Republicans Reject Purity Test
At the RNC meeting in Hawaii, RNC member James Bopp withdrew his
requiring all Republican candidates to take and pass a "purity test" in order to get RNC funding.
The party elders were against this resolution because it would mean they could not support
moderate candidates like Scott Brown in Massachusetts, where a true conservative would have no
chance. The resolution was replace with a bit of mush that urges the Republicans to support
candidates who endorse the party's platform. There are no rewards for endorsing it and no
sanctions for not endorsing. In other words, the party brass won this fight with the tea partiers.
Some Democrats Want Scaled-Down Health-Insurance Reform
Some Democrats have floated the idea of a scaled-down health-insurance bill.
They think that by keeping the popular parts of it and removing the unpopular parts they could get
enough votes in Congress. The trouble is, anyone saying this does not understand the economics of
health insurance. What these people are hinting at is making it illegal for insurance companies
to refuse people with pre-existing conditions (popular) without levying new taxes (unpopular).
That simply doesn't work. Here's why.
If people could walk around uninsured and then be able to sign up when they got seriously sick,
many people would adopt precisely that strategy. For the average family of four, health insurance
something like $13,000 a year. If a family expected its medical costs to be below $13,000
it rationally it would forego insurance. Then if a member got seriously ill, it would sign up for
insurance and couldn't be refused. The consequence of this new law would cause healthy people to
cancel their insurance until the insurance companies were just insuring sick people, which would cause
premiums to skyrocket and more people to drop their insurance. The only way to prevent astronomical
premiums is to make sure the pool of insurees contains very large numbers of healthy people who
pay premiums and don't file many claims. That is what insurance is all about, after all, sharing risk.
That is why all other industrialized countries have mandates--everyone has to buy health insurance
under penalty of law, to fill the pool with healthy people.
Both the Senate and House bills contain mandates, which are unpopular but essential to prevent premiums from skyrocketing.
The problem is that you can't expect a family making $30,000 before taxes to pay $13,000 a year
for health insurance. It can't be done. And about
of all familes make less than this. Even a family making $50,000 (55% of all households) will find paying
a quarter of its pre-tax income on insurance tough. In many cases, employers pay the insurance, but
with increasingly many employers dropping or cutting back on insurance and many people unemployed or
underemployed, the insurance burden is falling more and more on individuals. The only plausible solution
(short of just letting these people die when they get seriously ill) is government subsidies, which is
why the House and Senate bills both provide them, albeit at different levels. To make the bill revenue
neutral, you need new taxes to generate the money for the subsides.
In other words, you can't just have the dessert. You have to eat your spinach, too. The whole thing
fits together like a puzzle. Making insurers take everyone means forcing healthy people to
have insurance which requires subsidizing poor people which means new taxes. In theory, there are other
ways, but they are very draconian. For example, anyone not wanting to be insured could sign a document
that would prevent them from getting emergency care unless they could pay for it and would prevent
them from getting insurance in the future should they be in an accident or get sick. Some people would
surely choose this option, but then there would be newspaper and TV stories about some poor little girl
who was badly mangled in a car accident and when she was brought to the hospital was turned away because
Dad opted out. People would scream. Since a scheme is economically feasible but not politically feasible.
The bottom line is that it is something approximating the current bill or nothing. The reason the bill
is 2000 pages (double spaced with wide margins) is that all the above issues must be addressed in detail.
However, the length of the bill has nothing to do with why it hasn't passed yet.
TPM has a good story
on how the Democrats botched it.
Democrats Working Quietly on Health Care
Behind the scenes, the Democrats are
to iron out the differences between the House and Senate bill.
The current plan is for the House to approve the Senate bill in its entirety and then make small changes
via the budget reconciliation process. The Republicans will howl at misusing the reconciliation process,
but a recent Pew Poll
shows that only 26% of Americans know that it takes 60 votes to invoke cloture. It is probably a safe bet
than not more than a couple of percent have a clue how the reconciliation process works, so when the Republicans
scream at this being undemocratic, the Democrats can simply say: "A majority voted for it" and most people will probably
think that sounds reasonable.
Dorgan and Dodd Have $7.5 Million in Campaign Funds
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) together have a
of $7.5 million that they are allowed by law to donate to other candidates. They can also return it to their contributors,
give it to charity, or hoard it for possible future runs. That's quite a chunk of change and there is a lot of interest
in what they plan to do with it.
Another House Republican Will Retire
Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN), has
that he is retiring at the end of this session of Congress and will not run for reelection.
His district is R+14, so the Republicans will certainly hold the seat.
Below is the list of
House seats in which the 2008 winner is not running and which is between R+9 and D+9, inclusive. Seats that are more
partisan than that are in no danger of flipping, but here is the
The colors indicate the incumbent party, not the PVI.
While more Republican than Democratic seats are at stake, the Republican open seats are mostly in friendly territory
whereas the Democratic open seats are largely in hostile or neutral territory.
|| John Shadegg
|| After 8 terms, he wants to move on
|| George Radanovich
|| His wife has ovarian cancer
|| Peter Hoekstra
|| Running for governor
|| Marion Berry
|| Probably afraid he might lose
|| Adam Putnam
|| Running for Agriculture Commissioner
|| John Tanner
|| At 65, he's had enough of politicsw
|| Vic Snyder
|| Retiring rather than lose the election
|| Dennis Moore
|| No apparent reason; he wasn't even a big target
|| Paul Hodes
|| Running for Judd Gregg's open Senate seat
|| Brian Baird
|| Apparently just bored; he's young and popular
|| Mark Kirk
|| Running for Roland Burris' open Senate seat
|| Mike Castle
|| Castle is running for the Senate
Tomorrow is Primary Day in Illinois
Voters in Illinois will go to the polls tomorrow to select candidates for senator and governor.
One of the senatorial candidates, Jacob Meister (D)
yesterday and threw his support to state
Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D). Meister is the first openly gay person to run for the Senate from
Illinois. He had little chance, but two other Democrats, Cheryle Jackson, former head of the Chicago Urban League,
and attorney David Hoffman might conceivable pull an upset against the front runner, Giannoulias. The Republican
senatorial nominee is sure to be Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL). The gubernatorial race on the Democratic side
features Gov. Pat Quinn (D-IL) against Comptroller Dan Hynes. The Republicans have a multiway primary among
candidates none of whom are well known.
If you like this Website, tell your friends. You can also share by clicking this button
-- The Votemaster
Your donation is greatly appreciated. It will buy ads to publicize the site.