Thursday, September 07, 2006

Culver & Nussle: perspective, issues and underwear

I’m still thinking of ways to explain how the abortion debate never addresses what it means to have an occupied uterus. I’m sure with that line alone I’ve lost at least a quarter of the normal (using the term loosely) readers. I know, when we use correct anatomical terms it takes away all the mystery.

I thought I’d break up my writers block with a first. The AP released a story with a good example of the different political philosophies eking out of the campaigns. This is in today’s Mason City Globe-Gazette:

Gubernatorial rivals offer prescription plans

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle called Thursday for the creation of a hotline and Web site to give seniors information about the availability and cost of prescription medicines.

Nussle argued at a news conference that broadly spreading information about prescription drug costs would add new competition to the marketplace, driving down prices.

"This new Web site will drive down the price of prescription drugs the way competing gas stations at an intersection cause a drop in the prices at the pump," said Nussle. "The creation of a hotline and Web site will mean significant cost savings, helping seniors save up to $10 million annually on prescription drugs."

Nussle headed to a senior citizens center in suburban Des Moines to announce his plan.

Taylor West, a spokeswoman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver, said Culver has offered a more sweeping program as part of his proposal to expand health coverage in the state.

Culver has proposed expanding a program that pays for health coverage for children of the working poor to cover their parents. He also would offer incentives to businesses to offer health coverage for their workers.

Do you see the differences between Nussle & Culver? Okay, I did give a couple of hints.

Nussle is clearly on the side of applying market strategies to create price competition among sellers to lower costs and create saving in the state’s Medicaid budget, while also helping all Iowans with the price of prescription drugs.

Culver, on the other hand, recommends we expand state programs, which means spending significantly more tax dollars on insurance products for a larger pool of eligible Iowans.

It’s a stark comparison. Chet Culver will raise taxes to build larger government programs to provide services to a select group of Iowans and Jim Nussle will use economic strategies to lower the cost of private sector services to benefit all Iowans and to generate savings in the state’s budget.

I’m sure Democrats will point out that Jim Nussle was in charge of the budget. …blah, blah, blah…and Chet Culver will only raise taxes on….blah, blah, blah. You can’t argue with that kind of spin. But I can point out that the candidates offer up ideas with a certain perspective – which it seems the Democrats are gleefully using for abortion, oops choice, wallpaper to confuse a handful of Republicans and freak out independent women– and voters pay attention just long enough to get the gist. That’s not a bad approach if you need a litmus test.

If you’re a partisan, you probably rolled your eyes in a big duh. That’s reasonable. However, if every voter maintained an unnatural level of interest in political issues and public policy most hacks wouldn’t have a job. There would be no need to remind voters about perspective, issues and underwear preferences.

Did Nussle give any evidence that having two gas stations at an intersection drives down prices? The prices may be equal, but they're not necessarily low.

And how did he arrive at the $10M savings? Does he have some economic model that shows that creating a Web site will lower costs?

Did Culver say how he'd pay for the expanded program? Would it be increased taxes, cuts to other programs, or something else? What percentage of businesses don't offer health coverage?

Without details, these plans are just words--maybe words designed to hook certain types of voters. But they're not real plans.
I'm not interested in swinging away at your questions, mostly because they require long, geeky answers. And nobody really cares.

The point is to look at how this newspaper article inadvertently included applied examples of political philosophy from our two gubernatorial candidates.

I don't think that happens very often.
I wasn't really asking you to answer these questions. I was pointing out that without answers to these questions--or at least some assurance that the claims aren't wild speculation or fabrication--the words are meaningless.

You are probably right that nobody really cares if Nussle and Culver have done the hard work to back up their statements. As long as someone feels all warm and fuzzy about a candidate's political philosophy, they will vote for him, even if the plans never had a chance of materializing.

The problem is that if you're hungry for steak, sizzle doesn't taste very good.
CR -

I think you have accurately described the 'where's the beef?' phenomenon that ripples through every campaign season. And sadly, all it inspires is a big, "so what?"
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