In the studio with Todd and Joel on Cynthia Hardy’s show


Just sharing this shot of Rep. Todd Atwater, Sen. Joel Lourie and me in the studio during Cynthia Hardy’s On Point radio show on the Big DM this evening.

Note that Todd is alert and looking around, Joel is playing the nerd studying the notes he had brought with him about the SOTU and Gov. Haley’s response, and I’m staring at my phone, probably writing this Tweet:

Which prompted Rob Godfrey from the governor’s office to respond:

Yes, this is a very self-referential blog post. But then, blogs tend to be that way as a medium — they are to journalism what selfies are to photography.

We had a good discussion, with everyone on board with agreeing with both the president and the governor in their calls for greater civility and less negativity. In fact, if our Legislature consisted entirely of Joel Louries and Todd Atwaters, we’d get a lot more done at the State House.

Not that there wasn’t sincere disagreement. Todd and Joel had a pretty good back-and-forth about Obamacare and Medicaid expansion. At one point I almost jumped in on Joel’s side, when Todd said it was a shame the president didn’t meet Republicans halfway on the issue.

Hey, I was about to say, the president and the Democrats did meet Republicans halfway and more from the get-go — before the debate on the Act was joined, before the president was even elected.

That happened when Obama didn’t run advocating for single-payer, which is the one really rational approach to healthcare. And he backed away from that in deference to the wall of Republican resistance that already existed against it. So he and the other Dems started out with a compromise position.

But then the subject changed, and we didn’t return to it. Just as well. I was being presented to listeners as the guy in the middle between Joel the Democrat and Todd the Republican, and it would have just confused everybody if I had jumped out on the one issue where I’m to the left of Bernie Sanders. That is, that’s where my position has been cast popularly — mostly by Republican resistance that has made Democrats afraid to embrace it. I don’t consider it to be to the left of anything. To me, it’s the commonsense, nonideological, pragmatic option. And a lot simpler than the ACA.

Speaking of Bernie… He and the author of Hillarycare will be on the tube in awhile, so I think I’ll stop and rest up to get ready to Tweet during that. Join me @BradWarthen if you’re so inclined.


26 thoughts on “In the studio with Todd and Joel on Cynthia Hardy’s show

  1. Lynn Teague

    Agreed. Single payer is the sensible way to go. Medicare is immensely popular with users for good reasons. Private insurers add no value to users but cost a lot of money. Nevertheless, Obama began with a position based on Romney’s model, using private insurers, in an attempt to get Republicans on board. Similarly, current efforts to get Medicaid expansion in South Carolina focus on private insurer options. The private option is certainly a major improvement on no expansion.

    In Rep. Atwater’s case there is a complicating factor. He is CEO of the South Carolina Medical Association, and Medicare doesn’t reimburse doctors as much as many would like. Separating Rep. Atwater’s legislative and professional roles appears to be very challenging.

    In any case, the determination to not just oppose but demonize the other party’s positions, even when they have coincided with your own, is one of the more damaging aspects of contemporary politics.

    1. Doug Ross

      Medicare is immensely popular for users because they are not paying the true cost for their risk pool. Considering that the bulk of medical costs occur as people age, those on Medicare are getting a great deal. And you know who is paying for it disproportionately? Higher income earners. But we don’t like to appreciate those who contribute the most for the healthcare of others.

      1. Doug Ross

        thanks to Obamacare, a couple making over 250k pays an additional 0.9% on every dollar above that amount. If you’re on Medicare, thank a millionaire for your coverage.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          You mean they’re not all wicked? Bernie Sanders says they are. No, wait — he talks about Billionaires, with a B. There are too many millionaires out there, and there’s no use alienating that large a block.

          But here’s the thing: I think the Sanders paranoia about the wealthy is ridiculous. At the same time, I’m not about to praise them for paying their taxes. Especially when you’re talking about such a pathetically small percentage of their income.

          Or did you misplace the decimal? Probably. Because if all it takes to pay for Medicare is for millionaires to pay less than a penny on the dollar, let’s extend Medicare to everybody. What a bargain!

          1. Doug Ross

            You never have trouble spending other people’s pennies.

