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Barack Obama Criticism Domestic issues Health care Politics The Opinionsphere

Ezra Klein: Health Care Blogger Extraordinare

Ezra Klein has been my essential read during the health care debate. Today, he makes a few important points:

  1. Regarding Obama’s Campaign Health Care Plan. “The health-care bill that looks likely to clear the Senate this week is not very close to the health-care bill most liberals want. But it is very close to the health-care bill that Barack Obama promised.”
  2. Regarding Senate Collegiality. “Another example came last night, when the ailing Robert Byrd was wheeled in at 1 a.m. to break a filibuster on the manager’s amendment. Byrd’s presence was not required, especially considering that he’d clearly telegraphed his intention to vote to break the filibuster. But Republicans forced him to travel to the chamber. Indeed, shortly before he arrived, Sen. Tom Coburn headed to the floor to propose a prayer. ‘What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can’t make the vote tonight,’ he said. ‘That’s what they ought to pray.’ “
  3. Contra Jane Hamsher’s 10 Reasons to Kill the Bill. “Some of the list is purposefully misleading and is clearly aimed more at helping activists kill the bill than actually informing anyone about what is in the bill. Some of it points out things that really should be changed in the bill but aren’t central to the legislation itself, and are simply being leveraged to help activists kill the bill. But maybe there’s some utility to putting the document in context.”
  4. Citing the Creator of the Public Option, Jacob Hacker. “As weak as it is in numerous areas, the Senate bill contains three vital reforms. First, it creates a new framework, the “exchange,” through which people who lack secure workplace coverage can obtain the same kind of group health insurance that workers in large companies take for granted. Second, it makes available hundreds of billions in federal help to allow people to buy coverage through the exchanges and through an expanded Medicaid program. Third, it places new regulations on private insurers that, if properly enforced, will reduce insurers’ ability to discriminate against the sick and to undermine the health security of Americans. These are signal achievements, and they all would have been politically unthinkable just a few years ago.”
  5. Regarding the President’s Role in Shaping Legislation. “The Obama administration has played a seriously inside game here, acting more as an accessory of the legislative branch than as the great figure of health-care reform that many of its supporters had expected. That is, in my view, the right way to understand the president’s role in the system, but it’s left a lot of the campaign’s supporters feeling a bit betrayed, particularly given that the Obama campaign was uncommonly aggressive on presidential pomp and dramatic speeches. Obama’s supporters don’t feel like the president lost to Lieberman along with them. They feel, instead, like the president cut them and their hopes loose.”