law if it is opposed by 41 senators plus the chairman of the budget committee. Conrad couldn't have made it more clear that he is against using reconciliation. Unless I'm mistaken, that's final.

OK now I will wikipedia

A reconciliation bill is one containing changes in law recommended pursuant to reconciliation instructions in a budget resolution. If the instructions pertain to only one committee in a chamber, that committee reports the reconciliation bill. If the instructions pertain to more than one committee, the House Budget Committee reports an omnibus reconciliation bill, but it may not make substantive changes in the recommendations of the other committees.[2]

I'm still confused. I guess it is possible for the majority of the Senate to decide the bill is to be exclusively a Finance committee bill (or a HELP bill if one is willing to sacrifice Medicaid expansion in the hope of getting a public option). That means that it wouldn't go to the budget committee at all and all it needs would be 13 votes in Finance -- including Kent Conrad since all Republicans would vote no.

I think it is clear that the best a progressive senator who votes no now can hope for is a second chance to vote on the same bill.

And they obviously believe that. All of them.

Now the bill killers might be just acting. The logic (and it is very logical) is that the only way to get Lieberman to vote for the bill is for them to ask senators to vote no. That makes sense. I think that's what Dean did and I'm fairly sure that's what Atrios is doing (he's just not telling people to vote yes).
I have a very high opinion of Glenn Greenwald.

There is a debate in the left blogosphere over the current version of the Senate Health Care Bill with some people arguing that Senators should vote no. Someone described this as wonks for yes vs activists for no. This is not an exact split. Jon Walker, Gleen Greenwald and Marcy Wheeler are ultra wonks. However, 2 of the three of them are lawyers and their extraordinary expertise and outstanding investigative journalism are in fields other than health care.

Gleen Greenwald just made it very clear that he considers health care reform a narrow issue and the Senate bill "miniscule"
There are many reasons for the progressive division on the health care bill. There are differences over the narrow question of health care policy, with some believing the bill does more harm than good just on that ground alone. Some of it has to do with broader questions of political power: if progressives always announce that they are willing to accept whatever miniscule benefits are tossed at them

I recall "a billion here a billion there and soon you're talking real money" but I never thought I'd live long enough to read $871 billion plus regulatory reform described as "miniscule"

Perhaps Greenwald is not referring to the miniscule benefits for progressives included in the health care bill in his post about the health care bill. That would, of course, mean that his post is completely totally illogical. You can't prove that you are willing to accept miniscule benefits by accepting huge benefits.

I think I am going to think out loud some more about the part of Greenwald's post which I read (I didn't finish it).

he wrote

In addition to health care and Iraq, roughly the same progressive fault lines are seen over the bank bailout, escalation in Afghanistan, Obama's economic team, tolerance for Obama's embrace of Bush/Cheney civil liberties polices, and even the reaction to Matt Taibbi's recent Rolling Stone article on Obama's subservience to Wall Street.

OK so he said roughly, but I think he's still wrong. He has mentioned the claim that most prominent progressives who support the bill also supported the invasion of Iraq. This is true of shockingly many people who have since written reasonably. However, it is absolutely not the same group. Paul Krugman opposed the invasion and supports the bill. Atrios has been silent on the bill *and* warned people not to praise Medicare buy in where Lieberman might read it. Kevin Drum switched to opposing the invasion at the last minute. Brad DeLong opposed the invasion for longer (both supported at least for a while at least under some conditions).

Now down the list. I think the lines on the bank bailout were similar. On escalation in Afghanistan again Krugman plus now Yglesias I have no idea about DeLong or Klein or Kleiman or well I don't know of any progressive supporter of escalation.

On Obama's economic team DeLong is supportive and Krugman is polite (he's polite compared to the average blogger). Aside from that I don't notice any praise from the left of center blogosphere.

"Tolerance" is a weasel word. I don't think that Greenwald can find any progressive blogger who defends the Obama administration on that one -- maybe Mark Kleiman maybe not.

and finally Matt Taibbi. Wrong again. Drum defends Taibbi and supports the bill. I haven't read any defence of, you know, the actual article. I haven't looked (I haven't even read the article) but all I recall is people saying that they generally agree with Taibbi that the banking lobby is too powerful. I haven't read anyone who engages the criticisms of Taibbi except for Felix Salmon who wrote that Taibbi shouldn't be taken literally. That is not what I consider a defence of an article.

