Obama approval nine months in

November 9th, 2009 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Nine months into his term, I thought I’d take another look at Obama’s ratings compared to other US Presidents. Gallup has polling data back to WWII. At Day 270 the approval ratings were:

  1. George W Bush 89% (post 9/11)
  2. John Kennedy 77%
  3. Lyndon Johnson 74%
  4. George H W Bush 68%
  5. Dwight Eisenhower 65%
  6. Harry Truman 63%
  7. Ronald Reagan 56%
  8. Richard Nixon 56%
  9. Jimmy Carter 54%
  10. 50%
  11. Bill Clinton 47%
  12. Gerald Ford 40%

Clinton of course won a second term, but Carter did not. Clinton abandoned healthcare reform and moved to the centre. Will Obama?

48 Responses to “Obama approval nine months in”

  1. emmess (1,813 comments) says:

    He might get away with pushing through Healthcare Reform but there is no way in hell he will with Cap and Trade

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  2. Fale Andrew Lesa (473 comments) says:

    You make it sound as though reformed health care is some big government move towards dictatorship – if Obama abandons the call for action and moves more to the the centre I will certainly loose a great deal of respect and admiration for him as a leader…
    He campaigned very early on during the presidential campaign for reform in health care, why the big surprise?

    Republican leaders need to acknowledge that this should be a bipartisan concern that involves positive dialogue between Republican and Democrat officials. Without this sense of a unification the people of America will not agree and this will continue being abandoned in favour of weak centralist leadership and unwillingness to address America’s real concerns.
    I think the Republican party needs to accept its failures under Bush and with the McCain/Palin campaign and do the right thing – abandon political differences and strife in favour of progressive achievement and long required reform.

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  3. georgedarroch (306 comments) says:

    Just shows, popularity doesn’t have much correlation with being a good president – it’s all over the place.

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  4. themono (133 comments) says:

    The interesting thing about that comment, George, is that I think partisans of both sides would agree to some degree.

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  5. billyborker (1,101 comments) says:

    Nixon rated higher, was re-elected, then headed for impeachment, resigned.

    GHW Bush rated higher, failed to win a second term.

    What’s your point?

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  6. side show bob (3,476 comments) says:

    “abandon political differences and strife in favour of progressive achievement”, why?. Seems to me the world has had many examples of “progressive achievement” that is very far from progressive. Progressive, oh bloody please, spare me. How about a bit of honesty, why don’t you try words like socialism, communism. At least you would be honest but hay I know these systems are now not in fashion “Progressive achievement” has a nice ring about it but they are new words for the same old shit. I hope the Republican Party fights these progressive bastards all the way.

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  7. Pete George (24,828 comments) says:

    Obama hasn’t exactly had an easy start, saddled with an economic crisis and two increasingly unpopular wars, on of which continues to deteriorate. That context needs to be considered. I’m not trying to defend him, I think it’s too soon to judge.

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  8. Manolo (22,056 comments) says:

    I don’t think is too soon to judge Obama.

    The Messiah is well on his way to become another Carter, a one-term President. He appears as weak as his Democratic predecessor.

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  9. getstaffed (8,230 comments) says:

    I agree with emmess. On the subject of Obamacare, MacDoctor has a well reasoned prediction of how he thinks will play out.

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  10. Elijah Lineberry (306 comments) says:

    It shows how utterly hopeless George H W Bush really was; a 68% approval rating became 38% on election day.

    If I were Obama I would not be too worried as the Republicans for the first time since the run up to the 1940 election have no obvious Presidential candidate; this means either an unknown conservative non-entity emerges or (which is more likely) a bruising 2012 primary season between several of them.

    The other thing the Republicans do not appear to realise is the Fox News/Rush Limbaugh chappies are greatly exaggerating the strength and electoral appeal of ‘Conservatives’, Republican voter registration is lower than it was 40 years ago in every State outside of the ‘old Confederacy’, their appeal to ‘Independent’ voters is not great and if they fail to gain control of either the House or Senate (after 18 months of Limbaugh telling the World it is almost inevitable) it will burst a very empty bubble.

    The key thing they do not grasp is that only the ‘fanatics’ engage in certain types of activism; the people taking part in ‘Tea Bag’ protests, or screaming hysterically at Town Hall meetings are the ‘committed’; as George McGovern used to say (remember he lost 49 States) “I would get 50,000 people at a campaign rally and 50,000 at the next and 50,000 at the one after that – but it was the same 50,000 people!” ha ha!


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  11. PaulL (6,060 comments) says:

    Fale Andrew Lesa: so, given that National won in NZ, Labour should have shown bi-partisan support for their agenda?

