Wonk Speech

by digby

We spend a lot of time trying to claw through all the details of the pending health care legislation, relying a bunch of egg headed wonks who don't know how to talk to regular people about complex issues. No wonder we don't know what's going on.

Leave it to a shrill, no account blogger (who has a day job!) to come up with a clean argument:

Health reform made simple

Kudos to the Times for a story that, for once, emphasizes the remarkable unity of vision health reformers are showing, rather than the squabbles that are an inevitable part of passing major legislation.

The essence is really quite simple: regulation of insurers, so that they can’t cherry-pick only the healthy, and subsidies, so that all Americans can afford insurance.

Everything else is about making that core work. Individual mandates are a way to prevent gaming of the system by people who don’t sign up until they’re sick; employer mandates a way to hold down the on-budget costs by preventing a rush by employers to drop insurance; the public option a way to create effective competition and hold costs down further.

But what it means for the individual will be that insurers can’t reject you, and if your income is relatively low, the government will help pay your premiums.

That’s it. Any commentator who whines that he just doesn’t understand it is basically saying that he doesn’t want to understand it.

That's about it. If we could fight this fight on that basis, on both the left and the right, as to whether the various details emerging from the plans will accomplish the goal of affordable, universal coverage, we would be far ahead of the game.

As it is, we're losing the war of the words. It's not just the polls --- I can even cite my own Friedmanesque anecdote. I was at the hairdresser's on Friday (I'm sure Cokie was at hers too...) and the talk turned to health care. Keep in mind that this is on the west side of LA, not Ben Nelson's home town or somewhere deep in Republican country where every radio is turned to Rush.

Everyone in the place was complaining about the insurance companies and how broken the system was. But they were also convinced that the Democrats are trying to pass socialized medicine. When I asked what they thought that meant, they said, "government takeover of health care." And they were seriously worried about how that was going to affect them.

I don't know where these people are getting this. They aren't political, they don't listen to talk radio or read blogs. This is just what's out in the ether, what people are saying in casual conversation. The ear worm is "we've got a problem, but the Democrats are going to take over health care and make things worse." It's not entirely surprising, but it's depressing nonetheless.