by Henry Farrell on February 2, 2008

This “bit”:http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/01/speaking-truth-without-power/ in the NYT made me wonder whether the writer had any clue what he was talking about.

But notwithstanding this stunning success, this week’s withdrawal by John Edwards, coming a week after the departure of Dennis Kucinich, means that both of the preferred presidential candidates of the liberal blogosphere are now out of the race.

followed by some speculations as to whether

like all outsider movements, [the blogosphere] identifies with the underdog. This year that meant support for Mr. Kucinich and Mr. Edwards in the Democratic race, and Ron Paul in the Republican contest.

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Health Insurance Mandates

by Brian on February 2, 2008

Barack Obama’s health care policy has come under a lot of blogworld attacks for not including “mandates”, i.e. fines for people who don’t buy health insurance. Here’s a typical “passage from Ezra Klein”:http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/ezraklein_archive?month=02&year=2008&base_name=health_care_debate_mandates_as.

bq. A central tenet of his proposal is that ” No insurance companies will be allowed to discriminate because of a previous bout with cancer or some other pre-existing illness.” You literally cannot have that rule without some mechanism forcing everyone to buy in, as the healthy will stay out. … A mandate is not how you cover everyone, it’s how you force _insurers to cover everyone_, and discriminate against no one.

I don’t know what the force of that ‘cannot’ is supposed to be, but I know it isn’t historical impossibility. Australia for several decades did just the thing Ezra thinks that you can’t do. It had community rating of health insurance, and it didn’t have health insurance mandates. This was true of the periods 1953-1975, and again from 1981-1984. At other times it had compulsory universal basic health insurance. The system wasn’t perfect, bringing in compulsory public health insurance was a very good thing, but it wasn’t as bad as anything I’ve seen in America, and nor was it somehow an impossibility.
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