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links: health care and economy dump


* CBO rates the Republican "plan", finds that the ranks of the uninsured would increase, and furthermore that the GOP leaders would be unlikely to find insurance under their own plan, were they to blow off their government health care and seek coverage as individuals. Their plan would make things worse, removing protections and encouraging a corporate race to the bottom, like the credit card industry. Links 1, 2, 3. Ezra Klein is another blogger I've taken to following regularly -- at the moment, mostly him and Krugman.

* "Entitlement reform" is health care reform. Social Security is in good shape and any problems are easy to fix; the budget problem is the exponential explosion of Medicare and Medicaid, mirroring the explosion of private premiums and US general health care costs. Link.

* Photo of current or near-term Medicare patients objecting to government health care.

* Ben Nelson joins the ranks of those who don't understand macroeconomics.

o Related thought: I wonder how many Americans can tell the difference between the bailout and the stimulus? Both happened around the same time and cost about $700 billion. The bank bailout started under Bush, cost $700 billion flat (at least initially), was probably both necessary (the credit must flow) and bungled (the proper way is debt-for-equity, but even Obama was terrified of "nationalization"), and being bungled yes led to giving lots of money to rich people who caused the problems, causing populist ire. The stimulus is Obama's, "cost" about $800 billion spread over two years, so actually $400 billion a year, and does things like extend unemployment, give credits for car trade-ins, help states not layoff schoolteachers, fund infrastructure programs, and such. Basic though inadequate Keynesian spending.

Speaking of costs: Congress passed and Obama signed a $680 billion defense bill. That's for this year, and may not include special appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan. Nary a peep. The $400 billion for avoiding a Great Depression 2.0 is the cause of much handwringing. Health care reform even more so, and it's reported as $900 billion -- over the next decade! So, actually $90 billion a year, before taxes on millionaires or employer health insurance get raised to offset the cost.

$680 billion for defense. $90 billion for insuring 40 million Americans. But the latter is the end of the world.

* Stimulus: Obama's Anzio, Why not a WPA?, Obama's trap -- having done too little for the economy, he may have discredited doing more.

* Junk food is addictive in rats

* Alan Grayson reads the tolls and names of the uninsured dead in Congress; GOP tries to stop him.

* Klein interviews the head of Kaiser Permanente, who talks a lot about competition among private insurers but undermines himself by running what's effectively a little single-payer system (Kaiser leads in integrated health care, HMOs done right) and noting that while many European countries have private (non-profit) insurers, the premiums are set by the government -- insurers can compete at most on service. Part 1, part 2, look how expensive we are -- this isn't total spending, this is how much basic services cost compared to other countries -- and PDF source of the preceding.

* America's pro-flu labor laws.

* Even a hamstrung public option may do good as an honest pricer. Or as distraction from the bigger issue of subsidies for the poor.

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Phoenix
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Damien Sullivan
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