Public Health

Health Care. What are We doing?


A quick break from reporting
on sad LA issues:

Yesterday afternoon, I talked at length with one of California’s legislative analysts in order to find out how he thinks the state can slash the necessary 1.2 million of the CDCR budget.

I’ll get to all this later today. Right now fatigue is making me too fuzzy-headed to make sense of it. In the meantime…..

Tuesday’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross was about the proposed health care plans. The guests were two economists—one conservative, one liberal. The liberal was Paul Krugman. The conservative was Heritage Foundation Vice President Stuart Butler

They were both wonderfully informative and each had very interesting points to make.

I guarantee you’ll come away feeling smarter, with a better grasp on the issues than when you tuned in.


  • I haven’t listened to this yet – probably will at some point. But anyone who listens to it might want to do it with ears wide open about Stuart Butler. He was on the Newshour about a month ago and was asked about the fact that a large majority of Americans favored a public plan. He answered the question by trying to mischaracterize and misinterpret the polling on this done by the New York Times, polling he surely was familiar with and knew drove the question – but Butler claimed that folks asked about public plans didn’t know what they were responding to, implying the data was meaningless or vague. This, of course, was false. Butler’s not exactly a paragon of honesty – and of course the Heritage Foundaton connection paints him further as an ideologue with a decades-old script, empirical evidence be damned.

    The Newshour link is below – read the transcript of Butler and the other person on the show in regard to the NYT’s poll Q. Butler acts as though there was something vague about the public plan responses, when if fact the question specifically referenced Medicare, which is hardly obscure. It’s revealing of how Butler attempts to bend information related to these issues out of the gate. Not saying he’s totally dishonest, just remarkably ill-informed for a so-called expert or so hell-bent on keeping his flaky ideas alive that he willfully ignores facts. There’s something creepy about folks who argue from that stance. (Especially when such folks are also childish and none too bright. Not saying those two apply to Butler, but I’m sure someone will chime in on this thread who fits the bill. Not going to argue with any such flakes this week because I’ve got a deadline to finish a treatment. It would be easy, but a waste of my time. I’ll leave it to our host or anyone else who can muster the effort to play wack-a-mole with morons.)

    Call me old-fashioned, but I actually think it matters when people expose their willingness to engage with a measure of honesty and reflectivness, even when they’re discussing issues from a particular perspective. Butler is welcome to disagree with the opinions reflected in a poll – I do all the time – but mischaracterizing it or denying that it was framed in such a way that respondents understood the question makes me wonder how he deals with the rest of his “facts.” This is increasingly becoming a disease in certain circles. William Kristol lied about the relative cost increases of Medicare and Medicaid versus private insurers on the Daily Show the other night. Literally stated the reverse of what is true – which is that private costs are increasing faster than public insurance costs. But I don’t think these guys care…Again, we see that ingrained dishonesty in these comments threads on a daily basis.

    Here’s the Kristol vs. Jon Stewart link – in which Kristol, much to his chagrin, clearly makes the argument that government-provided health care (for our military) is the best available. Very funny…

  • Wow – I listened to most of that Fresh Air interview and rather than being annoyed by Butler’s dishonesty (although he pulled the same sleight of hand about “public plans”, using his own incoherence as a supposed argument) I was struck by the fact that he doesn’t have anything remotely resembling a strategy for health care reform. I guess he’s gotten the memo…because he sounded about as serious about real alternatives to the proposed reforms as Mitch McConnell. It’s the dogs-biting-at-the-heels approach.

    Ezra Klein, incidentally, is the most consistent and best commentator on the running battles and inherent issues of health care reform, aside from Krugman’s periodic heavy hitting at the Times.

    Another good one is Jonathon Cohn at TNR:

  • Both guests were very interesting, thanks. It’s hard not to finish that interview with the sense that if elected Republicans were more interested in fixing healthcare and less interested in winning our country would be a lot better off.

  • Me too Woody! I feel smarter after reading your comments. Smart Reading for Smart Readers!
    Stay inside. Lock the door. Watch “Wheel Of Fortune” and bring beer to your mother.

  • Off – topic, which I’ve said my piece on (although I’m not certain my comments are showing), but you might find this “interesting” for the local LA angle:

    This is a cop who is, in effect, openly proclaimiing that his “right” to shoot people who ask questions or aren’t sufficiently servile trumps the Constitution…dude needs to take an early retirement. ( I doubt that counseling would help a guy who proudly writes this shit for “conservative” flagship publications.)

  • In fairness to Dunphy linked above, he may just be stating what he knows to be true. But the tone is that it’s not just true, but that if you get shot for – say – asking to see a search warrant or asking about probable cause as undeniably anyone’s right, it’s your own damned fault.

  • Oh, for crying out loud, Woody. You don’t have to like Krugman. That’s just a silly response. Listen for the other guy, Stuart Butler, the conservative. He was great.

    It’s just very informative. You don’t have to agree with them, but they both explained a lot of stuff very clearly. I particularly liked Butler, actually.

    Thanks, reg, I”ll go check it out.

  • Reg, your comments were hung up because of the links but somehow my spam assassin didn’t notify me.

    If you don’t mind, always flag that or email me when it happens because I don’t always notice.

  • Sorry they were so long – I won’t add to the tedium on that issue, but I think this Dunphy post is very telling and I’m going to check out a bit of the ensuing discussion. I got the link from TaNehisi Coates.

  • “That’s just a silly response.”

    Dammit – I envy your instinct for the succinct, sufficient riposte.
    I could have added weeks to my life…

  • Wow, Reg. Quite a link. That’s the kind of advice cynical parents give their teenage kids – do exactly as the cops say because if you don’t, well, they can’t totally be trusted to behave. It’s pretty wild to see an officer agreeing with that. While I’m sure there are others like “Dunphy”, I don’t think this attitude is representative of most officers who are actually trying to make good decisions, not preemptively justifying bad ones.

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