    The 3 month trial period for workers is a good comparison:
    – many other countries already had it, and it works OK for them
    – it was a clear campaign promise
    – it was needed to help with unemployment rates

    I mean, just because it goes directly against everything the Labour Party stand for, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t show bipartisan support, right?

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  12. Jeff83 (792 comments) says:

    Getstaffed MacDoctor ignores many factors, taking private good public bad approach. For example do you know the US pay the most per capita for healthcare in the world but yet have some of the worst statistics for health care.

    Funny that people then go on to defend the American system as the “best in the world”, its rated 34th by WHO (albeit controversally).

    So why would some defend a system which clearly gets no value for money. Perhaps, just maybe some do not want to let go of ridicolous profits.

    There is this comparision with the Canadian sector, which although Canada spends half as much per capita as the US the statistics show a general favourable outcome for then, compared to the US


    So saying the status quo is the moderate option is total bs. Its a lie being sold to voters very powerfully by Fox (who create the news (tea parties funded by Fox) report it, commentate on it, then the commentations by Fox beome the news for Fox who then (insert broken record here)

    The one thing I thank god is its not my problem, its the Americans.

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  13. kD (14 comments) says:

    Pete, it’s the way Obama has handled the crisis that’s reflected poorly on his popularity. Even his discerning supporters agree he is a friend of Wall Street.

    He also campaigned on significantly increasing the war effort in Afganistan (which he has) and unilaterally moving in to Pakistan (which Bush had previously deplored)

    Fun fact: Obama campaign won two top international advertising awards…

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  14. PaulL (6,060 comments) says:

    Jeff83: you can acknowledge there are problems with the US system without thinking the only solution is the UK system.

    The actual healthcare offered, for those who can afford it or are insured, is better than anywhere else in the world.

    There are many uninsured. Some deliberately uninsured (otherwise known as self insured), some because they cannot be otherwise (not enough money, or not enough bargaining power).

    There are weird anti-competitive laws that:
    – prohibit companies offering insurance policies across state lines
    – prohibit smaller companies from banding together to purchase insurance, and thereby prevent them from getting the same pricing that larger companies get
    – provide absurd liabilities, which in turn get insured by the medical professionals at exhorbitant rates. All of which is passed on to the consumer, who then can sue for malpractice to get it back (less 50% that the lawyers keep). Funnily enough, lawyers are big donors to both major parties…

    So, yes, I can see many areas of improvement. But none of them seem to require public provision of insurance – in fact, I’m not sure what problems public provision of insurance would solve. Other than the ideological problem of a lack of government involvement.

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  15. toby1845 (124 comments) says:

    “Clinton of course won a second term, but Carter did not. ”

    Neither did Kennedy…..

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  16. toby1845 (124 comments) says:

    Nor, for that matter, did Johnson

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  17. Hurf Durf (2,860 comments) says:

    Bush Senior shows what happens when you campaign on not raising taxes, then raise them when you’re President. Which is what Obama did and what Obama will have to do if he wants to pay for his social programmes.

    As for Afghanistan, he’s about to give less than half of what McChrystal asked for, so we can pretty much write that place off. Iraq might be alright if he sticks to the withdrawal Bush planned in his last year of office, but even that’s doubtful when you’re dealing with an inexperienced clown like Obama.

    I wouldn’t trust an organisation with the word “World” in it either.

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  18. joe90 (273 comments) says:

    Health insurance nightmares, Where do you get your health insurance from?.

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  19. Jeremy Harris (323 comments) says:

    You can’t find a poll rating for FDR at 270..?

    They were supposed to be quite similar Presidents…

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  20. Jeff83 (792 comments) says:


    I agree the only solution is not only the UK ‘system’, however your assertion that “The actual healthcare offered, for those who can afford it or are insured, is better than anywhere else in the world. ” is not supported by the facts offered in terms of health statistics.

    One could assert that some get a better deal under the current system than a full public system, because cost is no limit, but those that can afford the ultimate cover are few, where as the majority have to make do with lesser ‘insurance’ and then 40 million with no health care at all.

    Each system has its faults, but if I HAD to choose one or the other I would definitely choose a UK based system over a US one. However I would choose NZ’s health system, which is pretty awesome for how much we spend on it per capita, over both.

    In terms of the public provision of insurance it would provide a yardstick and be provided with large bargaining power, much like Pharmac, which successfully gets us allot more bang for our bucks in NZ. I would see the introduction of a government sponsered model having a similar beneficial impact as the introduction KiwiBank had to most NZers by bringing some genuine competition to the market place.

