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Posted at 6:23 PM ET, 12/17/2010


By Ezra Klein

Recap: Our incoherent Congress; Obama's brand remains surprisingly strong; and executive pay at Nintendo.


1) Is Microsoft done?

2) Great Adam Serwer piece on the individual mandate.

3) I don't know that Obama for America could ever have thrived amidst an Obama presidency.

4) People interested by this graph on the rise of the term ideology should read Frances Lee's "Beyond Ideology."

By Ezra Klein  | December 17, 2010; 6:23 PM ET
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Next: Wonkbook: The do-something Congress keeps doing things


Apropos of nothing you've written here, you have to wonder if the Dems will be stupid enough to continue with Harry's Reid's awful leadership for 6 more years. The calcified atmosphere of the Senate makes him unlikely to be thrown out of his post.

However on behalf of Democrats everywhere, the party and the Senate in particular need a new face!

Posted by: 54465446 | December 17, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

The most interesting thing of the MSFT article is how divorced all the opinions are of how good the actual websites are. This guy has all these vague ideas about what would make a good company, and how this or that has good growth, but seems unable to make a realistic assessment of the technology and accessibility of the companies/websites.

Posted by: goinupnup | December 17, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Adam Serwer article is good. Thanks for pointing it out.

Posted by: umesh409 | December 17, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Serwer promotes the bureaucratic nonsense:
As Attorney General Eric Holder and Kathleen Sebelius wrote in an op-ed on Tuesday, "Imagine what would happen if everyone waited to buy car insurance until after they got in an accident. Premiums would skyrocket, coverage would be unaffordable, and responsible drivers would be priced out of the market."

If quote *everyone* unquote waited, then how could responsible drivers be priced out of the market? Responsible drivers would just continue waiting, wouldn't they? Are they not part of everyone? It's like Holder and Sibelius (and Serwer and Klein) believe they're talking to children who won't see through it.

And who sells premiums to high risk drivers?

In the old days, if you demonstrated yourself to be a high risk driver you couldn't get car insurance, and you risked the poor house, or you had to pay commensurate with your risk level. Now everyone has to pay rates far higher than responsible drivers once had to pay, because even the lousy drivers are required to have insurance and quite a few of them plead poverty, so the government has required redistribution of premiums to make up that difference.

Another reason Holder and Sebelius and Serwer and Klein are morons for pushing that nonsense is that car insurance is mainly a way to protect the *other* person in an accident, while with health insurance one is only protecting oneself. While people should not be free to indiscriminately injure other people, it is not particularly anyone's business if people choose to injure themselves, and it is particularly not government's business to force people to care about what other people do or don't do to *themselves*.

Further, requirements pertaining to car insurance, as far as I know, are not generated by or of the federal bureaucracy, but are state functions.

And, of further interest, I won't lark off to look for the link unless someone objects, but I read somewhere this last week that something like 30% of the drivers out there at any one time are not carrying car insurance. That's like a big hole in the bottom of Holder's and Sebelius's and Serwer's and Klein's little empty paper bag of government sanctioned nonsense. Innit?

Posted by: msoja | December 17, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

More Serwer gobbledegook: "The commerce clause grants the federal government authority to regulate interstate commerce, of which the health-insurance market is most certainly a part. That authority is meaningless if it does not allow the federal government to deal with the particular problems the health-insurance market poses, like adverse selection and guaranteed issue in individual states."

Okay, Serwer's first clause is correct. There is a commerce clause in the Constitution, for better or worse.

But which part of health insurance is "most certainly a part" of interstate commerce? I thought health insurance companies were not permitted to engage in interstate commerce (as a result of federal edict).

And why then does Serwer immediately traipse into a non sequitur? Adverse selection and guaranteed issue are not matters of interstate commerce, even if insurance is issued differently in such regards in different states. Presumably, a person insured under socialist RomneyCare in Massachusetts would still have the Commonwealth pay his bill after suffering an injury and being treated while on vacation in Florida, because the person was insured. Maintaining *that* cross border consistency is what falls under the purview of the federal government, not enjoining all states to force their insurance companies to offer the same terms to customers.

No, instead of making a case that insurance companies are heavily invested in interstate commerce, Serwer hangs on two unrelated items that irk him about insurance companies, and tries to pretend that because he wants adverse selection eliminated from and guaranteed issue imposed on every insurance company in the country, that that somehow amounts to interstate commerce. Serwer (and Klein) thinks that because his statist inclinations are nationwide in scope, that somehow the objects of his authoritarian bent are engaged in nationwide activity.

Posted by: msoja | December 17, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

More Serwer nonsense: "Without some kind of federal mechanism, you can't preserve the private insurance market and ensure affordable universal coverage. "

In what sense, Serwer (and Klein), is an insurance market that has adverse selection and guaranteed issue, as well as price controls, imposed on it by the federal government "private"? In what way is such a "private" business free to act? Who owns a business whose very terms of conduct are in almost every way specified by the government?

Do you not realize how utterly ludicrous you are for contending what you contend?

Posted by: msoja | December 18, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Serwer: "States that impose mandates will bear the costs of providing insurance for those that don't."

Is Massachusetts going bankrupt because Vermonters are crossing the border for free health care?

I don't think so.

Massachusetts has mandated insurance coverage, not mandated free health care to all comers.

People without insurance who break legs have no more incentive to drive to Massachusetts than to flop into their local emergency rooms.

Posted by: msoja | December 18, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Serwer: "The real difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals admit that in the pursuit of a fairer and more equitable society, they make judgment calls about the balance between freedom and providing for the general welfare."

