Why Are Democrats So Afraid of the Public Option?

The source of the fear is inside Congress, not out there in America:

Over the past week, the public option has made an unexpected comeback. As of this morning, 23 Democrats had signed a letter asking Reid to add it into the bill during the reconciliation process. The White House and the Senate leadership both said that if the public option had the votes, they wouldn’t oppose its inclusion. But privately, most of the offices were saying the same thing: We don’t want to oppose the public option, but we don’t want to reopen the public option debate.

But they signed the letter anyway. They described it as a collective action problem: If everyone signed it, Democrats had a serious problem on their hands. But no one individual wanted to oppose it.

It would be fair, at this point, to ask why Democrats would have a problem if they attempted to pass the public option. The public option is popular policy, it’s good policy, and it energizes the base. The problem is that it’s not popular policy with the handful of conservative House and Senate votes that you need to push this bill over the finish line.
[...]
I’m not defending these arguments. I don’t think conservative Democrats will pick up even a single vote if the final plan doesn’t include a public option, while I think they’ll probably gain a few if their base feels like they won something big this year. Nor have I seen any evidence that Americans will reward Democrats for being bipartisan if Republicans refuse to cooperate with the strategy. But that’s the thinking.

  

Author: KATHY KATTENBURG

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25 Comments

  1. Dear Mr. President:

    Health care reform without a public option is no reform at all.

    Mr. President, you seem to slipping from a position of leadership, to one of management. Please, take a few minutes to watch this clip from the 1995 movie, The American President, starring Michael Douglas. View it in the context of health care and banking reform, and the current state of malaise in American politics. This clip is worth 10,000 words.

    Thank you.

    Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWRVbWMvi7c

  2. It became toxic waste during the past year, thanks to the Dems. [clapping pinkies]

    Obama may have left the public option out of the Dems' bargaining position to present the view they wouldn't try to overreach going in — of course, his plan and what the Dems appear to be seeking makes a lie out of any claim to being reasonable. (We already suspected they wouldn't bargain in good faith, and the plan with things like federal price controls on insurers show they're overreaching, anyway.)

    The public option could truly be revived. Never mind if it might reappear in the Senate or even in the “summit”; don't forget the House could well try to resurrect it. Maybe it might even be revived “in response to” or “in exchange for” loss of some of the other overreach portions of what's being sought now.

    The far lefty radio chatterers are wondering aloud where the public option is, or might be (reappear).

  3. Kathy,

    This is an article in the Economist, a magazine I've long enjoyed (a perfect companion for me on a solo flight, or whenever I must wait for a long time somewhere). This is something I just posted in a reply I made to someone else on another thread.

    Government intervention in health care is something I view as eventual, if not inevitable here, and for various reasons (not just ignorance of or contempt for constitutional federalism, or for deliberately concentrating interventionism in Washington, but for convenience if not laziness or impatience or the desire for standardization as well as ultimate portability standardization confers). In fact, I've stated more than once that the ultimate long-term choice we'll likely make is between Medicare for All and VA for All (depending much on how bad costs get). Something else in play is the continued confusion by so many advocates of the insurance system and what insurance is, with what advocates believe exists, as well as what is desired: prepaid health care (the form of what is desired often being comprehensive, including preventive care). In fact, the insurance model is the key to why I believe it will face replacement (a government takeover being likely because of the details and circumstances). I've already provided examples before of future insurance-related issues that should kill the model — cracking the genome and using genetic material associated with disease as additional pre-existing conditions that will largely disqualify many from any insurance at all, and will result in much larger rate increases for so many more being my preferred example. The basic insurance model, which many of you lefties are ignorant of, is actually a good thing to use in favor of your goals now, not only later. And in fact, reviewing this would give lefties better fuel powering or propelling any revival attempt for the public option.

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinameri

    Enjoy. If advocates (and Democratic politicians) argued using information like this, and sought agenda items based on information like this, they might get their way much better than they do now.

  4. Democrats are treating the public option the way they treated GLBT people in the 90s. It is “cool” to support it in principle, but when the time comes for a vote, they bolt.

  5. thanks for the link.

  6. The Democrats have had to run away from the public option because they have been so open in the desire to see the public option fail. The Democrats have been very open in saying that they would first start a public option, they would then subsidize the costs with tax dollars (to put the private insurance industry out of business) and then would lower reimbrusement costs to drive health care workers out of the industry.