OK so obviously Greenwald reads more and different blogs than I do, but based on my hotlist he is totally wrong. The people who argue for voting against the health care bill are a subset of people who opposed the invasion of Iraq etc.

OK I assume no one has read this far so I'm just going to get it off my chest. I think the bill killers are like Joe Lieberman. That is, I think they have reached a stated opinion on a critical matter of public policy using his sort of logic. If DFHs are for it he's against it. If Lieberman is for it, the bill killers are against it. I know that many of them make substantive policy arguments, but I think it is clear (and not just from Greenwald's post) that they consider the bill a battle in a long war for control of the Democratic party.

The bill supporters discuss the actual content of the bill and the way the Senate works and say that the battle for the Democratic party should be fought on less important and more favorable ground. They don't disagree about the need to change the way the senate works and get Lieberman. The blogger closest to Greenwald's stereotype is Mark Kleiman. He just advocated using the nuclear option.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Matthew Yglesias's Memory Problems II

Yglesias writes
"I don’t think anyone seriously disputes that one thing the Bush administration was hoping to achieve was to intimidate Iran into complying with American demands. "

Red flag. Bull. I seriously dispute that claim. For one thing, the invasion of Iraq did intimidate Iran into trying to comply with American demands. I don't think that anyone who was paying attention seriously disputes that Iran sent a clear message that they were willing to discuss all open issues with the USA and that not only President Khatami but supreme leader Khameini supported this initiative.

Glenn Kessler reported

a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table -- including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.

But top Bush administration officials, convinced the Iranian government was on the verge of collapse, belittled the initiative. Instead, they formally complained to the Swiss ambassador who had sent the fax with a cover letter certifying it as a genuine proposal supported by key power centers in Iran, former administration officials said.

The Bush administration rejected the overture and so now not only President Ahmedinijad but also supreme leader Khameini has not time to negotiate anything with the USA.

The did not want to intimidate Iran any more than they sincerely tried to intimidate Iraq. Real men go to Teheran. They wanted to conquer Iran too.

Any sign of flexibility by foreigners was interpreted by the Bush administation as weakness and therefore a reason to be inflexible. Any sign of inflexibility was interepreted as a refusal to bargain and a reason to be inflexible.

They didn't do negotiation so, while I'm sure they enjoyed intimidating people, they refused to accept yes for an answer. Always.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Matthew Yglesias has a Memory Lapse

He writes
Something I feel I should point out even though it probably won’t convince anyone, is that a lot of the criticisms being made of a health care bill with no public option and no Medicare buy-in are equally true of a bill with a Medicare buy-in.

I think the idea of letting people 55-64 buy in to Medicare is a great idea. I think it’s better if you drop it to 50 or 45 or 35 or 15. But 55 would be a good start. But obviously a buy-in for the 55-64 demographic doesn’t do anything for people aged 54 and lower. So if it’s really a monumental injustice to enact an individual mandate to purchase subsidized private health insurance on a regulated exchange, then including a Medicare buy-in for people 55-64 doesn’t actually resolve the injustice. Like, at all. On any level. So while I think it makes a ton of sense to be pissed off at Joe Lieberman for getting this very good idea killed, if you think the basic mandate/regulate/subsidize structure is a bad idea then it would have been a bad idea either way and you really don’t have much right to be pissed at Lieberman.

He assumes that the bill currently under debate is the very last change which will ever be made in the US health care system and notes that it is totally unfair to give an option to 55 year olds but not 54 year olds. This is unfair to the un-named people he is criticizing and is even unfair to Lieberman (now that's a challenge).

Yes a 55 year limit is absurd unjust and arbitrary. That's why I liked the idea so much and Lieberman hated it when someone finally explained the issue to him.

Just because a 55 year limit is totally arbitrary, the line couldn't possible be held at 55 years. If it was demonstrated that buying in to Medicare is a great deal both for those who buy in and for the CMS, then the age limit would be lowered and the option to buy in would be extended from individuals on the exchanges to employers.

Lieberman's flip flop is generally considered to be proof that he is against anything that DFHs support. However, he might have changed his mind over night because foolish DFHs explained why we like medicare buy in. We like it exactly because, as proposed, it is such a totally unfair and absurd policy that it won't last.