            How about all the other pennies paid in income, property, and sales taxes? They start to add up after awhile.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              No, actually they’re OUR pennies. When something is a duly levied tax, it becomes OUR money. Everything you pay, everything I pay, everything the millionaires pay — it’s our money.

              Unless, of course, we overpay. In which case we get a refund, and then it’s your money and my money again.

              1. Doug Ross

                Too bad you don’t seem very concerned when our money is wasted. You’re more concerned that it gets collected, not how well it is used.

                The penny tax for roads is a great example. Lots of energy expended to champion it, not so much to see that it wasn’t stolen.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Actually, Doug, when all is said and done, I’ll probably have put more energy into dealing with the current mess than I did on trying to get it passed.

                  As co-chair of the Community Relations Council’s community affairs committee, I’ve called a meeting for this afternoon to see what, if anything, we might do toward helping the community come to terms with this.

                  Our power to act is limited. Our usual way of engaging issues is to hold neutral, civil forums to help clarify issues, giving everyone a say, without advocating one particular course or the other. (We’ve done that with the penny vote, strong mayor and other issues.) Something like that may be called for in this case, although it’s going to be tough coming up with information. With ongoing investigations, we’re all sort of in the dark until DOR and SLED file charges, or don’t.

                  I called the meeting in response to Hal Stevenson bringing up the issue at our full meeting last week. He didn’t know whether there was anything we could do to help, but he brought it up because there’s no greater burning issue locally at the moment. And what we are supposed to be about is helping difficult conversations happen constructively.

                  We may conclude there’s nothing helpful we can do now, but we’ll do what we can.

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Now watch Doug contemptuously dismiss that as “talk” and “words.”

                  Well, that’s all I’ve ever had to offer any community that I’ve been a part of. It’s what I do — words, and ideas, and helping folks come to terms with a situation.

                  If Doug wants something else done, he’ll have to go to someone with that power. I have no more power to do anything else than he does.

                  Anyway, my point in bringing this up was to demonstrate that I AM every bit as concerned about this as I was concerned about getting the funding for the bus system.

                  1. Bryan Caskey

                    Isn’t there some sort of citizen review panel that is supposed to be involved with the penny tax? Maybe we could figure out how to give that panel some more oversight/input.

                3. Barry

                  The STINK on the penny tax campaign gets nastier no thanks to The State newspaper’s lack of investigation.


                  Former Columbia City Councilman Brian DeQuincey Newman was not the only person getting paid by Richland County’s penny tax program under the guise of a county “Mentor-Protégé” program that officials say does not exist through Columbia-based engineering firm Davis & Floyd, The Nerve has learned.

                  Records obtained by The Nerve Tuesday show that Columbia realtor April James of iRealty, already a subcontractor of the penny’s governing Program Development Team with a five-year, $313,000 contract, was awarded $51,000 as a Tier 2 subcontractor to Davis & Floyd.

                  That contract states that through a “Mentor-Protégé partnership program with Davis & Floyd, Inc., (James) will be trained in the various activities of the Right-of-Way acquisition process.”

                  In the contract language, drafted in October 2014, James is characterized as already possessing three years’ worth of right-of-way experience.

                  “Ms. April James founded iRealty in Richland County in 2011 and has since been providing Right-of-Way services for public infrastructure projects.”

                  With three years of alleged experience, why James would need training to perform right-of-way services on a $51,000 contract is unknown, nor is the inclusion of two other entities designated to assist her, both of which are public relations firms with $1.5 million contracts with the PDT.

                4. Brad Warthen Post author

                  “Isn’t there some sort of citizen review panel that is supposed to be involved with the penny tax? Maybe we could figure out how to give that panel some more oversight/input.”

                  YES! And that is the first, and minimal, step. And that seems to be afoot… WAY too late…

    2. Barry

      Medicare is popular with many users because it’s relatively inexpensive for the major benefits that a subscriber receives and so many doctors accept Medicare assignment.

      The premium is $121 a month. A doctor visit, and a lab exam will cost more than that out of pocket.

      If your regular health insurance premium was $121 a month, the popularity of private insurance would be sky high too in most respects.

      I am on the state health plan and I like it a lot. I do wish it covered an annual physical for men, but the state legislature doesn’t see that as necessary – which is silly but that’s the way it works.

