January 13, 2018

Beto O'Rourke hits Northeast Texas (updated)

As I called him to friend Brains, the "Kennedy brother by an El Paso mother," riffing on some talk about him, in the inside-the-Mopac type media, came to Northeast Texas Wednesday afternoon.

Beto ORourke

This is my blogging opinion take on him; for the news angle at one of his stops (to which I will reference), go here.

That said, let's dive in.

First, he does seem to be a bit of a squish on health care. His answer to a question on the issue was to talk about "universal health care" then say single-payer is "one way there." Now you know why he's not a co-sponsor of HB 676, which I guess needs a new primary sponsor with John Conyers and his sexual harassment payout skedaddling Congress.

Sema Hernandez in the primary is running specifically on this as one of her main campaign issues. (She also notes that he voted for Trump's military budget and hasn't backed House bills for special wage increases for tipped employees or to make college free for all low- and middle-income students.)

Second, and also referenced in that news story, was a fair amount of "bipartisanship" talk. To talk that you want Trump to succeed unless it's in the country's best interest means we have to trust your judgment, without an issue-by-issue spell-out of what issues will draw your opposition. In general, bipartisanship, American style, sucks. It's another reason I wish we had multiparty parliamentary democracy.

Third, I noted in the story that he doesn't take PAC money. I didn't quote his comment on not taking corporate money — because candidates can't accept direct contributions from corporations anyway. PolitiFact notes he has taken moderate amounts of PAC money in the past, and has still taken "conduit PAC" money in this campaign.

ActualFlatticus of Twitter infamy also donated to conduit PAC Act Blue. As I said about his donations, why an individual donor doesn't just donate to a candidate, I don't know, other than trying to hide specific targets of donations.

That said, there are pluses to the campaign.

First is that he's getting out there.

By the time you read this, he will have visited at least 180 of Texas' 254 counties in the past several months. That's more than many Dems running for either senator or governor in the Pointy Abandoned Object State™. It's almost certainly the most of anybody since Victor Morales in 1996 on the Senate side. There's more about that in the news story, specifically related to Morales' main primary opponent, Jim Chapman.

Over that time period, looking at just John Cornyn and Booger Ted Cruz runs on the GOP side, with Kay Bailey Cheerleader Hutchison's higher popularity, the Dems have had marginally better senatorial than gubernatorial candidates, but not by lot.

Ron Kirk had a Metroplex popularity base in John Sharp's 2002 alleged dream team list, but struggled to move left from being a known Shrub Bush supporter. (Fittingly, he accompanied past GOP voter Tony Sanchez, who ran for governor, and Sharp himself, a Republican in all but name today, running for lite guv.) Rick Noriega in 2008 was OK. David Alameel in 2014 was another ConservaDem/Republican in drag. Noriega was the only one to have run for office before, and state rep in a relatively safe district isn't a big deal.

O'Rourke knocked off ConservaDem Silvestre Reyes to get his House seat. He has an appetite for campaigning. He's genial and charismatic.

He may be a squish, but almost certainly less of one — on different issues — than Wendy Davis for gov in 2014. (Also, she was running for a state office, he for a federal one.) He has no ethical baggage, either. Assuming he gets the nomination, Democrats could do worse. For example, I'd take him over either of the Castro brothers, I think.

Some are now knocking Beto for proposing a year of universal service for high school graduates. I'm not saying it's perfect, and I'm not saying that having it in place — if it were truly universal and immediately post-high school — would lessen American warmongering by threatening to get rich kids shot. But, a number of Dems proposed it shortly after the Iraq War bogged down, in part for such reasons. And, many European countries have such a system. So, on that issue, I'm not joining the knockers. That said, Stace notes that there will be class-based issues of fairness that could be  problem.

Also, at least to the face of Tucker Carlson, Beto is not a squish on immigration-related issues.

In short? I'd vote Hernandez in the primaries, but accept O'Rourke in the general.

See this long profile of O'Rourke in the new Texas Monthly for more.

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Update: Brains disagrees with my vote ideas, saying he'll undervote the general if it's Beto, or "Bob," to note his actual first name. I jokingly called him a "Kennedy brother by an El Paso mother," but, per Brains' well-researched piece, he might be "John Kerry's brother by an El Paso mother," minus the military service.

I'm still not totally ready to move off my vote pivot, but that's more food for thought.

I still don't think the "universal service" idea of Beto-Bob (there, NOW he sounds Texan) is necessarily a bad deal. It could be, but it ain't necessarily so. And, it's been  used as a bit of a gotcha. I actually find the fact that Beto-Bob has already backed off it more disconcerting than the idea itself.