I blame myself (well I blame Atrios for leaving me off his mailing list) as I made this argument on the web.

I remember long long ago reading that the way to get to single payer was first to allow people over 55 to buy into Medicare, then lower it to 50 then ...

Now who came up with that idea (and left it on the web where Lieberman could see it). He had a funny hispanic name. Oh yeah Yglesias.

The Kaus-Yglesias-Shrum-Kucinich view of health care:

Another resonant point isn't yet CW, though--[Bob Shrum] argued that all the Democratic health care plans are too complicated, that whoever is the Dem candidate should just say he or she plans to let everyone join Medicare and leave it at that. [skip]

I think that's right. And if you don't have the votes for "Medicare for All" then you can take "Medicare for Everyone Over 50." If you don't have the votes for that, you can take "Medicare for Everyone Over 55." Then after the next election you come back and ask for more. And then more. And more. But you give the public a marker -- "Medicare for All." Sure, it's more slogan than program, but it's a good slogan.

Seems to me that in 2007, Yglesias supported Medicare buy in for people over 55 (he chose the number) as all of health care reform. He sure didn't think it was inconsistent with aiming for "Medicare for all." He argued back then that it would eventually lead to Medicare for all.

By the way, it is relatively hard to find old Yglesias posts, since he has had dozens of blogs by now. Never give hostages to fortune or google.
Here I go Again Criticizing Paul Krugman

Again I agree with Krugman and am quibbling. In this case I quibbling about theory due to Krugman not terminology as in the post below. Krugman argues that Bernanke's answer to Brad DeLong's question is insane. I agree with Krugman, but he makes appealing but invalid arguments.

I can't summarize Krugman's argument as well as he does but the part to which I object is

Future economic historians will, I believe, see this as fundamentally absurd — as absurd as the inflation fears that paralyzed the Bank of England in the early 1930s even as the world went into a deflationary spiral. Yes, there may someday be a 1970s-type episode in which the Fed needs to fight inflation, not encourage it — but it’s a long way off. Furthermore, why on earth would we imagine that the Bernanke Fed, by showing itself willing to inflict gratuitous pain in 2010, would make it easier for whoever is running the Fed in, say, 2020 to control inflation then, let alone that the tradeoff of real pain now versus hypothetical pain much later, if it even exists, is worth making?

I agree with the policy proposal, but I note a logical inconsistency in you (Krugman's) argument. A natural reaction to Brad's question is to ask : how can the Fed cause higher inflation right now when we are in a liquidity trap? The answer, due to uhm Krugman, is that the Fed can't cause higher inflation now, but will be able to cause higher inflation in the future when the economy is out of the liquidity trap.

Krugman's proposal was for the Bank of Japan to commit to a higher inflation target for the fairly distant future when Japan was out of the liquidity trap -- that would be imply, as noted by Krugman, that the unemployment rate is what the monetary authority wants it to be plus or minus epsilon.

So to get a lower long term real interest rate now, the Fed would have to commit to higher inflation at some time when it can target inflation which means at some time when the normal rules hold and long expected inflation does not affect real variables.

The logic of the argument requires that the high inflation target be costly. More to the point, it requires that the Fed can now commit to a future policy different from that which they would choose in the future if they weren't precommitted.

If the Bernanke Fed can't influence beliefs about the someone else Fed, and those are the beliefs that will matter at all times when we would like lower inflation, then the Krugman/DeLong proposal won't work. All the arguments in this post about now vs in the future don't work, because the proposal is to do something different in the future, since the Fed can't cause inflation now except via expectations about monetary policy when the US is no longer in a liquidity trap.

I'd say the valid argument is simpler. The costs of moderate inflation (say up to 10%) are miniscule compared to the costs of 1% more unemployment. Worrying about whether actual inflation will by higher than 3% if target inflation is 3% is like shouting fire fire when you see a gas stove.

One final comment. I think I understand what Bernanke is doing. My hypothsis follows. His aim is to be reconfirmed. He knows reconfirmation won't be blocked by liberal Democrats, but might be delayed by Republicans who are blocking everything. So he wants to convince Republicans that they want to reconfirm them. Therefore he is saying crazy things so that he sounds like crazy Republicans. Also the sane Republicans other than Snowe and maybe collins in the Senate (if any) are evil. They have decided that the worst things are the better things are. Any Republican Senators who understand economics have decided to pretend that they don't aimiing for high unemployment in November 2010.

