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Friday Talking Points [112] -- Public Option's Last Stand

[ Posted Friday, February 19th, 2010 – 17:13 PST ]

Before we begin here, I'd like to humbly propose a new law. No American television station should be allowed to have an exclusive contract for any Olympic games. Period.

Who's with me?

I thought about doing this column today in the spirit of the National Broadcasting Company's Olympic coverage. It would have gone something like this: post the title of the article, but then have the entire text read: "Check back in four hours for our Friday Talking Points coverage." Then, I would have released the winners of our weekly awards to the rest of the internet, so everyone would know who won before actually reading the article. Next, I would have updated the article here, but instead of the text of FTP, what you would have gotten instead would be a half-hour video of Bob Costas picking his nose. With inane commentary. And a video, complete with home movies of him as a kid, about how Bob Costas has had a lifetime of nasal problems which he has overcome so that he can proudly root in his snoot in front of millions of viewers (hours after it happened, of course). Finally, I would have posted the article's text, hours after you expected to see it. But it wouldn't have the awards, since we would have to move the awards to the end, and given them their own separate column, in an effort to make more money. Around one o'clock in the morning, I would have posted the actual awards themselves.

Now picture a brighter future (other, of course, than being able to read this column fully "live" today, as usual) -- one that has many television networks vying for your eyeballs in the spirit of (economic) competition. You could choose to see the events live, say on ESPN or PBS, or you could choose to wait for Bob Costas to explain it all to you hours later (complete with a soundtrack of either tinkly piano music, brassy horns, or violins softly playing).

I'm guessing that the whole NBC concept of "let's make the Olympics a soap opera rather than treating it as sports coverage" would lose horribly in the ratings competition, personally.

Hmmph.

Sorry, I get this way every time NBC screws up what should be an exciting event. Which they do, every single time, like clockwork. It is especially galling this year, because I am in the same time zone as the Olympics, and yet we are not allowed to watch anything live on NBC. Sheesh.

But enough of this Andy-Rooney-esque grumpiness. Let's get on with it. We've got a single issue for everyone today, rather than a mishmash of politics, since not much happened in Washington this week, due to Congress taking their thirtieth week-long vacation so far this year. Wait, that can't be right... perhaps I exaggerate a wee bit. Enough of this silliness, though. Let's get on with the show.

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

I don't normally consider the media eligible for awards here, since they're technically supposed to be non-partisan and all of that. But I have to at least mention Rachel Maddow, for bravely committing an act of journalism on -- of all places -- David Gregory's Sunday Idiocy Hour, otherwise known as Meet The Press. Maddow, last Sunday, did a great job of pointing out actual facts to the roundtable at the end of the show. Whenever statements were made that were wildly untrue, Maddow would point it out: "That's not true, here are the facts." Over and over again. Especially enjoyable was her evisceration of a Republican Congressman who railed against the stimulus package, but had just recently shown up at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a project funded by the same stimulus package. Something which surprised the other "journalists" at the table because such actual journalism, to them, is like a cold bucket of water in their faces. You do some research, you have your facts at hand, and then you sit down to talk to someone. This stunning, stunning act of journalism on a Sunday morning simply demands recognition here. So Maddow gets at least a Most Impressive Journalist award this week (since we, as always, retain the right to make such awards up whenever we feel like it).

But the real news last week from actual Democrats was the Bennet letter.

Freshman Senator Michael Bennet from the great state of Colorado committed an similarly-astounding act of actual Democratic leadership in the Senate this week. I know -- you could've knocked me over with a feather, too! After all, the words "Democratic" and "Senate" and "leadership" aren't seen within the same sentence very often these days, are they?

Bennet sat down and wrote a letter. To back it up, he then wrote an article making the case to "save the public option." The full text of this letter will be presented later, in lieu of talking points this week, because it makes such a strong and well-reasoned case for using the parliamentary tactic of budget reconciliation to pass a health reform bill which includes the public option. Call it the public option's last stand.

What this would mean, of course, is that the public option would pass the Senate under rules which only require 50 votes (assuming Joe Biden's on hand to break a tie). Meaning if 50 Democratic senators sign the letter, it means it would pass.

So far, depending on who you listen to, 17 to 20 senators are on board, and have signed. Including some very big names indeed. A website (whipcongress.com) has been set up to track the effort, where you can even "sign" the letter yourself, to show your support. The site's main page shows a running list of who in the Senate has signed the letter, and who has not. I strongly urge anyone in favor of a public option to check this list for your own senators, and give them a call if you don't see their name listed as a signatory. Bennet has also set up a site (part of his re-election campaign site) called savethepublicoption.com where you can also "sign" the letter.