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  21. PaulL (6,060 comments) says:

    Jeff83: I would see exactly the same as you – that it would give a similar result to Kiwibank. Except I believe that result was that the least profitable customers left the private organisation, and became the taxpayers problem. Meanwhile, the profits of the remaining organisations (banks in that case, but insurers in the US case) increased. That isn’t something I wanted to spend my taxpayer dollars on.

    The reality is that we already had competition in banking, and that many people didn’t get much service because they didn’t pay very much. In the US Health Insurance market they have a damn sight more competition still.

    For the average person in the US, working for a large organisation, the health care coverage is very good. Friend of mine had his father just recently go in with colon cancer. Went to a specialist in Boston, this guy does colon cancer all day every day. Cut out the bits that needed to be cut out, gave him 1 year to live. Went back for a checkup and scan, no cancer anywhere. The surgeon had found all of it, and cut it all out. The US has critical size and funding that allows specialisation that we never see. And we never will see that in NZ, as our system pays doctors too little. Once someone gets that good they go to the US. So, yes, our system costs less to run, but partly because we are under-paying the actual providers of the service – the doctors. And getting the service that goes with that.

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  22. kiwi in america (2,687 comments) says:

    Your analysis belies Obama’s electoral reality – that of the Constitutionally mandated division of powers. A mildly watered down version of Obama’s prefered health care reform option barely squeaked through the House yesterday where his party has a 70 (yes that is a seven and a zero) vote majority. Why was the House version so difficult to pass? A 25% polling switch in ONE year in Virginia and a 20% switch in reliably Democrat New Jersey in REAL ELECTIONS as opposed to pesky polls might have something to do with it.

    When you look at what happened to Clinton in 1993 and 1994 right on the back of his attempt at socialised medicine, the huge and unexpectedly large anti-Democrat swing so soon after his easy victory over Bush 41 in 92 shocked him into the political reality of having Congress controlled by the opposing party after the GOP landslide in 1994 that enabled them to take both houses of Congress for the first time in 50 years.

    The Senate will not be so easy. While technically Obama has a fillibuster proof 60 vote majority, the reality is Robert Byrd (WV) is too ill to vote and would sustain a fillibuster on this issue in any regard. Ditto Independent (but caucuses with the Dems) Joe Lieberman (CT). Lieberman has said the House Bill is DOA. The Senate can’t even pass their own less radical and more moderate health care bill let alone even begin to swallow Pelosi’s tax laden nightmare.

    Obama has two options – press ahead with the multi trillion dollar boondoggle to take care of the 13% of Americans that are uninsured and loose Congress or do a Clinton BEFORE the midterms and save his party. His hubris and arrogance will ensure the former which suits those of us on the centre-right just fine.

    Do keep up. You clearly missed what happened last week. Exit polls out of NJ and VA had the vital Independents (who were far more than any other group the key to Obama’s 08 victory) going for the GOP 2 to 1 over the Democrats. The victories were down the ticket as well especially in VA where the GOP swept all major statewide offices and had 6 picks ups in their local legislature – all mirroring the results in 1993 that presaged the 1994 GOP takeover of Congress.

    Current generic party indentification has the GOP running ahead of the Dems for the first time since early 2004. Oh and Gallup polled ideological identification and conservatives were 40% and liberals 25%.

    I actually went to a tea party to see reality vs media perception for myself. There were no fanatics screaming as you allege. What I did see were thousands of ordinary Americans many of whom were not party activists who were fed up with the direction of the country. There’s a reason why Fox’s ratings now exceed those of all their competitors COMBINED. No one is forcing Americans to watch Fox but a large number of Independents view and 30% of Democrats watch Fox. The ratings for MSNBC and CNN are so low that even with their heavily left leaning audiences, a numerically larger number of Democrats watch Fox than the other cable networks because 30% of alot sure beats 80% of a little!

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  23. big bruv (15,570 comments) says:

    “Neither did Kennedy…..”

    And thank goodness for that!

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  24. ISeeRed (251 comments) says:

    Yes, kiwiinamerica. That’s what makes Osama’s recent snub of Fox News so much more ironic and satisfying. Nose, spite, face. I don’t think the GOP leadership is really “getting” this popular backlash against Washington DC, though. They can’t continue saying the right things just to get reelected only to become “Democrat-lite”. The US has to reign in out-of-control borrowing and spending on ever-expanding entitlement programmes and corporate welfare that has occurred under both parties for decades.

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  25. ISeeRed (251 comments) says:

    What I don’t get, PaulL, is the fixation on the UK or Canada as being the only alternative to the quasi-private insurance-based system in the US. What about Singapore? Switzerland? Some countries seem to blend public funding and private provision better than others.

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  26. Michaels (1,258 comments) says:

    Obama will be a one term President. I am suprised however about Bill being lower.