      1. Assistant

        If an annual physical for men cost $600 and the state plan covered it, you’d have to figure that your monthly premiums would be at least $50 per month more than they are now. As an alternative because the state plan does not cover the cost, you probably do something like putting aside 1/12 of the cost per month until you can afford the physical.

        One of the reasons that the cost of health insurance varied widely by state has to do with the number and type of procedures the various states covered, the so-called benefit mandates. Pennsylvania had relatively inexpensive health insurance premiums because the legislature mandated carriers cover a much smaller number of procedures than neighboring New Jersey did. New Jersey had some of the most expensive health insurance in the nation because insurers had to cover anything and everything. It seems that nothing is free.

        1. Barry

          It wouldn’t cost $600.

          The state, through BCBS would negotiate a much better deal than $600 a month (about what it costs if you don’t have insurance).

          Through BCBS, they could negotiate a much lower “allowed” price point.

          A basic physical, with basic blood work, through an insurance negotiated offering in South Carolina for state employees should be around $200.

          On top of that, BCBS- through the state health plan could offer men the annual physical with a $40 copay with no deductible- dropping the price from say $200 – $160.

          and of course they could offer it for men 40 and over and drop the anticipated costs even further. Even then, not every man covered by the state health plan would get a physical each year.

          (Women in South Carolina do get an annual “well woman” exam which is essentially a physical covered by the state health plan. Men do not receive such a benefit under the state health plan)

          1. Barry

            and don’t get me started on how AWFUL the state dental plan is for state employees (including teachers).

            I knew how bad it was – but this week with several of my children having some dental issues, I learned again just how pitiful the benefit really is…..

            Most dental insurance products aren’t very good, but the state dental plan provided to state employees makes a bad private insurance dental plan look like the Hope Diamond in comparison.

            It’s really unbelievable how sorry the program is for our state employees and teachers. It has to be one of the worst dental plans in the country.

            But that is South Carolina and our general assembly for you.

  2. Assistant

    I really am surprised at how so many folks can fall for the Obama’s ruse of calling for civility while acting the bully in word and deed. And he does not hide it, he insults folks in public, and you and others fail to notice or otherwise excuse it. What’s most distressing is that he does it in situations where the target of his slurs is unable to respond.


    – The welcoming committee for Pope Francis consisted of activists, not everyday people, in the abortion, transgender, gay rights, and other practices that the Catholic Church is not a big fan of. You may not have noticed, but my 91-year-old mom, a devout Catholic who probably voted for the Bamster twice, was quite offended.
    During the 2010 SOTU the president chastised the members of the Supreme Court in attendance for their ruling in the Citizens United case.
    – Obama invited freshman Republican Congressman Aaron Schock to fly on Air Force One for a visit to a Caterpillar plant in Schock’s district. Schock was thrilled to hitch a ride But Obama was drumming up support for his stimulus bill and wondered out loud if Schock would measure up to the two men who had the seat before him.
    – Obama invited Congressman Pete Hoekstra to a ceremony for a new advanced LG Chem battery factory in Hoekstra’s district. In his remarks Obama said, “Some made the political calculation that it’s better to obstruct than lend a hand. They said no to the tax cuts, they said no to small business loans, they said no to clean energy projects. It doesn’t stop them from coming to ribbon cuttings — but that’s OK.”
    – Congressman Paul Ryan and a few other Republican leaders were specifically invited by Obama to attend one of his speeches, with Ryan given pride of place in the front row. Obama proceed to insult Ryan and the other Republican “guests,” dismissing Ryan’s budget plan as unserious and un-American. Even reporter Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post was perplexed by the president’s behavior.
    – A cop in Boston gets a call about someone trying to break into a house. The cop responds, finding a guy who says he’s the occupant and offers only what appears to be a Harvard University ID with a name but no address. Cop takes Henry Louis Gates into the station, Obama implies that race played a part and calls the cop’s actions stupid.
    – To be fair, I should note that Obama humiliates his own cabinet-members. Secretary of Energy, Stephen Chu, was trying to explain the complexities of the BP oil spill to Obama when, after a mere six slides of Chu’s PowerPoint presentation, Obama simply stood up; said, “Steve, I’m done”; and strode out of the room.