While every senator who has signed the letter so far (again, here's the list) deserves at least an Honorable Mention this week for doing so, we have to give the actual Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award to not only Senator Michael Bennet, but also to the other three Democrats who initially co-signed the letter along with Bennet: Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Jeff Merkley, and Sherrod Brown.

This is leadership. This is how to get things done in the Senate -- or at least, how to attempt getting something done. And this is the most impressive thing that happened all week.

So, for doing the Democratic leadership's job for them, Senators Bennet, Gillibrand, Merkley, and Brown have more than earned their MIDOTW this week.

[Congratulate Senator Michael Bennet on his Senate contact page, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on her Senate contact page, Senator Jeff Merkley on his Senate contact page, and Senator Sherrod Brown on his Senate contact page, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

First up, a blanket award to every Democratic senator who has not signed the Bennet letter yet. Let's call it the Sign The Damn Letter, Already! award, since we seem to be in the mood for making up awards this week. Currently, there are around 40 of these, meaning the public option reconciliation effort still has a long way to go. Check the list. Give your senator a call if they haven't signed.

But we simply must single out here the actual Democratic "leadership" in the Senate. The top two "leadership" folks right now are Senate Majority "Leader" Harry Reid, and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin. "Leader" Reid is supposed to... well... lead. It's right there in the title, Harry. Whip Durbin is supposed to "whip" the votes into shape in his own caucus. Call him the chief vote-counter.

In simple terms, these are the two guys who are supposed to be doing what Bennet is attempting to do with his letter. Bennet's letter is addressed to these guys, in a desperate attempt for them to -- if not actually lead themselves, at the very least get out of the way when someone else grabs the reins in an act of actual leadership.

Huffington Post has a statement (contained in an article which is being constantly updated with who has signed and who hasn't) from Durbin's office:

Joe Shoemaker, a spokesman for Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat, said that the Majority Whip has a policy of not signing on to letters sent to leadership since, after all, he's a member of leadership. "That would be like sending a letter to himself," said Shoemaker, adding, "Durbin has a pretty clear record on his support for a public option."

He said that Durbin has yet to take a public position on whether the bill should be moved through reconciliation and wasn't immediately available. He has been traveling in Sudan and elsewhere in Africa for the last several days.

And here is the tepid response to the letter so far from Harry Reid:

Senator Reid has always and continues to support the public option as a way to drive down costs and create competition. That is why he included the measure in his original health care proposal.

If a decision is made to use reconciliation to advance health care, Senator Reid will work with the White House, the House, and members of his caucus in an effort to craft a public option that can overcome procedural obstacles and secure enough votes.

Seriously, guys? That's it?

Durbin, when he gets back in touch with this continent, is going to have to do better than that. This isn't a "love note from a girlfriend" type of letter, Senator Durbin, it is a political statement. In other words, it doesn't matter that you are an addressee, because the letter's purpose is to get Harry Reid to do something. So, how about a statement which says: "I have a policy of not signing letters to leadership, but I would certainly sign this letter if I wasn't in the leadership, and I fully support the goals of the letter." About five seconds after you get back in touch with the American press, say. And then you can prove it by whipping the heck out of other Democrats to build support for the movement.

Reid's statement just makes me shudder.

Seriously, this is a new level of the wimpiness usually exemplified by the statement: "mistakes were made." Reid's second paragraph starts off with: "If a decision is made..."

[Insert mental image of me pounding my head against a brick wall here... Bang!... Bang!... Bang!....]

Let us put this in a way even Harry Reid can understand, shall we?

Harry... hey, Harry, do I have your attention? Here's the deal, Harry -- YOU are the one who is SUPPOSED to make such decisions. YOU! If you are waiting on "if a decision is made" then we are all doomed, because you have to be the one who makes it! This, Harry -- this right here -- is why the voters of Nevada are going to send you into early retirement later this year. This is why a whole bunch of Democrats at this point would actually be glad to see that happen because it would mean we would get a new leader in the Senate -- and one who knows what the job description means when it says "leader," even if we would have to give up a seat to do so.

So, Harry, do I have your attention yet?

Sigh.