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  27. emmess (1,813 comments) says:

    That’s right ISeeRed
    And that’s why if America could pass some sort of heathcare reform that sucessfully moves them to a mostly publicly funded/private owned system in use in most of continental Europe.
    Maybe then New Zealand could too without the left screaming Americanization at every minor reform suggested.

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  28. Fale Andrew Lesa (473 comments) says:

    Bob, Paul & Kiwi in America.

    I appreciate your prompt responses but I believe that there are some factors you fail to mention here and these are factors that help shed light on Obama’s plight for universal health care, by refusing to point these factors out I have to foolishly assume that your political positions dictate your viewpoints on Obama’s proposal and this saddens me on a number of levels – lets look at these factors:

    American health care – in terms of international standards implemented by the World Health Organization the health care system within the United States is rated 72nd overall.
    These standards are centralized on the right to health care and are based on accessibility, fairness, efficiency, cost, and quality. Life expectancy in America is 42nd in the world (WHO) and the infant mortality rate is no doubt highest in the industrialized world.
    Despite these unfortunate statistics and figures America continues to outspend every other country in the world by a very margin in terms of funding and one is left to ask the question: where is this money being spent and why are Americans seeing some very poor results?
    At least 15percent of the overall population of America is completely uninsured, a further substantial portion of Americans are under insured in terms of cover and insurance policy and a number of cases are being brought on daily basis before the courts over insurance-related conflicts and battles.

    By reading Obama’s proposal for reformed health care in America we learn the following:

    – There is universal agreement that there are huge flaws in the current American health care system

    – Public assisted healthcare is an option and only an option, it is no way mandatory and there is very little comparison to the Communist health care systems of the former USSR, China or even North Korea.

    – The only way to get these reforms through is via bipartisan support from both major political chess pieces – the Democrats and the Republicans. Why the big fuss? Are Republicans so concerned that their willing to label the guy an Anti Christ and a disguised Communist? Based on what substance exactly?
    Are these party politicians not united under the flag of the UNITED States of America for urgent improvement and reform in health care? What was the Republican alternative to the health care crisis? Let the economy fix it?

    if you want my personal opinion I believe the Republicans are stalling on this issue because they know very well that the large private corporations that are providing the current health care facilities are going to buckle when this reform is eventually pushed through.
    Sadly however, over-profited American corporations are a big reason why the recession occurred in the first instance – with profit comes greed and with greed there is a constant desire for revenue regardless of the method used. Off shoring was a very popular tool in down-sizing employment costs and avoiding business taxes and the repercussion of this in the short-term was a boom in unemployment…

    Health care can only be addressed through a bipartisan process – if the fundamental flaws of corporate greed and selfishness are not addressed soon, Americans will continue staring down the barrel of below-average health care and unsatisfactory responses.

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  29. Hurf Durf (2,860 comments) says:

    I’m sure the Repubs will appreciate all the advice they get from an early-20s Labour activist.

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  30. Fale Andrew Lesa (473 comments) says:

    You have me in a box that I am not comfortable in Hurf Durf – there’s a lot more to me than an early-20’s Labour activist. P.S I haven’t quite turned 20 yet but thanks for the guess.

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  31. unaha-closp (1,604 comments) says:

    Osama attacking America is a 30-40% up tick?

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  32. PaulL (6,060 comments) says:

    Fale, sorry you are presenting things as facts that I don’t believe are.

    1. WHO is not an authoritative source. As you say, they are mostly ranking on “fairness” and “access”. I explicitly ignored those in saying “those who have money or access.”

    2. Infant mortality is “no doubt” highest in the industrialised world. Hmm. Was your argument not strong enough without making things up? I usually find that adding weak arguments tends to make your overall case weaker, not stronger. Logically it shouldn’t, but it does.

    3. At least 15% of the US population is completely uninsured. I quote from the wikipedia article you presumably used for this claim “It has been estimated that nearly one-fifth of the uninsured population is able to afford insurance, almost one quarter is eligible for public coverage, and the remaining 56% need financial assistance (8.9% of all Americans).[8] An estimated 5 million of those without health insurance are considered “uninsurable” because of pre-existing conditions.[9] A recent study concluded that 15% of people shopping online for health insurance are considered “uninsurable” because of a pre-existing condition, or for being overweight. This label does not necessarily mean they can never get health insurance, but that they will not qualify for standard individual coverage. People with similar health status can be covered via employer-provided health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uninsured_in_the_United_States

    Sorry, people who are too fat to be insured I don’t see as a problem. One quarter of them are eligible for public coverage already. 20% can afford insurance and choose not to have it. In short, that 15% is a large overstatement.

