The Krauthammer compromise

Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, a physician, suggests what sounds to me (admittedly no expert on this phenomenally complex subject) like a reasonable compromise that would deliver to President Obama the universal health-care bill he wants while overcoming most of the objections.

Here’s the problem. Krauthammer does not acknowledge the very real possibility that Republican leaders have settled on defeating health-care reform as a strategy for politically wounding Obama — the details be damned. I suspect that Obama could embrace the Krauthammer ideas in total, only to see the GOP move the goal posts on him. (Via Jay Fitzgerald.)

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17 thoughts on “The Krauthammer compromise”

  1. Dan, your admission of ignorance doesn’t do justice to your ignorance. Read Trudy Lieberman’s posts at CJR and Sommersby’s at the Daily Howler. Krauthammer doesn’t even pretend that he is writing about about health policy, he’s just expressing his contempt for anyone who thinks there is any way of improving the current situation. I would expect a reasonable compromise from Krauthammer, on any subject, right after I found one on the Lyndon Larouche website.

  2. As far as I can tell, Krauthammer’s prescription is national Romney-care. It will mandate coverage but doing nothing to control costs. This is a “reasonable compromise”? Sure, for the health insurance companies.

    1. Steve: Yes, that’s exactly what it is. Krauthammer admits that cost controls would have to come later. I’m afraid it’s becoming increasingly clear that the alternative is nothing. Of course, Obama shouldn’t move even an inch in the direction Krauthammer suggests without getting explicit, public promises of support from leading Republicans. As if.

  3. My prescription for Obama-care is this: propose something himself WITH a strong public option, sell it privately to a core of Congresspeople and Senators, then go and sell it publically.

    At least that way, he’ll be honoring his base. Health reform with a public option is still popular with the majority of the electorate. If he goes this path and fails, Democrats can make 2010 a referendum on health care, and stand a pretty good chance of winning.

    If Obama goes for a “compromise” without a public option, either he’ll “succeed” and we’ll have a sucky health care solution, or he’ll lose after alienating his base. Bad politics.

  4. When politics becomes the sole rationale for actually governing, we move quickly towards totalitarianism.

    The true measure of a good politician is what he can accomplish even though his ideas are wildly unpopular with some. (Sen. Kennedy understood that.)

    So what if the plan that is adopted is the MA heathcare plan writ large?

    The Obama administration would be wise to look carefully at Krauthammer’s remarks. Even thought the strategy proposed is not to the everyone’s liking, it has a lot better prospects than the one the administration is pursuing now.

  5. Krauthammer is not calling for any compromise, he’s calling for capitulation on everything they don’t like, with the result being a watered down reform in name only.

  6. There is nothing reasonable or compromise about this.

    But, rather than evaluate his conclusion, look at his premises. Obamacare is dead? Does he understand the political process. There are three decent bills that have passed House committees. One bill is likely to pass Senate HELP. And, Max Baucus will pass something out of Finance. Some bill will make it to joint conference, likely with much of the supposedly dead features up for consideration.

    The public option isn’t popular? Read the polls. It is. And, just today, Harry Reid signalled his desire for a public option. When the Senate majority leader, at this late in the game, says yes to a public option, it means that he’s prepared to make it happen. Political poison? Not by a long shot.

    It’s not correct that end-of-life counseling favors refusing treatment. In fact, the language is very explicit about favoring life-sustaining treatment.

    He’s slippery, at best, about best practices. Comparative research is to be funded to get data and do analysis, not to implement policy. And, the government already decides policy — without the benefit of analysis. Reform will mean moving the policy function from the Senate to a board of professionals competent to make the decisions. It’s not a matter of establishing or not establishing criteria, it’s about who should establish the criteria.

    So, we’re really left with 5, which is not a compromise. It’s the table scraps left over after the evisceration. Important stuff, but not the whole ballgame.

    Typical Krauthammer. While he is a physician by training, he is a hack by profession. Dan, you really have a soft spot for this kind of wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing conservative.

    It’s really a shameful distortion of the debate and a continuing example of the Washington Post’s contempt for its readers and the country.

    1. Sean: I have a soft spot for David Brooks, who’s really not much of a conservative, as well as a few conservatives I think are principled, like George Will. I have never had a soft spot for Krauthammer, and found myself amazed that he was being reasonable. The fact is, Congress is going to have to pursue a Democrats-only solution, and there isn’t anything close to unanimity among Senate Democrats for a public option. The House is irrelevant, unfortunately.

