Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 24, 2009
POLITICS: Questions That Have Very Obvious Answers

This is from Obama's press conference yesterday:

President Barack Obama on Tuesday squared off with the insurance lobby over industry charges that a government health plan he backs would dismantle the employer coverage Americans have relied on for a half-century and overtake the system....

"If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care ... then why is it that the government, which they say can't run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business?" Obama said in response to a question at a White House news conference.

"That's not logical," he scoffed, responding to an industry warning that government competition would destabilize the employer system that now covers more than 160 million people.

As usual when Obama has to respond to a serious criticism, he acts like a snarky left-wing blogger rather than a serious adult, throwing off a one-liner that seems to his die-hard supporters like a clever parody of Republican arguments but doesn't stand up to even the most minimal of scrutiny. Typically, it's pointless to debate whether Obama is being astoundingly ignorant or deliberately mendacious; the point is that no sane person could defend his response. Daffyd offers a long list of screamingly obvious ways in which the private sector would be unable to compete with a government plan even though the government plan is inefficiently run, including the obvious-to-everyone-but-Obama fact that a profit-making enterprise has to make a profit, whereas a government agency or government-sponsored entity can afford to lose money pretty much indefinitely (Francis Cianfrocca points out to me that the proposed new healthcare GSE, which he refers to as the Consumer Health Management Corporation or "Charlie Mac," would start with something on the order of $10 billion in capitalization, many multiples larger than the market cap of even large insurers, and with an endless credit line from Uncle Sam). There is even - you may know this, but presumably Obama does not - a whole body of antitrust law dedicated to preventing large companies in certain circumstances from driving competitors out of business by undercutting their prices to sell at a loss, then jacking prices up when the competition is dead and buried. Profit-making private entities don't actually act like that very often, for obvious reasons: but governments can and do, at the taxpayer's expense. As Phil Klein notes, one of the main arguments by supporters of the government plan is that it will use its vast size to obtain cost savings at the expense of health care providers (doctors, hospitals, drug companies, all of which are presumed to continue providing the same level of goods and services without regard to profit motive), cost savings that far smaller private insurers could not obtain. That's an argument Obama himself has made repeatedly, yet he now professes ignorance of it. Because, of course, he retains at all times the confidence that nobody will ever call him on this sort of thing.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:08 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)

Obviously, I'm for government run healthcare. (Why shouldn't the citizens get some of the spoils for a change?)
But the Cranksters make a good point. Do we really want healthcare to be delivered by the same guys who inefficiently spend billions of dollars militarily, and still get fought to 6-year standstills by a handful of teenagers?

Posted by: Berto at June 24, 2009 1:32 PM

I'm sure Obama's argument makes sense to a lot of the people who voted for him.

Give me the government's cost of capital and it's marketing reach plus the taxpayer backstop and making a profit will be the last thing you'll have to worry about.

Posted by: spongeworthy at June 24, 2009 1:52 PM

Great thinking, Berto--they raise your taxes, ration your care, and make you wait for months to receive treatment and you consider that receiving the "spoils." That is the mindset of so many Americans who believe you can really get something for nothing. "Free healthcare" will come at a terrible price in money, dignity, freedom, privacy, and, ironically, health.

Posted by: Edgycater at June 24, 2009 6:29 PM

Allow me to let Digby answer your claim about rationing healthcare:
"The idea that the US doesn't ration health care is absurd. We certainly do. We just make people do it to themselves out of economic hardship. I guess that's supposed to be a tribute to our sense of individualism and personal freedom."
"Hey, nobody's going to tell you you can't be treated --- you made that decision all by yourself when you opted not to have a lot of money. That's what freedom's all about. (Unless you're sick and you want to die, of course, in which case the state won't let you.)"

Posted by: Berto at June 24, 2009 6:51 PM

2 other points, Edgycater.
1) You got a lot of nerve coming to Crank's site and telling people they can't get something for nothing. St. Ronnie won the "84 election running on that premise.
2) We're in another "I'll take the spoils while I bad mouth the premise" moment (the last one was the Governors of states against the stimulus plan with their hands out). Every Congresscritter (D and R) against public healthcare should give up THEIR public healthcare.
Fat chance that'll ever happen.
Hypocrisy knows no bounds in US politics.