    4. There is not universal agreement on anything anywhere in the world. That is a strong claim. More importantly, of those who do agree there are flaws, I doubt there are even a majority that would agree on one particular set of flaws. Witness that they cannot get a majority in the Senate for reform. Some people think the flaw is a distorted market, particularly through govt involvement in Medicaid and Medicare. Others think the flaw is private involvement. Others think the tort system is the flaw. Using a broad statement to imply agreement where there is none is intellectually dishonest.

    5. Public assisted healthcare is not an option that people can opt out of. In NZ, having private providers for ACC would be an option – people could choose whether or not to use them, and choose whether or not to fund them. Having a public insurer in the US would offer the choice of whether to use them, but not the choice of whether to fund them. All taxpayers have to pay for that public insurer, and there is an expectation that the insurer would use that govt funding to undercut existing players – in other words, to price below the market and drive companies out of business. When other countries sell below cost we call it dumping, and specifically impose sanctions. Why would we want the government offering a service below the cost of providing that service? Will not the bankruptcy of those insurance companies increase unemployment?

    6. Why the need to blanket label republicans based on the actions of a few? Do you think that all republicans think that Obama is the antichrist? Really? Have you actually ever met a real life American? A real life Republican? Were they actually eating a baby when you met them?

    7. On your personal opinion. I think you are right. The republicans aren’t keen to use taxpayer subsidies to create a public insurer which will operate below cost, and thereby drive many insurers out of business. Leaving them with an inefficient monopoly provider supported by taxes – kind of like we have in NZ. I can see why they wouldn’t want that. You do understand what being right wing entails, don’t you? Are you surprised when right wingers believe right wing things? Or do you think it is just an act we put on when we are finished eating babies?

    8. Profit and greed are the drivers of the capitalist system. The most effective system ever devised by man for creating wealth. There is a reason that America is so damn wealthy.

    9. Off-shoring. Do you believe that the third world needs our help? Do you understand that most environmental problems are driven by poverty – that the environment almost universally improves in wealthier countries, that birth rates drop in wealthier and educated countries? Would you rather we prevent third world countries from having jobs and industries, then give them crumbs as “charity” (in the US’s preferred manner through “charity” that is really dumping of surplus American products, further distorting world markets and harming the poor). Or through letting them have jobs at which they can earn an income and educate their children, climbing the same ladder of success that the Americans, NZers, Japanese, Koreans, and now Chinese are climbing? How do you reconcile your dislike of “off-shoring” with your concern for the poor of the world?

    The reason that Hurf picked you as a early-20s Labour activist was your argument style and your logically inconsistent positions. You’re reasonably new around here, so I’ll spend some time on it. But if you want to continue to argue in that lazy way, most will ignore you.

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  33. Pete George (24,828 comments) says:

    Profit and greed are the drivers of the capitalist system. The most effective system ever devised by man for creating wealth. There is a reason that America is so damn wealthy.

    US wealth is very unevenly distributed. The richest 1% of the American population owns as much as the combined wealth of the bottom 90% (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distribution_of_wealth).

    The US has become driven (and possibly will be driven into the ground) by capitalist gambling on a huge scale – crapitalists. They have money making schemes like derivatives and “dead peasant insurance” that do nothing for productivity – they simple relocate more wealth to the relatively few who are rich.

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  34. Brian Smaller (4,332 comments) says:

    Obama and Pelosi are painting the insurance companies as some big enemy of the people who are raping the pcokets of th ecitizens and making huge profits. The governments own figures show that insurance companies run about an average of 3% net profit. Yes, they make huge profits in absolute dollar terms, but as a percentage of turnover it is borderline.

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  35. Pete George (24,828 comments) says:

    The Republicans have an alternative health care plan:

    Where the House Democrats’ bill would expand coverage to an estimated 36 million of the uninsured, the Republican alternative would cover only 3 million, leaving the same proportion of the population uninsured as now. And while it’s fair to criticize House Democrats’ legislation for not doing enough to control the growth of health costs, the Republicans’ version does even less and takes some steps in the wrong direction.


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  36. KiwiGreg (3,589 comments) says:

    ““The actual healthcare offered, for those who can afford it or are insured, is better than anywhere else in the world. ” is not supported by the facts offered in terms of health statistics.”

    Well it’s only anecdotal but as someone who has consumed health care in New Zealand, Australia, UK, China, Italy and the US, the US is so far ahead it’s not like they are even in the same game.

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  37. PaulL (6,060 comments) says:

    Pete George: The fact that US wealth is unevenly distributed doesn’t change the fact that the poor in the US are richer than the wealthy in many countries. I stand by my assertion that capitalism has made more people wealthier than any other system devised. Some on the left are very focused on the fact that wealth is unevenly divided, but seem to think that it would be preferable that we all be poor than that some be wealthy and some very wealthy.