Harry Reid could have (and should have) done exactly what Bennet (et al.) are now doing -- last September. Reid tried to draw a line in the sand at the end of the summer on the health reform delays in Max Baucus' committee, by saying that if a bill hadn't gotten through the Senate with 60 votes by the middle of October, he was going to use budget reconciliation rules to send it through anyway. Reid and Durbin should have followed this bold statement up with exactly what Bennet is doing now -- getting a whip count for who would support the effort, and then threatening recalcitrant Blue Dog Democrats with the fact that they would be irrelevant to the process if they didn't get their act together. All of this should have taken place from mid-September of last year, to mid-October. It didn't. Because Reid and Durbin did nothing.

Which brings us to (with what I feel are more appropriate titles) the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award. This week, the MDDOTW goes to none other than Senate Majority Follower Harry Reid, and Senate Majority Whippee Dick Durbin. Don't look now, guys, but there's a group of freshmen Democratic senators who are doing the job you're supposed to be doing.

[Contact Senator Harry Reid on his Senate contact page, and Senator Dick Durbin on his Senate contact page, to let them know what you think of their actions.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 112 (2/19/10)

Because this truly is the public option's last stand, and because it's such a ripping good letter, this week instead of our usual lame attempt at providing Democratic talking points, we present instead the full text of the Bennet letter. If you want the public option, this may be the last chance it ever gets.

Here is the full text of the Bennet letter:

 

Dear Leader Reid:

We respectfully ask that you bring for a vote before the full Senate a public health insurance option under budget reconciliation rules.

There are four fundamental reasons why we support this approach -- its potential for billions of dollars in cost savings; the growing need to increase competition and lower costs for the consumer; the history of using reconciliation for significant pieces of health care legislation; and the continued public support for a public option.

 

A Public Option Is an Important Tool for Restoring Fiscal Discipline.

As Democrats, we pledged that the Senate health care reform package would address skyrocketing health care costs and relieve overburdened American families and small businesses from annual double-digit health care cost increases. And that it would do so without adding a dime to the national debt.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) determined that the Senate health reform bill is actually better than deficit neutral. It would reduce the deficit by over $130 billion in the first ten years and up to $1 trillion in the first 20 years.

These cost savings are an important start. But a strong public option can be the centerpiece of an even better package of cost saving measures. CBO estimated that various public option proposals in the House save at least $25 billion. Even $1 billion in savings would qualify it for consideration under reconciliation.

Put simply, including a strong public option is one of the best, most fiscally responsible ways to reform our health insurance system.

 

A Public Option Would Provide Americans with a Low-Cost Alternative and Improve Market Competitiveness.

A strong public option would create better competition in our health insurance markets. Many Americans have no or little real choice of health insurance provider. Far too often, it's "take it or leave it" for families and small businesses. This lack of competition drives up costs and leaves private health insurance companies with little incentive to provide quality customer service.

A recent Health Care for America Now report on private insurance companies found that the largest five for-profit health insurance providers made $12 billion in profits last year, yet they actually dropped 2.7 million people from coverage. Private insurance -- by gouging the public even during a severe economic recession -- has shown it cannot function in the public's interest without a public alternative. Americans have nowhere to turn. That is not healthy market competition, and it is not good for the public.

If families or individuals like their current coverage through a private insurance company, then they can keep that coverage. And in some markets where consumers have many alternatives, a public option may be less necessary. But many local markets have broken down, with only one or two insurance providers available to consumers. Each and every health insurance market should have real choices for consumers.

 

There is a history of using reconciliation for significant pieces of health care legislation.

There is substantial Senate precedent for using reconciliation to enact important health care policies. The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicare Advantage, and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), which actually contains the term ‘reconciliation' in its title, were all enacted under reconciliation.

The American Enterprise Institute's Norman Ornstein and Brookings' Thomas Mann and Molly Reynolds jointly wrote, "Are Democrats making an egregious power grab by sidestepping the filibuster? Hardly." They continued that the precedent for using reconciliation to enact major policy changes is "much more extensive . . . than Senate Republicans are willing to admit these days."

 

There is strong public support for a public option, across party lines.

The overwhelming majority of Americans want a public option. The latest New York Times poll on this issue, in December, shows that despite the attacks of recent months Americans support the public option 59% to 29%. Support includes 80% of Democrats, 59% of Independents, and even 33% of Republicans.

Much of the public identifies a public option as the key component of health care reform -- and as the best thing we can do to stand up for regular people against big insurance companies. In fact, overall support for health care reform declined steadily as the public option was removed from reform legislation.

