Infighting is not just for the GOP

As I've said before, the Democratic Party is going to have a lot of internal questions to sort out soon. This story in the NY Times supports that premise:

Liberals, pointing to a bankrupt Detroit and new reports of diminished class mobility, believe the plight of lower-income and young Americans is so severe that the party must shift away from the center-left consensus that has shaped its fiscal politics since Bill Clinton’s 1992 election and push more aggressively to reduce income disparity.

“The sooner we get back to a good, progressive, populist message, the better off we’re going to be as Democrats,” said Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa.

The growing intraparty economic debate comes even as there is increasing cohesion on the cultural issues that once divided Democrats. Many in the party see progress on matters like gay rights, gun control and immigration, topics that Mr. Obama has spent time on this year but mentioned only glancingly in his address Wednesday at Knox College, in Galesburg, Ill.

What you WON'T hear is this story told through a prism of "radicalism" or "extremism" - like the friction inside the GOP is often described as.

Usually, winning makes everyone on the team happy. Problems get overlooked because, "Hey, we won!"  The assumption is the formula and methods worked, so don't change them.

But Democrats don't have another Barack Obama waiting in the wings to run for President in 2016.  He's a unique political figure with unique political gifts well-suited for campaigning.

The royal treatment in health care

Delayed implementation of key components and plummeting public support (even among Democrats) is giving new momentum to efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a: Obamacare).

Not to worry, Obamacare supporters!  How about a little $700 million marketing campaign to help sell this to a (still) skeptical public?  After all, the reason people aren't fully on board with the program is because they just don't know enough about it.

About 16 percent of Americans are uninsured, but despite years of political debate and media attention, more than three-quarters of them still know little about the law known as “Obamacare,” according to recent surveys.


The targets are mostly the working poor, young people who are disengaged, or those who gave up their insurance because of the cost. Three-quarters are white. Eighty-six percent have a high school education or less. Together they make up a blind spot in the nation’s health care system.

Meanwhile, the birth of the new British royal baby prompted this pearl-clutching comparison between the socialized medical system in England and the Frankestein-system we have in the USA:

The Washington Post covered this tweet from the NY Times correspondent:

The $15,000 figure comes from estimates of how much one would have to pay to deliver in the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital, where the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a son on Monday. This is expensive for the United Kingdom, but, here in the United States, it would actually be a pretty great deal!

“The average total price charged for pregnancy and newborn care was about $30,000 for a vaginal delivery and $50,000 for a C-section,” Rosenthal reported, “with commercial insurers paying out an average of $18,329 and $27,866.” That data comes from a Truven Analytics report that recently looked at the high cost of pregnancy in the United States.

One reason for the high cost is that patients are charged for every item used - unlike other nations and even other procedures in America.

But look at that math.

It costs $30,000 for a vaginal delivery, with insurance covering $18,329. Total patient cost: $11,671.  So, isn't that a little lower than the cost to deliver the future King of England?

This actually highlights the fundamental disconnect in the entire health care debate: coverage vs. care. The two are not the same thing. Care occurs between the patient and the doctor. Coverage (with government-mandated policies and insurance company markups) is what gets in the middle of that relationship.  Both of these interventions (by government and insurers) drive up the costs.

Also, the hospital where Baby King George was delivered is a private facility.  Which highlights another aspect of these types of "universal" socialized health systems: there are always two tiers - one for the rich and powerful... and the other for everyone else.

It reminds me of a certain North Carolinian's stump speeches...