    As for the Republicans health care plan – not a big fan of that either. I was OK with Mitt Romney’s plan – which dealt specifically with the uninsured without destroying the health system for the rest of the population. And I strongly believe that the current legislative limits on competition in the health care industry should be lifted. It is ludicrous to produce a govt funded insurance scheme to supposedly deal with competition when the federal law is one of the largest barriers to competition.

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  38. Pete George (24,828 comments) says:

    but seem to think that it would be preferable that we all be poor

    I doubt there is many in this category. Sure, the poorest are nowhere near as poor as they were less than a century ago, but the wealth gap keeps widening and that has been shown to be unhealthy too. There is a heck of a lot of unproductive money making. It may just be a natural cycle of civilisation, where the top end becomes so bloated it eventually self implodes.

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  39. PaulL (6,060 comments) says:

    Pete, what is unproductive about that money making? Where does that money go? The very wealthy in the US make massive donations to charity. The bottom line is that when you’re fantastically wealthy, you can’t spend the money without someone else benefiting. That is one of the beauties of the money-go-round that is capitalism.

    As for dead peasant insurance – not sure what that is. Derivatives I know a reasonable bit about, and they aren’t a money making scheme. They’re simply a promise to buy or sell something in the future. So when you’re a farmer starting to lamb in June and I say to you “I’ll give you $50 for a lamb at Christmas”, that is a derivative. The price might go up, it might go down, so one of us will make or lose money come Christmas. However, odds are that as a farmer, if you think it will be worth $55 at Christmas, you’ll give a bit of a discount to guarantee the sale in advance. And, as the buyer, I’m happy with a bit of a discount coming to me because I made the commitment early. Derivatives in action – and as my example shows, they are actually valuable to both parties (willing buyer, willing seller). But it doesn’t sound quite so exciting when I personalise it – hard to demonise normal people going about their business.

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  40. fruitshop (46 comments) says:

    You need a war (or a 9/11) for Americans to unite behind their president- no matter who he is.

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  41. Fale Andrew Lesa (473 comments) says:


    “Health care can only be addressed through a bipartisan process – if the fundamental flaws of corporate greed and selfishness are not addressed soon, Americans will continue staring down the barrel of below-average health care and unsatisfactory responses.”

    Do you agree with this or not?

    If not, why not and what is the preferred alternative?

    As much as I appreciate your response I believe it centered more on the factors I presented and not on the core argument of whether or not you agree that bipartisan support is the only realistic way forward in passing these health care reforms safely.
    As for my assertion on universal health care agreement – forgive me for not specifying what I meant by this, it referred to the bipartisan agreement between Democrats and Republicans that current US Health care is in dire state and requires urgent attention.

    American Infant mortality statistics – http://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/parenting/05/08/mothers.index/

    All in all I value your constructive criticisms and corrections and vow to consider them in future posts, as for Hurf Durf – please ignore her completely. We clashed earlier on and she seems to hold grudges a lot longer than normal people do around here.
    I don’t appreciate being placed in a box based on very little information – it verges on the line of ignorance and narrow mindedness and it will not be tolerated.

    Kind regards

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  42. Elijah Lineberry (306 comments) says:

    Kiwi In America, the point I was making is that the Republicans and Conservatives have ‘shot their bolt’; that they have started far too early and covered far too much ground too early to sustain things through until 2012 (in other words – it gets boring after hearing it the 50th time), they have thrown everything in their arsenal at Obama and the Democrats (who have not really replied, as such) and have not much to show for it.

    We shall see what happens in November 2010 but unless the Republicans gain 8 – 10 Senate seats and 60 in the House the bubble will burst in my opinion (rather like it burst on election night 1998 and saw Gingrich washed away within days).


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  43. Bob R (1,831 comments) says:

    “Clinton abandoned healthcare reform and moved to the centre. Will Obama?”

    Unlikely, he’s already committed to pushing immigration reform to legalize 10 million illegal migrants, even though it will accelerate the US’s path to 2nd world status.

    “Before detailing some of those analyses, we should recognize the importance of this question. If we were to discover that, say, Slovenian immigrants did not assimilate over several generations, there would be little cause for alarm. There are simply too few Slovenian Americans to change our society in a meaningful way. Hispanics, on the other hand, have risen from 4 percent to 15 percent of the American population since 1970. The Census Bureau projects that, if there is no change in immigration policy, 30 percent of the nation will be Hispanic by 2050. To avoid developing a large economic underclass, we need to confront the question of whether they will assimilate.

