September 20, 2008

McCain wanted to do the same thing to the healthcare that he and Gramm did to banking

And let's face it, this is so much more interesting and relevant than lipstick on a pig or a pitbull. McCain has now become the scourge of Wall Street, but not that long ago, he was trumpeting the positives from deregulating the banking industry, and promising to do the same for healthcare. Here, from a poorly worded blog post from Yglesias:
"Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation."

Will the American people buy that he is the guy to fix all this mess when he and Gramm helped create it, and bragged about doing so?

This, it seems to me, will become one of those political philosophical discussions for this election. And McCain has already jumped off the ship. How does one argue for de-regulating when Republicans themselves are pushing a half-trillion dollar bail out of the last great deregulated industry? That, and how does the Republican party continue the mantra of "government as the problem" when they are now dependent on government to keep our economy from tanking?


Tony said...

I have a dumb question. Well, may or may not be dumb, but I have little knowledge in this area.

Many Republicans have pitched a fit over universal healthcare (Bush opposed the SCHIP bill). I think many oppose just because Hillary supports and I also have read that many say it is socialism.

How is the gov't bailing out these banking agencies not socialism?

Streak said...

Not a dumb question at all. I think the problem is that some conservatives have decided to define "socialism" as any government intervention in the market. That isn't really accurate, and has not been terribly useful for our dialogue, but it is a good way to paint a program as negative.

This massive bailout could be said to be socializing risk. We will have to see how it effects profit. Conservatives have liked to socialize the risk, but privatize the profit.

Back to your original question, however, there is no doubt that if SCHIP was socialism (which it wasn't) then this is full-blown socialism. Which it isn't.

Tony said...

This is reminiscent of Wm's comments about socialism at Carlos' blog. Like Gary he seems not to know what he is talking about and trades fact in for fiction. Socialism (as well as Christianity) seems to be what they say it is.

Universal health care is something I have been meaning to read up on because I have no opinion either way right now--I don't know enough about it to evaluate properly.

But this with the banking agencies seems to me to be out of touch and Bush is quick to defend in this case. Why is he so quick to rush to the bankers' aid? isn't this supposed to be what capitalism is all about?

Streak said...

Still a good question, and I am a long ways from really understanding anything about the economy. But that said, I think the threat from this lending disaster is that all of these big banking and insurance institutions are intricately tied together. Failures of two many of those institutions could precipitate a huge economic collapse, and I think Bush is genuinely worried that will happen if we don't do something.

And probably most importantly, if this were just some loan failures by poor people, two things are clear--one, the economy could absorb that loss just as it does all the time, and politically, they could preach the "moral hazard" line pretty well. But two, this failure is reaching the very top, and threatens to unravel rich people's security as well, and that is not a political seller.

I imagine the McCain people have watched all of this in horror. One of the things that is at risk now, is that the basic narrative of the Republican approach to capitalism is shown to be a lie.

leighton said...

When people argue that we should avoid being, becoming or supporting an abstract noun, I think it's fair to ignore them if they don't flesh out their claim with specific, tangible, plausible consequences. That's a rule I use when skimming many pages of comments. "That's socialism?" That's nice. "Too communist?" How lovely. "That's fascist?" Don't care.

The only way conversations about policy are of any use are when people compare notes about how they think things (1) do work and (2) should work. That doesn't happen when people are vague and argue from the connotations of words rather than their meanings.

I say all this because I don't have much of substance to offer about the economic situation. I had a chance to learn about it in college, but I was disgusted at how the economists talked like theologians--they had such absolute certainty about terms and concepts that seemed poorly defined to me--and I picked up another programming project instead. Time to play catch-up, I guess.

Tony said...

I neither have much substance to offer to this sort of discussion but I do like to learn when I can. It is refreshing to see Bush and Repubs genuinely care about something and though it may be to protect his (their) own interests, it seems this could have a trickle-down effect whereas it would affect the entire economy; at least I hope that is the case.

Thanks for entertaining my questions, as always.

Sallie said...

So, I take it you like Obama? I can't tell for sure...

Streak said...


I am embarrassed to note that I missed your comment here on MY blog. I saw it in my email and just assumed it was in response to one of Tony's posts.

Sorry about that. Yes, I am an ardent Obama supporter and think that the last 8 years have undermined the Republican's moral authority to lead. Not forever by any means, and certainly not all Republicans. But the Republicans in Congress (along with many Democrats) gave Bush way too much power and refused to hold him accountable on anything.

Sallie said...