The terrible thing is that I think Bernanke's calculations are correct. His testimoney is insane nonsense and it is the testimony best designed to get him reconfirmed quickly.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

In Which I Disagree with Paul Krugman about the Minimum Wage

I winced typing that title, since it is not wise to disagree with Paul Krugman and since I am going to argue that cutting the minimum wage can cause increased employment. Before going on, I stress that I oppose cutting the minimum wage as the logic of my argument suggests making the tax code more progressive. I think what we need right now is a more progressive tax code. That's what I always think.

OK so first Krugman argues that, when in a liquidity trap cutting all wages equally will not cause increased employment. Only here does he respond to the obvious criticism.

1. Why did I go from minimum wages to overall wages? Clearly, a cut in minimum wages –which only apply to some workers — can raise the employment of those workers at the expense of other workers. But the advocates of a cut are claiming that they can raise overall employment. The only way that can happen is if a reduction in average wages raises employment.

I assert it depends on how you measure employment. Krugman is appealing to standard macro models in which employment is measured in "efficiency units" and the wage level ("wage unit" to Keynes) is the wage per efficiency unit.

The standard assumption is that labor is uniform and can be measured by a number. The plain fact that some people are paid more than others is handled by assuming that they are more able in every way so their wage per efficiency unit of labor is the same. Thus consider able Andy who has twice the wage of luckless Larry and of bad Brad so he is paid as much as the two of them. It is assumed that he can do everything just as quickly as the two of them working together.
This is clearly absurd and is not to be taken literally.

As Krugman does.

Worse than that, once you define labor in efficiency units, you define employment as the number of efficiency units of labor employed.

The public policy concern is about how many people are employed. These can't be the same. Measuring labor in efficiency units might be an OK approximation if we cared about GNP, but if we care about employment and unemployment (as Krugman regularly insists we should) we have to think about people not units of efficient labor.

For the sake of argument let's stick with the efficient labor assumption. Oh and assume wages are sticky (we need some nominal stickiness to avoid the price level falling a few hundred fold in a second making the real balances effect a real factor). Now assume 2 types of workers able and not so able (90% are able 10% not so able) . An able worker produces just as much as two not so able workers.

Back in 2007 all workers were employed, not so able workers were paid the minimum wag and able workers twice as much. Now the market clearing real wage is lower, able workers are paid 1.99 times the minimum wage. Not so able workers are all unemployed so the unemployment rate is 10%

What happens if the minimum wage is cut 1% ? Suddenly all the not so able workers are hired. For each two that are hired one able worker is fired. Now the unemployment rate is 5%.

See simple. The reduction of the minimum can "raise the employment of those workers at the expense of other workers." Under standard assumptions such a shift in relative demand for different types of workers "can raise overall employment." so long as employment is counted you know by counting how many people are employed.

The absurd "efficiency units of labor" assumption implies that this effect is huge. Able and not so able workers are perfect substitutes so the elasticity of substitution of not so able for able workers is infinite.

In the real world the effect would be much smaller. It might be smaller than the damage to employment caused by the reduced expected inflation and therefore increased real interest rates noted by Krugman.

I oppose cutting the minimum wage, because I support cutting payroll taxes on low wage workers and making up the money by raising the FICA ceiling. I think payroll income above a floor should be taxed, not payroll income up to a ceiling.

According to Krugman's argument this wouldn't cause increased employment.

To put it another way, he is arguing that the increase in taxes on the rich and of the EITC enacted in 1993 had nothing to do with the huge puzzling increase in employment (without accelerating inflation) of the 90s.

OK now that I have argued with Krugman what about Card and Krueger. Empirical estimates of the effect of the minimum wage on employment suggest that the effect is very small. One famous study by Card and Krueger showed a positive effect of an increase in the minimum wage. The logic used by Card and Krueger to understand how this could happen suggests that things are different now.

Their logic is basically that firms can choose to pay a low wage and have a high quit rate and take a long time to fill vacancies or pay a high wage and have fewer quits and fill vacancies more quickly. If they are forced to pay the higher wage, their desired level of employment will be lower, but that level is the sum of employment plus vacant jobs. A binding minimum wage can reduce the number of vacant jobs by more than it reduces the sum of employment plus vacant jobs. Thus more employment.

