Today's Blogs

Mr. Universal

Bloggers discuss Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan for universal health care. They also consider Russia’s decision to cut off oil to Eastern Europe and ogle the newly unveiled iPhone.

Mr. Universal: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a system of universal health care that would extend coverage to the state’s 6.5 million uninsured, including illegal immigrants. California would become the third state to offer such medical coverage. Bloggers are all over the place.

Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly’s Political Animal offers conditional support, raising “two-and-a-half cheers.” “Overall, I’m not a big fan of individual mandates,” he writes. “On the other hand, I am a big fan of community rating, and the whole plan might be worth passing simply to get that enshrined into law. Once community rating becomes established, I suspect there’s no going back, and that might eventually lead to a more rational system all by itself.” But Terry Carter at The Liberal Progressive doesn’t think the plan goes far enough: “The government should PROVIDE the health care of EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN PERIOD, not simply REQUIRE health care.”

Michael van der Galien at The Moderate Voice cites the proposal as evidence Schwarzenegger “has now truly broken from the far right.” He recognizes the need for universal coverage but fears the plan may overreach.

At Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings, Orange County conservative Laura compares the plan to one California voters “decisively rejected” in 2004 and criticizes Schwarzenegger for straying from free-market principles: “[I]f you’re a business, would you hire the tenth worker that would force you to comply with the insurance plan? And will businesses decide to pay the payroll tax instead of providing insurance, thereby forcing employees into state-run health plans?”

Libertarian blogger KipEsquire at A Stitch in Haste is appalled: “The economically inclined might also note that, if the demand for health care is inelastic, then physicians and hospitals can simply ‘pass on’ the tax to patients. Which would mean that Schwarzenegger’s idea of helping his constituents is by imposing an indirect tax on them.”

At Captain’s Quarters, conservative Ed Morrissey calls the “healthinator’s” idea “par for the course” in “a state that has made deficit spending an art form.” He predicts the illegal immigrant issue will cause the most unrest: “I understand his economic reasoning—he figures that they’re getting free emergency-room treatment and wants to reduce the cost of their treatment. … It will start a political firestorm and may re-energize the anti-illegal movement in California.”

Read more about Schwarzenegger’s health-care proposal.

Crude behavior: Russia cut off an oil pipeline to Europe over a dispute with Belarus, which Russia claims was illegally siphoning off crude oil. The immediate effects won’t be too damaging, since Eastern European countries have plenty of reserves. But bloggers wonder about the long-term consequences.

Washington, D.C.-based Econo-girl imagines a Europe without Russian oil: “Would [Russia] honestly sit by and let thousands of people freeze to death? Perhaps. One thing that would definitely happen is that Europe would find an alternative to oil as fast as possible. Russia would become an international pariah. I doubt Putin really cares about that. He just misses seeing the fear in their eyes.”

At energy blog The Oil Drum, “Heading Out” contends that these events “show the clear benefits of having some form of a strategic reserve of fuel. And in this case it appears that all the countries affected have got sufficient oil set aside that it will not be a serious problem for a while.”

Libertarian law professor Daniel Drezner predicts that if the standoff lasts more than a week, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko won’t: “The big question here is whether Western Europe will force Russia to turn the oil tap back on before Lukashenka is ousted by someone not stupid enough to annoy Belarus’ only ally. From a human rights perspective, it would seem hard to believe that anyone in Belarus could be worse than Lukashenko. On the other hand, it’s not clear that a replacement would be much better, either—and there’s the pesky problem of heating homes and such.”

Read more about the oil cutoff.

Sell phone: Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the new iPhone, which combines video, music, communications, and a touch screen. The company’s stock jumped 7 percent after the announcement. Bloggers are jumping as well.

Gadget blog Gizmodo’s wall-to-wall iPhone coverage includes running updates on the Macworld convention, plus photos and a video of what they dub “the Jesus Phone.” Engadget also provides running commentary and excerpts Jobs’ keynote address: ” ‘There’s an old Wayne Gretsky quote I love—”I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it’s been.” That’s what we try to do at Apple. Thank you very, very much.’ Huge, huge applause, standing ovation.”

CaveMonkey50 wishes Jobs had talked less about the phone and more about the Mac: “Kind of hard to swallow when Vista is being released in three weeks. You usually use the time before your competitor’s product release to talk about how good your product is.”

Read more about the iPhone.