Monday, November 16, 2009

Once Again, Robert Samuelson's Part of the Problem

A while back I commented on Robert Samuelson's mendacity on healthcare reform. No surprise, he's at it again. He is again insisting that reform - the only form of reform he will support - would make the system more expensive. No, once again that doesn't mean he advocates reforms along the lines of those imposed by pretty much every other industrialized nation, which would unquestionably reduce the cost of medical care. It means that he supports the broken status quo, with the highest cost, highest inflation, and a performance record that is on the whole surprisingly poor (even if it's pretty darn good for people with health insurance plans as good as Samuelson's).

He also takes the rather childish tack of branding the House bill, that Obama did not author, as "Obamacare",1 and insisting that this is "Obama's health-care plan". Last I checked, the Senate hadn't yet ruined the healthcare reform bill passed its own version of the bill, and we were a long way from voting on a bill post-reconciliation. Yet apparently Samuelson was visited by a time traveler who is privy to that final piece of legislation, and who passed along the secret that Obama will personally author it.

Typical of one of Fred Hiatt's crew, Samuelson whines (seemingly endlessly) about how providing healthcare to Americans is a luxury we can't afford - it's better that people be denied care than that we enact a sensible tax policy, reconsider Fred Hiatt's endorsement for endless wars, etc. - the only portion of the budget that can be cut, after all, is that for social services. Never mind that the status quo is failing, and that its failure is accelerating with employers increasingly reducing the health benefits they offer, passing along a greater share of costs to employees, or both. There are endless wars to fight, darnit, and something's gotta give.

But then, remember, this is the same Robert Samuelson who once argued that people only hate Bush because his policies are so darn successful. He doesn't exactly have a track record of sound, objective judgment.

Update: The NonSequitur reminds us of another gem from Samuelson:
A possible war with Iraq raises many unknowns, but “can we afford it?” is not one of them. People inevitably ask that question, forgetting that the United States has become so wealthy it can wage war almost with pocket change. A war with Iraq would probably cost less than 1 percent of national income (gross domestic product). Americans have grown accustomed to fighting with little economic upset and sacrifice.
and, at a later date,
But I am certain — now as then — that budget consequences should occupy a minor spot in our debates. It’s not that the costs are unimportant; it’s simply that they’re overshadowed by other considerations that are so much more important.

1. I recognize that some supporters of healthcare reform also use the term "Obamacare"... and perhaps the label can be coopted from the propaganda machine that created it, but I personally don't think it's a good term for supporters to use.


  1. Good post. And don't forget his argument that the Iraq war was easily affordable. And then, in apologizing for that he wrote "budget costs should not dictate our Iraq policy."

  2. You reminded me of that - even before you left the comment. I think my update (based on your post) coincides with the time you left your comment. :)