The Phony Campaign

2019-07-07 Update

[Amazon Link]

As far as winning probabilities go, Senator Kamala had another good week at Betfair, while Wheezy Joe continued to fade.

And the President continues to lead the in the phony campaign, although any of Sanders/Buttigieg/Biden are just a major prevarication away from taking over the top spot:

Candidate WinProb Change
Donald Trump 46.9% +1.2% 1,790,000 -410,000
Bernie Sanders 5.0% +0.1% 1,470,000 +70,000
Pete Buttigieg 4.5% -1.0% 1,140,000 +254,000
Joe Biden 6.8% -1.2% 1,040,000 -270,000
Elizabeth Warren 8.3% unch 205,000 +24,000
Kamala Harris 25.0% +13.5% 144,000 +38,000
Andrew Yang 2.3% -0.8% 28,700 +700

"WinProb" calculation described here. Google result counts are bogus.

We'll be jumping around considerably among the candidates and issues, but here goes:

  • Megan McArdle makes an important point about "Medicare for All", while observing that Elizabeth Warren had better hope voters want radical honesty. Notably, Senator Warren was one of the two candidates raising her hand in Debate I when asked if they favored abolishing private health insurance. (The other being Bill de Blasio.)

    Unfortunately, leaving private insurance in place would make any sort of comprehensive left-wing reforms impossible. You couldn’t cut costs down to European levels, for instance, because that involves forcing providers to take lower reimbursements. And as long as a private system exists that’s willing to pay higher ones, slashing payments in the public system would just mean providers’ migrating toward the private one.

    Nor could you save much money on administrative overhead, since provider billing departments and insurer back offices would continue to exist in any hybrid system. You couldn’t develop the centralized health records to provide better continuity of care. And most important, you couldn’t make central decisions about which treatments to offer and which are too expensive for the benefit they provide.

    Piecemeal reforms that don’t touch employer insurance, or don’t touch it much, may modestly expand coverage. But they won’t fix everything else that’s broken in the current system — and for that reason, the piecemeal reforms would probably be too expensive to pass.

    So if you’re serious about creating a European-style health-care system, then you have to be serious about abolishing private insurance. The presidential candidates’ responses to Holt’s question were revealing.

    So Warren's being "honest". About that, at least. However…

  • At National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru pointed out the hapless Kirsten Gillibrand's Single-Payer Dishonesty. Senator Gillibrand is a cosponsor of Bernie's "Medicare for All" bill. But she didn't raise her hand for the "abolish private insurance" question. WTF, Kirsten?

    “The plan that Senator Sanders and I and others support, Medicare-for-all, is how you get to single payer. But it has a buy-in transition period, which is really important. In 2005 when I ran for Congress in a two-to-one Republican district, I actually ran on Medicare-for-all and I won that two-to-one Republican district twice. And the way I formulated it was simple: Anyone who doesn’t have access to insurance they like, they could buy it in a percentage of income they could afford,” she said.

    Yeah, yeah. Take it, Ramesh:

    What Gillibrand didn’t say: At the end of the third year of the transition, the federal government would prohibit private insurers from selling policies covering what the new Medicare for all” program does. The old joke about politicians is that you can tell they’re lying when their lips move. Sometimes Gillibrand manages to do it when her arm doesn’t move.

    Other candidates co-sponsoring Berniecare: Booker, Harris, Warren. The latter being the only one honest about what it means for private insurance.

  • Also at NR, editorial intern Kayla Bartsch notes Kamala Harris and the Fallacy of Defective Induction. Because Kamala is claiming to be meeting people out on the hustings "working two and three jobs" in order to "put food on the table." Sad!

    Harris, however, remained especially vague as to the actual number of Americans forced to work multiple jobs to feed their families. The reality is, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 5 percent of Americans worked more than one job in 2018. Further, only 3.2 percent of that 5 percent work a full-time job alongside of a part-time job (instead of two part-time jobs). And, recorded within that 3.2 percent are freelance artists, moonlight writers, and weekend Uber drivers — in short, it is hard to gauge whether the majority were working multiple jobs simply to “put food on the table” as Harris suggested, or if they were simply unsatisfied with their regular job (as the Census Bureau suggests).

    "Kamala Harris and the Fallacy of Defective Induction" sounds as if it could be the first volume of a series, à la J.K. Rowling. "Kamala Harris and the Berkeley Busing Experiment". "Kamala Harris and the Married Politician". "Kamala Harris and the Foolish Economic Agenda."

