Jim Cooper Scares Me

by: Mike Lux

Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 10:41

( - promoted by Matt Stoller)

I have been beating up on the Clinton campaign pretty hard lately because I haven't been crazy about the kind of campaign they have been running. And I will admit that my heart has been won by the enthusiasm of all those young and passionate Obama supporters.

But there are still certain things that make me really, really nervous about Obama. At the top of that list is the health care debate, where I think he's just wrong about the importance of universality, and where he's employed Harry and Louise-style tactics to argue against Clinton's plan. My concerns shifted into overdrive, though, when I noticed that the Obama campaign is now using Rep. Jim Cooper as a spokesperson/surrogate on health care.

I was part of the Clinton White House team on the health care reform issue in 1993/94, and no Democrat did more to destroy our chances in that fight than Jim Cooper. We had laid down a marker very early that we thought universal coverage was the most essential element to getting a good package, saying we were to happy to negotiate over the details but that universality was our bottom line.

Cooper, a leader of conservative Dems on the health care issue, instead of working with us, came out early and said universality was unimportant, and came out with a bill that did almost nothing in terms of covering the uninsured. He quickly became the leading spokesman on the Dem side for the insurance industry position, and undercut us at every possible opportunity, basically ending any hopes we had for a unified Democratic Party position. I was never so delighted to see a Democrat lose as when he went down in the 1994 GOP tide.

Unfortunately, he came back, like a bad penny.
It is such a huge mistake for Obama to use a guy like this to defend their position on health care. The signal it sends to reporters, organizations, and activists like myself who know something about the old health care battles is that Obama truly doesn't care about comprehensive health care reform or universal coverage, and that the health care package you would propose if President would be a conservative, pro-insurance industry bill. The campaign ought to be trying to reassure folks who care about this issue, and using a guy like Cooper does just the opposite.

Mike Lux :: Jim Cooper Scares Me

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Totally off topic (0.00 / 0)
Sorry! But I don't really care about the primary anyways, and stupidly, I didn't ask to be able to post quick-hits.

Wikileaks, an amazing website with huge potential to be an important "open left" institution, has just been shut down by a judge in California, much like it was by the Chinese Communist Party.  Read the diary on Kos about it: http://www.dailykos.com/story/...

If someone wants to post a Quick Hit about it, that would probably be good.

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.

Thanks, that was a good thing you did (0.00 / 0)
this blog sometimes makes me wonder if it isn't just a bunch of adolescent boys trying to act tough yet still getting sand kicked in their faces whenever they brave a trip to the beach.

[ Parent ]
I'm on it. (4.00 / 1)
Taking care of it...

I blog on InnermostParts.org

[ Parent ]
Thanks! (0.00 / 0)

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.

[ Parent ]
Can you be more specific? (0.00 / 0)
HRC seems pretty cosy with the HMOs as well. And the reasons the HRC healthcare plan went down the tubes aren't reducible to this guy. Didn't the democrats behave very arrogantly when Clinton first entered the white house? Maybe that was the real problem. Actually, it continues to be a problem (especially among the HRC minions), and the results will probably be the same as before.

Mike says that there are more reasons the plan failed (4.00 / 2)
As is obvious to anyone--policies rarely suceed or fail for one reason.  The Democrats had a trifecta at the time.  That would have certainly enabled them to at least get the bill out of committee if the only problem was 'Democrats acting arrogantly.'

Mike raises a very, very specific point: Obama has endorsed the support of one of the principal opponents of the 1993 health care bill, which, in the context of his mandate position, makes Mike skeptical of Obama's ability to actually deliver on healthcare.  Then you go and talk about a bunch of external issues while speculating.

[ Parent ]
Speculation runs rampant here (4.00 / 1)
(even you must know this) but what is not a matter of speculation is that HRC blew it and will probably do so again. And there will be plenty of lame excuses. But the same creeps as before will still have their jobs, which is, after all, what this is really about.

What this really appears to be is what it is: a way to smear Obama. That's all it is, no need to dress it up as something substantial. Go ahead, be afraid.  

[ Parent ]
Obama is smearing himself on health care (4.00 / 2)
Him taking this strong anti-mandate position now is stupid.  Surrounding himself with surrogates from the other side in the '90s and putting Harry and Louise in his ads is stupid.  

Clinton's done a bunch of really stupid things on foreign policy.  Her problems pound you over the head, really--but Obama looks stupid on foreign policy.

