Monday, March 2, 2009

At long last, Kathy.

Since time immemorial, this blog has held a candle for the unbelievably popular and effective Governor of Kansas. In a few minutes time she will be nominated as Health and Human Services Secretary. Not only will this gift Obama a talented cabinet minister but America will benefit from the universal health care programme she will usher in. Change we can believe in indeed.

Some have expressed a logical concern that this will cost Dems any chance of picking up the Kansas open Senate seat in 2010 but I feel that that exchange is a price well worth paying to end the travesty of 47mn uninsured Americans (and to stop Phil 'Child hater' Breddesen in his tracks). Besides, the 2010 table is already set beautifully for our Senate chances.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some early afternoon champagne to pop, and thoughts of 2016 to occupy my mind...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Twittering Obama's First Congressional Address

Ticket to Ride

Leave it to us - we're professionals.

As we’ve previously written, not everyone is happy with the stimulus, and that includes us at VomPolitik. There are serious questions about whether it is large enough, whether the mix of spending and tax cuts is appropriate, and whether the Democratic majority should have rammed a left-of-center partisan plan down the throats of recalcitrant Republicans. That’s not why we’re unhappy, though. After years of trying to see the big picture, we’ve decided to take a vacation and become that most dreaded of political animals, the Single Issue Voter. And what is our Single Issue? High-speed rail.

Marcus and I have been obsessing over high-speed rail for years. We’d like to pretend that it’s because building high-speed rail would create jobs, hasten commerce, and provide cleaner competition to air travel. All of those are true, and there are other arguments as well, but that’s not why we, in particular, want it. We just really like trains. And the $9 billion in the stimulus package for high-speed rail won’t buy us nearly enough. In fact, it’s so little it disgusts us and fills us with loathing.

Let us assume, though, that our more sophisticated readers have taken a more nuanced view and decided to make national transportation policy decisions for reasons other than personal inclination, finding, for argument’s sake, the environmental justification persuasive. What would it take to build a national, high-speed rail network?

Marcus and I have drawn up plans for what amounts to a Circle Line for the United States, with the following main lines (all with stops at convenient cities): Boston to Miami; Chicago to San Francisco; Seattle to Los Angeles; and Los Angeles to Miami via Phoenix, Dallas, etc., with the lines connecting at their nearest points (Boston-Miami connects to the Chicago line via a New York-Chicago run, for example), laying 9,700 miles of track in all.

At an average speed of 200mph (slower than records set by European and Asian high-speed lines but better than the Acela’s current 150mph), this would allow travelers to get from Boston to Miami in seven and a half hours (only one or two hours more than the flying process); the entire circuit could be concluded in slightly over two days, with the longest stretch being Boston-Seattle, at 20 hours. Readers will note that this is significantly longer than it takes to fly, an inconvenience to be balanced by the lower ticket prices and greater comfort of the train (tickets being cheaper because of the train’s far greater passenger capacity).

And what, you might ask, is the price tag of this wondrous system that will allow us to travel from one end of the country to another at speed and in comfort? Estimates on cost per mile vary, but a fair figure is between $40 million and $80 million per mile, which we average at $60 million. $60 million for 9,700 miles of track means that it will cost a scant $582 billion to build a nation-wide, high-speed rail network. Worth every penny, in our view. All aboard!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Today's stimulus reading (Updated)

Why should you read these? Because we may very well be on the brink of a depression and we need to get the stimulus right if we're to prevent it or at least mitigate it and that means understanding the issue both politically and economically. Thankfully, smart people who can write real well help: 

Friday, February 6, 2009

Amidst a snowstorm of protest... (Updated)

In comparison to Bredeson, I pray that Ambinder is right about DeLauro now in contention for HHS. In the meantime, for some Obama old-school grassroots activism feel free to drop the White House a line if you oppose Phil 'screw the children' Bredeson.

Update: Now Kathy's name is being trailed again... don't tease us again Barack!


The Page is reporting that Tennesee Governor Phil Bredeson is poised to become Health & Human Services Secretary. Such a move would be seriously endanger the cause of universal healthcare. As a result, it would likely create serious outright opposition from more then just liberal netroots but serious healthcare reformers

Why? Because Bredeson's record of cutting healthcare and restricting access to healthcare amongst even the poorest in his state is dangerous prologue for the healthcare fights with the Right to come. Furthermore, his ludicrous analogy of healthcare as a commodity not unlike groceries show's a fundamental lack of intellectual understanding on matters of public goods. Jonathan Cohn, of The Treatment healthcare blog, as ever breaks down the danger succinctly and sharply

If Bredeson is nominated to lead HHS he should be opposed. Healthcare matters more then giving Obama another free pass on a crucial national priority.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Reach for the reset button: Obama so far and the Health Czar vacancy

In case you hadn't noticed, I am not best pleased with the Obama Administration of late:
Now, based upon the clear and obvious understanding that the sole purpose of Barack Obama's presidency is to please me then there is but one thing that he can do to get me back on side, and her name is Kathy...