What's With Single Payer System

The Conversation - A New York Times Blog

A New York Times Blog

July 29, 2009, 4:29 pm

What’s Wrong With a Single-Payer System?

By David Brooks and Gail Collins
health care reformJustin Sullivan/Getty Images In late May, dozens of health care reform activists staged a protest outside the San Francisco Federal Building while waiting to deliver petitions to U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Gail Collins: David, your writing on health care has been incredibly thoughtful, so I’m going to take this opportunity to poke you a little. Then I’ll shut up so you can talk.

The other week I said I agreed with you about the critical importance of cost controls. Then I asked — O.K., I sort of demanded — that you denounce the Republican leaders in the Senate who were flinging around proposals to make it illegal to investigate cost controls at all. You basically said that was a stupid thing to do, but that the Republicans weren’t really the problem since they aren’t in charge.

A single-payer system would be far and away the most cost effective answer.

But actually, they are. And so are we. The reason the country can’t solve the health care mess is because the people with the biggest bullhorns don’t speak honestly and clearly about it. Nobody understands the Democratic plan, and that scares the public. The irresponsible Republicans are just waiting to make whatever comes out sound terrible. The responsible Republicans are working to come up with a compromise that’s going to be even more incoherent than the Democratic version. Read more…

July 22, 2009, 12:10 pm

In Praise of Partisanship

By David Brooks and Gail Collins
The U.S. Capitol BuildingStephen Crowley/The New York Times

David Brooks: Gail, you made a reference in last week’s conversation that caught me up short. You said something about how badly my guys, the Republicans, have been behaving during this whole health care thing.

It made me wonder, are they really my guys? Do I have guys anymore? Read more…

July 16, 2009, 12:10 pm

Partisan Health Care Politics

By David Brooks and Gail Collins
Hospital gurney health careLee Celan/Reuters

Gail Collins: David, I’d like to talk today about your columns on health care. I’ve been reading them carefully and as a result I’ve spent the last several weeks in bed with the covers over my head, awash in despair. If it wasn’t for all those Republicans committing adultery and giving resignation speeches awash with dead fish metaphors, I’d never have had the strength to crawl out every now and then and write columns myself. Read more…

July 8, 2009, 1:00 pm

Who’s Best? Who’s Brightest?

By David Brooks and Gail Collins
Robert S. McNamaraCecil Stoughton/The White House and John F. Kennedy Library, via Associated Press Robert McNamara in October 1961: Has our ruling class gotten better or worse over the ages?

David Brooks: Gail, the death of Robert McNamara has me thinking about ruling classes. On the one hand there was the Best and the Brightest ruling class of which McNamara was a part. These were men (I guess they were all men) educated at the high water mark of technocratic self-confidence. Read more…

July 1, 2009, 1:01 pm

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

By David Brooks and Gail Collins

Gail Collins: David, Happy Fourth of July in advance. How does your family celebrate? I hope you’ve got something really nice planned, so you’ll quickly recover from the fact that I’m about to rant about Republicans and morality. Read more…

June 24, 2009, 12:48 pm

The Insanity on and in Iran

By David Brooks and Gail Collins
Barack Obama and KhamaneiLeft, Alex Wong/Getty Images; right, Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters Left, President Obama at a news conference on June 23. Right, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a sermon during Friday prayers at Tehran University, four days earlier.

David Brooks: Gail, many of us were born into the wrong era. You — and I’m just guessing here — would have been happy as William Henry Harrison’s Rahm Emmanuel in 1841. You would have told him to wear galoshes on Inauguration Day and used his long presidency to advance the cause of Ohioan Cultural Hegemony — to make Ohio the cultural, financial and psychological center of the nation and the world, to the betterment of all. Read more…

June 18, 2009, 3:53 pm

The Voices of Experience

By David Brooks and Gail Collins
health careJoyce Dopkeen/The New York Times A hospital emergency room.

David and I thought the responses to our health care discussion were so great we decided to broaden the conversation. Here are excerpts from some of the comments we thought were especially interesting. Read more…

June 16, 2009, 6:40 pm

Health Care Follies

By David Brooks and Gail Collins
Clockwise from top left: Tony Cenicola/The New York Times; Jason Cohn/Reuters; Mark Wilson/Getty Images/Agence France-Presse; Alberto Pellaschiar/The Associated Press; Georgios Kefalas/EPA

Gail Collins: David, I loved your column this week about the Obama health care plan. I think it was really on target about the White House’s politically pragmatic strategy. Our only difference appears to be that my reaction is — Yes, Barack, go for whatever you can get! While I’m under the impression that you think whatever he gets is going to be too big, too bureaucratic, too messy, and that you’d be happy to see the whole thing defeated. Read more…

June 10, 2009, 12:54 pm

Advice for High School Graduates

By David Brooks and Gail Collins
Phil Marino for The New York Times

David Brooks: Gail, 30 years ago this week, I graduated from Radnor High School in Pennsylvania. Today, I’m giving some remarks to the students of this year’s graduating class.

This honor has sparked a condition that is unacceptable to people in our profession: writer’s block. I have been trying to think of some wisdom I have acquired over the past three decades, and I’m drawing a blank. Read more…

June 3, 2009, 12:56 pm

Guns, Gays and Abortion

By David Brooks and Gail Collins
Left to right: Gabriel Bouys/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images; Jeff Swensen/Getty Images; Beth Rooney for The New York Times

Gail Collins: David, can we talk hot-button social issues for a second? I know this is not really an area where you fly the conservative colors, but you’re the go-to guy on how America lives, and I’d like to hear your thoughts even if we can’t work up a fight.

If you think of abortion, gay rights and gun control as the Big Three, it seems to me the nation is moving in very different directions.
Read more…

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About The Conversation

Times columnists David Brooks and Gail Collins discuss the pressing, and not-so-pressing, issues of the day.

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