    The children of Hispanic immigrants (the second generation) actually stay in school much longer and earn a considerably higher wage than their parents. In fact, the Hispanic rate of assimilation from the first to the second generation is only slightly lower than the assimilation rate of more successful groups of immigrants. Most second-generation Hispanics make up nearly as much ground as the children of European immigrants would if they grew up in the same disadvantaged situation.

    But the good news ends there, and two problems arise. First, the second generation still does not come close to matching the socioeconomic status of white natives. Even if Hispanics were to keep climbing the ladder each generation, their assimilation would be markedly slower than that of other groups. But even that view is overly optimistic, because of the second, larger problem with Hispanic assimilation: It appears to stall after the second generation. We see little further ladder-climbing from the grandchildren of Hispanic immigrants. They do not rise out of the lower class..

    The consequences of a large ethno-cultural group’s lagging behind the majority in education and income are significant. In strictly economic terms, perpetually poor immigrants and their descendants will be a major strain on social spending and infrastructure. Health care, public education, welfare payments, the criminal justice system, and programs for affordable housing will all require more tax dollars. When pro-immigration conservatives declare that these government programs should be scaled back or eliminated entirely, I am sympathetic. But a large public sector is a reality that cannot be wished away — we will not be abolishing Medicaid or public schools anytime soon. Immigration policy needs to take that reality into account. ”


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  44. Bob R (1,831 comments) says:

    I was going to add that such a move is going to be highly unpopular (as it was in 2007 when Bush & McCain tried it) given high unemployment.

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  45. PaulL (6,060 comments) says:


    “Health care can only be addressed through a bipartisan process”
    Any enduring policy is best addressed through a bipartisan process. But just because that is best doesn’t mean it happens. Plenty of enduring policy gets done through partisan processes – again, witness in NZ some of the changes that recent governments have introduced – the EFA, purchase back of NZ Rail, Kiwibank creation.

    A big factor here is whether it is possible to have bipartisan policy. That would imply compromise from both sides, and I see no evidence of either party compromising. You also seem to be suggesting that the Republicans should mostly compromise because the Democrat policy is somehow self evidently good. I don’t see why they would – what is the benefit for them in doing so?

    “if the fundamental flaws of corporate greed and selfishness are not addressed soon, Americans will continue staring down the barrel of below-average health care and unsatisfactory responses.”

    This bit I don’t agree with at all. There are too many value judgements loaded into that statement to make any sense of it at all. What fundamental flaws of corporate greed. What is wrong with selfishness? Why do we think that it is impossible for a privatised system to deliver above-average health care? What unsatisfactory responses are you trying to resolve?

    The issues I see with healthcare in the US at the moment I don’t believe require any nationalisation of the health system so as to be dealt with. The problems I see are uninsured people, high costs, and large disparities in access. Some of those problems are endemic to any health system, for example, in most health systems there is more demand than supply. If you believe in basic economic theory, this would suggest that the price is, in fact, too low – if the price was higher there would be more supply.

    In terms of uninsured, we need to divide into categories of people:
    – self insured: no problem
    – too poor to insure: this isn’t a health system problem, it is an income problem. Should be dealt with through the welfare or tax system
    – moral hazard – engage in behaviours that make them too expensive to insure. This isn’t a real problem, these people should change their behaviour – I see the NZ system as a failure in this regard as it doesn’t give price signals to people regarding their personal behaviours.

    In terms of high costs, much of the cost is driven by the structure of the industry, the laws that forbid proper competition, the laws that reduce bargaining power of the consumers, and laws that restrict supply (some doctor registration is necessary, but many professional bodies are also artificially introducing scarcity through inappropriate restrictions), and the tort and legal system that encourage massive settlements against doctors.

    None of those require govt intervention through public provision – in fact, many of them require reduction of govt intervention. To be fair, a part of the corporate system (as opposed to the capitalist system) is the rent seeking behaviour of large corporates and powerful industry lobbies (including the lawyers) – facilitated by politicians seeking donations or votes. But public provision isn’t the right answer to political weakness.

    In terms of disparities of access, most of those are driven by income or by stupid laws that prevent, for example, cross-state competition. Fix those, you fix much of the problem. The remainder you deal with by encouraging providers to offer a “bare bones” coverage that provides an equivalent service as what we get in somewhere like NZ. Make sure that welfare payments and minimum wages are sufficient to allow everyone to purchase one of these if they want it. Done.