Posted by: Berto at June 24, 2009 6:58 PM

Someone explain to me why Crank wastes his time on this tripe when another GOP stalwart is melting down over his inability to honor his wedding vows. Oh, that's right, waxing weird on the president's efforts to improve the life of Joe Sixpack is more important that pointing out the latest Republican hypocrite.

Posted by: splinter at June 24, 2009 10:32 PM

"Someone explain to me why Crank wastes his time on this tripe when another GOP stalwart is melting down over his inability to honor his wedding vows."

Or you could have your own blog and write about what you want to.

Posted by: SFC B at June 25, 2009 12:47 AM

What is there to say? I doubt Crank is going to defend the guy's actions. And the GOP or its voters will send the guy back to the sidelines, most likely.

So, splinter, do you have anything to say on topic, or will this be another dishonest threadjack? Why is it that Obama, with his vaunted team of economics advisors, can't understand this simple economics 101 concept, that government has advantages that allow it to provide lower-quality health care without being punished in the market?

Posted by: DKH at June 25, 2009 12:58 AM


Most Congressman have multiple degrees and have worked very hard to be where they are. And most would make a lot more money in the private sector. So, their healthcare has hardly been free.

You see, one's decisions have consequences.

Posted by: per14 at June 25, 2009 9:45 AM

I've stopped expecting the liberals here to make any argument based on economics. I don't know whether it's because of ignorance or lack of interest, or a combination of both.

It's like once they decide that a person has a "right" to something, it's the end of their argument. The government should provide it, full stop. I don't know why anyone would leave it at that when so much money is at stake and when we are already up to our eyeballs in debt. Even if you think this is a good idea, don't you want to know whether we can actually afford it???

Posted by: MVH at June 25, 2009 10:08 AM

I have heard many silly things from commenters on this site, but that splinter comment may take the cake. Oh, yeah, the President of the United States making policy arguments for his signature domestic policy proposal, which will drastically alter the relationship between America's government and its citizens - that is a red herring.

Posted by: The Crank at June 25, 2009 10:14 AM

They used to call that kind of comment "a distraction from the real issues." I guess times have changed.

Posted by: MVH at June 25, 2009 10:21 AM


1. Cranks initial post here was BEFORE Sanford's press conference in which he admitted the affair.

2. It took Crank less than 24 hours to make an appropriate post on Sanford.

Are you happy now?

Posted by: Chris at June 25, 2009 11:49 AM

I sort of study the laughable comments here and I feel like I need to step in. Splinter's comment was probably as absurd as I have seen. but that's not a prize he didn't have to fight for.

Congratulations, splinter! The rest of you numbnuts, better luck in the future.

Posted by: spongeworthy at June 25, 2009 6:57 PM

Sorry. Forgot that everyone else (the poor) are just freeloaders who haven't worked hard a day in their lives.
BTW, can't afford to work in public sector? Great, get the fu** out and let those who care about the community do the job.

Posted by: Berto at June 25, 2009 9:00 PM

Obama's sensitivity has been clear since he approached a reporter about saying something about his ears. I keep wondering if he will grow out of that, and I also continue to have more and more respect for Bush's thick skin since realizing that he was the most heavily-criticized president by the media since Nixon.

Can private insurance compete with the government in the same vein as companies like FedEx and UPS does with the US Mail Service?

Posted by: CaptainKirk at June 26, 2009 3:21 AM


You're as dishonest as Clinton (but not yet in Obama territory as a liar).

Only a complete fool would cheer politicians who repeatedly pass bills that they have not read which impose the greatest burdens on society in our history. Your dishonesty is exceeded only by your stupidity.

Posted by: stan at June 26, 2009 7:15 AM

The Patriot Act? Agree completely.
BTW, kindly don't compare me to a conservative like Clinton, please.

Posted by: Berto at June 27, 2009 6:24 AM
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