Although we strongly support the important reforms made by the Senate-passed health reform package, including a strong public option would improve both its substance and the public's perception of it. The Senate has an obligation to reform our unworkable health insurance market -- both to reduce costs and to give consumers more choices. A strong public option is the best way to deliver on both of these goals, and we urge its consideration under reconciliation rules.

Respectfully,

Michael Bennet (D-CO), U.S. Senator
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), U.S. Senator
Jeff Merkley (D-OR), U.S. Senator
Sherrod Brown (D-OH), U.S. Senator

 

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Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground

Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

12 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [112] -- Public Option's Last Stand”

  1. [1] 
    Moderate wrote:

    Gotta say I thought Schock's response to Maddow's criticism was spot on. Have those who rallied against Bush's tax cuts (and still complain about them) given that money back? Of course not. The tax cut went ahead whether you liked it or not so you might as well keep the money.

    But equally, the stimulus went ahead whether the Republicans liked it or not, so they might as well try and acquire some of that money for their constituents. They wouldn't be doing their job otherwise.

    After all, those constituents will be paying their fair share of taxes to pay off the stimulus, won't they? Taxpayers may not like paying the extra taxes (so have a right to complain, and therefore so should their representatives, against it) but they can't do anything about it now. They might as well get something back from the stimulus now that it's passed.

    As for the public option, I don't think I need to announce why I think it's, as being presented currently, a bad idea.

    A basic means-tested public option is a great idea, for those who either can't afford insurance or who have pre-existing conditions, but a public option open to all would likely lead to a single-payer scenario by virtue of simple competition. The government doesn't need to turn a profit (and, in fact, shouldn't be doing so) and insurance companies can't compete with a non-profit entity on price. They'll struggle to survive (and probably won't).

    The whole "if families or individuals like their current coverage" argument is moot, because the public option is the de facto death of the private option. Unless, of course, the public option is limited to those who simply cannot get the coverage they need in the private sector, as this would prevent too much corrosion of the profits (and sustainability) of private insurers.

    Why not go single payer?

    Single-payer opens the door to insurance becoming a stealth tax and the slow but sure degradation of the high standard (if not availability) that has many people outside the US envious of the American system. Certainly many of those of us in the UK.

    I've seen recent improvement in the NHS. All have come from private funds being injected in because the state is bad at spending money efficiently.

    Governments waste money. It's in their nature. And yes, that includes spending on the military or other "Republican" areas too, but there isn't really a sensible option for privatisation of those areas. If there were, I'd support it wholeheartedly. I've always said the private sector is more efficiently run than the public sector, and I still believe that to be true.

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    This whole Dunsel/Crap Care issues reminds me of our time in Oregon and the state's attempt to institute a State Sales Tax.

    It was put to a vote over and over again.

    When were were there, the headlines read,
    "FOR THE NINTH TIME... NO!!!!"

    With CrapCare, poll after poll after poll says that the majority of Americans do NOT want CrapCare.. Even amongst Democrats, the idea of CrapCare is a non-starter...

    So, WHY are the Democrats in Congress and Obama STILL pushing CrapCare??

    Michale.....

  3. [3] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Moderate:

    the stimulus went ahead whether the Republicans liked it or not, so they might as well try and acquire some of that money for their constituents. They wouldn't be doing their job otherwise.

    You're right about using the stimulus as best one can; it's just a question of wearing two different faces on the issue. I don't begrudge conservatives their use of the funds, but ribbon-cutting ceremonies are for achievements you're proud of, not projects you begrudgingly secured because they were the only option available.

    I've always said the private sector is more efficiently run than the public sector, and I still believe that to be true.

    I don't agree about this necessarily being the case. government is more stable, and (as you've acknowledged) has the benefit of not requiring a profit. On average, the private sector tends to be more efficient, but it is also much more erratic, with many more booms and busts, soars and crashes, great successes and monumental failures. For most industries, this type of fluctuation may be acceptable. However, successes and failures in medicine have vastly different consequences. The difference between mediocre and great medical care is generally improved comfort and quality of life, while the difference between fair and poor tends to be much more dire.

    When it comes to public versus private funding of medical procedures, i think the trouble exists in the gray area between needs and wants. When people are dying, the government must step in to meet their needs. Wants are best addressed through other means, where the risks are tolerable in exchange for a chance at better quality. food stamps and public housing are not great, but they're better than eating out of the trash and living in a cardboard box. the government should not be involved in professional sports, because life could theoretically go on without them.