As for him being a squish of some sort on single-payer? Well, if it is truly universal, in that everybody in the country, no ifs, ands or buts, has coverage, that's the rock-bottom starting point. A lot of the other developed counties that have national health care have co-pays, after all, and some people bashing Beto-Bob on this may not be aware of that. No, it's not ideal, and it's not close to gov candidate Tom Wakely's idea of a Texas NHS. But, if it is universal coverage, that's the baseline.

Per Wiki, many of those other countries have what is called two-tier care. Part of that second tier, with Denmark France and Germany countries mentioned by name, is for private insurance to cover the cost of copays. And, yes, that's deliberately boldfaced. Many countries with national health care use a two-tier system like that. Government insurance covers all basic medical and surgical needs. You buy private care for elective and experimental surgery and other things.

People need to look at the details of how universal health care works in these other developed countries, and is funded, in general. If you're poor, copays, etc., are usually paid by the government, kind of like Medicaid. But, if you're middle-class, in most the developed world? No, you need to have your own wallet open. Not a lot, maybe. But you need to have your own wallet open.

I went into this in much detail when I called out the groupies of Actual Flatticus and his toady, ShirtLost DumbShit Zack Haller, for being sketch on the details themselves.

And, if you're citing "Medicare for all" as your national health insurance model, you need to note that the actual Medicare program requires you to have your wallet open if you're middle class.

As for people bashing Beto-Bob for wanting national health care to be useable at for-profit hospitals? You folks are either ignorant or willfully obtuse if you think nonprofit hospitals are significantly different from for-profits, because they ain't.

Thirty seconds of Googling found me not one but two Pro Publica pieces with in-depth coverage of major ethical wrongs of nonprofit hospitals.

If you want a true British NHS, as I do, fine. But stop falsely claiming that, within the current hospital system, nonprofits are somehow enlightened. For that matter, per Wiki, a few extra quid and bob will get you extra service even in an NHS hospital.

The NFL of concussion likes and Kaepernick hating is a nonprofit, for doorknob's sake.

Another issue is that "no copays" people may not be talking about cost controls. I sure don't want a no-copays national health care that still costs more than twice as much to treat a person as other developed nations.

Finally, given that the current Medicare covers things like chiropractic, we need to make sure the government isn't paying for alt-medicine or pseudo-medicine.

2 comments:

PDiddie said...

Google doesn't enlighten you about everything, friend.

Norway, that non-shithole country, asks for $241 from it citizens annually as a co-pay for its healthcare. Twelve bucks a month. Since I didn't mention anything about 'no co-pays' but you seemed to infer such, I find that perfectly acceptable, but until Bob talks specifically about how he can "Do Better", he's blowing into the wind. Don't expect him to provide details should he become the nominee, either.

As someone who sold Medicare supplement policies for fifteen years, I can assure you that Medicare for All is not going to cover everybody's healthcare expenses, and that there will still be plenty of profit opportunities for insurance companies, as well as doctors and hospitals that are cash-only. They're for the self-insured, also known as the (one-tenth of) one percent.

Just reining in pharmaceutical costs is going to be a heavy lift.

Beto sucks, buddy. You're usually a bit more skeptical than this.

Gadfly said...

Yes, Bob could be more specific.

And, yes, you specifically didn't say no copays. But I think Sema does. I know Bernie originally presented it in a way that indicated that was his stance. In fact, that's part of why he was attacked.

And, other countries that have universal health care as more than Norway. May not be a lot, but they ask more than that. Again, as I specified, subsidies take care of co-pays for the poor, but not for the middle class.

And, you did, IIRC, at least "pass along" the idea that for-profit hospitals are somehow more evil than non-profits when you attacked Beto-Bob over that. And, that's not true. Let's also note another non-profit hospital system — anti-abortion Catholic hospitals.

So, there, at least, no, I agree with Beto-Bob period. Whatever ways we improve health care coverage, all hospitals participate.

As for the skepticism, as I noted, that was just 30 secs on nonprofit hospitals. I easily could have found more.

On the universal service? I'll add that it may just have been a campaign stunt / flyer, but the issue itself isn't necessarily bad, as I first said. Other than a concern like Stace's, the general attacks on him for that were close to "gotcha" if not full-on in my book.

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I agree with you, and the research, on concerns about his throwing his money around in El Paso. That's an issue, if I didn't make it clear enough.