Wednesday, April 3, 2013

In the Academic-Political DMZ

Betsy McCaughey was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her mother was an alcoholic. She had a twin brother who was a serious asthmatic. She attended public schools in Westport, Conn. through the 10th grade, received a scholarship and transferred to a private Massachusetts boarding school, the Mary A. Burnham School, for her last two years of high school. She received a scholarship to attend Vassar College where she majored in history. She wrote her senior thesis on Karl Marx and Alexis de Tocqueville, won several fellowships, and received her B.A., with distinction, in 1970. McCaughey went on to graduate school at Columbia University in New York City, earning her M.A. in 1972 and her Ph.D. in constitutional history in 1976. She won Columbia's Bancroft Dissertation Award in American History in 1976. In short, she looks like a serious woman.
She became interested in health care, campaigned against HillaryCare, joined several boards of science companies and became a member of several think tanks, all conservative. In the '90's she ran with Pataki as Lieutenant Governor of New York and won. Then things get a bit murky. She was kicked off the reelection ticket, became a Democrat, and wrote a book about ObamaCare.
Her research into Hillary's plan was believed responsible for much of the negative response. She appears occasionally as a TV analyst but has mostly faded from the public scene. One of her successful projects was the creation of the non-profit Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (RID) in reaction to the rise in anti-biotic resistant staphylococcus aureus and other hospital-borne infections. She has been in the midst of that difficult area of the academic-political DMZ. She has been able to have a scholarly look but is clearly politically inclined. She has never been able to shield herself in Hoover Institute or Brookings Teflon. Apparently she also had the poor sense to appear on the John Stewart Show and got clobbered.

She wrote an editorial recently about the coming fallout with ObamaCare and it contained these points:
--Workers in retail, hospitality and home care will lose on-the-job coverage and, in some cases, their full-time status, according to forecasts by the ADP Research Institute. The law mandates that employers with 50 or more full-time workers provide an "essential benefit package" that costs about twice what these industries currently offer. Employers will drop coverage.
--There will be noticeable hospital cutbacks. Cuts to Medicare pay for over half the law, and this will mean $247 billion less for hospitals over the next decade. Section 3000A of the law awards bonus points to the hospitals that spend the least per senior. Hospitals will even be penalized for what Medicare patients consume 30 days after discharge, including physical therapy.
--The crossover into social activism will be a problem. Consumers directed to a state exchange will worry about handing their Social Security number and 15 pages of financial and family information to exchange "assisters," temporary workers often from community groups. Civil rights activists in California resist background checks for "assisters" because it would disqualify too many minority men with prior convictions.

Her thesis is that there will be political fallout against ObamaCare as early as 2014. While the election in 2012 showed the public preferred Obama over Romney, it also showed antagonism towards ObamaCare. All the exit polls showed a majority favored repealing it. She feels in 2014 this discontent will coalesce, lead by younger voters. People in their 20s and 30s will be hit with 100% or higher premium hikes, insurers report. Nineteen percent of the president's 2012 voters came from this age group. McCaughey thinks there will be a coherent enough backlash to give the Republicans a strong win in the off-year election.

All this assumes, of course, a rational electorate with reactionary voting tendencies--an electoral circumstance the last election does not support.

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