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I should say with further regard to the health care mandates issue that this is pretty much exclusively a disagreement about tactics. The people who drew up John Edwards' and Hillary Clinton's health care plans think they've devised a really clever method of moving the country to a much better health care system. I think they're overestimating their own cleverness. But either plan is something I'd be glad to see passed into law as an alternative to the status quo, and if either one of them becomes president I'll roundly condemn people trying to block the reform.

If it were up to me, I'd either try something more ambitious than what they're proposing (have taxes pay for people's health insurance), or else I'd try something more modest (have taxes pay for kids' health insurance) and focus my spending mojo elsewhere (health care's important, but so's climate change, preschool, infrastructure spending, housing programs, etc., etc., etc., and realistically no president is going to build Matt's Social Democratic Utopia by 2012), but since I'd like to see something more ambitious on the merits I'd support the Edwards or Clinton plans. Indeed, they're both very good plans all things considered, I just don't happen to think the mandate aspect -- which has become the focal point of attention since it's the place where they can disagree with Obama -- is a particularly appealing element to their proposals. Unfortunately, in the context of the primary campaign you hear less about the area of overlap between all three candidates, which contains tons of good stuff.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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