      Personally, single-payer would be fine with me. Not going to happen.

  7. The short review is that Krauthammer is an idiot. His solution for the health-care bill is to scrap anything in it that is even remotely related to health care. And Krauthammer’s justification? The DOA status of the bill. It seems the rumors of its death are just a bit exaggerated. And why anyone would take advice of a Straussian moron with delusions of intelligence is incomprehensible.

    Pearlstein has finally had it with the WaPo OpEd page following Michael Steele’s editorial. One can only hope he shows the same aversion to Will and Krauthammer.

  8. In fact, Pearlstein has his own “universal coverage” plan without a public option. His piece is a bit more sane than Krauthammer’s–not so much because of the proposal, which is not dissimilar, but because of the lack of incendiary rhetoric. Pearlstein may be right or wrong, but Krauthammer is an idiot. The Straussian nightmares of Plato’s Cave never leave his mind.

    I also disagree with your assessment of Will. He is no more principled than an average neocon (although he is not one). There is no lie too big or too small that he would not use in pursuit of his ideological goal (if he were on the Left, he’d be a Trotskyite). He does it with a wry smile and a measured voice, but since when does that make for principles?

  9. Will is the classic example of a guy who likes to complain other people are ignoring the data, all while ignoring the data himself.

  10. NO CO-OP’S! A Little History Lesson

    Young People. America needs your help.

    More than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 77% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (86% of democrats, 75% of independents, and 72% of republicans). Basically everyone.

    According to a new AARP POLL: 86 percent of seniors want universal healthcare security for All, including 93% of Democrats, 87% of Independents, and 78% of Republicans. And 79% of seniors support creating a new strong Government-run public option plan, available immediately. Including 89% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 61% of Republicans, STUNNING!! Senator Max Baucus, You better come out of committee with a strong government-run public option available on day one.

    The History:

    Our last great economic catastrophe was called the Great Depression. Then as now it was caused by a reckless, and corrupt Republican administration and republican congress. FDR a Democrat, was then elected to save the nation and the American people from the unbridled GREED and profiteering, of the unregulated predatory self-interest of the banking industry and Wallstreet. Just like now.

    FDR proposed a Government-run health insurance plan to go with Social Security. To assure all Americans high quality, easily accessible, affordable, National Healthcare security. Regardless of where you lived, worked, or your ability to pay. But the AMA riled against it. Using all manor of scare tactics, like Calling it SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!! :-0

    So FDR established thousands of co-op’s around the country in rural America. And all of them failed. The biggest of these co-op organizations would become the grandfather of the predatory monster that all of you know today as the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance industry. And the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare industry.

    This former co-op would grow so powerful that it would corrupt every aspect of healthcare delivery in America. Even corrupting the Government of the United States.

    This former co-op’s name is BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD.

    Do you see now why even the suggestion of co-op’s is ridiculous. It makes me so ANGRY! Co-op’s are not a substitute for a government-run public option.

    They are trying to pull the wool over our eye’s again. Senators, if you don’t have the votes now, GET THEM! Or turn them over to us. WE WILL! DEAL WITH THEM. Why do you think we gave your party Control of the House, Control of the Senate, Control of the Whitehouse. The only option on the table that has any chance of fixing our healthcare crisis is a STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION.

    An insurance mandate and subsidies without a strong government-run public option choice available on day one, would be worse than the healthcare catastrophe we have now. The insurance, and healthcare industry have been very successful at exploiting the good hearts of the American people. But Congress and the president must not let that happen this time. House Progressives and members of the Tri-caucus must continue to hold firm on their demand for a strong Government-run public option.

    A healthcare reform bill with mandates and subsidies but without a STRONG government-run public option choice on day one, would be much worse than NO healthcare reform at all. So you must be strong and KILL IT! if you have too. And let the chips fall where they may. You can do insurance reform without mandates, subsidies, or taxpayer expense.

    Actually, no tax payer funds should be use to subsidize any private for profit insurance plans. So, NO TAX PAYER SUBSIDIES TO PRIVATE FOR PROFIT PLANS. Tax payer funds should only be used to subsidize the public plans. Healthcare reform should be 100% for the American people. Not another taxpayer bailout of the private for profit insurance industry, disguised as healthcare reform for the people.

