Democrats Should Campaign for Dutch-Style Health Reforms

Dutch girls cycling in Amsterdam, June 13, 2014
Dutch girls cycling in Amsterdam, June 13, 2014 (Shirley de Jong)

The other day, I explained that the reason Americans can’t get a European-style health-care system is not opposition from insurance companies but the fears of 155 million Americans who currently get health insurance through their employers. They worry that a single-payer system, like Britain’s, would mean higher taxes and lower-quality care.

Such fears — largely unfounded — would undoubtedly be amplified by drug companies, health providers and insurance companies if the Democrats campaigned for “Medicare for all”.

So instead of having an abstract, and probably pointless, debate about which health-care system is superior, why not look at what advocates of single-payer hope to achieve and see if this can’t be done without eliminating private insurance? Read more

Don’t Force Catalans to Choose Between Independence and the Status Quo

Sign demanding a vote for Catalan independence in Girona, Spain, September 22, 2014
Sign demanding a vote for Catalan independence in Girona, Spain, September 22, 2014 (Keith Roper)

Last night I wrote that time is running out to avoid a constitutional crisis in Spain. The Catalans are determined to hold an independence referendum in October; the central government in Madrid is determined to prevent one.

This seems to be a case of an unstoppable force meeting an unmovable object, but there may still be a way out. Read more

Trump Is Right (For Once): The Debt Ceiling Must Go

View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, January 20, 2009
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, January 20, 2009 (Wikicommons/Bgwwlm)

Finally a good idea from Donald Trump.

The Washington Post reports that the American president has agreed with the leader of the Democratic opposition in the Senate, Charles Schumer, to find a way to abolish the debt ceiling.

When asked by a reporter, Trump said “there are lots of good reasons” for eliminating the measure.

Trump’s own Republicans, who have often used the debt ceiling as leverage to negotiate spending cuts, are appalled. Read more

Macron a Failure Already?

Emmanuel Macron arrives at the Elysée Palace in Paris for his inauguration as president of France, May 14
Emmanuel Macron arrives at the Elysée Palace in Paris for his inauguration as president of France, May 14 (Elysée/Nathalie Bauer)

Chris Bickerton makes a strong argument in The New York Times: Emmanuel Macron is on track to become yet another failed French president.

Bickerton, who teaches European politics at Cambridge University, knows France well. But here I think he misses the mark. Read more

Democrats Should Look to the Middle, Not to the Left

Hillary Clinton supporters listen to a speech in Davidson, North Carolina, October 12, 2016
Hillary Clinton supporters listen to a speech in Davidson, North Carolina, October 12, 2016 (Hillary for America/Alyssa S.)

Since last year’s presidential election, the American left has been calling on Democrats to adopt a program of economic populism in order to lure back working-class voters.

This would be a mistake.

A lurch to the left may not bring back working-class whites but would disappoint middle-class voters who have been joining the Democratic Party in far greater numbers. Read more

Canceling South Korean Trade Deal Would Be a Mistake

View from the Lotte World Tower in Seoul, South Korea
View from the Lotte World Tower in Seoul, South Korea (Unsplash/Jeonguk Ha)

Various American media report this weekend that President Donald Trump is thinking of canceling a trade agreement with South Korea.

This may be bluster: an attempt to force the South Koreans to make concessions. It’s the way Trump “negotiates”.

But if he makes good on this threat, it would be another self-inflicted wound for American commerce and a setback for America’s strategy in East Asia. Read more

Catalan Nationalists Are Not Campaigning “On Backs of the Dead”

A Catalan woman takes part in a demonstration against terrorism in Barcelona, Spain, August 26
A Catalan woman takes part in a demonstration against terrorism in Barcelona, Spain, August 26 (Adolfo Lujan)

Ramón Pérez-Maura has a blistering op-ed in Politico, where he takes the Catalan independence movement to task for “campaigning on the backs of the dead” of the recent terrorist attacks.

This is ludicrous. Read more