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Posted by on Aug 20, 2009 in Health, Politics | 25 comments

Easy Interpretation

Yesterday, I suggested

Obama and his HHS Secretary send strong signals that co-ops are firmly on the table, just long enough for GOP leaders to say “hell, no,” prove their craven obstinance, and give the Dem majority all the cover they need to pass the law they wanted to pass all along.

Today, validation

A senior Democratic congressional leadership aide said weekend statements were calculated to test Republican responses.

As tea-leaf-reading goes, this one was not difficult to decipher. Nor was it challenging to guess that the negative Republican response to the aforementioned “test” statements, would send the Dems scrambling for ways to accomplish what they want, with or without the Senate’s magic number.

The White House and Senate Democratic leaders, seeing little chance of bipartisan support for their health-care overhaul, are considering a strategy shift that would break the legislation into two parts and pass the most expensive provisions solely with Democratic votes.

The cynical will say it was a Democratic ploy all along: Feign interest in bipartisan support; set up a test to prove bipartisan support is impossible; move forward under the cover of “Hey, we tried.”

I don’t know. I’m still inclined to believe that (1) Obama understands the legitimate value of bipartisan support on the big-ticket items and (2) he would have settled for co-ops if the Republicans had taken the bait.* But they didn’t. And so it goes.

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* I don’t care what fiction Sen. Jon Kyle and others want us to accept as reality, the consensus — among the many (many) reports I’ve read on the pro’s and con’s of co-ops — seems to be that co-ops, properly structured, would (1) be consumer run, not government run; (2) inject more competition into the marketplace; (3) avoid the considerable cost and complexity associated with a centralized federal bureaucracy and (4) require little more than modest start-up funding from the feds, to the tune of billions not hundreds of billions of dollars.

Assuming these points of merit are accurate, then co-ops would (1) not add to the size/power of the federal government, and (2) be much less costly to taxpayers than the so-called “public option” that is favored by many Democratic Party leaders.

Net: If you’re a Republican who favors competition and is concerned about taxpayer cost and centralized government, and your ONLY alternatives are Choice A or Choice B, and Choice B is the least centralized, least expensive choice for taxpayers — then you support Choice B. If you don’t support Choice B — and Choice A passes — then you’re just as responsible for the reality of Choice A as its proponents are. Period. End of story. The fat lady sang. Go home.

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