September 09, 2004


Man, am I ever gettin' to like this guy! He's running as an R and takes a shot at Senator Chuck Grassley in the campaign. From today’s OpinionJournal diary:

Pro-Beer, Anti Pork

Beer magnate Pete Coors is sending signals that he's willing to make some U.S. Senators feel the heat for pork-barrel spending if Coloradoans elect him to that body this November. The Republican nominee has launched an ad he calls "Gravy Train," which lambastes "politicians and lawyers in the Senate who want you to pay for their pet programs."

His chief example is a $50 million federal grant for an indoor rain forest in Iowa. The project is a favorite of Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the powerful Finance Committee that Mr. Coors hopes to join as a member. A Grassley aide says "the senator wasn't offended by the Coors ad" and there would be no retribution exacted for it. Still, Democrats are already pointing out that the bill that included the rain forest was also backed by prominent Colorado Republicans, including retiring Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. Mr. Coors says that just provides further proof he'd be willing to be an independent voice against higher spending.

-- John Fund

Posted by jk at September 9, 2004 11:34 AM

I have been following Mr. Coors a bit because I am undecided between he and Mr. Salazar for our open Sentate seat. Health care and its skyrocketing costs is one of my issues and I am not impressed with Pete Coors on this. From his website:

Lawsuit abuse in America is out of control. It's causing health care costs to skyrocket and putting doctors out of business. While we lose, the trial lawyers cash in and liberal judges turn a blind-eye. All the lawyers and professional politicians in the Senate won't change things. But I will.

That's it. The sum total of his thoughts on health care. Get the lawyers! This is the intellectual equivalent of being against nuclear war or for the children, safe politically, but essentially meaningless. Medical malpractice is not the driving cost in health care, I want to hear real ideas, not just polical jousting. Salazar's tax credit sounds both complicated and expensive but at least it is a rational thought on the real issue.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 14, 2004 12:17 PM

I am not sure that it is totally simplistic, Silence. I just came back from the big rally and tort reform was a big issue with big following. The President, Senator Campbell and Mr. Coors all spoke to it.

It will not erase all health care woes but it will help with a problem which is very large in Fiscal and control issues.

W's "ownership society" is centered on returning control to Americans for decisions which are rightfully theirs. Make choices in retirement, taxes, health care.

With both Senator Edwards and AG Salazar's being trial lawyers and accepting large funding from them, it is a pretty good issue.

I gotta say I was blown away with Mr. Coors's speech today. What he is is a Reaganite -- he has attacked Senator Grassley's Iowa rainforest in his commercials. On the stump it was all about protecting tax cuts, spending caps, and reduced regulation. Good old GOP stuff.

I think the choice is very clear ideologically, Silence: big government / little government. Pete Coors is talking some smaller gub'mint talk that we haven't heard in a while.

Posted by: jk at September 14, 2004 01:09 PM

Complicated and expensive? Expensive to whom? The taxpayer, no doubt! I'd rather have NO health care changes at all than complicated and expensive ones. It is no more my responsibility to pay for Silence's health care than it is my responsibility to pay for the education of his children.

As JK once said, politicians should first, "do no harm!"

Posted by: dagny at September 14, 2004 10:11 PM

Nice thought Dagny, except that harm is being done year after year as costs rise at about 5x the inflation rate. I see a downward spiral here, uninsured folks who wait until a condition is an emergency and then use emergency facilities is one of the fastest growing costs in medicine. This causes costs to go up to cover these losses and consequently insur ance rates to rise and thus more people are dropped from the insured roles and down it goes. I am not asking for anyone to pay for my health care, I would gladly get my own insur ance if just to avoid the headaches of switching insurers every year or so with group coverage through my employer. My youngest daughter however has a degenerative form of arthritis that makes her uninsurable outside a group plan. As JK would say, it is about choices and I would like to see this country move toward a system that gives me as a consumer a direct choice over my health insur ance. I don't need a group plan to have car insur ance, I am automatically part of a group, all those drivers who insure through State Farm. They then use their actuarial tables to determine their customers rates based on applying their risk over a large population. Health insurers are the same, they do not cover just my company and my rates should not be based as if they do, they have a much larger "group" to cover their costs. I hate to say this on this web site, but government regulation may be the answer, the insur ance companies are making their profit, they have no reason to change - the guy with 4 aces never asks for a new deal. But any changes could be done with the insur ance industry as a partner, but only if real ideas are put forth for discussion. I don't like Salazars proposal as I understand it, it would be expensive and yes, to taxpayers, but the CBO even issued a report that malpractice suits amount to .5% of the cost of health care. If you are going to change something you would be best off aiming for the big parts. Coors' (and Bush's) tirade for tort reform plays well politically buy is not going to make a bit of difference in the real world.

Yes JK, I agree with your Reaganite impression (at least at this point) of Coors, and I am still looking at him, but I think health care is an area that government will have to address. Medicare and Medicaid have put them in the issue already, active changes in the health care system could actually be a reduction in government, so I don't really think the big gov/small gov argument directly applies here. The shift to employer paid health insur ance was a market based shift, not regulated into existance by the government, but like you said, real changes are only likely when consumers have some direct "skin in the game". I believe that our eventual choice will be increased government regulation of a private health insur ance industry or a government based health care system and I would prefer the former, but if we continue to do nothing the problem is going to snowball to the point where we will end up with the latter.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 15, 2004 11:40 AM

Very good comments, Silence, though I must say that your continual call for Dagny to provide more and more for you is beginning to wear thin.

I am glad that you have not abandoned the idea of voting for Mr. Coors. I might propose a small reality check that says a Freshman Senator is quite unlikely to spark dynamic change in the delivery or funding of health care. Either AG Salazar or Mr. Coors will be one of 100 votes, plus a small amount of contribution from the floor.

I would like to send a guy whom I feel will promote business interests, reduced regulation, and more free market approaches to health care. I feel it is straining more from too much government than not enough. Expanded HSAs, for example, would be a good pursuit.

I think therefore, that a Senator Coors would clearly be on my side of the debate and I am happy to send him on my behalf.

I would also challenge you to take a longer look at the costs of lawsuits in dollars paid, institutions threatened, expensive and needless tests performed, and de facto regulation from an unelected body.

There is no better example of the last point than Senator Edwards's career. He sued doctors very successfully who had delivered a child with Cerebral Palsy. There has never been any proven link between delivery and CP, but he convinced some juries that doctor should have delivered by Cesarean Section. Now all doctors in the area deliver all babies with C-Sections, for fear of the lawyers.

Tort reform is *a part* of health care reform; not a panacea (nested metaphor alert!) but a good step.

Posted by: jk at September 15, 2004 02:16 PM

Some good points JK, and that is why I am still looking at our Senate candidates. You are more well read than I, so any info you glean about the two candidates I would be interested in hearing.

It is my understanding that the state of Colorado instituted some malpractice tort reform about 10 years ago and that the number of suits and the average award has been in steady decline since. It is a valid issue, but I think the statistics support my argument that percentage wise it is not a big factor in medical costs. Note that medicals costs here in Colorado have continued to rise even with the fall in malpractice claims. The usage of extra tests and such to avoid lawsuits has some merit as well, although again the net affect is small and hard to discern if the real reason is fear of litigation or simply a profit motive for the provider.

One nit: "Now all doctors in the area deliver all babies with C-Sections, for fear of the lawyers." That's a big claim, I don't know how big an area you might be refering to, but can you really back that up? C-Sections in an of themselves have a higher risk factor than natural childbirth so performing them to avoid litigation would seem counter-intuitive.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 15, 2004 03:38 PM
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