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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

TPM Reader DR moves in a very different direction …

This may not be the issue everyone is talking about this morning, but I’m increasingly pissed off about the liberal vs. moderate framing everyone is using for last night’s debate.

I’ve been a liberal my whole life (60+ years) and now I’m a moderate or a centrist? No f—ing way. I’m heir to a long liberal tradition in this country that has always opposed the excesses of the left.

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From TPM Reader RL …

These seem obvious but I don’t see anyone clearly stating them:

1. Private insurance is (for most people) the “devil they know”. It may not be great, but they’re used to dealing with it. Potential replacements invoke the specter of the unknown. And of course Republicans will spend massive resources to create Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Remember Hillarycare?

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TPM Reader DP says it doesn’t matter …

I don’t understand your claim, which I think I see solidifying into the conventional wisdom, that if Warren is the nominee, her position on doing away with private insurance could be “a major electoral albatross.” Who is the voter who thinks “I really am on the fence between Trump and Warren, but I think Trump’s position on health care is preferable?”

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TPM Reader JB delves into the nuts and bolts of health care economics and responds to TPM Reader LS

I think LS is appropriately angry, but he/she is misdirecting that anger. No, I’m not a fan of insurance companies. Insurance companies don’t really select what to cover and not to cover. They farm that work out to Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). PBMs administer the prescription drug plans for more than 250 million Americans. They act as intermediaries between pharmaceutical companies, insurance plans, and patients. They do this work for commercial plans, Medicare Part D plans, and state and Federal Health plans. Three companies (Express Scripts, OptumRx, and CVS Health) control nearly 80% of the market.

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From TPM Reader LS

I, too, noticed Elizabeth Warren’s healthcare plan remained similar to Bernie’s. Yes, the warning bells went off in my head. But, if she pairs her health care plan with this rigorous attack on the insurance companies, it works.

I am highly dissatisfied with my insurance provided by [major industrial chemical manufacturer].

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I wanted to draw your attention to this article Tim Naftali published yesterday in The Atlantic. It’s based on a newly released portion of Richard Nixon’s presidential tapes of a call between Nixon and then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan. The short version is this. Reagan is calling Nixon about televised footage of the United Nations General Assembly voting, in opposition to the United States, to seat a delegation from the People’s Republic of China to replace the Republic of China (Taiwan) as the official representative of China. After the vote members of the Tanzanian delegation celebrated by dancing. Reagan, who was a fierce supporter of Taiwan, was outraged and told Nixon: “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Nixon chuckles in response and passively affirms him.

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On balance I thought this was a pretty productive, good debate for the simple reason that a series of central debates in the Democratic party and this campaign were joined clearly, in a generally well argued and illuminating way. Former Rep. John Delaney was clearly the odd man out on the stage (possibly with Gov. Bullock a runner up). He frequently seemed like he was in a time warp back to the 1990s. But he provided an effective foil to Warren and Sanders; he even leveled some reasonable critiques. In so doing he managed to garner wildly more time on air than his non-candidacy possibly merits. But I thought it was good because you had a series of set piece exchanges which really captured the broader debate in a clear and illuminating way.

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9:38 PM: The Green New Deal spends about half or likely more than half its money on things unrelated to the environment.

9:22 PM: A memorable moment …

9:10 PM: This debate was going pretty well and then it all went wrong.

8:50 PM: A simple point. The entire immigration debate – at least in this debate – has been reduced to this issue of whether unauthorized border crossing should be a civil offense or a criminal offense. It’s not a non-issue. But quite apart from the rights and wrongs this is an incredibly narrow issue in the broader immigration debate. As the advocates of decriminalization make fairly clear the reason they want to do this is that President Trump has used this law as the hook for family separations. By and large previous administrations chose to deal with crossings as civil infractions. In other words, before President Trump, in practice it wasn’t criminalized in the first place (there were exceptions). So in practice there’s very little difference. This amounts to an argument that if we get a Democratic president, it will be a priority to formally change border crossings to only a civil offense so that a future Trump-like President wouldn’t be able to use the law for family separations in the future. Of course, presumably a future Trump-like President could simply change the law again. Again, not that it’s a non-issue. But this is a narrow and technical issue that would largely be moot under a Democratic President in the first place.

8:37 PM: So far I think this is a really good debate because most or all of the candidates are making the best, clearest arguments for their case.

8:34 PM: I mentioned this in an earlier post. I think this debate about taxes and premiums is wrong. I think in practice employers will pocket much of the savings (from no longer paying premiums) and individuals will pay real and substantial new taxes.

8:27 PM: Pitting Sanders and Delaney against each other here is actually very edifying. It gets the core issues on both sides right out there.

8:23 PM: Decent openings from Buttigieg and O’Rourke.

8:20 PM: Interesting that with Sanders and Warren on the stage as the frontrunners, the also-rans can position themselves as non-ideologues as though Biden and Harris weren’t in the race.

8:18 PM: Delaney’s such a fascinating, weird player in this campaign. It’s like he’s running for President of the 1990s. It’s not whether these ideas are good or not. They’re just so distant from where the Democratic party is today.

8:12 PM: Remarkable. CNN is reporting that Sanders may go after Warren on the issue of electability. It’s hard for me to see how that’s a good angle for him, though I will say that Sanders consistently polls a bit better than Warren in head to head match ups with President Trump.

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