That's ok.. I saw your answer over there :-)

However, in answering your comment here, the congress has been held by democrats for the past two years and look at the crisis we are in now -- definitely not all republican making.. do you really believe the democrats are morally better? Or, are you just choosing better of two evils per your moral compass?

I personally think I am a button pusher... go ahead and let everything fail because in the end Americans are still tough as nails survivors and though it might be hard, we'd get through it.. toss the socialism, etc.. out the window and lets get back to the basics :-)

I wish more people agreed with me on that...

Streak said...


Two points. First, yes the Dems have had control of the House and have had the ability to set the agenda in the Senate, but that is a long ways from controlling it. Most legislation has required 60 votes to pass, and even those they passed narrowly have been vetoed by Bush. Very hard to say that the last two years have been the democrats fault.

Second, this not socialism, and I wish people would stop saying that. Perhaps closer to socialism than to a complete free market, but that is just a scary word to demonize the left.

Third, I have said many times that I think the democrats do a lot of harm, and have done a lot of things to support the rich and powerful. But that is all the Republicans have done. They have sided with the rich and powerful each time out, and they have sided with Bush when he authorized torture. They have refused to hold him accountable for anything. Not one thing.

I don't think letting the economy system fail is a good idea, and am not sure why you would suggest that. The basics, btw, does not include "pure capitalism" but has always been a melding of market forces and government oversight. If that is what you mean by getting back to basics, then I am in agreement.

Sallie said...

The reason I think we should not necessarily let the economy fail, but let it land where it may without help from the gov., is the same reason I dislike social security, earned income tax credit, and so forth.

The government continues to take money from one sector to disperse as it sees fit so that everything will be more even across the board. That doesn't teach men anything except that they are too stupid to take care of themselves and they need a bigger, "smarter" government to take care of them. BTW, what isn't socialism about that?

I know people who have 10 kids so they can get more money. I know people who let their companies fail, so they can get more money. Those are the bad fruits of our society and if government didn't make the tainted koolaid (aka money) so easily accessible, then people might have to actually work and earn a living on their own.

At least with the New Deal, men had to work for a living and not just stand in a line and have it all handed to them for free.

leighton said...

I'm not sure what specifics you have in mind regarding the government's involvement in economics, but I don't recognize anything I see in the world from your description.

This is just my crazy perspective from working in a lawyer's office, but it seems to me that the problem with people exploiting the system is the people exploiting the system, not that there exists a system to be exploited.

I think the ideal solution (and dare I say the conservative solution, in the sense of "slow change" as opposed to "let's go crazy making random changes") to this problem is making regulations stricter in places and more streamlined in others, to keep government from bogging things down but also having it keep sleek con artists at high levels of business from fleecing us all. I guarantee that Ken Lay has stolen more from American taxpayers than all the welfare exploiters you, your friends and extended family know of first-, second- and third-hand.

We deal with corporate clients where I work, and corporate exploiters are a bigger threat to our stability and solvency than all the unethical poor people put together.

Streak said...

Dislike social security? Do you know where that came from? During the depression, elderly people were starving and eating out of dumpsters. Farmers were burning crops in the field rather than taking them to harvest, and shooting their livestock because they couldn't afford to sell them or feed them. Can't blame the government on ether issue, except for the abject incompetence of the Republican party during the 20s, where government saw itself as a friend of business and an enemy of the working class.

Tell me, how is that different now? All this talk about redistribution (which is what you mean when you say "socialism" as far as I can tell) and under McCain's tax plan he would get more tax relief back than it costs him to employ his domestic servants. Over 300,000 for the McCain's in tax relief, while those servants would see a pittance.

You tell me--who is working harder? Do the people who cleaned the toilets at Lehman deserve respect for their work?

Pardon the frustration, but I am tiring of this nonsense that conservatives value work. We can certainly debate welfare and how we address a social safety net, but I don't think that conservative politicians respect those who work hard with their bodies. Hell, they don't even respect those who fight for us. Bush republicans have routinely cut funding for veteran care, research into brain injuries, and even floated the idea of cutting danger pay.

Democrats, as I have noted, are far from perfect. But Republicans have had the last 8 years to destroy our economy and foreign policy credibility. And they have accomplished much of that. Did Democrats often contribute to it? Yep. Have some of the Democratic programs had negative unintended consequences? Yep. Damn straight.

But gutting federal regulation has led our economy to the brink, and Republicans want to do more deregulation.

Dislike Social Security? I am still trying to get my mind around that. You will have to help me out there. We stepped in and stopped banks from failing. Stopped old people from eating dog food.

If that is socialism, then sign me up.