Paul Krugman notes a piece today that was in the Boston Globe in September, about “about Barack Obama’s role, when he was in the Illinois legislature, in the attempt to get the state committed to universal health care.” Krugman says, “It turns out that the story very much prefigures the debates we’re having right now.”
Krugman’s apparently not interested in letting his concerns about Obama’s healthcare plan go. They are concerns evidently he feels are viable:
This story gives a lot of context to the debate over health reform now. Obama clearly sees himself playing the same role as president that he did as a state legislator — as a broker among groups, including the insurance industry, as someone who can find a compromise solution that’s acceptable to a wide range of opinion.
My thoughts: being president isn’t at all like being a state legislator, Illinois Republicans aren’t like the national Republican party, 2009 won’t be 2003, and the insurance industry’s opposition to national health reform — which must, if it is to mean anything, strike deep at the industry’s fundamental business — will be much harsher than its opposition to a basically quite mild state-level reform effort.
The point is that if national health reform is going to happen, it will be as the result of a no-holds-barred fight of an entirely different order from what Obama saw in Illinois. The president’s role will have to be far more confrontational, involve far more twisting of arms and rallying of the public against the special interests, than Obama’s role as a state legislator in the Illinois case. And it will take place against a backdrop of fierce attacks not just from the industry but from Republicans who fear, rightly, that any kind of reform will move the country in a more liberal direction.
My worries about Obama are that he doesn’t seem to understand this — that he thinks that in 2009, as president, he can broker a national health care reform the same way that as a state legislator, in 2003, he brokered a deal that mollified the insurance industry. That’s a recipe for getting nowhere.
The Boston Globe article is available here. Personally, I’m not too enthused about Obama’s health care plan either. But, I’m no pundit… I’m just a self employed, uninsured small business owner and blogger who gets that we really, really need universal health care in this country and I don’t think Barack Obama’s plan comes close to what we need. John Kerry was the man withthe plan in ’04, and then again when he revised it in ’06. Ironically, Clinton’s plan comes closest to Kerry’s out of the 3 frontrunners.
TPM’s Election Central has an interview with Paul Krugman on the subject of Obama and health care. Well worth a read.