    The trouble with medical care is that in-between cancer treatment and cosmetic surgery, there is a huge gray area where it's not entirely certain which medical care is really necessary to avoid deadly consequences, and which would be nice but is not really needed. this is why i think ideally there needs to be some division within the field of medicine, where public funding can prevent the worst, while leaving to the private sector those newer, fancier procedures that are nicer for the patient but cost more to provide. Even there, however, there is a gray area, because the same type of condition can be a want for one person and a need for another, depending on the severity. And when it's health at stake, who can be an impartial judge of which is which?

    DR. BETTES
    They haven't done the standard scratch test? Where they make small injections into the skin?

    CAROL
    No. I asked. They said it's not covered under my plan. And it's not necessary anyway.

    DR. BETTES
    It's amazing these things weren't done.

    CAROL
    F**king H.M.O. bastard piece of s**t... I'm sorry... forgive me.

    DR. BETTES
    No. Actually, I think that's their technical name.

    ~~As Good As It Gets

  4. [4] 
    Moderate wrote:

    Heh, I love As Good As It Gets.

    this is why i think ideally there needs to be some division within the field of medicine, where public funding can prevent the worst, while leaving to the private sector those newer, fancier procedures that are nicer for the patient but cost more to provide.

    That's what I've proposed all along. A public option to act as a safety net to ensure people aren't dying needlessly of things that are easily treated when they simply cannot afford to get the treatment (or where it's for a condition that they got whilst covered under an old employer plan that's considered a pre-existing one under the new one, which is a disgrace).

    Even there, however, there is a gray area, because the same type of condition can be a want for one person and a need for another, depending on the severity. And when it's health at stake, who can be an impartial judge of which is which?

    There's always rationing. Whether it's insurance companies or bodies like NICE, somebody is always there to put a value on a human life and what is "necessary" treatment and what is merely "desired" treatment. It's a fact of life, whether healthcare is public or private; it will be rationed somehow.

    I'm of the opinion that what would be best would be what's being proposed in the US for the public option (a government body to give advice, like NICE) but that it should only apply to the public option, which, as I said, should be available on a means-tested basis. Basically unless you can show that you're unable to afford insurance or that you can't get coverage for a pre-existing condition, the public option shouldn't be open to you.

    Rather than "competing" with private insurance (which, as I said before, will probably mean the end of private insurance) the public option acts as a net to protect the worst off under my proposal.

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    I said it before and I'll say it again.

    There is absolutely ZERO evidence to support the claim that the government can adequately run a Health Care program.

    On the other hand, there is PLENTY of empirical and direct evidence that the government can royally screw up a Health Care program.

    Why in the entire universe would ANYONE think that a Public Option is a good idea??

    Michale.....

  6. [6] 
    Moderate wrote:

    There is absolutely ZERO evidence to support the claim that the government can adequately run a Health Care program.

    I agree with that. Which is precisely why I don't think the public option as it stands is a good idea. My proposal was, I think, very different. My theory was that it's better for people who would otherwise get no treatment to receive an inadequate level of treatment than none at all.

    On the other hand, there is PLENTY of empirical and direct evidence that the government can royally screw up a Health Care program.

    Exhibit A: The NHS. I would also be careful about believing the statistics you read about the approval rating of public healthcare systems. The Dutch one, for example, is often lauded as being hugely popular. Yet I happen to have a lot of Dutch friends who are incredibly unhappy with their system, and their complaints are largely similar to mine about the NHS (that average taxpayers subsidise the less fortunate, but when they need healthcare they don't get it, and meanwhile the people they subsidise go to the head of the queue).

    The "less fortunate" tend to be quite happy with public schemes as they know they're not the ones funding it. Getting something decent for nothing whilst some other schmuck pays for it tends to skew your approval.

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    While you have good examples, I was actually referring to evidence of the US Government royally screwing up Health Care programs.

    IHS
    Medicaid
    Medicare
    VA

    "Lotta 'usses'"
    -Phil, HERCULES

    Michale......

  8. [8] 
    Moderate wrote:

    a public option open to all would likely lead to a single-payer scenario by virtue of simple competition.

    Actually, having done further reading, I've discovered several liberals, both in the media and Democrats themselves, who've actually admitted that the whole point of the public option proposed in the healthcare bills is to drive private insurers out of business and thereby use the public option as a "trojan horse" to bring about single-payer.

    Making my earlier statement all the more potent:

    The whole "if families or individuals like their current coverage" argument is moot, because the public option is the de facto death of the private option.