    God Bless You

    Jacksmith — Working Class

    Twitter search #welovetheNHS #NHS Check it out


    Senator Bernie Sanders on healthcare (

    American HEROES!! 🙂 Click replay to play


  11. Sorry, I find it hard to believe that Krauthammer has any agenda other than a politally slanted one. What I dont understand is that we alreay have national health care. Every hospital you go to has the sign “we are required to provide services irresepective of your ability to pay”.. So lets not kid ourselves, we alreay have a national health care system. It’s just that since so many have no health insurance, thata DR visit that might cost “us” $100, costs us $1,500 instead. And instead of the uninsured getting that minor problem resolved at their doctor’s office for a few hundred, they wait until they are at the ER, when it’s 20 times more costly to treat. Ya, we have the right to bear arms, but some would say we dont, as a great nation, have the right to fix them when they’re broken. I guess in their great wisdom, they should have simply added “the right to have our arms fixed”. The far right, they think it’s a ploy that we want to have universal health care for all of our citizens. Yet they fight to prtect the unborn, they want us all to have guns so we can kill THE born, they want to execute people even when we know many innocents have died, They want to play god. Without taking (or at least stating) an opinion on any of the aforementioned and very delicate and controversial issues, I dont know how any party that attempts to represent the people of this nation, can do so when they dont feel those same people have, at a minimum, the right to health care.

  12. I read Krauthammer’s prescription for a revised health insurance plan as sarcasm, not a serious proposal.

    And I’m surprised that people are taking him seriously.

    “The pleasure comes now, the pain later… The financial and budgetary consequences will be catastrophic… [T]he only solution will be rationing.”

    To which he concludes, “That’s when the liberals will give the FCCCER regulatory power and give you end-of-life counseling.”

    That’s a laugh line, just lacking the comedic turn of phrase that better columnists enjoy.

    The logical fallacy of Krauthammer’s argument is that he begins with the false assumption that what Obama really wants to do is pull the plug on Grandma by rationing care. He sets up a false premise by incorrectly stating his adversary’s positions. What Obama wants are universal health care and reining in costs; limiting coverage (to be limited, not infinite) is merely a tool towards the latter, not a goal. The FCCCER is a tool, not a goal.

    Anyone who has a health insurance plan (outside of Royal Pains patients) is right now subjected to rationing by their insurer. That’s why the plans specify what they do and don’t cover (only __ mental health appointments per year; only __ for eye care; nothing for breast reconstruction surgery; etc.). The people currently doing the rationing are the for-profit health insurance company’s bureaucrats. Under “Obama’s plan” those same bureaucrats would continue their rationing, as would the Medicare bureaucrats (who ration less than private insurers do), and a few more public option bureaucrats. Same story, a few more bureaucrats to cover the additional patients.

    And no Democrat wants to pull the plug on Grandma. They want Grandma’s wishes to be respected, rather than have her children — who have no foggy idea what kind of care she would’ve wanted until it was too late after the Alzheimer’s hit — suffering with the guilt of not knowing at what point Grandma would’ve wanted to halt treatment.

    I polled people at lunch today. Only one of six had a living will, yet none of the other five wanted their end-of-life-care to include taking all possible measures to extend their own life. But without writing out a living will, those extreme treatments are what they will likely be subjected to. Sad.

  13. I can’t believe people are taking the article seriously either. I read it as complete and total sarcasm.

  14. Both Krauthammer and Liassion are (arguably) incorrectly, by the way. Eric Massa is a conservative Democrat who is adamantly in favor of a single-payer system. He’s also in office solely because of the support of the more liberal Democrats in the southern Monroe county (Rochester, NY) suburbs, which are quite wealthy and quite liberal. The rest of his district stretches down to the Southen Tier (mostly Steuben County) which is mostly farmers and VERY conservative/Republican.

    Massa will not have the support of the Southern Tier no matter what he does. He won because the Southern Tier is sparsely populated and Monroe country has a lot more people. If he loses the Monroe country crew, he’s toast…and if he gives up on the public option (which most people view as the best substitute for single-payer) he’ll get his ass handed to him in 2010. Especially since the national RNC is targeting his district as one that’s “shaky” enough to be worth attacking hard.

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