Which part of "no" don't we want to discuss: We didn't watch last night's debate. Too pointless; also, potentially too depressing.
In some ways, the pointlessness concerns the growing semi-debate about Candidate Sanders' health care proposal. Paul Krugman considers that proposal in his New York Times column today.
(In today's hard-copy paper, the Times even tries to report the basic facts about the Sanders proposal! The attempt doesn't go well in all respects. Normally, the great newspaper doesn't attempt to report such tedious policy matters. When the Times does make such attempts, the rust perhaps possibly shows.)
What do we find pointless, perhaps depressing, about the budding health care debate between Candidates Clinton and Sanders? You're asking an excellent question!
On the one hand, we're depressed by a basic policy matter. We the liberals seem to assume that a "single-payer" system will automatically be much less expensive than the ginormous gong-show of health care over-spending our nation currently employs.
For the record, the New York Times almost never reports this gong-show of over-spending and looting. At any rate, it ain't necessarily so that single-payer would cure this particular disease! A single-payer system can massively overspend for health care services too.
Example: Our current Medicare system is a type of single-payer system, but it massively overpays for prescription drugs. That said, this is a fairly trivial point compared to a much larger political question:
What makes anyone think that a President Sanders, or a President Clinton, could actually pass a single-payer, "Medicare-for-all" health care system? Why do we think a proposal like that could ever get passed into law?
Over at the new Salon, the fiery youngsters fresh out of college are constantly praising the greatness of single-payer. It rarely seems to enter their heads to ask how such a system could get passed into law in this country.
Maybe there's an answer! But that's the question Krugman is asking in this morning's column.
According to Krugman, "a simple, straightforward single-payer system just isn’t going to happen." In the middle of his column, he even gives three reasons for this gloomy assessment.
Eventually, Krugman makes the statement shown below about the "awkward, clumsy" Affordable Care Act, as opposed to a possible single-payer successor. We're tempted to ask which part of Krugman's "no" we liberals don't understand:
KRUGMAN (1/18/16): [A]chieving this reform was a close-run thing: Democrats barely got it through during the brief period when they controlled Congress. Is there any realistic prospect that a drastic overhaul could be enacted any time soon—say, in the next eight years? No.Single-payer could never pass, Krugman says. As he continues, he says that any such attempt would squander the energy which could be devoted to the pursuit of other progressive goals.
Krugman isn't necessarily right about this, of course. The fact that he has made this assessment doesn't mean it's so.
Still and all, will we the liberals allow these questions to enter our incipient health care debate? Or will we dream our way along with our ever-expanding journalistic battalion of fresh-out-of-college, extremely low-wage, wonderfully fiery kids?
In this morning's news report, the Times assigns a youngish reporter the task of explaining the Sanders proposal. This youngish reporter isn't a specialist in health care or budget matters. At various points in her report, we'd be inclined to say it shows.
Meanwhile, on today's front page, the New York Times is doing what it much prefers to do. On its front page, the Times offers its latest worthless personality profile, this time of Candidate Cruz's wife.
Inside the paper, that youngish scribe tries to explain the Sanders health care proposal. Meanwhile, some editor has eliminated the part of the original, on-line report in which the political plausibility of the proposal came into question (for that text, see below).
This editor didn't clean up the murk in the youngish reporter's attempt to explain the way marginal tax rates work. But so it goes at the New York Times, our legendarily smartest newspaper.
Columnist Krugman could be wrong in today's assessments. That said, the New York Times prefers campaign fluff to actual policy work—and our fiery new youngish liberal cadre may at times be a bit jejune.
For these reasons, a pseudo-debate will likely emerge about the best way to go on health care. Let's be candid—with our gatekeepers basically gone, we the human just aren't very good when it comes to playing this game.
Not present in hard copy: On line, the news report about Sanders' proposal is attributed to Alcindor and Rappeport. To read that report, click here.
The following part of their report is absent from our hard-copy paper, in which the report is attributed to Alcindor alone:
ALCINDOR AND RAPPEPORT (1/18/16): Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, estimated that the tax increase that Mr. Sanders is proposing would be the largest since World War II, increasing taxes by approximately $450 billion per year.Williams is a go-to policy guru on matters like this. That doesn't mean his appraisals are correct. But in that passage, he expressed some of the same concerns which appear in Krugman's column.
“It seems to be very, very large,” Mr. Williams said, noting that the highest earners would bear most of the pain.
Mr. Williams suggested that the cost estimates for that the Sanders campaign is using will require more scrutiny and that employers are likely to pass on the new payroll tax to consumers or employees in other ways. The political feasibility of imposing such a vast overhaul is also a concern.
“What he’s talking about is turning the government into the provider of health insurance,” Mr. Williams said, noting that the Obama administration would have been interested in a single-payer system if it could have passed Congress. “If you’re talking about replacing an entire industry with a federal government plan, that’s a big order.”
Those reasonable concerns are reported on-line. They were removed from our hard-copy Times, in part to make space for the paper's latest waste-of-time front-page profile of the latest candidate spouse.
In truth, the Times is all about fluff in its "campaign coverage." Through long practice, the famous newspaper is skilled at disguising that fact.
Cats and dogs smile and laugh: In closing, we offer two more important points. In a front-page report about last night's debate, Healy and Chozick fearlessly tell us this:
"[Sanders] smiled a few times, but it felt awkward. Mrs. Clinton laughed a few times, but it felt forced."
That was good solid front-page reporting! Yesterday, Maureen Dowd provided even more information in her latest column.
"Since we cannot know if a woman is going to overcompensate on machismo—as Hillary did on the unjustified Iraq invasion—we may want to look at it a different way," Dowd thoughtfully said, playing her age-old Dem-women-are-really-men card. "It may be more relevant to ask if someone is a cat or a dog."
Dowd is the soul of the New York Times. The Times is an addled, upper-class gong-show which, through endless repetitive practice, is skillful at hiding that fact.