Gov. Ted Kulongoski on health reform, political institutions, and cultural divisions


Former Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski joined me on stage at the 2017 Oregon State of Reform Health Policy Conference to talk through the state of politics in Oregon and America today.  His comments drew a number of pauses for applause, particularly upon this nugget of self reflection.

Oregonians are the most aspirational people in the world! We want the best schools, we want the greenest environment, we want climate change resolved. We want the best health care for everybody!  But, don’t ask me to pay for it…  That’s the truth.

On solutions moving forward in America and in Oregon, both:

Unless we start having a candid conversation about who we are, I don’t think we’re ever going to get the critical mass that we need to address the serious problems in this country…  It’s us! Why do you think the Russians engaged in this social media stuff?  They saw the fissures in our society. They took advantage just to try to get people mad at each other.  We’re the ones that control this.  It isn’t just about income inequality, or money.  It’s about the cultural issues.  And if you don’t address the culture issues in this country, we’re never going to be able to address these other ones.

On the push and pull of “transformational change” versus “transactional change” in government.

Incrementalism is a value in government.  The reason is what the citizens want more than anything is some certainty and some predictability in their lives from their government. It’s what business wants. It’s what doctors want. It’s what hospitals want. Certainty and predictability.