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    OK, someone spell it out for me..

    Democrats are bringing the same old tired and defeated legislation to Thursday night's summit..

    Democrats say that, if the GOP doesn't get on board with CrapCare, then they (Democrats) will simply push it thru using reconciliation...

    So, here is where I am cornfused...

    Where, exactly, is the "bi-partisanship" that Obama has promised??

    "Our Way Or Else" just doesn't seem much like bi-partisan, does it??

    Michale.....

  10. [10] 
    Moderate wrote:

    You didn't really believe the summit was about bipartisanship, did you?

    I suspect the Democrats want to be in a scenario where if it works, they can take the credit, but if it goes wrong, they can blame the Republicans and claim the bill was bipartisan. Clever, eh?

  11. [11] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Moderate -

    The "public option" being discussed isn't remotely anything near "public option open to all" which you're talking about. The PO would only be open to those who had no other options, a group estimated to be from 2% to 5% of the total market. Now, how is 5% of the market going to consume the other 95% of the market? It's like saying "MacOS has brought Microsoft to their knees" -- it doesn't hold up, in simple market economics. Perhaps if what were being discussed were indeed "open to all" then your feared scenario might even be possible, but it just ain't.

    Single-payer would be dandy, but ain't going to happen politically any time soon here (unless it happens on a state-by-state basis, which it might).

    As for the government always screwing things up, and the private sector always doing things cheaper, please explain the use of Blackwater in our wars when they do the same job our military used to do, except at a price tag per soldier that is much much higher? Oh, and don't forget the "cost plus" in that arrangement.

    Michale -

    Poll after poll shows Americans would prefer the public option, at a steady 60% to 40% split. So why not add it to the current bills -- which poll much lower, because the public option isn't in them?

    nypoet22 -

    I agree about the hypocrisy of claiming credit in ribbon-cuttings.

    Moderate -

    Now you're for a public option? As I said, the PO as it exists in any of these bills, is very limited and most wouldn't even be able to choose it. So isn't that what you're talking about? Limiting access to it? Perhaps you'd limit access differently, but I really don't think it's all that far from what you say you'd support.

    Michale -

    OK, let's try an experiment. Take a poll of everyone on:

    Medicare
    Medicaid
    VA

    and ask them: "Would you prefer keeping the healthcare you have, or buying it on the open market, even if I handed you John McCain's $5,000 voucher per year to do so?"

    And then poll people with private insurance, and ask them: "Would you prefer what you have now, or Medicare, at the same price you are now paying?"

    I bet the answers would surprise you. If, as you claim, gummint healthcare sucks rocks, then the percentage of people on gummint HC who want the private market would be high, and the percentage of people on private HC who wanted Medicare would be low.

    I'd bet 1,000 quatloos the results would be the exact opposite.

    -CW

  12. [12] 
    Moderate wrote:

    The "public option" being discussed isn't remotely anything near "public option open to all" which you're talking about.

    I'm sure I read that the original "public option" being floated was a rival policy offered on the exchanges and open to anyone to buy into?

    The PO would only be open to those who had no other options, a group estimated to be from 2% to 5% of the total market.

    That, as I've said all along, I think is a good idea.

    Now, how is 5% of the market going to consume the other 95% of the market?

    It's not, which is precisely why I didn't put that argument forward.

    Perhaps if what were being discussed were indeed "open to all" then your feared scenario might even be possible, but it just ain't.

    My "feared scenario" was predicated upon an "open to all" option.

    Single-payer would be dandy, but ain't going to happen politically any time soon here

    And yet Democrats have been on record as saying that the public option is merely a "trojan horse" to bring about single payer:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT4mV3R7vu4&feature=player_embedded

    please explain the use of Blackwater in our wars when they do the same job our military used to do, except at a price tag per soldier that is much much higher?

    Two points. Number one, profit. If the government operated to turn a profit at the same rate as Blackwater, the price tag per soldier would be higher. All I said was that the private sector's costs are lower. That it's a more efficient way to operate, and we should tap into that wherever possible.

    Secondly, re-read what I wrote:

    And yes, that includes spending on the military or other "Republican" areas too, but there isn't really a sensible option for privatisation of those areas.

    I've never advocated the use of companies like Blackwater because I do think that the military is one of those areas where public is better than private.

    Now you're for a public option?

    I've always said I agree with a public option. In fact I outlined a proposal in one of my earlier comments as to how I'd reform US healthcare if it were my responsibility, and my plan did include a basic public option.

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