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  46. kiwi in america (2,687 comments) says:

    I believe you not only have little appreciation for the American psyche and where the political centre lies here in the US but you also lack the on-the-ground feel for what a political wave looks and feels like. Wave elections have a number of familiar features such as:
    1 – Strong victories in the NJ and VA state elections – these are not the norm as they occur only 1 year after a Presidential election. The GOP swept these races in 93 and the Dems in 05 – both being previews for the GOP gains in 94 and Democrat gains in 06. The 20 and 25% swings in each state were huge changes in 12 months.
    2 – A series of strong victories for the winning party in a series of special elections (by-elections) across states and Congress. Again the huge swings to the GOP in recent months matched similar large special election swings to the GOP throughout 92 and 94 that led to the wave election of 94.
    3 – Depressed voter turnout of key constituencies – the youth and black vote (key Democrat constituencies) stayed home in the 93 races and did again in large numbers in the 09 races. When the Dems are on a roll, these harder to get out to vote groups are motivated to vote. In 08 conservatives staying at home helped to depress the GOP turnout for McCain.
    4 – Energized key voting blocks for a particular party matches the depressed turnout on the other side. In 09 seniors and other key centre right voting blocks (suburban soccer mums) were much much more motivated to vote than in 08 – same thing happened in 93. Seniors are the most accutely sensitive to changes in health care policies and the Dems policy to help pay for Obamacare by stripping $500 million from Medicare has seniors scared s**tless and they turned out in droves. These provisions are still in both the House and Senate bills and, if passed into law, this highly influential and motivated voting block will desert the Dems in droves in 2010.
    5 – Independents switch party alliegance – they voted for Clinton in 92 and against the Dems big time in 94. Same in 08 – Independants thought Obama would govern as a centerist and have major buyers remorse as he is governing as a good old fashioned tax and spend liberal and deserted the Democrats in 09 in a strong reversal.
    6 – On the ground feeling – Ive never met so many frightened and angry people – frightened at the massive out of control spending and debt and so many moderates who voted for Obama who are disgruntled because they did not vote for a massive ramp up of government intervention in the economy.
    7- Candidate selection – when a party has momentum they have little problem recruiting electable candidates – the Dems found this in 06 and 08 and this time round, the GOP is largely very pleased and who is coming forward.
    8 – Fundraising – the money also flows to the poll leading party. The Dems hugely outraised the GOP in 06 and 08, now they are at parity with momentum building. Watch for the GOP to slowly start to build a strong cash on hand lead over the Dems.
    9 – Right way/wrong way polls are lower than 40/60 (as is the case now after Obama had a promising start) Generic party ballot favors the party with momentum as is evident in the polls as does the liberal/conservative ideological identification.
    10 – Best party on major policy issues: The Dems owned 9 of the 10 issues through 07 and 08. These polls have now so reversed that the GOP leads as the best party on all 10 of the big policy issues.

    Which brings me to the psyche of Americans. Middle America does not support the huge expansion of government in a way that is acceptable across the board in New Zealand. Obama is moving too far away from the political centre – Clinton tried it and was spanked. Obama will suffer the same fate unless he moderates.

    Your notion that the GOP have shot their wad is ludicrous as is the comment that Gingrich was a nobody right after the 94 takeover. The Republican Congress worked well with Clinton who moved to the centre and enacted excellent fiscally sound policies that ushered in welfare reform and balanced the budget.

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  47. Elijah Lineberry (306 comments) says:

    Kiwi I hope you are correct and there is a big swing away from the socialists/Democrats next year; however as an observer of elections in various countries for over two decades I would say the Republicans are following the wrong strategy – especially if a misstep occurs.
    I would also suggest that someone like Rahm Emmanuel is so ruthless he is hardly going to roll over and book a removal van for January 20th 2012 without vast amounts of opponents blood flowing in the streets (so to speak) and (presumably) is waiting for the right moment to strike whilst allowing opponents to show their hand and run out of steam.

    I also wish to point out I referred to Gingrich after 1998, not ’94; in 1998 (the election post scandal/impeachment) the Republicans were expecting a landslide and actually lost seats.


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  48. old1 (1 comment) says:

    50% and falling like a pet Obama rock!
    Seems everyone wants to type about Obamacare.
    Lets call a spade a spade, Obamacare is Communism!
    Politics are no longer Democrat v Republican.
    Today politics are Communism v Capitalism. So America which side are you now taking? Your kids kids are going to have to pay the price for this experiment in Communism and they will grow old in a far far different country than we have had for the last 222 years. Our once great country could fall into poverty and chaos in a very short period of time, say 3 more years. Educate yourself to the fact that a man born to a foreign father and who was born a British subject due to the British Nationality Act of 1948 can never be a Natural Born American Citizen and therefore POTUS. Wake up America before it is too late. Write and tell everyone you know we have a foreign, illegal alien, ineligible, usurper, sleeping in our White House tonight. Quo Warranto in DC District Court can save America, support those that support that case, but we need to move swiftly!

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