Leadership and Public Policy: Some Random Notes

Well, I’m back. I took a few days off last week to see if I could alter my routine some and post these comments later in the day like normal people. Nope. I find that if I don’t pound the keyboard shortly after pounding the concrete in the early a.m. it ain’t going to happen. Who says I’m a slave to my schedule?

But I can report that yesterday — Sunday — I did do something that for me at least was different. Following my 6 a.m. running tour of the neighborhood I didn’t do much of anything — except sit, snooze, read and watch TV. What a debacle. No, not the health care debate. The total collapse of my NCAA brackets. Sigh.

Anyway, it was interesting — and informative up to a point — to watch the TV Talking Heads opine on the final stages of the contentious health care issue.  And even though the measure finally made its way through the House last night, I expect that I am still like many. I’m not sure whether the planned overhaul of our nation’s health care system is good or bad. And I’m not sure that I could talk specifically about more than a handful of points contained in the legislation even after all these months when the issue has really dominated the news.

But here are some random notes:

  • When it comes to public policy — or about anything else — leadership matters. Whether you believe this health care legislation is a godsend or a curse, it wouldn’t have happened without leadership from (first) Nancy Pelosi and (finally, and almost too late) President Obama. I really believe that history will point to Pelosi as pushing this through at a time when the White House was willing to scale back the legislation and settle for a small gain.
  • Credit the Republicans with leadership as well, both in the House and Senate. I’ll admit that I would have felt better about this if at least a few Republicans had jumped up and yelled, yes. The fact that they didn’t — and I heard Chuck Todd say this yesterday on NBC — points to the deep philosophical differences between the two parties. I’m not so sure that this was a case of just saying — no. It was no with a “because” attached. There’s a difference.
  • The success of this reform hinges on two key points: access to health care and cost. As things have turned out, I wonder if the Democrats in Congress and the members of the administration wish they had pushed harder for a public option?
  • It bothers me when I hear lawmakers say we are going to same billions by eliminating waste from existing programs. Has that ever happened? And if there is that much waste currently, shouldn’t somebody be doing something about it now? Go figure.
  • Will this really be the defining issue in the mid-term elections? Probably in a number of congressional districts but not all. Something tells me that come November we’re still going to be talking about jobs. That’s an issue that most of us understand.

And I guess just one last point.

Now that we’re done with health care, is there anything that can save by NCAA picks?

Probably not.

March Madness.


15 responses to “Leadership and Public Policy: Some Random Notes

  1. Although in PR fashion you don’t seem to ever take a clear stand on any issue, you do say in your latest post that the absence of any Republican votes for the health-care bill “points to deep philosophical differences between the two parties.” The only way this can be true is if Republicans are all wired to some kind of central brain that does their thinking for them. This is in fact the case, but it has nothing much to do with ideology. It has to do with the clear understanding in every Republican representative that failure to vote the party line equals political suicide. That’s because the leadership will destroy anyone who breaks ranks, and all know this. This Central Processor brain is the same one that games the media system by providing every Republican rep with identical catch phrases and cliches, thus producing a seamless one-note samba message. It is politically effective, and completely at odds with the concept of democracy.

  2. Ah, c’mon. I’m clearly against baseball’s designated hitter rule.

  3. I have had a complete change of heart and am so excited about the prospects for our representative republic…starting tomorrow, wednesday, the 32 million people who lack health insurance will be insured, the 127 people a day who die from lack of insurance ( obama’s figure) will be spared and the unions will pay their fair share of taxes on their cadillac plans to help reduce the deficit….wait…what??? none of that kicks in for four, five, eight years from now?? the only thing that changes is that my premiums and taxes go up?? give me a second and let me rethink this…..

  4. I’m with you on the DH…….Go Pirates!!!!

  5. Well, back to the DH. As VP Biden opined today on another matter: “It’s a big f*****g deal.”

  6. It was great news to hear, even though we only got partial coverage, and thank god were sheltered from the absolute classlessness of the opposition on this matter. How utterly desperate and tyrannical. Glenn Beck makes me want to blackout in rage.

