Episode 118 – Romney Care, Budget Votes and Entitlement Reform


In this episode, Jeff and Glenn get into an interesting discussion about Glenn’s experiences with Mitt Romney’s health care plan in Massachusetts. They discuss various aspects of the health care situation in Mass, and then how it can impact Romney’s bid for the Presidency, and his criticism of ObamaCare. They then get into an interesting discussion of Michele Bachmann’s run for the White House, and how it doesn’t matter how many mistakes she makes on the way as long as she continues to stick her thumb in the nose of the establishment, because that’s what her constituents want (as much as it makes Jeff sick). Keeping the theme of getting sick, your stomach will turn when Jeff explains what’s really going on with the budget, CR and debt ceiling votes, and they close the show with an interesting talk about how we can achieve meaningful entitlement reform.

Best Friends. Vast Experience. Engaging political discussion without the fighting…and with a few laughs. It’s PoliTalk, your weekly political podcast.

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9 responses to “Episode 118 – Romney Care, Budget Votes and Entitlement Reform

  1. Interesting show, guys.

    I’ve commented here on this before:

    http://politalkshow.com/2010/02/03/the-health-care-issue-nobodys-talking-about/#comment-340

    There, I listed 6 or 7 reasons why health insurance premiums are so high.

    There are many reasons why health insurance is particularly expensive in Massachusetts. Glenn hits on the key: the regulation is the problem, not the solution. The government is mandating what the companies must cover. Now, companies must cover things that they did not have to cover previously (like not allowing companies to charge co-pays for certain things). That means more costs. More costs mean higher premiums. Second: supply and demand. When everyone came into the system by law, there was a huge spike in demand for services. Are there suddenly more doctors and hospitals available? No. So, it’s straight-forward economics. If demand increases and supply does not, then prices increase. Third, there is too little competition in the health insurance market. Massachusetts has very few companies available to choose from. Why? Because most companies don’t like being told what they can and cannot do. So they haven’t entered the Massachusetts market.

    We saw the same problem with auto insurance in this state. We had the highest rates in the country. And guess what? We were the only state with a”fix and establish” system – with the government completely in the driver’s seat. As soon as the government let go of controlling prices, coverages, etc., the premiums have plummeted over the last two years. New companies have flooded the Mass. auto market.

    It isn’t that hard or mysterious. People have a tendency to say “well, this is completely different” when it comes to certain economic realities and certain cases like health insurance but it really isn’t. Basic economics is basic economics. For all its imperfections, private enterprise is far and away the most efficient means we have of providing products and services (including health insurance). When the government starts regulating too much (price controls, coverage controls, etc.), it distorts the system. The more control, the more grossly the system is distorted.

    For more related information, the following article is interesting, too:

    https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=119331682285

  2. Good show. Take aways:
    – Outrageous we don’t have a budget;
    – Probably need to raise the age limits on entitlements
    – Probably need to means test entitlements
    – I bet we probably will also need to raise taxes for a while
    – I bet we will probably need to cut defense
    – Michele Bachmann is a demagogue of sorts that the founding fathers probably feared (aside from her gender, unless they were talking about other passions in the federalist papers)

    Otherwise, I detect a rising isolationism on the far right; and suspect that most Republicans would stay low key to see how Libya unfolds for awhile for tactical reasons. If it turns into a disaster, then it is a Jimmy Carter moment a la helicopters crashing in an Iranian desert; if it works out, then it becomes a forgotten success like Kosov0.

    Personally I think removing the threat of airstrikes and placing in doubt the mobility of armor and heavy equipment could give the denizens of Benghazi, Tobruk and elsewhere a chance. Not hard to see tanks on one long thin stretches of desert road (don’t think any of the colonels crew are exactly Rommels that could venture off road)…

  3. Listening to your show makes me shake my head in wonderment. Your condemnation of Michelle Bachman for confusing Concord Mass with Concord NH is beyond petty, and declaring her a “horses ass” is highly unprofessional. I’m no fan of Bachman, but your show would be far better if you critiqued her positions on the issues rather than sniping at her on gaffes which all politicians make.

    You left me shouting at the radio in outrage with your continual identification of the non-interventionist wing of the Republican party as the “isolationist” “Pat Buchanan” wing. Let’s straighten this out – it’s the Ron Paul wing now; he is the standard bearer for a left-right coalition that wants America’s government to stop policing the world, propping up dictators and starting new wars like warmongers Obama and Bush. It’s called non-interventionist vs. isolationist because we advocate free and open trade and diplomacy with all nations, but no more entangling alliances or intervention by our government and military. For the record, RAND Paul is probably not gong to run for president this time, but RON Paul has visited Iowa and NH several times in the last few months, has won all of the recent straw polls including CPAC and will probably make a run and be a far more formidable candidate than the astroturf establishment corporatists that Politalk and the rest of the mainstream media salivate over. You guys can do yourselves and your listeners a favor by giving Ron Paul the fair coverage he deserves, or you can join the blacklisted smearing discredited media that shut him out in 2008 (Fox News, New Republic, etc.)

    Lastly, I should mention that from my standpoint, there is no conservative representation on your show. Both of you are social and fiscal progressives, and I generally can’t tell the difference between your positions. The fact that Jeff Hine considers himself a “fiscally conservative liberal Republican” strains credulity, because I have yet to hear him mention Rand Paul’s $500 billion budget cut proposal or anything substantively conservative. He never raises the Constitutionality of any government spending program, or whether it is moral or logical for the government to be intervening in the private marketplace. Jeff – please fulfill your roll or cast off the mantle of “conservative”.

