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David Frum Frets About The Defeat Of ObamaCare

David Frum has a piece up that posits the following:

What would it mean (for Republicans) to "win" the healthcare fight?

.. The problem is that if we do that... we'll still have the present healthcare system. Meaning that we'll have (1) flat-lining wages, (2) exploding Medicaid and Medicare costs and thus immense pressure for future tax increases, (3) small businesses and self-employed individuals priced out of the insurance market, and (4) a lot of uninsured or underinsured people imposing costs on hospitals and local governments

There are several problems with this analysis. First, "flat lining wages" don't have anything to do with the present health care reform debate. Wages are presently flatlined for reasons other than passage of ObamaCare: it's called deflation.

Second, there is more than just Medicare and Medicaid that is exploding in the federal budget. Stimulus bills, the current budget bill, TARP, GM ,Chysler et al are exploding the federal budget deficit. I defy Mr. Frum to quantify which healthcare components are exploding this year's budget that will be mitigated by passage of ObamaCare this fiscal year.

Third, small business and the self employed are not "priced out of the insurance market". Do they pay a lot of money for this insurance? Yes. Are they "priced out"? No. And what does "priced out" even mean? I fall into the small business/ self employed category. Does Frum know something I don't?

Fourth, Mr. Frum worries that a "lot of uninsured or underinsured people (are) imposing costs on hospitals and local governments." That's not exactly news as it relates to the defeat of ObamaCare. If ObamaCare does not pass how many more uninsured and underinsured will impose how much greater costs on hospitals and local government as a result? I know what the proposed ObamaCare tax increases will cost, but what of Mr. Frum's phantom costs increases? What is that number?

Frum goes on to say that defeat of ObamaCare will have been accomplished by the terrorizing of the elderly and the ultimate winner will have been inertia. Well, in his final point Mr. Frum stumbles upon a real issue when he raises the issue of inertia. What Frum and many of the elite opinion class do not understand about the healthcare debate, and the advancement of change in general, is that inertia can be a good thing. Inertia is the obverse of the Tyranny of the Urgent. Said another way, when everyone is running about demanding change NOW, it is a healthy thing to have others holding up STOP signs and cautioning about moving too fast. That's what is happening in the healthcare debate today.

Frum complains about "ossified government" and lays bare his desire for any kind of change while voters that know better call for caution. If the loyal opposition is to ever find its way into a majority again it would be wise to ignore the hand wringing of pretenders such as Frum.


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Comments (25)

What's terrorizing he elder... (Below threshold)
jim m:

What's terrorizing he elderly is not the GOP, but the concern that a single payer system will hurt them just as it has everywhere else a single payer system has been tried.

If Frum is concerned about the economy perhaps he should consider the 17% of the economy that is bracing for a double digit contraction next year if Obama's plan is passed.

Obamacare is not a plan for economic recovery it is a plan for continued recession. Over the past few years health care has grown at between 4 and 6 percent per year. While that may be an issue in so far as it takes away money that might fuel growth in other sectors, health care is a valid sector for growth to begin with.

Last if the concern is the cost of the uninsured, what about the medicare patient whose health care is reimbursed at under 50 cents on the dollar. Hospitals have cut back services based on the fact that medicare and medicaid don't pay enough to continue offering them.

EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY! Per... (Below threshold)

EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY! Perhaps Mr Frum can expound on the multiple benefits we got from the rapid passage of "The Stimulus Bill". The same 'intelligent and enlightened' leaders that where behind that little gem are the same one's who want to revamp the entire health care system overnight.

Absolutely we must ignore t... (Below threshold)
Victory is Ours:

Absolutely we must ignore this guy. He's an idiot for thinking the American health care system is broken and that Americans want it fixed.


My head spins when I hear a... (Below threshold)

My head spins when I hear about Mr Frum worrying about the exploding cost of medical care and at the same time the defeat of ObamaCare. It floors me that he and Noonan were once writing speeches for Republican presidents. In fact, didn't Frum craft economic speeches for W? Geesh.

No, Vic. You mean "fixed at... (Below threshold)

No, Vic. You mean "fixed at any price". Whether we want it or not. By Tuesday.

Well, you may get your wish. Obama, Pelosi and Reid are going to stuff it down our throats by force of majority by invoking resolution. Problem is, you're going to own the result and have to answer for it come next November.

And then we'll very likely see another majority, if I'm reading it right.

As a public service, I have reported you to [email protected] as a wild-eyed lunatic out to discredit The Great Obamolini. I'm told you should have your notice to report for jury duty by the end of the week. She said something about a huge antitrust case.

Frum is engaging in a false... (Below threshold)

Frum is engaging in a false dilemma logical fallacy. He posits our only choices are Obamacare or nothing.

I recall several different reform proposals being offered.