    A pubic option would look like the current school system: the rich would still have a boutique private system, the poor would have the equivalent of inner city schools and the middle class would pay very high taxes to have a pathetic system that would costs a lot and deliver little.

    Of course, the public option does nothing about tort reform, illegal aliens, government mandates, and ever increasing regulations.

  7. Thanks for the economist link, good article.

  8. Why are the democrats so afraid of the public option?

    November

  9. Either dems can't do math or they're running scared of “Citizens” [including foreigners] United”.

    Either or…

  10. Somehow I think I'll get many a chuckle from progressives blaming corporate campaign ads for election losses.

  11. I see Dick Cheney was released from the hospital this morning after being treated for a heart attack.The public option that he and the rest of these jerks in congress are ENTITLED to is treating ALL of them very well !!My question is where the hell is my healthcare VIA the public option???

  12. Yeah, it's not like most of us are too busy trying to keep our heads above water that are main source of information for or against candidates is found online or on the tube. It's not like advertisers know this. It's not like most campaign money is spent on this. It's not like exhaustive studies and factual experience has shown us that advertising money makes or breaks otherwise equal candidates. Nah..

    It's so friggin' HILARIOUS that now corporations made up of foreign citizens, like Newscorp or Citigroup [Newscorp of Fox news hellbent on dividing citizens against each other in time of war] [Citigroup, one of the main bank failures that nearly ruined us] can directly affect the outcome of elections.

    I find especially giggly and fun that the Supreme Court decided to rewrite the 14th Amendment extending “citizenship” beyond its description of “born or naturilzed” AND [not or] subject to the laws of the US. I love how their protection of free speech extends to Prince Awhleed bin Talal and his prince buddies who pledged to buy up as many media outlets abroad as they could “to affect domestic policy”.

    Yep. It's just one big barrel of laughs the level of corruption that has risen straight to the Supreme Court and how with time the USA won't even be recognizable as a free democracy. Not even close. Just so funny..

  13. Why have Dems retreated from the public option?

    “November” [Leo]

    I wonder if some of them have learned the lessons of the past year, which includes one of them with this one, and other big things the Dems have done (badly and wrongly) that have repelled Americans.

    With this and other kinds of legislation, given their past record, and Americans' experience, sometimes even the less-controversial or potentially-useful legislation falters, because [sniff, sniff] there's this past year's Dems on it!

  14. of another insurance problem.”

    The government plan will accept 100% of all requests, I'm sure.

  15. November should be their fear if the public option *isn't* passed, given how consistently well it polls. But don't let reality stand in the way of your ideology.

  16. But don't let reality stand in the way of your ideology.

    Practice what you preach. Polls all show that there support for HCR is not there anymore.

  17. Duck,

    “didn't exactly bend over backwards to explain all the Anthem premium story”

    No, though I felt it was instructive nevertheless.

    For what it's worth, Medicare is ludicrous. In addition to underpayment (which restricts access as a general problem), with transplants Medicare is simply stupid. They pay for the transplant (I don't know and I suspect it's subject to the standard of 80% of allowed costs, so you're stuck then with 20% of all you incur plus any additional balance billing, which then is compounded by any Medigap insurance fun and games). But they only pay for the post-Tx immunosuppressant drugs to prevent (or reduce) post-transplant rejection of the organ, for only three years! They're saying they only expect or permit those organs to last for three years. It's deliberate negligence, not intentional shorting of graft life, but the result is the same. The #1 reason organs fail is rejection due to failure to take the drugs, and the #1 reason the drugs are skipped or stopped is inability to pay for (afford) them. (In fact, it's the classic worst case to use to illustrate the inadequacy of public payment for health care and the need for more.)

    Here it's a case where the intermediary is interfering with and inhibiting needed care. As I've said about public (single-payer or otherwise) programs, the (federal) government becomes the intermediary if or when we switch. But many feel at least that the government is more accountable and controllable as an intermediary. (I wish more lefties would express a rational stance in favor of interventionism in that way.)

    “The government plan will accept 100% of all requests, I'm sure.”

    Not now, not later (20+ years). But at least we may have some or more say in what happens, at least in theory (I know, most of which will be discarded or distorted in practice).