[ Parent ]
So far the way the mandate is presented (0.00 / 0)
leads to the impression that the working poor would have their
wages attached in order to pay for what would amount to substandard care.
Putting Harry and Louise in his ads may be distasteful, but it worked before and it might work again.
As for the surrogates from the other side (do you mean the 'moderate' democratic side? I confess to not knowing these people, do you?) it could be stupid or not, depending on whether and to what extent Obama can get useful information from them.  

[ Parent ]
Only without subsidies (4.00 / 1)
ignoring the subsidies in any mandate plan is dishonest.

[ Parent ]
Subsidies (0.00 / 0)
another nice word, is it a penny or a dollar? How it will actually effect the uninsured is the issue, where the rubber meets the road is what matters, not HRC happy talk. Not a token effort that doesn't amount to anything but serves as a 'success' for further political manipulation.

[ Parent ]
So, in the abstract, (4.00 / 1)
the subsidies will be ineffective, because they will be a priori insufficient.  

[ Parent ]
Primary partisans. (4.00 / 6)
Why is it that people who are really partisan about their candidates see any criticism as a "smear"? I get so tired of that attitude.
I actually like Obama, like him quite a bit as a matter of fact, and have been moving in his direction for a while now. But Jim Cooper is a leader of the pro-insurance industry wing of the Democratic party, and now Obama is using him as a spokesperson. That seems like a legitimate issue to raise.

[ Parent ]
Of course it is legitimate (0.00 / 0)
and the best way to attack the 'pro-insurance' industry wing of the democratic party is to get the information (not innuendo, get the facts) out in the open as soon as possible so that it can be dealt with. Guilt by association will only get you so far.

The problem with criticism is when it only goes part way, then it seems more malign, like innuendo. But please, by all means, criticize. But we have to really know what we're talking about and have real solutions, not just take any old thing and call it a solution.

Maybe there is a vast right wing conspiracy, but that will not be a viable excuse to fail at healthcare.

[ Parent ]
There's a difference between listening to them (4.00 / 2)

[ Parent ]
SPOESPEOPLE?? (0.00 / 0)
time for your meds, calm down. smiley face to you.

[ Parent ]
Stop insulting other posters (4.00 / 1)
Time for the meds? WTF?

Stop insulting other posters, or go away.  

[ Parent ]
Arrogance. (4.00 / 1)
Dems were arrogant in some ways in '93/94, but that wasn't the main reason we lost health care. The main reason we lost health care was the 100 million dollar plus opposition from the insurance industry, and Cooper was their boy.

[ Parent ]
They have a lot of boys (0.00 / 0)
and girls, too. Who are they? How do we discredit them?

[ Parent ]
Genuine questions (0.00 / 0)
Is Cooper still a shill for the insurance industry?  Is he still in Congress?  What is his record over the last 20 years?

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
I mean last 10 years (0.00 / 0)

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Jim Cooper: right wing Democrat was against universal health care (4.00 / 1)
This is the old diary comment at MyDD...and check the middle of the first paragraph of Brad DeLong's complaint about Hillary to find Jim Cooper....and google Jim Cooper and you will find that he put out his plan that eventually was just the plan of the HMO lobbying organiziation.  

I knew as soon as I saw Jim Cooper's name came up in conjunction with Obama's health plan...I had to agree with one of Paul Krugman's analyese that he really wasn't serious about universal healthcare

Reading DeLong it looks like what he's saying is that Hillary fought too hard for universal healthcare in the face of industry attempts to use it for themselves as only a profit engine...not to get universal healthcare

Here is what Brad Delong had to say about that:

My two cents' worth--and I think it is the two cents' worth of everybody who worked for the Clinton Administration health care reform effort of 1993-1994--is that Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life. Heading up health-care reform was the only major administrative job she has ever tried to do. And she was a complete flop at it. She had neither the grasp of policy substance, the managerial skills, nor the political smarts to do the job she was then given. And she wasn't smart enough to realize that she was in over her head and had to get out of the Health Care Czar role quickly.

So when senior members of the economic team said that key senators like Daniel Patrick Moynihan would have this-and-that objection, she told them they were disloyal. When junior members of the economic team told her that the Congressional Budget Office would say such-and-such, she told them (wrongly) that her conversations with CBO head Robert Reischauer had already fixed that. When long-time senior hill staffers told her that she was making a dreadful mistake by fighting with rather than reaching out to John Breaux and Jim Cooper, she told them that they did not understand the wave of popular political support the bill would generate. And when substantive objections were raised to the plan by analysts calculating the moral hazard and adverse selection pressures it would put on the nation's health-care system...

Hillary Rodham Clinton has already flopped as a senior administrative official in the executive branch--the equivalent of an Undersecretary. Perhaps she will make a good senator. But there is no reason to think that she would be anything but an abysmal president.


