Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Why the Discourse Favors the Dumb
I couldn't bring myself to read it, but one of the great dark comedic headlines I've seen in awhile was this wire service story: Bush Calls Kerry Health Care Plan Bureaucratic Nightmare

Now, I think the current system is a "bureaucratic nightmare" (and I'm insured). My biggest argument for the single-payer approach is that at least it would standardize the paperwork. But with five million more uninsured since Bush took office and the costs of coverage arguably acting as a constraint upon new hiring, we've got bigger problems than filling out pain-in-the-ass forms.

Here's the Center for American Progress on the Bush charges:

On the campaign trail yesterday, President Bush and Vice President Cheney seized on what they called an "independent study" that found Kerry's health care plan would cost $1.5 trillion over 10 years – about three times the cost of previous estimates. The study was conducted by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative organization that employs Cheney's wife, Lynne, and Cheney's daughter, Liz. White House aides "were crowing about the study in conversations with reporters before it appeared on the conservative group's Web site."

BUSH GROSSLY DISTORTS KERRY PLAN: Bush described John Kerry's health plan as "a government takeover of healthcare." It is unclear exactly what Bush is talking about. Kerry proposes: making it easier for employers to offer health insurance and reducing premiums by setting up a pool for catastrophic costs, providing incentives for administrative efficiency and expanding existing government programs to cover children and the poor.

So Kerry comes up with a smart, thoughtful, very moderate plan to expand coverage based on existing programs. Bush calls it a bureaucratic nightmare (which I guess makes his plan to set up tax-sheltered health savings accounts--which will help the already-insured to ease their tax burdens, but basically won't do squat to cover anyone without--a bureaucratic wet dream). Guess which "story" the press picks up on?

This is why we have yet to see a national election really contested on "the issues"; the media isn't selling that, and few outside the sound of Bill Moyers' voice are demanding to buy it.

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