Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Rahm's "Solid and Sensible" Plan

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will themselves not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die."
-- Daniel Burnham
After a less than flattering mini-biography of Rahm Emanuel -- e.g., "Some say Mr. Emanuel learned to act tough to pre-empt the jeers he might otherwise have attracted as a schoolboy ballet dancer in Chicago." -- The Economist blesses "The Plan" by Emanuel and Bruce Reed:
[T]he Plan itself is solid and mostly sensible.

Probably the main reason wages have not risen much in recent years is that health-insurance premiums, which many American employers shoulder, have soared. The Plan lists ways to curb them.

Doctors, rather than being paid for every test and injection they provide—an arrangement that inevitably leads to over-doctoring—should be paid by results. Patients should be given better incentives to stay healthy: insurers, for example, should push them to take free physical exams to spot ailments early. Better use of information technology could supposedly save $162 billion a year. If the system is made more efficient, Mr Emanuel thinks coverage can be extended to all American children.

But he concedes that a nation as individualistic as America will probably never accept a European-style national health service — and he should know, having worked on Hillary Clinton's doomed health project in the 1990s. He argues, however, that maybe, some day, every American might receive a voucher for basic health services from the insurer of his or her choice.

Mindful of the teachers' unions, he avoids the V-word when discussing education. But he has some sensible ideas. Subsidies for those who cannot afford to go to college are currently too complex; he would replace the five main schemes with a single $3,000-a-year tax credit. Teachers should be paid for performance, not just credentials. And schoolchildren should take shorter holidays. (The Democratic Leadership Council, a moderate Clintonian body, made the same proposal last month.)

Americans are not saving enough for retirement. *** Employees should automatically be enrolled in 401(K) pension schemes unless they object. The middle class should be exempt from capital-gains tax. And families with an income of less than $100,000 a year should surrender no more than 10% of it to the taxman.
In other words: Although "The Plan" would be a big improvement over the current Republican fiasco, it contains no blood-stirring surprises for those familiar with the DLC's history of half-measures.

No comments:


Blog Archive