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October 25, 2007

Wellstone and Krugman

On the topic of Wellstone, Paul Krugman just came out with his new book The Conscience of a Liberal, which echoes Wellstone's manifesto of the same name. So I sat down with Krugman at Sala Thai this week to talk about Wellstone, inequality, and why he thinks the next president will pass health care when so many others have failed. The transcript is here.

October 25, 2007 | Permalink


In the spirit of Wellstone, folks ought to send $25 to Democratic Courage to let run ads to Stop Hillary From the Left!.

Posted by: Petey | Oct 25, 2007 12:02:31 PM

I liked that. The future seems like it could almost work if we don't screw it up.

Posted by: seebach | Oct 25, 2007 12:21:44 PM

and why he thinks the next president will pass health care when so many others have failed

Hmmm....He gives it "slightly better than even odds." Not exactly a ringing vote of confidence, is it? And his stated reasons for thinking it's even slightly likely don't make much sense to me. I see no indication that there's any more sense in the country now of a "health care crisis" than there was during the HillaryCare era.

I'm not even sure what he means by "getting health care." Does this mean merely getting universal coverage of some kind, or getting single payer and dramatic reform?

Posted by: JasonR | Oct 25, 2007 2:13:19 PM

Here's the sense of crisis on the health care end; I work for a non-profit with teacher-level benefits- i.e. good health care (my g/f is even covered as a domestic partner).

However, the cost (to employees, let alone the employer) of these benefits has been increasing in the double-digits on a yearly basis; comparatively, the average pay raise has been one-half to one-third this rate.

Furthermore, there's a definite sense that our HR dept. has been working their butts off to constrain these benefit costs; we just closed out a multi-year experiment with HSAs that I doubt will be tried again.

Finally, there's the increasing complexity surrounding the plans that we DO have (i.e. post-HSA); there's still significant enough uncertainty regarding simple "covered/not-covered" questions that these get answered at every informational meeting about company health care.

(Note: this is at a company with over 100 employees; we're comfortably beyond the "small business" health-care rates).

So where is the sense of crisis? The idea that we've been putting up with increasingly costly, complex health care - even those of us with higher-level education and stable jobs - and that there's no end in sight for this trend.

So what's the inevitable individual result of this trend? Oh yeah, LOSING health care (because sooner or later you won't be able to afford it anymore!).

There's your crisis; just because it's not immediate (for you) doesn't mean that lots of us don't see it coming.

Posted by: j | Oct 25, 2007 5:40:03 PM

But you don't have to "lose" health care. If you're not willing or able to keep covering all the new drugs and tests and procedures that are constantly being developed, then don't. Freeze your health care benefits at the current level. Then, your costs will only rise at the rate of inflation for those existing benefits.

But I doubt you'll do this because your employees won't want you too. They want to be covered for that new blood pressure medication that came out last year. They want to be covered for that new blood test for cancer or diabetes. They want to be covered for that new bypass procedure. And so on and so forth.

Posted by: JasonR | Oct 25, 2007 6:03:03 PM

Even better, JasonR, would be freezing healthcare benefits below the current level - not just bypassing new bypass procedures, but dropping the various costly medical procedures and practices developed in recent years/decades/centuries. The perfect GOP healthcare plan- it covers willow bark, bleeding, leeches, trepanning, exorcisms; also whisky and a leather belt to bite down on (for surgery).

Posted by: Dan S. | Oct 25, 2007 9:44:13 PM

Even better, JasonR, would be freezing healthcare benefits below the current level.

Yes, you could do that, too. You could freeze them at, say, year 2000 levels.

But if instead you want your health care plan to keep covering every expensive new hi-tech drug and surgery and test that comes out of our vast medical-biotech industry, then you're going to have to pay for it.

Posted by: JasonR | Oct 25, 2007 10:04:21 PM

All of these comments miss the point. Ezra: Which of Sala Thai's numerous locations was the venue for your dialogue with Dr. Krugman? Any menu recommendations?

Posted by: Herschel | Oct 26, 2007 11:49:03 AM

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