"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Not reassured? Not surprised. (4.00 / 4)
I don't know, Mike.  When it comes to Obama and health care, I think, what you see is what you get.  Have thought so from the beginning.  In that sense, Jim Cooper's inclusion isn't accidental; it's purposeful, and it doesn't surprise me.  At least for the moment, until something concrete happens to make me think differently, Jim Cooper's presence is consistent with where I think Obama stands on this issue. That's one of the reasons I am deeply ambivalent about Obama's candidacy.  For the record, I'm equally ambivalent about Clinton's candidacy as well, but for different reasons wrt different issues.  

I can relate to both those ambivalences (0.00 / 0)
She was wrong on the Iraq war resolution, and he is wrong on health care.

Both are enormously important issues - in terms of lives, as well as dollars.

The thing is, she has come around.  He hasn't.  In fact, he has even misrepresented her health care mandates as being the same thing as telling a homeless person they must buy a house.

Advantage - Hillary.

[ Parent ]
Good to know (4.00 / 5)
And very disturbing.

Cooper is in a D +6.2 district. We really need to get rid of him, even if the Obama campaign doesn't have a problem with him.  

That seems more reasonable (0.00 / 0)
in a sense, but how would you propose to do that? Perhaps this guy has come to a different position after 15 years. Does he have any valuable knowledge about healthcare?

[ Parent ]
Let's not (0.00 / 0)
I'm in his district and have volunteered for him a time or two.

This is the heart of Blue Dog country.  D +6.2 in TN doesn't mean the same thing as D +6.2 in Michigan.  Cooper is a good fit for the district, for the most part.  He's Blue Dog to the core but has little use for the DLC.  

He's exceptionally competent at what he does and resultantly is well respected by his constituents.  He was a Rhodes scholar and went on to Harvard law.  Compared to a lot of the redneck idiots TN sends to Washington, he's a real breath of fresh air.

[ Parent ]
I still lean Obama (4.00 / 3)
but they've made it difficult with this health care crap. So much so that I'm not really inspired to do anything.

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

Another take on the 1993 reform attempt (0.00 / 0)
Brad Delong, who also worked on the 1993 package, posted several years ago a book review which adds his take on the events and Jim Cooper's role:


There is very little in the article about Cooper (0.00 / 0)
and what is there is somewhat innocuous.
Ira Magaziner gets the brunt of the criticism, with a lame caveat:

But don't blame Magaziner. Blame the guy who chose him--Bill Clinton. And blame Bill Clinton's inability to accept bad news and his eagerness to trust those who would tell him what he wanted to hear.

[ Parent ]
That's a really interesting review (4.00 / 2)
Thanks for linking it.

Some choice quotes:

So after his election, President Clinton set up a policy-planning process to prepare a health-care reform plan for congress to pass. He chose his wife, the First Lady, Hillary Clinton to head up the planning process. He chose his long-time friend Ira Magaziner to be her deputy. He told them to think big.

Magaziner had two major flaws. His first was that his instinct was always to make things more complicated [...] He had no sense that complicated organizations tend to break, to exhibit bizarre and unplanned behaviors, and are hard to explain [...] His second flaw was that he thought like a management consultant. A management consultant's principal goal is to win a debate in front of his employer, the senior decision maker, the "Principal." You win a debate by making intellectual arguments, controlling the flow of information to the senior decision maker, walling-off potential adversaries from the process [...] But that's not how you develop a policy. You develop a policy by forming a large coalition all of whom agree that the proposal will make the world a better place, and that it is close to the best that can be attained at the current moment. Then you have a large group of people who are enthusiastic about the proposal: they will go out and make your arguments for you. The compromises and concessions that had to be made within the policy-planning group in order to form the coalition will then perform a very important exeterior purpose: just as they brought people within the process onboard, so they will bring other people outside the process who think in a similar fashion onboard as well.

For a management consultant, it doesn't matter if everyone else in the organization hates your guts as long as the Principal--the CEO--is convinced, for the CEO is the boss and can then make things happen. For a policy planner, winning the confidence of the Principal is almost beside the point: instead, the point is forming a coalition that can then be extended to win a majority of the House of Representatives, the 60 votes in the Senate to end a filibuster, and a Presidential signature.

Hopefully lessons Hillary Clinton has learned for the second round in the fight for universal health care.

Also a cautionary warning for Obama:

Combine Magaziner's flaws with the sense at the start of 1993 that possibilities were unbounded--that, as one (anonymous) senior White House aide put it, no one in the White House "...was thinking about the fact that Bill Clinton got only 43 percent of the votes. He was on top of the world. He was young, he was good-looking, he gave a good speech. The world was full of hope"--and you have the setting for a policy-planning disaster.