Victory is Ours: "He's a... (Below threshold)

Victory is Ours: "He's an idiot for thinking the American health care system is broken and that Americans want it fixed"

first, you are obviously an idiot as well. needed to be said up front (though, again, it IS obvious!)

is the "American health care system broken"? by what standard?

a broken CAR doesn't run...though only a car BEYOND REPAIR is generally a candidate for scrapping and buying a brand new one!

our system in its current state is the ENVY of most of the world...just ask Canadians and Brits who come here to escape theirs!

does our system need repairs? sure. Does it need to be SCRAPPED in a a headlong rush via a Congressional STAMPEDE to shove un-read Bills down America's throat? nope.

"Victory is Ours" and other Leftist airheads (e.g. Obama) offer the strawman choice:
ObamaCare or Status Quo. That is NOT what Republicans are offering, of course...it is just the strawman Obama and his misbegotten ilk (e.g. Victory is Ours) are offering up.

pathetic and juvenile

I have said this before and... (Below threshold)

I have said this before and I will say it again. The best fix for the rising cost of health care is tort reform. Get the slick assed ambulance chasing lawyers like the Silky Pony and Obama out of the process and things will eventually level out. Sure there will times that lawyers will be needed, but not every time a doctor makes a mistake. After all doctors are human too. Not like the little tin god that lives in the White House.

" He posits our only choice... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

" He posits our only choices are Obamacare or nothing. "

Word. And that seems to be the Lefty/Dem/MSM position.

Obama says there are billions of dollars of waste and fraud in Medicare/Medicaid. Why not clean that up and prove you can do it before you transform the entire system?
Why not some common sense tort reform?
Why not some insurance reform to allow plans across all state lines?

There are plenty of ideas that would work if you truly wanted 'healthcare reform'. People are beginning to get the idea that Team Obama doesn't want 'reform', Obama wants to Socialize the entire system. Hence the growing demonstrations from usually non-demonstrating people.

Remember, if Obama had his way, they would have already voted for this in the House and Senate before August. They were close to doing that. Do you Dems out there really think that was a good way to handle it?

Wouldn't it be great if the... (Below threshold)

Wouldn't it be great if the lefty idiots that swagger on over here to post their tripe would actually READ THE BILL before spouting off?

Want the gov. to have access to your bank account for "funds xfer" (let me guess, the money will flow from me to them)? It's in the bill! Want them to access your health records (so much for HIPA)? It's in the bill. If you're over 65, you get free periodic end-of-life counseling (ie Door #1 (hospice) or Door #2 (Jack Kevorkian) It's in the bill! Want to keep your private health insurance? Sorry, it's in the bill too.

Of course our distinguished elected officials can't be bothered with such a difficult task, it's easier to rely on a 22 year old kid staffer for the cliff notes version. After all, they're plum busy voting themselves a fleet of new Gulfstream G550's.

"People are beginning to ge... (Below threshold)

"People are beginning to get the idea that Team Obama doesn't want 'reform'"

NAILED IT! First it was "health care reform", now its "health care INSURANCE reform". What will it be next week? There are enough videos out there to show that Obama and Company want a SINGLE PAYER (Government) SYSTEM. Government CONTROL. They're not interested in 'fixing' anything.

What Frum is really worried... (Below threshold)

What Frum is really worried about is that Obamalala is going to be voted out after one term because of his policies. Then he will have to try to explain, along with many others, that we are not a racist country. That REALLY bothers him.

I heard an interesting prop... (Below threshold)

I heard an interesting proposal the other night that made sense. Maybe it was Krauthammer, but I don't recall exactly.

Doctors pay into a fund in lieu of malpractice insurance, and malpractice insurance is stopped. Payments might be a percentage of their current malpractice insurance to make it attractive to doctors. The fund, which would be enormous considering malpractice fees paid by doctors, dispenses damages directly to patients based on a reasonable, equitable schedule, but with no payments to lawyers and no punitive damages. By reasonable, I mean generous, not $1,500 per eye like those matchbook insurance ads. With no fees going to lawyers like Silky Pony, the fund could afford to be fair to the injured party, and they could receive more than the chump change their lawyers give them. Doctors win, the economy wins, defensive medicine can be scaled back, and the patients recover more than they would currently.

And if the patient still feels like they were wronged by an incompetent doctor that should lose his license, they can still sue for malpractice as long as they pay legal fees if they lose. If they win, they can recover legal fees. This safety valve would allow the courts to drum bad doctors out of practice when needed.

The only "losers" in this approach are the greedy tort lawyers who get rich by milking other people's misery. Sure, there are some legitimate cases. But ask your doctor why their malpractice insurance costs so damn much.

And of course, the only problem with this approach is that Congress is made up of lawyers in bed with the American Bar Association. So it will never see the light of day. Congress is less interested in fixing our healthcare system than getting their hands on control over healthcare.

Mr Frum's a big old worry-w... (Below threshold)

Mr Frum's a big old worry-wart.

Let's go scream at the Death Board.

