Ezra Klein : health care and the progressive agenda in the USA

Aug 8th, 2009 | By | Category: In Brief
Ezra Klein and Elizabeth Jacobs at Netroots Nation 2008, Austin, Texas

Ezra Klein and Elizabeth Jacobs at Netroots Nation 2008, Austin, Texas

The “very, very good, and very, very young” American progressive blogger Ezra Klein has increased his audience since he joined the Washington Post earlier this year. A Post online exchange with a Connecticut reader this past Thursday  illustrates why he is so good, and why the current US health care debate is so bizarre:

New Haven, Conn.: Ezra, what do you make [of?] the most recent CNN poll on health care reform that showed a generational divide between those who want reform (the under-50s) and those who don’t (the over-50s) … the over-50s are about to benefit from government-run health care in the form of Medicare … ?

Ezra Klein: America’s elderly effectively live in Canada. They have single-payer health care. They have a government-run, defined benefit pension plan. And they like it. Their opposition is a funny kind of opposition: They’re not worried that the government is going to take over health care. They’re worried that they’re going to lose their government-provided health care.”

You can also follow “ezraklein” on twitter. And this past Friday he tweeted: “Tyler Cowen’s description of what a progressive believes describes me almost precisely.”

Cowen’s “What is progressivism?” reminded me of George Orwell`s “Toward European Unity,” first published in the New-York-based Partisan Review in 1947. I agree myself with much in Cowen’s current North American progressive articles of faith. But I think he expresses a little too much admiration for “the very successful polities of northwestern Europe” (article 1).

A Canadian is bound to wonder somewhat about article 9 as well: “State and local governments are fundamentally to be mistrusted.” The welfare state in Canada has been built largely at the provincial level of government. And even allowing for the unique pressures of francophone Quebec, this may reflect deeper North American realities at work in the USA too?

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