As I write this, Sean Hannity is griping about President Obama taking too long to make a decision on Afghanistan, only deploying 30,000 troops instead of 40,000, and showing weakness in talking about withdrawal. This sort of talk among conservatives strikes me as petty. To be clear, there are those on both the right and left who believe that it’s time to pull out of Afghanistan and who don’t believe deploying more troops will accomplish anything. It’s perfectly understandable if they were not swayed by tonight’s speech. But those who support the war effort and believe in sending more troops to implement Gen. McCrystal’s strategy should give credit to Obama for taking on the base of his own party to make a decision that he believes is in the national security interests of the United States. Obama may not have delivered his speech in the way that a lot of conservatives would have preferred, and they may have problems with aspects of the new policy. But it’s an approach that, broadly speaking, is consistent with what war supporters had been advocating. So, supporters of the effort, broadly speaking, should give Obama credit.
Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the effects that the Senate health care bill would have on insurance premiums. In my writeup of the report, I emphasized the part of the analysis that projected the bill would raise premiums in the individual market by 10 percent to 13 percent, or more than $2,100 for the typical family policy. As I also noted, the report found that the bill would have a negligible impact on the employer-based market, causing either no change or a slight decrease in the price of premiums. Understandably, Democrats chose to focus on the news concerning the employer-based market, but I was surprised to see that the Washington Post, in a front page story, completely bought into their spin. The article, titled “Senate health bill gets a boost,” begins:
As the Senate opened debate Monday on a landmark plan to overhaul the nation’s health-care system, congressional budget analysts said the measure would leave premiums unchanged or slightly lower for the vast majority of Americans, contradicting assertions by the insurance industry that the average family’s coverage would rise by thousands of dollars if the proposal became law.
The article continues along these lines, and only mentions the fact that it would increase premiums in the individual market after the jump to page A7, in paragraph 15 of an 18 paragraph story.
It’s worth keeping in mind how much the goal posts have shifted this year. At the outset, reforming the health care system was supposed to bring down premiums that were imposing an economic burden on individuals and businesses. Now we’re supposed to celebrate a bill that would raise premiums on individuals by 10-13 percent — unless they qualify for government subsidies — and that, at best, will have a minimal affect on premiums for employers (though other parts of the bill impose new taxes on them).