    But I’m really happy, though the bill does have its faults. I have many friends that I went to graduate school with who have tried many times to buy private health care and were denied because of really minor things. They weren’t looking for handouts–they wanted to buy into the private system but couldn’t. And had to be covered under that catastrophic insurance (just like I was when I was living in Georgia and working as a University professional!). Now that many of them have kids, they can buy PRIVATE insurance again–for their kids at least– who cannot be denied coverage anymore. Not in 5 years, but today. And that’s a big deal.

    And is it baseball season already in the US? Football season (soccer here) seems to never end in Europe. A good thing 🙂

  7. I agree. This health care bill is not perfect — far from it. But clearly something has to be done so that everyone can get medical coverage. The cost for many really is a barrier and that doesn’t even take the pre-existing conditions into considerations.

    And, yeah. Almost time to play ball. That’s a positive and a good sign that we have left winter behind.

  8. Jess,
    Hope all is well!!!!! My understanding that the language was not clear and children with pre-existing conditions are not covered as of today. You may be be able to elaborate more on that. Please don’t misunderstand my point in this….being involved with a small business i’ve seen first hand the best and the worst of our current system. My feeling is that this bill does nothing to change the way health care or insurance is implemented in this country. Nobody in this country is denied health care…thats why so many hospitals in california, new mexico, arizonia, texas are out of business now. they are required by law, as they should be, to provide care to anyone who comes through the door. The two points I have is that, one, we as a country have no money….we cannot pay for the entitlement programs we already have let alone take on what, by the heritage foundation etimate, is really a 2.5 trillion program. Ther is nothing in the government resume that shows me they can absorb 1/6 of the economy and do it effectivly(see medicare, medicaid, social security, amtrak, post office, etc). The second is the unconstitutional aspect of the whole thing….never before has the government forced people to buy a product or service. the driving desire behind this is the public option/single payer option that they didn’t have the guts to make public: the private insurance companies, within a year or two, will not be able to survive having to insure everyone with a pre-existing condition. no way they can survive which is the outcome this administration is looking for.
    I know you are a fan of the president, but going back to rob’s premise of “leadership”….I’m sorry but this man is no leader. This was achieved by extortion and arm twisting which has become all t0 common to our political process. This was nothing more than chicago thug politics taken to a national level. all our luv

  9. Who is this? Mark? 🙂 One of the brothers?!!! Here are my thoughts, because I think it’s good to have healthy, reasonable debates:

    You’re right that no one is denied catastrophic care. By law hospitals have to (rightly so) treat you if you come in with a bullet wound, or are in final stage cancer when you are just about to die. But hospitals are under no obligation to treat your illnesses well. They don’t have to treat your flu or your stage 1 cancer. And they don’t have to reattach your fingers that you cut off during your ax fight (just sow you up and make sure that you and your stub don’t bleed to death!)

    I wouldn’t consider myself to be an ultra left-winged, tree-hugging liberal, and the health care bill appeals to my conservative nature. The first reason is that even though it costs money first to implement, the very nature of making people well will greatly reduce the costs of our health-care related deficit. It’s happened in every other country that has implemented preventative costs. And it’s a logical progression of reasonable medical thought: i.e: if you treat someone’s minor illnesses in the beginning, then you will save LOTS of money in the long run not having to pay for the serious, life treating illnesses that they develop because preventative care wasn’t given.

    I don’t think that private insurance companies are going to go out of business. In my point from yesterday, there are so many people who WANT to BUY private health care but can’t. Now they can if they have children who were denied private insurance because of pre-existing conditions. They can do that now. In 4 years adults will be able to do it who were denied private health care. That means people who are currently in high risk pool state run catastrophic health care will be able to buy into private health care. That’s good for private industry.

