Boo Who?

Seems someone has got their po’ wittle fee-fees hurt.

Sunday I wrote about the Yves Smith kerfluffle.  You know, if someone calls you a sellout (or makes other, less flattering characterizations) you have two choices- ignore it or own it.

Now as I’ve always chosen to embrace every vice (unless you have something new and inventive to suggest), my typical response is “Yeah, so?”  The Roosevelt Institute has, on the other hand, decided that Yves’ shoe fits and attempts to defend their neoliberal policy prescriptions as progressive.

What are those prescriptions?  I’m glad you asked.  Jon Walker has a handy little roundup-

Peterson Foundation Proposals From the Roosevelt Institute, CAP and EPI Abandon Progressive Policy

By: Jon Walker, Firedog Lake

Monday June 6, 2011 9:43 am

While Medicare and Medicaid are technically what drives government spending, they are not the problem. They are both dramatically more cost effective than our broken private insurance system, which is what is actually driving all our health care cost radically higher than the rest of the industrialized world.  The projected deficit is due mainly to historically low tax rates, massively unnecessary military spending and most importantly a totally broken health care system.

The “progressive” solution to our current health care problems has historically been to copy the models of nations with cheaper and more efficient systems: it could be fixed by adopting the progressive solutions of socialized medicine (VA for all), or single payer (Medicare for all). If those are “too big a change,” most of the benefits of single payer can be replicated following the model of countries like Germany and Japan and adopting all-payer, where the government plays a role in setting uniformed reimbursement rates that all private insurance companies most pay.  Adopting any of these models would effectively eliminate our long term deficit.

Yet none of the three “liberals” deficit plans even come close to calling for any of these proven progressive solutions for health care. Only one of them, EPI, includes a moderately strong public option. “Tort reform” gets more play than single payer.

Note that the Roosevelt Institute plan doesn’t even call for what became the significant progressive compromise from single payer in the health care debate, an immediate public option. Instead, it calls only for a “trigger” that might make a public option available at the earliest by 2022 if cost(s) continue to increase. If a robust public option can significantly reduce the deficit, which the CBO has concluded, what possible justification exists for waiting a decade to use it? So the Roosevelt Institute plan to reduce the deficit is to needlessly waste a few hundred billion dollars.

In isolation many of these ideas are nice, but the totality of them is incredibly timid. Yes, we could save some money if Medicare negotiated directly for drug prices for seniors, but everyone could save significantly more money if Medicare negotiated lower drug prices for everyone through a single payer system or all-payer.

Given that as a country we probably spend $500 billion more a year than we need to on health care, is it truly depressing that these so-called progressive groups have totally abandoned even talking about a proven solution to our deficit and health care issues.

On an international level I would go so far as to say these three liberal health care plans are all significantly to the right of basically even center-right party in the rest of the industrialized world on health care.

If these constitute the “left flank” of the political discussion around the pressing issue of health care costs in America, we as a country are screwed.


  1. was fronted paged at FDL by Jane. The comments were quite to the point that RI had sold out to the right. I read the article at RI as well and the comments were even more scathing.

    I wish we would stop labeling the Democratic policies as “neo-liberal”. The fact is those policies are right wing conservative. I believe in truth in packaging.

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