barack obama


Debating Health Care: When I Screamed Loudest At The TV

Pretty much everyone agrees that Romney’s aggressive performance during last night’s debate is the story of the day. As The New York Times’ Tim Egan put it: “Romney was loaded with the Mormon equivalent of Red Bull, and it showed.” (That aggression may be undermined by the army of fact-checkers questioning some of Romney’s assertions, but that’s another story.)

What it will mean for the nation (and for health care) remains unclear. But here, in an admittedly partisan assessment, is the Harvard School of Public Health’s Nancy Turnbull on, among other things, when she yelled loudest at the TV and when her frustration levels peaked:

My top 5 health care moments in the debate:

1. Most frustrating discussion
President Obama did not effectively counter Governor Romney’s untrue claim that federal health reform is being financed in part by robbing $716 billion from the Medicare Trust Fund (including failing to point out that that the budget plan of Governor Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, has the same reductions in future Medicare rates for hospitals, health plans and certain other providers). This one is complicated but the President has to have a comprehensible and effective way to rebut it.

2. Ingenue performance
Governor Romney was coy, to be polite, about his support for a Medicare voucher system, and Jim Lehrer was far too polite in his attempts to get Governor Romney to be more forthright. I wished Martha Bebinger had been moderating.

3. Go Bay State
Massachusetts provided one of the few points of agreement all night: Both candidates said that health coverage reform in Massachusetts has been a great success.

4. Moment when I screamed loudest at the TV
Governor Romney claimed that the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 20 million Americans will lose their health insurance if federal reform is implemented. The CBO estimate is actually that 32 million more Americans will have health insurance.

5. Biggest foreign policy gaffe of the night
Governor Romney’s lack of experience and knowledge in foreign affairs was apparent when he said that “America has the best health care record in the world.”

Here, if you’re still in the mood, is the full debate transcript on ObamaCare, courtesy Kaiser Health News.
Please add your own top moments and we’ll post them throughout the day.

Slate: ‘Mom-In-Chief’ Silent On Her Professional Life

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama speaks at the DNC (Getty Images).

On my late flight from California last night, the screens on the seats in front of me were a sea of blue background: Almost everyone was watching Michelle Obama’s convention speech. Today, a cutting commentary by Kerry Howley on Slate’s XXfactor makes a very good point about what the first lady didn’t say. (NPR has the full transcript of her speech here.) What we learned last night, it says, is that apparently “Michelle Obama has never aspired to anything but to be the most powerful mother on the planet.”

Says the first lady:

“Our life before moving to Washington was filled with simple joys: … Saturdays at soccer games, Sundays at Grandma’s house … and a date night for Barack and me was either dinner or a movie, because as an exhausted mom, I couldn’t stay awake for both.”

What we never learn, in this 3,000-word speech, is why Michelle Obama was so exhausted. Had she just finished a three-hour marathon? Was she ill? Pregnant once again? That she had spent the day corporate lawyering, or acting as an assistant to the mayor of Chicago, or filling various executive positions with the University of Chicago Hospitals, is not a detail she chooses to share. You would never know from last night’s speech that Obama had ever exerted herself in any way in exchange for legal tender.

The commentary makes the point that the Obama team was trying to “out-traditional” the Republicans, and mentions Hillary Clinton’s fateful remark about deciding not to stay home and “bake cookies.” Sigh. Now where did I put those Tollhouse chips?

More on what isn’t said at the conventions: A hilarious Washington Post essay, The convention speech you’ll never hear.