I think this is not relevant to the current situation. There are very few vacant jobs. Quit rates are low. According to their logic, the effect of the minimum wage on employment depends on the unemployment rate. The evidence of a small effect is almost all from periods of unemployment far below 10%. I don't think it is relevant to the current situation.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What to do with Health Care Reform in the Senate ?

The post below was not at all constructive. I have a coulda woulda shoulda proposal which is probably too late and a still can proposal.

The still can proposal is to go for Nelson and Snowe. It is clear that Lieberman is not bargaining in good faith. There is every sign that Snowe is bargaining in good faith (she has worked hard on the issue and everyone agrees she cares about the policy). Her current stated position is to the left of Lieberman -- she supports a public option with a trigger -- he opposes even that. Nelson and Snowe oppose Medicare buy in, so it's probably dead. Nelson is making trouble about abortion but has hinted repeatedly that if he gets his way on the public option he will insist less on the rights of the innocent unborn.

OK that reminds me, Nelson isn't quite as clearly in bad faith and motivated by vanity as Lieberman and maybe 3 other people on the planet, but he is pretty bad.

Then the proposed 2011 budget can include Medicare buy in and the public option. There is no rule of the Senate which prevents this. There will be no rest of the bill to hold hostage. Both reduce the deficit and can be enacted with 50 senators plus Biden. Both are popular. Having a debate on those two issues next year would help the Democrats politically.

The only problem I see is the Senate finance committee. There is definitely possible trouble there. I wonder if Baucus would cede the bill to HELP ? Would Conrad accept the bills with opt out of both parts ? Can the caucus reshuffle the committee while it is throwing Lieberman out ? Say make Conrad chairman of Government oversight and get him off finance (problem with that was I was planning to suggest Snowe for government oversight).

The coulda woulda shoulda is, of course, splitting the bill in more equal parts and making the insurance regulatory reform and the exchanges a 60 vote non budget bill and the rest a 50 (plus Biden) vote budgetary bill. Note the individual mandate is part of the 50 vote bill. It is enforced by taxing people who don't get insurance. You can't get more budgetary than that. Schedule the 60 vote bill first. That bill is very super popular. Republicans will vote no and pay for it (if they later claim they are voting against the other bill they can be called on that lie).

Then AHIP is back where they were after Obama was elected. They don't want (maybe can't afford) regulatory reform without an individual mandate. The trick is to tell Democratic "centrists" that the two bills are really linked so they vote for cloture on the first bill. I don't think it is really to late for this approach. The 2010 budget has been passed, but most of the budgetary aspects of the bill phase in so they can be in the 2011 budget just as well. Some features start in 2010 so they have to be in the 60 vote bill (which with 60 votes can add to the deficit).
Digby Suggests that Obama might be Digby

She wrote "If Obama and Reid actually formed their strategy around the idea that "Lieberman will come around," if the bill fails it's their fault." speculating that Obama may have agreed with Reid's idea of counting on Lieberman.

Obama did not agree with Reid's idea and Digby denounced the Obama administration at the time for uhm well under the circumstances it could only be for not trusting Lieberman. Now that Lieberman has proven that he can't be trusted, Digby has forgotten her earlier criticism and suggests that Obama and not Digby was the one who agreed with Reid.

I think that various people owe Rham Emanuel an apology.

update: I am one of them. I was very enthusiastic when Reid brought a bill with the opt out public option to the floor. I knew he wasn't using reconciliation. I assumed that 4 of Lieberman, Landrieux, Lincoln, Snowe and Nelson would accept some reasonable compromise short of the trigger. I was wrong in just the way that Digby was wrong.

Reid trusted Lieberman. Digby supported using reconciliation. However, knowing that Ried was going for 60 including Lieberman, she sided with Reid and against Emanuel arguing that "The White House denies the specifics, but there's reason, based on past behavior, that they are so enamored of having Olympia Snowe on board so they have accepted triggers and expect Reid to back their "deal." "

OK so Snowe is irrelevant, because ... well not because Reid was going to use reconciliation. The only rational reason for Digby to denounce the willingness to make a major sacrifice to get Snowe's vote was opposed by Digby was that she trusted Lieberman.

