Friday, May 02, 2008

Everybody should read Krugman

More in the NYTimes

The Democrats have been offering real plans in response; they’re not perfect, but they are serious.

The G.O.P., by contrast — and this goes as much for Mr. McCain as for the Bush administration — hasn’t even tried to address concerns about coverage. Instead, it has all been about costs, which Republicans insist (wrongly) can be dramatically reduced by a policy of, you guessed it, deregulation and tax cuts.

Until a few days ago, the only answer the McCain campaign offered to those worried about lack of coverage was the vague, implausible assertion that the magic of the marketplace would make health care cheap enough for everyone to afford.

Now Mr. McCain has admitted that maybe a government program is needed for those who can’t get private insurance. This appears to be a response to criticism from Elizabeth Edwards, who has been pointing out that deregulated insurers would deny coverage to anyone with, say, a history of cancer — a category that includes both her and Mr. McCain himself. But the way Mrs. Edwards has rattled the McCain campaign is evidence of just how vulnerable he is on the issue.

The point is that the health care issue could be Exhibit A for a Democratic campaign based on the argument that they are the party of pragmatic solutions, while modern Republicans won’t even acknowledge problems that don’t fit into their rigid ideological framework.

But are Democrats ready to make that case?

To be clear, both Democratic candidates have been saying things they shouldn’t; Hillary Clinton shouldn’t have endorsed the bad idea of a gas tax holiday.

But I think Mr. Obama is doing much more harm to the Democratic cause by echoing Republican attack lines on such issues as insurance mandates and Social Security. And now he’s demonstrating his post-partisanship by giving Republicans credit for good ideas they never had.