Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Public option" is dead, dead, dead -- but left-leaning Dems refuse to bury it ( so far)

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) makes the case for the already dead "public option"

After weeks of watching public opposition to health care reform proposals increase and President Obama's approval ratings drop, the Administration apparently reached the conclusion that siding with the more sweeping House leadership version of reform, with its so-called "public option," had zero chance of making it through the Senate. Rather than see the opportunity to get both Houses to agree on something slip away amidst an increasingly negative public debate, the White House "signaled" furiously over the weekend that it was willing to drop the public option and consider coops instead as a counter to private insurers.

Not surprisingly, the left commentariat erupted in a combination of crushing disappointment and flat-out fury that Obama would sell out the One True Reform. And leaders of the House liberal bloc warned the Administration that some 60 members would never, never, ever vote for a bill that did not include a public option, thus making passage of any such bill impossible.

Won't anyone tell these guys that the public option is as dead Julius Caesar and all they can accomplish by opposing Obama on compromising with the Senate moderates and House Blue Dogs is to kill any reform bill? Well, I will.

It's dead because Obama and Health Secretary Sebelius said they could live without it. They may have backtracked a bit today to appease the outcry from the left for the moment and give Administration operatives time to smooth things over with unions and other key allies. But the deed it done. Obama can no longer go to the moderate Democrats -- Max Baucus, Byron Dorgan, Kent Conrad, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson and others -- not to mention the few moderate Republicans -- conspicuously Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe whose votes might be decisive -- and say, we must have a public option. The moderates have been saying for weeks that the public option is a non-starter, and now Obama has said, OK, I can do without it. That genie is, as they say, out of the bottle.

The left-leaning blogosphere won't let go of this easily. Already, they have seized on a comment by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz) to the effect that the proposed co-ops are a Trojan Horse for a public plan to complain that compromising with the Republicans on health care gets you nowhere because the GOP will not ultimately support any plan. Maybe so, but the stumbling block is not Kyl and the GOP Congressional leadership. It's the moderate Democrats who simply will not vote for a bill they consider to be too radical for their states and constituents. And it's the moderate Republicans whose votes may be needed to head off a filibuster.

So the self-styled "progressives" in the House are threatening to cripple Obama's Presidency before its first year is by submarining his premier proposal if it doesn't come up to their standards, and Howard Dean is sitting up there in Vermont making vague threats of primaries against Democrats who don't support a public option. I say, hooey. The House members will cave as soon as Rhambo swings into action to squeeze them for their votes. And successful primaries run by liberals against sitting Democratic Senators in less-than-liberal states like Montana and Arkansas? Good luck with that.

Some health care reform bill will pass before the year is out (unless the left goes totally bonkers and screws Obama), but it will be less sweeping -- more moderate -- than what's been prematurely labled "ObamaCare," and that's all to the good. The health care system is huge, complex and not altogether well understood. The potential for bad unintended consequences is enormous. What's more, a great many people like the much-distained status quo, at least where their health insurance is concerned.

As I posted some time ago, it will be better for everyone if reform is done piece meal. If this year's bill encourages greater portability, eliminates the pre-existing conditions dodge, expands eligibity for Medicaid, especially to provide insurance for the unemployed, and sets up a co-op to compete with private companies, that will be a lot to digest for a couple of years.

If people like Rep. Weiner (see the video above) think this is the only chance to pass a more comprehensive set of changes, they must have very little faith in the likelihood that voters will return Democrats to power. Of course, the irony is that if Weiner had his way, they probably wouldn't!

What's your opinion? Post a comment.


  1. Why can't just those why pay taxes get health benefits...how b'out that Obama and the rest of the health care reform starters??? NO seriously, this I could be in favor of, but not just letting any old person that comes to America, even the illegal’s to get health care and our taxes go up the roof???? No, sure, I will cont. to fight this...

  2. I'm with Henry Young. I will fight also. I'm tired of working my ass off and paying huge amounts of taxes. I get nothing and the illegals, lazy folk and lame-o's get the benefit. I'm tired of having my pockets picked by the government! Time to revolt!!

  3. I just wanted to say that I thought this was a very fair and honest analysis of the situation. While I see the need for health care reform, I am completely opposed to Obama's (outrageously expensive and almost incomprehensible to the average person) version of it.

    Why not do some medical tort reform? Why does the fed govt block portable insurance--insurance companies competing across state lines? Just for starters.

    I wholeheartedly agree that this is a matter about which there should be no rushing. Thanks for the great post.

  4. The only way real reform dies is if the hard left kills it. Thus proving once and for all thwat the only 'reform' tehy were ever interested in is Federal control of the American Healthcare system.

    If the progressives truly want reform they can still accomplish much - open the insurance market across State lines, decouple insurance from employment, and expand health savings accounts - all things that will either draw bipartisna support or reveal the Republicans to be nothing but obstructionists.