The corrected sentence is "If Digby and Reid actually formed their strategy around the idea that "Lieberman will come around," [and] if the bill fails it's [Reid's] fault.

For Digby to pretend that Obama was more blinded by optimism about Reid (and Nelson) than Digby when her blog archive proves the opposite, shows a near Senator [dirty word deleted] like recklessness.

She still refuses to admit that she was wrong wrong wrong about dealing with Snowe writing "President Snowe is pretty much with him, so there's not much help there."

This is a sentence written by someone who just can't face the fact that she was wrong. Snowe's stated position is to the left of Lieberman (she supports a triggered public option and he opposes even that). She has shown every sign of bargaining in good faith while he obviously isn't bargaining in good faith. When discussing Lieberman, Digby stresses his petty motivations and dishonesty. When she discusses Snowe, they are irrelevant.

Look Digby Rham was right and you were wrong. Admit it. You'll feel better afterwards.

Actually in the old post Digby said a trigger was "unnacceptable." If that means anything, it means that she would support a filibuster of a bill with a trigger joining Joe Lieberman and the Republicans.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why Doesn't The Washington Post Replace Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery with Ezra Klein ?

They would save money. He already gets a salary and they each are paid more than he is. He has incredible access regularly interviewing Senators. Most importantly it would improve coverage because he is not completely clueless about policy (or determined to pretend he is clueless which amounts to the same articles).

Murray and Montgomery write

But even Democrats who were not thrilled with the buy-in program applauded the deal's central component: replacing the public option with two national private insurance policies under the oversight of the Office of Personnel Management, the agency that administers health benefits for federal employees.

The Medicare buy in program is the deal's central component. It is more important than the feeble level playing field opt out public option. It is much more important than the change from a feeble public option to a feeble non-profit exchange = public option with actual services provided by non-profits.

The fact that an important step towards single payer is defined as a compromise compared to an unimportant step towards single payer shows how much the Senate debate is about who gets bragging rights (answer Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson so why ask).

Note also the improper grant of anonymity. Who are those Democrats and why aren't they named ? Somehow I guess they are not named Brown, Wyden, Rockafeller, or Feingold. Why do they get to speak for "Democrats" ?

Later in the article un-named "aids" suggest that what's there's is there's and what's our is optional saying "But Democratic aides said the Medicare provision could still be dropped or altered before the measure advances to the floor." Who are they ? Why are they important people ? Maybe because they are quoted on the front page of The Washington Post ?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Talk All Night
Two Out of Three Ain't Bad ?

Handicapping the Senate (as if it weren't handicapped enough already).

It seems to be down to Nelson Lieberman and Snowe.

I am reminded by the imortal lyrics to the appropriately titled "Baby We Can Talk All Night"

"I want you
I need you
but there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you
Don't be sad
Two out of three ain't bad"

Odd this was a Rod Stewart song but I only get Meat Loaf Video. Youtube has never failed me before.

Lincoln hasn't said yes, but she's talking about how they are going to get to yes, so if the bill fails she's failed (and won't be re-elected). She's not even bluffing. Landrieux seems to have shut up entirely after claiming that the public option is no big dieal and blaming PR hype for her often stated opposition.

The problem is that Nelson has definitely said he will filibuster if his Stupak amendment amendment isn't approved and it was just tabled. Lieberman is determined to humiliate Democrats. He actually noted that he was elected as an independent, that is, he made it clear that he is determined to punish the voters in the 2006 primary. He has actually driven the Washington Post unballanced -- almost shrill.

Snowe just vetoed allowing people under 55 to buy into medicare as an alternative to the public option (that it is even mentioned shows that Joe has the Democrats by the gonads).

All I can say is that I really really don't want Reid to get all three votes. Oh and

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Washington Post Headline Flip Flop has a new headline and abstract for their article on the latest from the CBO. The current headline

Senate health bill gets a boost
As chamber begins debate, CBO says measure would not increase insurance costs for most.

Lori Montgomery

I don't have a screen shot but I remember that the headline for the story about the CBO report once was something like: bill would increase some insurance premiums.

I think that was too absurdly slanted.

according to JMM CNN cable cast something along the lines of the old headline.

I think it is clearly the Republican talking point and that it got to journalists before the Democratic talking point. That is Washington is hard wired for Republicans.