Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ezra Klein's "Pink=Blue=Colors" Logic Regarding Healthcare Reform

Ezra Klein has joined the list of "liberals," like Nate Silver, who insist upon defending President Obama and the watered-down Senate healthcare bill. Unfortunately, Klein does so by stretching the truth.

In a recent article, Klein defends Obama against liberals who argue that the Senate bill substantially betrays his campaign promises. Klein's analysis employs what I call "pink=blue=colors" logic, for reasons that will soon become apparent. Commenting on liberal anger, Klein says that the Senate bill is basically the same thing that Obama promised to deliver during his presidential campaign:
And there are, to be sure, some differences. The public option did not survive the Senate. The individual mandate, which Obama campaigned against, was added after key members of Congress and the administration realized that the plan wouldn't function in its absence. Drug reimportation was defeated, and a vague effort to have government pick up some catastrophic costs was never really mentioned.

But the basic structure of the proposal is remarkably similar.
The campaign promises=the Senate bill=two proposals to reform healthcare. In substance, however, the Senate bill differs drastically from Obama's campaign promises. Klein's conclusion makes sense only if the heralded public option, drug reimportation, and the individual mandate are irrelevant to the structure of the Senate bill. The controversy surrounding these measures alone indicates their importance on a political level, and an abundance of research demonstrates their importance in concrete economic terms.

Liberal bloggers have not reacted kindly to Klein. TalkLeft says that Klein's analysis is the "type of silly stuff [that] does no one any good - not Obama, not Ezra, and not anyone else." Emptywheel methodically dissects Klein's sloppy analysis. And Firedoglake has compiled a side-by-side analysis of Obama's promises and the Senate bill, concluding that Klein's argument is "absurd."

See also: Obama Falsely Claims that the Senate Healthcare Bill Matches His Campaign Promises


Elizabeth said...

I stopped reading Klein a while ago. His enthusiasm-for-Obama-no-matter-what is hard to digest.

But to say that the Senate bill is just like the health reform Obama promised is akin to saying that spiders are just like mammals. Except the whole live birth and nursing thing. And, oh, the eight legs. But other than that, they are exactly the same.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Elizabeth: It is hard to imagine that Klein read his completed project and thought "great job."

Aspasia said...

Well, that was entertaining. That article sounds like something Stephen Colbert would do on his show...only Colbert is being comically ironic on purpose but Klein thinks he's being serious and analytical.

LETICIA said...

I wonder if people like Klein and others defending Obama blindly realize they sound just like Ari Fleischer with his "people should watch what they say and do" line. Bush lied, Obama lies, the next President will probably lie, and I'm glad there are people around who aren't too cowed to question them, no matter the party affiliation. In other words, we owe people like you, Mr. Hutchinson, a thank you.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Leticia: You're welcome! And thanks for the post.

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