    Actually, I believe lefties have still to be surprised at this — the government plan won't necessarily (or all of our future government plan). It'll be more complicated 20+ years from now, when cost controls become inevitable (we may switch from Medicare to VA for that reason, if not for others). Aside from this case's financial details, I think more about what might be done to the organ procurement system (a problem in this story, already) and the queues for organs (assuming no “presumed consent” donation laws, something overdue). As with climate “science,” so with this issue: I've already seen an article (I saw it years ago), which was in the politically-tainted New England Journal of Medicine (so many periodicals as well as areas of academia are infiltrated and infected with liberal politics — the Sixties really has left its mark), one of some articles saying the waiting lists are inherently discriminatory (because results for all aren't 100% equal — radical egalitarianism, radicalism, is in effect here) and that rather than get more minority-compatible donated organs, some minorities ought to get “race-conscious points” to speed them past others, i.e., whites, in the queues. This is extensible to all future queueing a la Canada, US style, for medical services 20+ years from now.) This is what a government-run health care future, with the Dems and modern liberalism and its radical features, possibly (if not likely) portends.

  18. Both sides see what they want to see in the polls. The right sees that a majority don't want the mishmash put together by Dems and the insurance cartel and assume that the public wants what the right wants. Nothing. Status quo. Oh, except with “tort reform” so even those injured by incompetence or negligence don't have recourse. The left sees >70% for the public option. The right ignores this and insists that the only thing that will save Dems is to give up. They're wrong. Worse, they're lying. They want the Dems to give up because THAT will hurt Dems, which is of course what they want.

  19. November should be their fear if the public option *isn't* passed, given how consistently well it polls.

    Umm…the generic congressional ballot has tipped Republican for some time now, I think it started about when the healthcare debate kicked off.

    Anyhow, what will progressives really do? Vote Republican in protest? Try to elect more progressives in democratically held seats in primaries thus more likely making it easier for Republicans to win in some cases, or creating more Joe Lieberman style independents in blue Stats? I mean how is that Ned Lamont thing working out for progressives? Somehow I don't think anyone, will be trembling too much at the thought of losing progressives, although a few might and many will pay you lip service so you will send them campaign donations, but its the moderates who really have the greater make or break power. In any state where progressives will likely determine who wins, you already have progressives in office.

    Thats the problem with the fringes whether far left or far right, they really have nowhere much to turn.

  20. Polls all show that the support for HCR is not there anymore.

    No, they don't.

  21. 1. Pollster.com: This is just a graph showing an overall job approval rating on health care. If this pollster had asked me if I approved or disapproved of Obama's performance on health care, I would have said I disapproved, and I would have become part of that 52.2%.

    2. CBS News: This is also just an overall job approval rating on health care, but this time there is an actual article which says that Democrats and Republicans in Congress also get very low job approval ratings on health care, and the job approval rating for Republicans is even lower than that for Democrats on this issue. Which would tend to suggest that the reason for the disapproval isn't as simple as “I don't want health care reform.” The same poll results also show that when asked about specific parts of the health care reform bill, respondents support several of them, and although this particular poll doesn't mention the public option, polls have consistently shown that the public wants one, by large majorities. Bottom line: No way to tell from this poll WHY Americans disapprove of Obama's performance on health care.

    3. Rasmussen: This says Americans want to pass elements of the bill separately. Why? They don't want health care reform? They don't want a big bill? They think passing smaller bills will make the process go faster because they are sick and tired of Congress taking an entire year to pass one bill and then not doing it? You simply cannot conclude anything from this about why Americans “don't support the health care efforts.” Anything specific that you conclude reflects your own ideological prejudices.

    Before I go on, I just want to ask, Are they all like this? Because I don't want to waste my time giving you the courtesy of going through all your links, only to find with each one that they don't show what you say they show.

  22. Oh, what a work of self-deception you are. How convenient to decide 'just because' not to comment on the next two links, because they are strictly about the lack of public support for health care.

    Where oh where are all the polls you can cite showing the public supports HCR? I am still waiting.

    Meanwhile, here are more for you to pretend don't exist, don't mean anything, whatever other pathetic excuse you need to drum up because you cannot stand the fact you are in the minority on this issue. But you don't care and won't follow these links or comment, because you are 'non-reality based', and this reality hurts too much for someone like you to admit you are wrong:

    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/12/21

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/dec/10

    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2009/1222

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/glennthrush/1209/

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs

    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/11/17

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/01/15/fox-

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/124496/americans-lea

    http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/

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