I was flipping through the channels last night before I went to bed, and I came across Charlie Rose’s interview of former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (a Democrat).
At the moment, I cannot find last night’s episode of Charlie Rose on the Internet, otherwise I’d link to it. But I will say that I found Rendell’s comments to be a breath of fresh air. Rendell both criticized and also praised Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, which I appreciated because that’s much more honest than portraying one side as perfect and the other side as hopelessly flawed. And Rendell called on politicians to take principled stands and to exercise leadership. According to Rendell, Obama is not always good on this, for Obama did not publicize overly well the fact that tax cuts were a significant part of his stimulus package, and that food stamps actually put money into the economy. And yet, Rendell noted that Obama stood by his principles, come what may, on such issues as the controversial bail-outs and health care reform.
Regarding Mitt Romney, Rendell acknowledged that Romney is intelligent and is a decent debater. But Rendell said that, at the debate in which the audience booed a homosexual serviceman in the military who was asking a question, Romney should have stood up to the audience, praising the serviceman for what he has done for his country. I agree. Romney would have been a hero had he done that.
Rendell also made forecasts about how the Presidential election will turn out. He speculated that Obama will win the Electoral College but perhaps not the popular vote, for Obama is ahead in certain states, and yet he may lose by large margins in red states. Rendell also said that Romney’s gaffes have not yet damaged his chances, but, if Romney continues to make gaffes and people see him as a dunce, he’ll most likely lose, regardless of the job numbers.
As someone who is interested in health care policy, I paid attention to Rendell’s comments on that. Some of what Rendell said, I have heard from other people. For example, it has been argued that the health insurance mandate is needed if health insurance companies are to cover people with pre-existing conditions, for we need healthy people to put money into the insurance pool to pay for the treatment of the sick. Personally, while I support much of Obamacare, I question whether the insurance mandate will significantly alleviate the cost of paying for the treatment of those with pre-existing conditions. For one, my understanding is that most Americans even before Obamacare had health insurance, and so I wonder if the insurance mandate is adding enough people to the system to alleviate the cost of treating the sick. Second, not all of the uninsured who are becoming insured will be contributing to the insurance pool of private health insurance companies, for some of them will be on Medicaid.
But then Rendell referred to John Kerry’s health care plan in 2004. Kerry proposed that the government assume a significant part of the cost of treating cancer patients. According to Rendell, were that policy to become a reality, health insurance premiums would go down, for premiums are high in part on account of the cost of treating those with cancer.
I enjoyed watching Rendell last night. I agree with what Sean Hannity said about Rendell in his endorsement of Rendell’s book, A Nation of Wusses (see here): “Ed Rendell is one of the more refreshing and insightful voices in the conversation around American politics. He is a rare breed who tells the truth even when it doesn’t support his agenda. This book is a clever, intelligent, and entertaining retrospective on his life in politics featuring many of the characters he met along the way.”