Lost & Found


H-Hour, Day 2

J. Bradford DeLong is a professor of economics at Berkeley, a veteran of the Clinton administration, and the author of an extremely interesting blog about economics, history, and politics (recommended only if you are prepared to push past some pretty insulting comments about President Bush, his administration, and Republicans in general). DeLong worked with Hillary Clinton on the health-care taskforce of 1993-94. Here are his thoughts about Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions:

“My two cents’ worth–and I think it is the two cents’ worth of everybody who worked for the Clinton Administration health care reform effort of 1993-1994–is that Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life. Heading up health-care reform was the only major administrative job she has ever tried to do. And she was a complete flop at it. She had neither the grasp of policy substance, the managerial skills, nor the political smarts to do the job she was then given. And she wasn’t smart enough to realize that she was in over her head and had to get out of the Health Care Czar role quickly.

“So when senior members of the economic team said that key senators like Daniel Patrick Moynihan would have this-and-that objection, she told them they were disloyal. When junior members of the economic team told her that the Congressional Budget Office would say such-and-such, she told them (wrongly) that her conversations with CBO head Robert Reischauer had already fixed that. When long-time senior hill staffers told her that she was making a dreadful mistake by fighting with rather than reaching out to John Breaux and Jim Cooper, she told them that they did not understand the wave of popular political support the bill would generate. And when substantive objections were raised to the plan by analysts calculating the moral hazard and adverse selection pressures it would put on the nation’s health-care system… [ellipses in original]

“Hillary Rodham Clinton has already flopped as a senior administrative official in the executive branch–the equivalent of an Undersecretary. Perhaps she will make a good senator. But there is no reason to think that she would be anything but an abysmal president.”

Medicare Surrender

Bad news from the House and Senate indicates that President Bush’s hopes of significant Medicare reforms this year, as promised in his 2003 State of the Union, are evaporating. Since coming into office, Bush has tried to use the offer of a new prescription-drug benefit to persuade Congress to modernize Medicare. Congress first balked – and now has mutinied. If these reports are right, the administration is getting ready to execute an about-face and accept a prescription-drug benefit without Medicare reform. That’s a sad retreat – and a sorry waste of probably our last chance to reform Medicare before the baby boomers begin to retire.

Found in Iraq

More than 80 mass graves, containing up to thousands of bodies each. And counting.

On the other hand, if you listen to the war second-guessers, it can seem as if the graves don’t count at all.

In the obits

No form of literature celebrates the vanity of human experience and the absurdity of human achievement better than the obituaries column in the Telegraph. Consider this one, which begins, “Leighton Rees, who died on Sunday aged 63, was the first Embassy World Professional Darts Champion.”


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