November 30, 2007

Paul Krugman: Mandates and Mudslinging

Filed under: Opinion — Volt @ 3:22 pm

Paul Krugman, The New York Times, November 30, 2007

From the beginning, advocates of universal health care were troubled by the incompleteness of Barack Obama’s plan, which unlike those of his Democratic rivals wouldn’t cover everyone. But they were willing to cut Mr. Obama slack on the issue, assuming that in the end he would do the right thing.

Now, however, Mr. Obama is claiming that his plan’s weakness is actually a strength. What’s more, he’s doing the same thing in the health care debate he did when claiming that Social Security faces a “crisis” – attacking his rivals by echoing right-wing talking points.

The central question is whether there should be a health insurance “mandate” – a requirement that everyone sign up for health insurance, even if they don’t think they need it. The Edwards and Clinton plans have mandates; the Obama plan has one for children, but not for adults.

Why have a mandate? The whole point of a universal health insurance system is that everyone pays in, even if they’re currently healthy, and in return everyone has insurance coverage if and when they need it.

And it’s not just a matter of principle. As a practical matter, letting people opt out if they don’t feel like buying insurance would make insurance substantially more expensive for everyone else.

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1 Comment

  1. Read this article all the way to the bottom. The wrap-up is worth it.

    I haven’t trusted Obama since he first went to the Senate and hooked up with Joe Lieberman as his mentor. It’s not surprise that Obama is using classic right wing talking points to refute his fellow Democrats on the stump. You think he’s more of a liberal because he’s black? Like Lieberman is a liberal because he’s Jewish? One thing you can say about those two is that they’re both anxious to defy the stereotypes.

    Obama is a stirring public speaker, but probe beneath the platitudes and you find a half-empty suit.

    Comment by Joanne from WI — November 30, 2007 @ 3:54 pm

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