[ Parent ]
Notice the dynamic (0.00 / 0)
A management consultant's principal goal is to win a debate in front of his employer, the senior decision maker, the "Principal." You win a debate by making intellectual arguments, controlling the flow of information to the senior decision maker, walling-off potential adversaries from the process

It was doomed from the start, apparently. It could happen again. Fortunately the information is available. It's history to be read and used to avoid future mistakes. Like the Vietnam War was, but then HRC voted to go into Iraq...

[ Parent ]
It seems to me that... (0.00 / 0)
..."the fact that Bill Clinton got only 43 percent of the votes" is a more relevant cautionary warning for all of us today than "He was young, he was good-looking, he gave a good speech. The world was full of hope".

The Clintons ignored reality to the detriment of the Democratic party.  Instead of carefully husbanding and increasing their majority, they cut off and pissed off any part of it that expressed a minor disagreement with them.


[ Parent ]
But Cooper always does a great (0.00 / 0)
Big-Bopper at congressional Karoake night... that is a little redemption

And he's a good friend of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a good man (0.00 / 0)
But for something else that's rather disturbing about some of O's supporters, see this NPR reported story, wherein Rep. Cleaver tells of their friendship:


[ Parent ]
Obama is right (0.00 / 0)
The mandate killed the Clinton bill.  Billary was unable to see what Billary couldn't see: folks don't want to be forced into it.

Cooper's bill would have done a world of good, though it was far from perfect.

The Billary mandate, however, would never have moved through the Senate.  Since CHIP did pass less than two years later, there is clear evidence that even the GOP would have supported something moving national health insurance along.

Or is CHIP just some GOP plot to get Billary?

Don't know the specifics.... (0.00 / 0)
...but, I do know that "mandates" don't have a prayer in congress... and if they pass, the resulting public revulsion to them will set back the cause of universal health care 50 years!  Just look at what's going on in MA.  Romney's plan is completely reviled.

You have a much better chance of passing single payer health care than private insurance mandates.  People are familiar with taxes... they don't like having to directly pay for an insurance CEO's swimming pool.  

As for "industry friendly", Hillary's bill isn't?  She's giving the insurance industry 100 million new customers who are forced to buy...  I can't imagine a more industry friendly policy than that!

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

[ Parent ]
Romney's plan sucks. Hillary's plan is far better. (0.00 / 0)
Romney, like Obama, offered subsidies to every health insurer in town.  Hillary doesn't do that.  See my comments below.

Moreover, the revulsion to his mandates is a direct consequence of his state being unable to have any perceptible influence on the cost of health insurance while simultaneously having to have a balanced budget.  That's a prescription for increased health insurance co-pays, deductibles, and premiums.    Hillary's plan relies on the extremely good cost controls inherent in the very effective and much appreciated Federal Employees health insurance program.  Also, unlike our states, the Federal government has the authority to borrow money if and when the budget is not balanced by tax revenue, etc.  That will enable Hillary's health plan to survive the usual growing pains without making all those new health insurance subscribers foot the transition costs that may occur.

Don't be afraid of her mandates.  They will be very affordable for everyone.

[ Parent ]
Mandate. (4.00 / 4)
The mandate didn't kill the Clinton plan, the insurance industry did.
And Cooper's bill was a pro-corporate piece of shit.
Next time I'll tell you what I really think.

[ Parent ]
Universal Health Care (4.00 / 1)
Obama's said the right things about Universal Health Care (in a perfect world he'd support single payer) but this Cooper BS really bothers me. Part of it can be attributed to Obama's inexperience, but it is really bad judgment on his part. And if it is what he really believes, you can kiss Universal Heath Care good-bye.

That said, the truth is that any Universal Health Care proposal depends on the Democratic Majorities in Congress. In that regard, Obama holds the most promise of down ticket coat tail benefits. If he can just stop talking about the specifics of his proposal and emphasize Universal Health Care (Vote for Democrats, so we can change the system NOW!) we might have a chance.

As for Universal Health Care, the only viable option is Medicare For All. This has the potential of keeping the Insurance Industry on board via a Medicare PLUS structure. If WalMart and GM can be brought on board, that only leaves big Pharma out in the cold -- and that's a battle we can win.

[ Parent ]
I almost agree with you. (0.00 / 0)
However, another viable option is Federal Employees Health care for all.

And if we can get behind Hillary's plan (which unlike Obama's, only provides Federal subsidies to those enrolling in one of the Fed Emp plans), we can actually get there.