    I could go on. I really think you need to modify your judgement of the man based on his behavior, what he does, not what he says.

    And if he’s so smart, why are his college transcripts such a secret? If he’s such a great guy, where are all of his friends, who are they.

    Did you know that just before he delivered his SOTU last week he met with rapper Kendrick Lamar, announcing that Lamar’s hit “How Much a Dollar Cost” was his favorite song of 2015. The song comes from the album To Pimp a Butterfly; the album cover shows a crowd of young African-American men massed in front of the White House. In celebratory fashion, all are gripping champagne bottles and hundred-dollar bills; in front of them lies the corpse of a white judge, with two Xs drawn over his closed eyes.

    Okay, maybe you didn’t know about it, but the hip-hop community did, and they relished it.

    The really great thing about Obama’s election is all the racial healing…

    Oh, and single-payer is silly because everybody thinks that somebody else is paying the bill. In other words, it’s free, and there’s nothing more expensive than what’s free.

    What’s needed is a way for folks to pay their own bills.

    1. Barry

      Obama flirts with the violent rap world because that’ keeps him “popular” with those folks.

      A friend of mine works as a federal probation officer. He’s worked there for over a decade. He was a huge Democratic supporter all his life until about 6 years ago.

      I won’t go into the horror stories that he told me over the holidays about his work now and the directives they have received from the attorney general (Holder primarily) and the Obama administration. His job, and the job of many of his co-workers has been turned into a bad joke. People pay the price though. People do pay the price.

      Most of these things would never make the news – and media folks wouldn’t be interested.

    2. bud

      Obama proceed to insult Ryan and the other Republican “guests,” dismissing Ryan’s budget plan as unserious and un-American.

      That’s a good one Mike. Obama hurt Paul Ryan’s feelings. LOL. OMG, is Ryan such a thin skinned baby he can’t handle the truth? His budget really was unserious. It was a joke. Politics is rough business. The Republicans routinely insult Democrats as a sort of sporting event even going so far as to accuse Obama of being secretly born in Kenya. Hillary is accused daily of being a criminal. The Clintons were accused of murdering Vince Foster. John Kerry was falsely accused by the Swiftboat crowd of faking his own heroism. Recently Ted Cruz lied about Jimmy Carter’s roll in getting the Iranian hostages released in 1981. (Then he turned around and lied about how tough Reagan was in dealing with the terrorists. No mention of how he traded weapons for hostages on his watch). All pure and simple lies that were not repudiated by any major Republican politician.

      Here are the facts. The economy is doing much better under Obama than his predecessor. More people are insured. The budget deficit is 1/4 what it was under the last W budget. Far fewer people have died at the hands of terrorists than under GW Bush or Reagan for that matter (remember the Lebanon debacle). And for good measure I just paid $1.58 for gasoline today. (I only bring that up because Republicans hammered Obama for HIGH gas prices in 2011-13)

      Let’s talk facts Mike instead of whining and crying about Paul Ryan’s hurt feelings. Seems like you like to spin a bunch of nonsense to falsely portray the Obama administration as a failure. But your claims don’t hold up to the facts. But then again no conservative claim ever stands up to facts.

      1. Barry

        Well- leave it to Bud for the spin job. Are you on the payroll?

        “Deficits will also widen because economic growth has been lower than expected, tamping down forecasts for how much revenue the government will collect.

        The CBO said the budget deficit will climb to $544 billion, or 2.9% of gross domestic product, for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. That is up from the $439 billion deficit recorded last year, or 2.5% of GDP, which had been the lowest since 2007.”

    3. bud

      Oh, and single-payer is silly
      – Assistant

      Works everywhere it’s been tried at far lower cost than we have here. If that’s silly just call me Chief Silly Horse. (Only folks who were around Columbia in the early 60s will get that reference).

      1. Norm Ivey

        For those of us who didn’t get it, look here. About what I expected.

        Thankfully, we no longer tolerate that type of derogatory image. PC is sometimes good.

        1. Barry

          better tell that to the American Indian folks in Cherokee, NC that sell them 24/7/365.

          and ban cowboy outfits too. Don’t want to be derogatory against cowboys.

          Good grief.

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