When was the last time that Dems, arguing amongst themselves rather than playing cat and mouse with the GOP, opted for freedom and said so what to the alleged general welfare?

I've been reading Klein for a couple years now, and the word "freedom" rarely shows up in his voluminous blather, said blather tracking rather closely with the sundry eructations from what passes for the Dem high grounds.

Posted by: msoja | December 18, 2010 12:30 AM | Report abuse

Serwer: "Conservatives borrow the thoughtful anti-statism of their libertarian allies, right up until they endorse the coercive power of the state to manipulate Americans into doing everything from buying homes to getting married."

So, "manipulate" is like "mandate". I get it. A tax write off (which people are not only free to pursue by buying a house or not pursue by not buying a house, but also free to use on their tax forms, or not use by not claiming it) for one's mortgage interest is like threatening people with fines if they don't buy health insurance. Yeah, that makes sense.

Posted by: msoja | December 18, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

I think that health care reform is a great idea. I have type 1 diabetes and for me to get insurance, it was a nightmare until I found "Wise Health Insurance" search for them online and you can get affordable health insurance instantly.

Posted by: juanreeyes | December 18, 2010 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Companies do give out samples. They are looking to put their products in potential consumers' hands. They wouldn't do it if it didn't work one of the place that always worked is "123 Get Samples" search online

Posted by: gladysdavis18 | December 18, 2010 2:38 AM | Report abuse

Refinancing replaces your current mortgage with a new loan that has a more favorable interest rate and terms that you can afford to manage. The new loan is secured on the same property as your current loan. I refinanced and saving $451 every month! search online for "123 Mortgage Refinance" they got me a 3.11% rate

Posted by: jamesmann123 | December 19, 2010 2:28 AM | Report abuse

The Deficit reduction act of 19993 signed by Clinton had No Republican votes. It raised taxes on the rich, and liberals supported it.
It set the stage for sustained economic growth.

Posted by: sveik | December 19, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

If the mandate is declared unconstitutional because you cant penalize inactivity, logic would dictate we would also have to outlaw certain DUI laws and child pornography laws.

Right now we arrest people for driving with too much alchohol in their blood whether or not they are actually driving in an unsafe manner or committing traffic violations. The purpose of these alchohol blood level tests is to PREVENT accidents or infractions from happening (but which have not yet happened) because we know that alchohol leads to impairment at some point in all people.

A similar thing happens when we arrest people who watch child pornography. We arrest them to PREVENT future acts of child abuse being commmitted either by the person viewing the pornography or by the people who create the pornography. Some people will claim we arrest these people simply for watching the pornography, but that's not true. Rather, it's all about preventing future harm to children.

If conservatives were instead trying to defend the mandate, rest assured they would use these kinds of arguments to bolster their case.

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 19, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

--*If the mandate is declared unconstitutional because you can't penalize inactivity, logic would dictate we would also have to outlaw certain DUI laws and child pornography laws.*--

You are correct, and you are wrong. I won't get into why many of the DUI laws are wrong (see, or launch into the child abuse minefield (see Janet Reno and Martha Coakley for abuses of justice in such regards), but at the very least, the items you reference have to do with *criminal* activities. Whether or not one buys health insurance is hardly a criminal matter. It isn't even a civil matter. That the federal government is *trying* to criminalize it doesn't make it criminal in essence. That people are avowing that health care is a *right* doesn't make it a *right*.

Which of the following is not like the others:

pursuit of happiness
tummy tuck


Give up?

Posted by: msoja | December 19, 2010 11:11 PM | Report abuse


We could just as easily declare lack of having health insurance criminal as well, and do it for the same reason that DUI and watching child porno is criminal (to prevent future harm to others).

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 20, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

There is a difference between committing manslaughter with a car and not investing in health insurance for oneself. In fact, there is such a huge difference that anyone confused on the matter is either being willfully dishonest or suffering in other ways that aren't flattering.

Yes, the government can try to declare that having no health insurance is a "crime", and that would be just one more step among many away from that quaint old notion of a thing called justice.

As we wave goodbye to freedom in this country, we also wave goodbye to justice.

Have at it. I hope it pleases you to have that big boot on the neck of your fellows.

Posted by: msoja | December 20, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Yes, we can compare and contrast anything.

There are similarities and differences in all things.

Big deal.

The devil is in the details.

In trying to justify your stance that there are subtle differences in our arguments, you suddenly throw out a not so subtle whopper: that a mandate is a loss of freedom.

Yes, yes, we Americans have often eroded the principles of liberty in order to better improve our society. There are many ways our freedoms are restricted.

- DUIs
- porno
- yelling fire in a theatre
- gay marriage bans
- drug bans
- the draft

And so on.

All Im saying is that if we cant have a mandate, we ought not have those other losses of liberties either. If you enjoy or want any of those other restrictions, but not the mandate, then you are a hypocrit.

Are you a hypocrit msoja?

Posted by: lauren2010 | December 20, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

--*All Im saying is that if we cant have a mandate, we ought not have those other losses of liberties either.*--

Except for the "yelling fire" one, they are each insults to the notion of freedom.

Got that?

Posted by: msoja | December 20, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

ps. And in the case of "yelling fire", not all instances of such fall into the category of crime.

One is always permitted, nay, encouraged, to yell "fire", if the theater is actually on fire.

What's a crime is yelling "fire" when there is no fire, causing a panic that injures or kills someone.

It would seem to me that yelling "fire" when there is no fire, but NOT causing a panic or disturbance, probably doesn't merit being punished any more severely than with a punch in the nose, in which case someone will cry "assault", and the whole thing turns yelling "fire" back into a crime.

Posted by: msoja | December 21, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

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