What is the logic behind th... (Below threshold)

What is the logic behind the implicit claim that Obamacare can stop "exploding Medicaid and Medicare costs"?

The left claims that Obamacare will save money by eliminating private health insurance administration. But, regardless of whether or not there is a government option or any other type of government interference, there still will be administration. The government will not be more efficient in the administration of healthcare; the government cannot do anything more efficiently than private industry.

Clearly, a nationalized system will eliminate the "profit" earned by private health insurance, but the profit margin for health insurance is about 5.5%. That means that, unless government administration is at least 105.5% as efficient as private insurance, there will be no financial gain from it. One would have to be crazy or stupid to think that government could be that efficient.

Sometimes, denial of healthcare is proper and fair. Not every requested treatment or medicine is needed or appropriate. There will always be fraud and waste. Private health insurance is obviously motivated to reduce fraud and waste, and it's regulated by contract law and state insurance regulations in doing so. What exactly is going to be regulating the government option in its determinations of what is proper health care? Will whatever that is stop "exploding Medicaid and Medicare costs"? If the administration of the government sponsored healthcare now in place (ie, Medicaid and Medicare) does a poor job of eliminating fraud and waste, how will more government interference improve on this situation?

Finally, we're left with rationing and price limits. That's the only real way (other than profound tort reform) that these costs are going to be controlled by government interference. Suppose that's what Frum has in mind?

If we define inertia as fai... (Below threshold)
ThomasD Author Profile Page:

If we define inertia as failure to do something stupidly then it would appear Frum is at least correct on that point.

Perhaps if our elected representatives were actually proposing productive and responsible changes then something might actually get accomplished.

Although I do consider stopping a government takeover of the healthcare system do be a worthy accomplishment.

Will whatever that... (Below threshold)
Will whatever that is stop "exploding Medicaid and Medicare costs"?

The Bush Administration tried to stop the exploding cost of medicaid and medicare by putting the two into the private sector, It was the lefties like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelsoi, with the help of the current president, when he was in the Senate. No they don't want to control costs, they just want to rob the pockets of the American people.

Is this the same Squ... (Below threshold)

Is this the same Squeaky Frum that I remember from long ago. He sure sounds squeaky to me.

RE: 8, 13Tort Ref... (Below threshold)

RE: 8, 13

Tort Reform is unlikely to have a significant effect on health care costs, and unless the entire system of dealing with medical errors is taken out of the courts (PLEASE don't have the courts responsible for drumming out "bad doctors! - I don't want Sotomayor wannabe's near my license, thank you very much) and handled by responsible safety-oriented organizations, we'll get no where to improve patient safety.

Costs go down when medical care is safer and more efficient. There are published studies of one organization that works to change medical culture (using Air Safety-like techniques that improve communication and "crew resource management techniques.")


Tort for malpractice is a farce and needs to be reformed, but it is not going to change the cost increases that are being used to justify the current perception of a "health care crisis."

Our health care system is not ideal, and could use some improvements, but it does not need to be dismantled and government controlled either.

Obamacare is bad for americ... (Below threshold)

Obamacare is bad for america obamacare means returning to leeches and bloodletting

H R 3200; House Health C... (Below threshold)

H R 3200; House Health Care Reform Bill (Obama, Government Takeover) - [BILL UNDER SUBSCRIBE]
Another summary, Private healthcare will become illegal, govt will have direct access to your bank account...

20% of americans are uninsu... (Below threshold)

20% of americans are uninsured and half of them choose not to get it but could afford it. It is not a crisis as Obama lies, it is a problem that needs modification to correct. Obama and his goons are using it to get control of the populace. Too bad schmuck. ww

"...flat lining wages" d... (Below threshold)

"...flat lining wages" don't have anything to do with the present health care reform debate..."

Try telling that to someone with a health plan that just doubled the plan contribution. Someone making $30K/year, who isn't getting a raise, and whose company health care plan just raised rates by 25%. I think that would be incredibly relevant, if I were that person.

"In fact, didn't Frum craft... (Below threshold)

"In fact, didn't Frum craft economic speeches for W? Geesh."
4. Posted by DaveD

Correct. Frum was also the ghostwriter of Rush Limbaugh's first and second books. Yet just last week he was on C-SPAN arguing for the Pro side in a debate over the efficacy of the extra-governmental and mysterious Federal Reserve System. He's considered one of the "intellects" of what passes for the second party in our two-party state and he'll remain long after Whozit's and Watzit's suspenders wear out. The GOP is shell organization with Palin decals on the outside and neocons and statist-lifers inside.

But when Frum publishes "to type" next week or month or whenever, the gallery will go Wee! and all will be forgiven as brains are put out to soak for the cause.

Citation, BryanD. What the... (Below threshold)

Citation, BryanD. What the voices tell you don't count. I've read Frum for years, and I don't ever recall him claiming to have written for Limbaugh. "Mystery of Capital", with an econ wonk from Peru (del Soto?) I remember that.






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