Unfortunately, the Medicare for All approach, while completely admirable, would be far more difficult to enact and to implement.

[ Parent ]
I dunno about this (0.00 / 0)
I really respect Brad De Long, and his analysis in the book review accords with my memory of this fight.  Hillary and Magaziner worked in secret, violated the first rule of policy in not bringing people into the process who would then be there to sell the product to a wider audience, and behaved arrogantly towards Congresspeople who had a sense of what was possible for them to support.

I see the very real potential in Hillary to repeat all these mistakes should she become President.

Getting from here to there in health care is going to be an incremental process with some intermediate solutions while children and younger retirees are brought into Medicare and an expanded CHIP.  Flexibility (both intellectual and political) and coalition-building skills seem to be the most important skills/qualities.  I see less to worry about on that score with Obama than Hillary.   Besides, he will have the expectations of his adherents to push him.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Old NYT coverage of this topic (0.00 / 0)
I was reading some old NYT coverage of this topic and from my quick read President Clinton and then First Lady Hillary Clinton were adamant about vetoing ANY bill without a mandate. In hindsight Sen. Bradley's plan with no immediate mandate and with a trigger for a mandate in 4-5 years (I forget) if 96% of people didn't have health insurance was also subject to the Clinton veto threat.


Cooper's 91% threshold was weak legislation and I think Cooper did a lot more harm than good in those 90s discussions but in hindsight it seems like a big mistake by the White House not to  have a fall back position to something like the Bradley bill with a soft trigger. It's been 16 years since then and from a purely humanitarian perspective -- a lot of people could have been helped by providing 96% (or even 91%) coverage.

Taking a maximalist position on providing healthcare in a negotiation and then losing that negotiation doesn't do much to help people worried about their health and I'm not sure that's on Jim Cooper. If Bill Clinton stole the 91% threshold and added triggers to step up coverage to approaching 100% a lot more people would have been helped over the last decade and a half.

John McCain

[ Parent ]
Jim Cooper's plan was a gift to the insurance insurance (4.00 / 1)
Indeed they adopted his plan as their own.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Yep (4.00 / 2)
Mike wrote:
"I have been beating up on the Clinton campaign pretty hard lately because I haven't been crazy about the kind of campaign they have been running. And I will admit that my heart has been won by the enthusiasm of all those young and passionate Obama supporters.
But there are still certain things that make me really, really nervous about Obama."

Wow. You just described my position exactly. I'm reading Obama's book right now, and I find myself grinding my teeth and mumbling, especially when he throws up that false dicotomy of left/right extremists who are equally to blame for what ails the nation. Please...

And yes, this Cooper character sounds like bad news.

Yeah.... (4.00 / 1)
I finally got around to skimming it and it....

Just plain sucks.

If you are a ReThug the frikin' Audacity of Hope will give you hope....

That you can retake the majority.


Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
As opposed to? (0.00 / 0)
Who exactly? The GOP is probably confident they can beat anyone we put out there, so who gives a shit?

[ Parent ]
Sigh (0.00 / 0)
I wish people didn't just assume the worst during primary season.  ACitizen may be a commenter you don't agree with (I almost never do), but what are you trying to insinuate by your comment? If you've read almost any comment on this site that he's written, you'd know that he is never sparing of his criticisms of Clinton. He doesn't need to think Obama is a bad candidate compared to someone else, he can just think he's a bad candidate.

Just because someone criticizes your candidate, doesn't mean they are promoting some other candidate.

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.

[ Parent ]
Hey! (0.00 / 0)
Thanks for that principled defense. It's true I'm not a happy camper and basically detest both Senators. I actually have real reasons for doing so but very few care about that.

Neither candidate is anything like what I believe a progressive should be and while they both occasionally say a good thing or two neither have any answers to the pressing problems the nation faces.

They pretty much can't as their 'backers' really don't want any solutions.The status quo suits them fine.

Just have to knuckle down elect more and better Democrats to Congress and keep on pushing for a progressive agenda.

What's that you ask?

Clik on my sig line and you'll get a small preview.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
same man? (0.00 / 0)
1. Has Cooper possibly changed over 15 years? Do you know? By this logic we should assume that Bill's behavior hasn't changed either.
2. They all have strange bedfellows: Clintons relationship with Murdoch comes to mind.
3. Unfortunately the longer this takes to decide, the uglier it is going to get.  

Cooper (4.00 / 1)
is a Bush dog, even thought he's from a strong D district. I'm guessing the answer to your first question is no.

[ Parent ]
I remember reading something a few months ago (4.00 / 1)
with Cooper defending Obama's healthcare plaIn much they same terms he used to destroy the 93-94 effort.

