Sunday, May 4, 2008

What really matters is how much net good they would do

Economist Mark Thoma in his May 4th post understandably doesn't like Hillary's recent support of a gas tax holiday and her related comments, and he muses about whether he will vote for Hillary or Obama. Here is my reply:

With regard to your choice for President, I agree with Paul Krugman. The biggest issue is universal health insurance. It is huge in its own right, but because it would be so successful, it would give a clear and massive demonstration to the public that the simpleton Republican ideology that government is always bad, and the unregulated free market is always better, is deeply wrong.

This would generate enormous political capital for the Democrats, and it could easily mean control of the senate with a filibuster proof majority. Remember that after the New Deal the Democrats had such high political capital for their ideals, they were able to usher in a golden age of high and equitable economic growth and social advancement. And, the Republican party was forced to move far to the left (a great description of this is in Krugman's new book, "The Conscience of a Liberal").

The Democrats could use the great political capital that would come from universal health insurance to do great good, for example to have a tremendous increase in action against oil dependence (which would devastate the funding and ability of terrorists) and global warming. In fact, I think the best thing that could happen in combating global warming is to pass universal health care. This would provide enormous political capital to really do big things.

Based on the fact that Obama's program doesn't mandate insurance – which is crucial for evolving towards universal health care, and based on the things Obama has said, I think we are much more likely to get it with Hillary. I also think Hillary is about as electable, maybe more.

Both her and Bill are extremely intelligent and care very much what economists say. This is clearly shown by overall what they say and support. Hillary only said what she said because she thought it would help her get elected. Both her and Bill have clearly shown that they are very willing to say and do smaller bad things in order to get done far larger good things, and I think on net, Hillary would do far more good than Obama.

Obama has been trying to cultivate this image as a great new age compromiser, so on the issues overall he proposes much less improvement than Hillary, and much less improvement than we could actually get through today. The public has been so hurt by simpleminded and plutocratic Republican policies at this point that they will back big and positive change, so the greater positive changes Hillary proposes can overall really be put through. We don't have to settle for the relatively timid new age compromising, not too different from the extreme Republican, positions of Obama.

Especially with so much today that can so greatly help or hurt people, I think the vote should be based on who will do the most net good, not who says the most pleasant things, and I think clearly, from what I've seen so far, that's Hillary.