"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

SOTU Notes

So I did my part and watched the State of the Union last night. Reading the coverage I find myself once again out of step.

  • I thought that on the whole Bush's speech was nice, although he's clearly getting worn down and sort of cranky. Get the president a juice box and someone get Condi to take a nap.
  • Substantively it was pretty stupid, both politically and policy-wise. Although that's been covered elsewhere, in brief by embracing themes like Health Care and Immigration Reform, Bush is alienating some substantial subset of his remaining support. He also proposed things -- like subsidized opt-in insurance -- that are terrifically ineffective.
  • Did no one else see him grab Speaker Pelosi's tit at the end???
  • While I liked how he started off on calling out CEO pay, and I like that everyone seems to think it was a tenacious response, Jim Webb's ditty felt stiff and boring to me, like a high school teacher giving a lecture. I like his reasoning and tough, brass-tacks bearing, but I prefer it seasoned with some passion.

Anyway, I'm pleased that Bush had to thematically go our way on Health Care, Energy and the like. That matters. When it comes to making programs happen, the President actually can't do anything. As easy as it is to forget this after the last six years, the President actually doesn't make the laws, at least not according to the Constitution.

This means his stupid proposals are just that -- empty talk -- but the subject of that empty talk bodes well for people like me who savor the notion of energy independence, universal health care, universal net access, and an economy that embraces the notion of service rather than servitude.

And on Iraq, well, nobody but McCain wants to escalate, and even his stance there looks more and more like a political gambit gone wrong. It's a tragedy. Hopefully it can be forced to some kind of conclusion sooner rather than later, but it's going to take continued work from citizen activists to get us turned around on that and focused on the real threats to our security.


I agree that it's a good omen that he seems to finally be embracing what everyone else in the country is actually talking about. But you're also right that his healthcare proposals are wack. The opt-in stuff is pretty ridiculous and doesn't really begin to solve the problem of health care for the poor. I think the CNN estimate was that his plan would still only help 5 out of the 45 million un-insured citizens. And the tax deduction/cap is a shot in the gut to the middle class. Large employers are already attempting to pass on more and more health care costs to employees. Under Bush's proposed structuring for health deductions, companies can toy with their employees: Ok, Joe Middle-Class, you can opt for the really cheap coverage that is no good but won't go over your deduction cap, or you get the incredibly expensive coverage that will cost you a boat load in extra taxes at the end of the year. By offering only one or the other, companies can force their employees to accept plans that save the company money and leave them woefully under-covered. I think I'm beginning to see this as a big wink-wink, nudge-nudge to his friends in corporate america.

i wrote the comment above, sorry, i hit the button too early, never like to leave anonymous spewings

There's definitely a big wet kiss to corporate America here. The whole notion of health insurance as the sole accesss to health care is a scam, as is mandatory auto insurance.

Basically, either by force of reality (people need health care) or force of law (people are required to have auto insurance) citizens are forced to patronize insurance agencies.

Insurance is a redistributive scheme which aggregates money from the little people and lets big people skim the cream. Mandating or subsidizing it is a blatant form of corporate welfare at direct expense of the public interest.

There's a reason Ned Flanders considered it a form of gambling: just like in Vegas the house always wins.

Now, when it comes to assets like a home or other property, I think there's a fine place for an insurance market. When it comes to things that people don't have a choice about, I think it's skeevy as fuck to let corporations profit, especially considering the effect that market incentives have in terms of trying to deny coverage to those most in need. It's a totally fucked up system, and it totally doesn't work, and it's a good thing we totally don't have to listen to Bush about how to fix it.