He hasn't changed at all.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
What logic (0.00 / 0)
it was a question. Bill seems to be the same old Bill, only meaner and kind of dumb, probably from hanging out with Bush.

[ Parent ]
Need More Info (0.00 / 0)
For me, health care coverage is the single most important issue in this campaign.  If Rep. Cooper was, as you say, one of the contributing factors to the failure of the original Clinton health care proposal, suggest you share more specifics on how he was an obstructionist.  Although I'm strongly leaning towards Obama, a corporate-BS type proposal would be a deal-breaker for me.  Would you consider a follow-on post on this topic with more details?

I agree. (0.00 / 0)
I need more information than "Cooper is corporate bullshit" as an argument.  I have read at least 2 media pieces recently that argue Cooper as the compromiser that presented a passable bill.  To me, that sounds a whole lot more in keeping with Obama's M.O. of coming together to get stuff done.  Is Obama really showing himself to be a corporate shill?  Where's the beef, Mike?

[ Parent ]
That's because those folks thought (0.00 / 0)
universality wasn't worth it.  Those people don't care about universal healthcare....because without universality a plan will become unworkable and could fail.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
For more substantive info, read my comments below, and (0.00 / 0)
follow the link provided.

[ Parent ]
Thanks (0.00 / 0)
Appreciate the info...I'll check it out.

[ Parent ]
See the link provided in my first main thread comment below. (0.00 / 0)
That may answer some of your questions regarding the "bs".  

[ Parent ]
Link? (0.00 / 0)
Where is the link to Obama using Cooper as his spokesman or pointman on health care? I have looked online and I have yet to see that story. I know Cooper supports him and I read Brooks' shitty column about Cooper apparently being scorned by Clinton or whatever, but I've yet to hear of Cooper becoming Obama's spokesman.

Link (4.00 / 1)
I got an email from the campaign on Fri announcing a briefing on Obama's health care plan. Cooper was one of the 3 briefers.

[ Parent ]
Okay (0.00 / 0)
I just saw a PREVIEW for a CQ article (I don't wanna pay...) that says he was one of three briefers for a news conference for Obama. It really hurts, I gotta tell ya, to hear this as a person who believes wholly that good health for all should be a right and not a privilege.  

[ Parent ]
Serious question (0.00 / 0)
Does anyone thing a mandatory health insurance plan has a chance in hell of passing?  

Well we do know (4.00 / 1)
It won't be done by using Obama tactics to submarine universality.

[ Parent ]
That's not really responsive (0.00 / 0)
The question I have is will mandated health insurance ever pass or will the GOP kill it. I mean even if HRC doesn't lose the election over it (hypo if she got the nom). It's not an easy sell once people understand that universal means forced to pay.  

[ Parent ]
True, but it's not as hard as you may think because, (0.00 / 0)
contrary to the Harry and Louise propaganda, Hillary's plan offers very affordable insurance to everyone.  The subsidies, the percentage of income caps, and the fact that she doesn't necessarily have to mandate Cadillac coverage, just some coverage, will make all the difference.

Obviously, there will be some libertarians who will get bent out of shape no matter how affordable the plans turn out to be.  However, they will be permitted to purchase whatever plans they like, or go naked and risk being penalized.  The vast majority of people will be very happy with the new possibilities, and those will include some that are much more affordable than what we have today.

[ Parent ]
Thinking about it raises another question (0.00 / 0)
Will the prices immediately be affordable or will that take time? If they're not immediately affordable will you still be forced to buy some plan or will you be able to wait until they're affordable. I watch the debates and speeches and never really get this sort of information. I guess the wage garnishment option had to be pried out of HRC.  

[ Parent ]
Immediately, the prices will be immediately affordable. (0.00 / 0)
The base program, the Federal Employees health insurance program, already provides some of the most affordable as well as some of the most comprehensive health insurance in the country.  It's percent of admin costs is low because there are over 10 million enrollees already, most of them retired, I think.  

Add to that base the 47 million Americans who are pretty much chronically uninsured, and you get a 57 million member risk pool over which to spread your administrative costs.  Then, add in another 4O million Americans who typically become temporarily uninsured or under-insured in a given year (due to job changes, moving to another state, or simply opting to change insurance companies and having to wait before a pre-existing condition will be covered), and you have a risk pool of nearly 110 million Americans.  That will bring the percent admin costs further down.  As word spreads, there will be other currently insured Americans who will opt to enroll in Hillary's plan as well.  Eventually, practically everyone will do so.  However, it's not necessary to wait that long for the premiums to be affordable.

