Clinton: Odd is in the details

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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Odd is in the details: Some discordant nuances in Bill Clinton’s generally effective (“you will feel it”) speech last night: 1) It seemed like there were lots of references to “cooperation” between “business and government.”  This is the (decidedly non-populist)  language of corporatism, of course. Comes easily to a man who now runs a foundation. But it should provoke misgivings among voters, especially given Obama’s record (e.g. enmeshing government in management of GM, enshrining “too big to fail” on Wall Street, plus the general tendency of regulations, including green regulations, to favor cooperating oligopolies). 2) Clinton did a better job selling Obamacare than Obama because he emphasized its benefits rather than the unappealing curve bending panels of treatment-denying experts. But even Clinton didn’t talk about the main positive feature of the plan: that it covers everyone, eliminating the worry that if you leave or lose your job you won’t be able to afford insurance. Is that a loser in focus groups? I find it hard to believe that universal coverage doesn’t test well, if you put it right (e.g. “everyone gets coverage they can afford, even if they switch jobs” or “you don’t have to worry about health care” instead of “extending coverage to the uninsured”). 3) On welfare, Clinton actually lowered the bar for Republicans, denying that the Obama waivers even “weaken” work requirements (as opposed to “gut” them or “drop” them, the stronger claims in Romney ads). The problem is that if “weaken” is the test, it’s pretty clear the Obama waivers meet it.  As Robert Rector points out in a useful new piece, all you have to do is read what HHS wrote when it issued its new policy. We can argue about how much the waivers weaken the work requirement, but they weakened them at least a little.  In trying to argue otherwise, Clinton relied heavily on the administration’s bogus, self-imposed “20%” requirement. (He also mentioned the difficulty of getting jobs in a recession–something HHS itself omits, presumably because its waivers will still be in effect when the jobs market recovers.) The Fact-Checkers are already starting to waffle on this issue …

Mickey Kaus