The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Evil: It's what's for dinner

If there's anything good to be said about this administration, and by extension the current Republican party, it's that their tactics are pretty predictable by now-- you know the list. Blame Bill Clinton if something goes wrong. Accuse opponents of doing what you're doing. And always, always mean the opposite of what you say. The SOTU will serve as just one more example.

While Bush will undoubtedly do his usual "I'm a uniter" schtick, he's still busily purging U.S. attorneys. As Paul Krugman writes:

For a long time the administration nonetheless seemed untouchable, protected both by Republican control of Congress and by its ability to justify anything and everything as necessary for the war on terror. Now, however, the investigations are closing in on the Oval Office. The latest news is that J. Steven Griles, the former deputy secretary of the Interior Department and the poster child for the administration’s systematic policy of putting foxes in charge of henhouses, is finally facing possible indictment.

And the purge of U.S. attorneys looks like a pre-emptive strike against the gathering forces of justice.

And we'll be getting another helping of economic policy that claims to be worker-friendly while absolutely screwing everyone but the wealthiest Americans. Ezra Klein catches up with the new health care proposal, and gives us a lovely reminder of the above rules of thumb:

What the early reports either didn't make clear or didn't know was that the plan's changes to health care deductibility don't set limits, they're creating, instead, a standard deduction of $7,500 for individuals and $15,000 for families. My initial understanding was that those were caps: Above them, you couldn't deduct anything further. Below them, you simply deducted what you spent. That was incorrect. Instead, everyone will get precisely those deductions no matter what they spend. If you're 23 and your health care costs $2,000 a year, you still deduct $7,500, pocketing the difference. It would, in that situation, be economically foolish of you to purchase high quality, comprehensive coverage. And that goes all the way up the line. The intent here is clear: To incentivize the purchase of low-quality, high-deductible care, particularly among the healthy, young, and/or rich. To degrade the risk pool, and encourage HSAs. To reduce coverage, costs, and health security.