Then - throw in all the subsidies that Hillary's plan will provide to those under 250% of the Federal poverty level, as well as her intention to provide everyone insurance at a cost that will be capped as a percentage of their incomes, and that brings those premiums further down.  Down to zero for many, in fact.

And the good news is that none of this need take forever to implement.  The structure would need to be grown somewhat, but it's already in place.  The enrollment process might be a madhouse at first, but it's really a very straightforward process, and much of it could be automated rather easily.  And don't forget that her plan is to cover pre-existing conditions.  Therefore, the enrollment process need not be consumed by ages of checking and re-checking to make sure the enrollees were telling the truth about their conditions.

[ Parent ]
As for the enforcement options, (0.00 / 0)
wage garnishment is on the table.  Some of Hillary's advisors recommend it.  Hillary, however has not decided.  That may be why you think it something regarding it "had to be pried out of" her.

There are other options, including issuing a letter to credit agencies, requiring states to enact fines for those who don't participate, robo-bill collectors, etc.  None of the enforcement options are pleasant.  However, all of this is quite hypothetical anyway, and until people realize just how much more reasonable health insurance can be for them, the enemies of both Hillary and single payer will flood our media with scary (but un-real) scenarios.  the truth is that it won't be necessary to do much "enforcing" whatsoever.  The vast majority of people will be delighted and (some with subsidies) more than able to purchase the plans that Congressional members now enjoy.

[ Parent ]
Please see my response below on the main thread. (0.00 / 0)
Sorry, haven't been here for a while, and didn't remember the tree structure for comments.

[ Parent ]
Mike - I think Obama has been taken in by the wrong "experts" (0.00 / 0)
I've had a very long experience with the health care industry, including a top-level Federal position in the health planning program of the 1970s.  Reagan first persuaded Ford to underfund that program, and then he killed it when he was elected.  But it was definitely super-hot politically "back in the day".  It could have set up an effective system of Federal, State, and local controls which would have created a wide constituency for single-payer.

As we all know, the health care industry is enormously complex, and it is quite possible for even some very bright people to be like one of the blind men describing their impression of an elephant.  Consequently, it is extremely important for politicians to obtain expert advice on any proposals they might make concerning it.  

Anyway, in short, because he is a Senator from Illinois, Obama's health care "experts" very likely have had long and deep association with some of the most conservative elements in our health care system.  You can see what I mean by reading a couple of my diaries.  Go to http://securingamerica.com/ccn... and be sure to follow the link to my previous diary from there.  One caveat:  I realize that (for the purpose of not losing my readers in unnecessary detail) I have simplified the differences in their two plans.  However, my conclusions are the same, even with the most detailed and precise analysis anyone might make.

When I saw the info regarding Jim Cooper, I realized that his role fits perfectly into my suspicions regarding Obama's likely "experts".

Good luck to those supporting Obama.  I support Hillary.  Neither one of them satisfies me completely; but ever since she came around on the war, I've given her the opportunity to compete for my support.  And ever since I saw the difference between her health care plan and his, I realized that she really is the wiser of the two. This is not only true on health care.  It is also true on many other issues.  Given his obvious brilliance and desire for change, one day that may be reversed; but for now, I think Obama still has much to learn before becoming a good and effective progressive President.  

Serious answer. Yes, but mandates are only a piece of her plan. (0.00 / 0)
The other enormous difference between Obam's plan and Hillary's is that he throws Federal subsidies to pay for some 17,000 different insurance plans offered by any and all of the 1500+ health insurance companies now in the business.  Hillary offers those subsidies only to insurance plans which meet the rigorous standards of the Federal Employees health insurance program.  She thus creates a much larger risk pool right from the start.  Think about that.

Her mandate requirement is good and ultimately worth fighting for, and if we can get people to discuss it knowledgeably - without all the Harry and Louise scare tactics - it will be clear that it is very affordable and sensible.  At the same time, it is also possible that she could make huge inroads into the problem simply by offering those Federal subsidies only through the few companies that meet the requirements of the Federal Employees health insurance program.  So, in the event that "mandates" are so demonized by the health insurance industry as to be impossible to enact, they could be dropped in an old-fashioned compromise.  Later, as her program became widely appreciated and better understood, they could be restored. Obama, on the other hand, has already demonized mandates and dropped them and promised to give Federal subsidies to all of the health insurance companies.  That's no way to get from here to there.

But why think negative?  We have an enormous opportunity to take over the Senate in 2008.  If we all work together and do that, it would be a shame not to go for those mandates in 2009, wouldn't it?