  4. Wow Zack – you are in fact the first to call me out as not conservative enough on Politalk! Which actually is sort of refreshing – though I do consider myself a fairly moderate Republican trending Libertarian. I thought my post “Welcome to Greece” sort of put me out there….

    However – I do take issue with the fact that not talking about the Paul clan more should be a litmus test for my conservatism. I am in fact a big fan of the “Randmeister”. He does the best job of stating his case without becoming highly partisan.

    For the record.

    $61B – its a joke – Congress should be embarrassed that this is not the amount of weekly budget cuts – the only thing more embarrassing and irresponsible is the Presidents budget

    As for RAND – dis-appointed he downgraded to $200B vs. sticking to his guns at $500B

    On foreign policy – happy as a clam that the UK and France are footing some of the bill and most of the responsibility for Libya. Japan, Europe, and Korea should be defending themselves. We basically subsidize their social programs through providing them military defense.

    I cant defend Michelle though – I’m just not that impressed.

    Maybe a curve ball – kill all Farm and Oil subsidies – Industries that make profits don’t need them, industries that don’t make profits should not exist.

    And just for good measure – Kudos Scott Walker!

    Don’t confuse my lack of outright hatred for progressives (they are well intentioned, very nice people) for lack of conservative street cred.

  5. Jeff,
    Thanks for the reply. Obviously you don’t need to be hateful towards progressives to stand up for conservative principles. Now, can you please explain the following: “I’m convinced that health care as a for-profit industry doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work. Because where there’s a chance to make money or profit off of this, there going to it on the back’s of people like you and me. It’s antithetical to how the economy should be working.”

    A conservative position would be to recognize that honestly earned profits are an indication that the market is rewarding behavior. A conservative position would recognize that the government has no authority to intervene in the health care market. Before the government created the modern HMO system in the 60s, health care was highly affordable, and insurance was only necessary to guard against catastrophes.

    Re: your professed conservative views, I’ll look forward to hearing you elaborate on them on the show and hope you’ll draw a greater contrast with Glenn. I agree with you that $61 billion is a farce, and didn’t know that Rand scaled back to $200B; that stinks – it should be $1.5 trillion in cuts to balance the budget. I don’t expect your show to be the Ron/Rand Paul Fan Club Hour, but in this past episode it felt as though the discussion tip-toed around them. Obviously they have a passionate following and Ron will be making a far greater impact in 2012 than most of the mainstream candidates being discussed.

    Re: Bachmann; I would wager that 95% of Americans wouldn’t have been able to tell you that the Revolutionary War’s first shots were in Concord Mass instead of NH – myself included. Are we all morons? I think not.

  6. Was listening to more of your show while writing the previous comment, and I came to this:
    “right now we are paying a lot more than we should be. A lot of that money it seems to me is going to insurance industry executives and lining their pockets and paying for their office buildings and paying for their overhead. I don’t think that’s fair, I don’t think that’s right, I don’t think that’s the way that health care should be provided. I don’t think that there should be a choice between someone’s anti-nausea medication, as was the case with my wife, or providing another company car for an insurance exec. That’s a false choice.”

    My condolences for your loss, however, this is sounds more like Michael Moore’s rhetoric than that of a conservative. Insurance companies have a right to a profit as dictated by the market, and their execs have a right to make as much as the shareholders allow. To the extent that they are earning outrageous profits, it’s largely a function of the government allowing these companies to operate in monopolies/oligopolies on a state by state basis. While you are blaming insurance execs – why not blame the radiologist that charges you outrageous amounts of money for chemo? Why not blame the hospital which charges tens of thousands of dollars? Do you know how much the administrators for hospitals make? What about the executives of pharma companies?

    It’s a pity that the same federal government which ruined our health care system to help some big corporations (e.g. Kaiser Permanente) has banned marijuana to help other big corporations (Pharma), which I understand is very helpful for treating chemo nausea. A free market in health care would resolve these issues – driving down costs and improving quality (e.g. Lasik).

  7. Zack – I think you fallen into the “Jeff trap” – The quotes you are citing are from Jeff Kimball – co-host of Politalk with Glenn.

    I am Jeff Hine – who you originally noted in your first post. There are actually 2 Jeff’s, though I only join about 1 in every 5 shows or so.

    My blogs on the site are signed “Guest Blogger Jeff”, and when I am on the show we note that up front.

    Our apologies for the confusion but I have been hesitant to change my name for the show…bound to happen….

    It looks as though your comments are directed at Mr. Kimball –

  8. Definitely Mr. Kimball. No wonder I couldn’t tell the difference between Glenn and Jeff on the last show =)

  9. Zack,

    I am not a fan of Ron Paul but certainly respect his call for a non-intervention posture (and stuck to his guns in the last Presidential primaries).

    As for raising the Constitutionality of any government spending program, that could be difficult because:
    1) Concept of implied powers was put out there, early on by Alexander Hamilton (before judicial review got established)
    2) The most questional constitutional expenditures may pertain to military operations initiated without declarations of war, but then again with the Quasi-war, barbary pirates and indian wars, non-declaration became an early precedent too
    3) People may pick and choose the parts of the constitution they like to support an argument, like the fact that welfare is in the document, or that the congress should promote the progress of science and useful arts (both under Article I, section 8)

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