  • But Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner points out: Kamala Harris is the most cynical and dishonest 2020 Democrat — and it just might work. Specifically, her recent back and forth on whether we should go back to imposing busing. Philip notes:

    So Harris milked the issue for what it was worth at the time. It was the MacGuffin that allowed her to reduce Biden to an out-of-touch doddering old man, while she came off as tough and was able to throw in an inspirational personal story of being bused to school. Allahpundit predicted that Harris would “chuck this issue into the ocean within eight seconds of clinching the nomination.” But it turned out she casually tossed it in the Des Moines River once she got her polling bounce.

    Being so brazenly dishonest has proven both an asset and liability in presidential politics, when leading candidates undergo more scrutiny than running for any other office.

    Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton were both calculating liars, and that contributed to their 2008 primary losses, as well as their respective losses in the 2012 and 2016 general elections. Of course, there are many examples in the opposite direction. Bill “Slick Willie” Clinton was a routine liar and mostly managed to pull it off during his political career — at least electorally.

    President Trump is a brazen and shameless liar. His healthcare statements while running for president were totally incoherent and he casually made up facts. He made promises everybody knew were unattainable, such as Mexico paying for his border wall and boasting that he would pay off the federal debt within eight years while dramatically cutting taxes, boosting military spending, and not touching entitlements. Yet he won.

    So it could work out for her, as it has for Trump.

  • But let's move on to "honest" Elizabeth Warren. At the Washington Free Beacon, Brent Scher recalls: Warren Helped Confirm Clueless Obama Bundlers as Ambassadors.

    Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren's pledge to end the practice of tapping political donors to be ambassadors comes after years of silence during the Barack Obama presidency, when she voted to confirm numerous donors with no diplomatic experience.

    Warren's latest proposal, laid out in a Medium post, points to the Trump administration "selling swanky diplomatic posts to rich buffoons."

    "Buffoons". Heh. And yet:

    Warren was a senator, for example, when Obama nominated Noah Bryson Mamet to be U.S. ambassador to Argentina—Mamet was a political operative with no diplomatic experience who raised millions of dollars for Obama's presidential campaigns. It was revealed during Mamet's confirmation hearing that he had never been to Argentina.

    Warren voted to confirm Mamet, who passed through the Senate with 50 votes and none from Republicans.

    Brent provides a couple more examples of Liz's pro-buffoon record.

  • True confession: I am on Elizabeth's mailing list. My bad for signing up for a chance to grab a beer with her, and give her a piece of my alcohol-addled mind.

    So I've been pointed to her Student Loans Calculator. ("See how much debt you’ll have canceled under Elizabeth’s plan.")

    And she's touted her Universal Child Care Calculator. ("See how much you could save on child care costs under Elizabeth’s plan.")

    I looked in vain for "See how much more you'll be paying in taxes under Elizabeth's various plans." That's something I'll bring up with her when we meet for a drink.

  • And good news from the Babylon Bee: Nike Releases Bernie Sanders Signature Shoe That Helps You Survive Under Socialism.

    Nike has released a new patriotic shoe just in time for the Fourth of July: the Sanders Air Marx, the official, signature shoe of Senator Bernie Sanders.

    Every pair of Air Marx is emblazoned with Sanders' signature and iconic "crazy old man" silhouette. The shoes pack in all kinds of useful features for people living in a socialist regime, including the following:

    • New ActiveShrink technology helps the shoe shrink right along with you as you wither away from starvation
    • Breadline Padding Plus helps you stand in breadlines for hours hoping the government is generous enough to give you some food
    • A Venezuelan flag, or optional Soviet Russian flag, to show your true patriotism
    • A patented air pump that helps you pump up your wheelbarrow tire as you slave away farming food for the government to redistribute
    • Comfy and aerodynamic design that helps you chase zoo animals more effectively
    • The shoes are completely edible and can be boiled into soup or gruel in a pinch

    Picture at the link, comrade.

  • But let's move on to Fading Joe. We noted above how Kamala weaponized his anti-busing stance effectively and cynically. But as Jeff Jacoby points out in the Boston Globe: Biden was right. Busing was wrong.

    Biden wasn’t wrong. The forced busing of schoolchildren for purposes of racial desegregation was a wretched, wrongheaded policy that caused far more harm than good. As a young, liberal Democratic senator 45 years ago, Biden firmly opposed busing, and he was right to do so.

    In the days following the debate, the liberal media chorus declared that of course opposition to forced busing was wrong, of course Biden had been on “the wrong side of history,” and of course he should acknowledge the error of his ways. A visitor from Mars could be forgiven for assuming that racial busing had been wise and beneficial, and that no reasonable mind could deny it.

    Jeff goes back and looks at the sad history of (yet another) failed social engineering scheme.

  • And the Washington Free Beacon brings us a video supercut. Joe Biden: A Life of Platitudes.

    Pun Salad Fact Check: platitude level 100%.