Can we really expect the GOP (0.00 / 0)
to discuss it rationally? It seems at a minimum that mandates would be dropped and the plan would be watered down. So then you have only a bit of a better plan but the mandates are gone and they are apparently necessary for the plan to work. Or so I've read in various places.

Personally, I guess I'm a bit more libertarian than I thought, because I don't want the government forcing me to pay the government or private insurers for health insurance.

Now single-payer, tax-funded, would seem to be an easier sell to the people even if it was the death of the insurers.  

[ Parent ]
Probably not many in the GOP will discuss it rationally (0.00 / 0)
However, Hillary already has far more support for this plan than she ever did in 93.  Moreover, the American people are far more aware of the crisis now than they were back then.  Hillary is already building a coalition from business, labor, and even large numbers of health care providers themselves to push this through.  Really, it will take a very brave Republican to argue that American citizens shouldn't be allowed to purchase the health insurance that he or she can buy.

Wait until you see what's for sale before deciding that you don't like being "forced to" (i.e. subject to a relatively mild penalty if you don't) buy it.  You will be amazed at what can be provided and the low premiums it will take when 47 million new enrollees are added to the same risk pool as Federal employees  (and that's only at the beginning - that number will grow rapidly as people see how much better the FE plans are in comparison to whatever they may have now).  Moreover, you will still be permitted to purchase insurance on the outside - and I have no doubt that private companies will offer insurance with larger deductibles and copays as well as less comprehensive coverage at a lower cost.  You do buy automobile insurance, don't you?  Most states I know require that you do to buy license plates, but I don't see much of a widespread revolt to that bit of coercion.

As for selling the idea of more taxpayer funded health insurance, you evidently have no idea just how hard that would be. Let me give you some idea by sharing something I just wrote to a proponent of Medicare for All:

The current monthly premium for Medicare Part B (Outpatient care) is around $95.  That number has been going up rapidly during the past few years. It was around $65 just two years ago.  Purchase Part B, and Medicare will pay 75% of your allowable outpatient costs.  

Even more importantly, the full cost of Medicare is enormously subsidized by those payroll taxes nearly all of us have paid for many long years. And if you ask any reasonably smart and informed retired person (other than military retirees) about the program, they will tell you they must also buy supplemental insurance to cover the 25% of care that Medicare doesn't pay, as well as their costs for prescription drugs. That additional insurance is not cheap, and can easily cost them another $200 per month. Medicare now subsidizes prescription drugs under Part D, but mostly that just benefits the pharmaceutical industry.

The point is that "Medicare for All" sounds good; and is good, in principle; but when it comes to actually implementing it, we will need to increase taxes, and also still expect people to pay for those Part B, Part A supplemental and Part D. health insurance premiums. It will be incredibly difficult to get that all worked out in Congress. More taxes plus more premiums plus so much choice that many consumers will continue to be enticed by the same old shoddy insurance companies, especially if we don't do anything to discourage the existing insurance companies to continue to do business.

By contrast, Hillary's plan requires no new taxes (only repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the very rich), and offers an even better plan than Medicare to every American who wants to buy it. It also has the effect of making it very difficult for shoddy insurance companies to operate. So, except for those shoddy insurance companies and their Republican attack dogs, where will be the intelligent resistance to Hillary's plan?

[ Parent ]
Oops. Medicare is even worse than I remembered. (0.00 / 0)
I've looked at so many plans I figured I'd better check my memory on Medicare.

Part A is "free", but it only covers 80% of inpatient costs.  Therefore, even if you don't purchase Part A at approx. $95/month, which covers 80% of outpatient costs, you need a supplemental policy to cover 20% of your inpatient costs - which (as anyone who's been hospitalized recently will attest) "starts to look like real money" to put it mildly.

[ Parent ]
Double oops. Sorry, that should have read: (0.00 / 0)
...Therefore, even if you don't purchase Part B at approx. $95/month, which covers 80% of outpatient costs,...  

[ Parent ]
Hey Mike (0.00 / 0)
Although I'm for Obama I enjoyed this post.

I too am uncomfortable seeing Jim Cooper on the trail for Obama. However I have come up with a theory on it. It might just be a desperate way to try to defend Obama but tell me what you think.

Obama knows how much Cooper screwed the health care reform effort last time around. Or rather David Cutler does.

I think Cutler thinks two of the main problems were that it wasn't transparent enough and that it was based too much in the executive branch. So he is having Obama reach out to congressional leaders and try to get them in the process so they don't speak out and f*ck everything up. He wants to hear everyone and make them feel loved and then come up with the solution so no one can say they were ignored.

That's just my theory and I hope I'm right because I don't want Cooper to be crafting the plan.

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