    And Constitutional law aside, which has always favored private private enterprises (hello FED!) would get to the heart of even paying taxes, the government forces us to buy lots of products and services. We have to have car insurance; we have to immunize our children (except those nutty Christian Scientists in the Arizona desert); we even have to have a digital-capable television now. Most states even have those stupid green checks on cars (my dad LOVES those).

    I really think that when all the hysteria settles down, average people will reap the benefits. And if the insurance companies lose a little money (and I’m sure they’ll find a way to stay competitive—it’s America, after all, they should have to work at something for their money)—most people will see that the democratic process worked in this case.

  10. Jess,
    I hope I am wrong, but I feel that the main emphasis of this bill is to achieve a public option without having to say you want a public option. Insurance company stock went throught the roof wednesday because they see a pool of 30 odd million people who will now be forced to buy insurance. The consequence is if they are also forced to absorb all the people with pre-existing conditions, the cost of premiums are going to go up, not down. They cannot charge the same premium to a 75 year old with stage 3 cancer as they do to a 27 year old in excellent health. So someone has to pay the difference, which is everyone. My premium is not going down 2,500 as Obama “promised” during the election; it will only go up to help the insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions.
    What will happen is that the insurance companies will again be demonized for raising premiums, even after being presented with this “great” plan. There will then be no other “choice” but to have the government run take over to “ensure” everyone is covered.
    As to car insurance, at least in my state, if you don’t drive and don’t own a car, you are not forced to buy insurance.
    If I am21 years old ,in good health, I should not be forced to by a florescent light bulb, let alone risk fines and/or jail for not buing health insurance.
    Besides, car insurance is able to be sold across state lines, something which health insurance is not. If more free market competition could be introduced, instead of government takeovers and regulations, prices wopuld come down.

  11. Well, at least we can all agree on Steelers football 🙂 And maybe in these tense times, it’s the most important!

  12. Have you been following the latest saga of our two time super bowl winning quarterback?? or the story that came out today about our MVP receiver?? we’re doomed…Art Rooney Sr. is rolling inhis grave.
    Please don’t take anything personally…debate and disagreement is essential if our republic is to survive. It’s a shame that neither right or left, when they happen to be in power for those few short years, can’t see past the blinders and do what is right for the country at large…not just for conservatives or liberals, not just to pass legislation that they hope will keep them in power a few years more, but that will, in the words of Ronald Reagan (sorry) allow this country to remain the last bastion of freedom in this world, the country that every one else in the world looks to to do the right thing.

  13. Well, I haven’t been paying too much attention to the problems of Big Ben. He seems like he is intent on throwing away his career (at a minimum) with both hands. And I haven’t heard about the other problem that must be making news today. That will give me something to look forward to during Happy Hour.

    And the good thing about blog posts and comments is that it offers a modest forum to express opinions and enter into conversations. That’s all positive.

  14. I heard a little bit about the Ben drama, but haven’t heard anything about it since. If I can catch sportscenter on ESPN America I’m lucky. Otherwise my sports news comes from CNN International, which almost exclusively covers cricket, football (soccer) and F1 racing 🙂 !!!

    And of course I also agree that one of the most crucial and important rights that we have in our country is the freedom speech and productive, rational debate. And regardless of side taken, well-informed discourse is the way that progress is made. All too often in these nutty times people resort to just yelling at each other, resorting to violence, name-calling etc., rather than just discussing their beliefs like adults. I’m lucky to live in a city right now where it’s really common for people to go to a cafe and debate for hours about things, and at the end of the night be better for it! And maybe even friends 🙂

    And as the great liberal thinker Thomas Jefferson once said “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” JUST KIDDING. 🙂 And p.s: I read in the Hungarian newspaper yesterday that the Hungarian government is suing the “corrupt bullies” in the Chicago banking system because of some bank fraud scheme involving Hungarian businesses taken advantage of by Chicago bankers. Just thought that would make you happy that some of the people over here are trying to stick-it to Chicago 🙂

  15. How about-“A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned, this is the sum of good government.”
    Thomas Jefferson. I’m not sure I would consider him a “liberal”

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