Tuesday, February 26, 2008

No Real Differences, or Rational Reasons to Hate Hillary Clinton, Part 1

If there's one line I'm sick of hearing, it's how there's "no real difference between Hillary and Barack" so you should just "pick whoever you like better."

Um, no.

Yeah, this time picking who you like probably means picking the cool, smart black dude instead of the perhaps retarded cocaine Jesus cowboy, but it's still a bad way to pick a president, and moreover, it's intellectually lazy and untrue.

I draw your attention to the following article, in which Hillary Clinton literally, I shit you not, uttered the words, "Shame on You, Barack Obama!"

Now, I'm going to skip over the "OMG, she compared Obama to Rove!" stuff. Is anyone really surprised at this point about just how negative Hillary is willing to go? No, I'd rather focus on the part where she lies:
"Senator Obama knows it is not true that my plan forces people to buy insurance even if they can't afford it," Clinton said. "It is blatantly false and yet he continues to spend millions of dollars perpetuating falsehoods. It is not hopeful. It is destructive, particularly for a Democrat to be discrediting universal health care."
Actually, Hillary, your plan forces everyone to buy insurance. Now, the plan may be scaled based on income, and federally subsidized, and all that good stuff. But that just means that in your opinion people will be able to afford it. The people buying it? They get no say. You mean to tell me you're going to create such a perfect, bureaucracy-proof system that no one is going to be the exception to the rule, that no one is going to find this a burden? Really? That's a staggering amount of faith in government.

Moreover, Hillary has essentially said she'll probably go after the wages of anyone who doesn't buy in.
"We will have an enforcement mechanism, whether it's that or it's some other mechanism through the tax system or automatic enrollments," Clinton said
Now, I don't really think Hillary's healthcare plan will bring us to our knees. But I think it's here, at her most heartfelt issue, that we see some of Hillary's driving ideological differences with Obama.

First, and most obviously, Hillary holds a Utopian view of government as a positive force that can and should swoop in and fix your life. When she says, "it is not hopeful," I don't think it's just a jab at Obama's rhetoric, though it is that. Hillary genuinely believes the government can flawlessly execute such a system, without bureaucracy and corruption totally perverting it. That's pretty optimistic.

[Personal ideology sidebar: I think this view, optimistic as it is, ignores the truth: every law is a rule, an imposition on someone's freedom, usually for the good of someone else. The ugly truth that Hillary's plan is just that is visible in her need for an "enforcement measure," a delightfully accurate and vaguely Orwellian-sounding turn of phrase.]

But even as her plan shows us Clinton the idealist, it's showing us Clinton the realist. The thing you must understand about Clinton's plan is that it was devised entirely by and for the insurance companies.

Still bearing the battle scars from her first attempt at universal health care, Clinton decided to play good cop this time. She met with everyone from big employers to insurers to pharmaceutical companies before devising this plan. When she unveiled, one businessperson admired the approach, saying (and I'm paraphrasing here, because I can't find the article) "She understood everyone had to come away with a win."

Let's run down that win list shall we? Big business passes some of their health costs to the government. That's a win. Insurers wind up with everyone insured, including that juicy low-risk, high-yield young person demographic that is so distressingly under-insured. And you? You get health care for slightly cheaper, probably, depending on income. You lucky devil. Oh, and lest I forget, Hillary Clinton comes away with a win too: She gets more campaign contributions from the big pharmaceutical companies than anyone.

Hillary is a political operator. She realized her last plan died because the medical industry poured money into shooting it down. This time, she decided to get them on board, which depending on your point of view is either commendable business-savvy governance, or letting the fox into the hen house.

But that's Hillary. She's staked her life on the concept of changing the system from the inside. From this scathing Rolling Stone piece by the awesome Matt Taibbi:
Listen to what Hillary wrote back in the day, in her senior thesis at Wellesley, which looked at the work of a Chicago community organizer named Saul Alinsky, who had offered her a job. "I agreed with some of Alinsky's ideas," she wrote, "but we had a fundamental disagreement. He believed you could change the system only from the outside. I didn't."
(Alinsky's successor, incidentally? Barack Obama. You can't make this stuff up.)

Another line to note from that line up top. Hillary thinks it's especially lousy for "a democrat to to be discrediting universal health care."

Hillary's argument here is, literally, that she can't believe Barack would scribble outside the lines in the party's coloring book. 'Nuff said, really.

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