acanuck's picture

    R.I.P. 'public option'

    The insurance companies just won.

    The administration, heeding the bleats of fearful and paid-off congresscritters, has just punted on the public option. Sebelius and Obama have both signaled that non-profit co-ops might do the trick by injecting some competition to the insurance industry. Sure, that might happen!

    And if anyone thinks that's a reasonable, Kent Conrad-style compromise, glance at the Drudge Report, where the main art is a white flag. No, this administration is going to settle for the illusion of reform.

    The mistake was to not stake out a single-payer system as their starting position, compromising if necessary on a public option. By positing the public option as their initial offer, the Democrats guaranteed the final product would be much, much less.

    The need to cover those 40 million-plus is still there. What if they can't even afford co-op rates? Here's how desperate some are:


    By trumpeting -- and fortunetelling -- a loss, aren't you helping defeat it??

    I don't get it, I've been seeing it for the last month on blogs. People writing "OMG Health care reform is DEAD!!!" at every daily news blip. OMG, Baucus said this, HCR is dead!!!!!

    A small request -- cut it the hell out. There's no advantage for us in pre-emting defeat. You are NOT HELPING.

    If we aren't allowed to critique the actions of the administration in this healthcare 'battle' that looks more like a rout every day, then what is our role here?

    Progressive members in the house have promised to kill the bill if it emerges without a public option. I say go for it progressives!

    That's not critiquing, that's calling the game before it's over. Answer is commenting on the defeatist attitude not the criticism.

    Frog and Viva, please note: I didn't say a health-care reform bill was dead.
    I said the public option is.
    And this is not Max Baucus rejecting a public option; it's not Kent Conrad rejecting a public option. It's not every Republican senator rejecting the public option.
    It's Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stating a public option is "not essential." So that's administration policy!
    Not convinced?
    Here's what Obama said Saturday:
    "All I'm saying is, though, that the public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform. This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it."
    I happen to think Sebelius and Obama are both wrong. A public option is the minimum required to pressure the insurance companies to offer actual health care that everyone can afford. Co-ops won't cut it.
    What Obama said Friday still holds true:
    "We are held hostage at any given moment by health insurance companies that deny coverage or drop coverage or charge fees that people can't afford. It's wrong. It's bankrupting families. It's bankrupting businesses."
    Now you can get mad at me for my "defeatist attitude" -- or you can get mad at Obama, Sebelius and the congressional Democrats and let them know it.
    If enough people do, maybe it will stiffen their spines for a public option. Who knows?
    My preference is for a single-payer system like we have in Canada. But a "reform" that doesn't even include a public option is mostly passing a bill for the sake of passing a bill.
    At that point, as Oleeb says below, the progressives might as well take a principled stand and kill the damn thing.
    It won't make much difference to the millions of uninsured being left out in the cold, and public pressure to squeeze out the insurance moguls via real reform will only grow over the next few years.
    Maybe President Hillary will finally, magically transform herself into America's single-payer angel.

    Your way or the highway, is that the ticket? I had enough of that attitude with Bush/Cheyney. Whether it comes from the left or right, that attitude stinks.

    A handful of supposedly centrist senators are effectively eviscerating health care reform, yet it's the larger group of progressives who are taking a my-way-or-the-highway stance if they balk at voting for a bill they consider ineffectual?
    Seems to me taking a principled position might be their democratic duty. I don't know if that would advance the cause of reform in the long term, but if the final bill is as watered-down as it's shaping up to be, it hardly matters.

    To quote the President - "In the end, this isn’t about politics. This is about people’s lives and livelihoods." Watered down is an arbitrary and relative phrase. Health care reform needs to happen, and we need to get it going now.

    No, declaring public option dead is just as bad!

    Stop doing that.

    All we have is Sebelius trying not to be boxed in, and blue dog jackass Conrad with self-serving opinionating. And with that, WaPo and HuffPo go off to the races: ""Public Option is dead!!!!!!" in 100 pt type.

    It strikes me as very self-serving that the media is so eager to kill HCR, that they salivate over every asshole blue dog remark. Let's not play into that unlevel playing field.

    Why not write something like "How to save public option"?

    The key thing is a maximalist approach. We need to grab every inch of turf on every front vis a vis HCR.

    Last time, Clinton got pre-existing conditions eliminated for group plans if you have continuous coverage. This time, we are talking about eliminating them entirely. It's my observation that once gained, we never lose ground. The GOP gain is to stonewall every aspect of reform. Perhaps they can on this or that aspect, but overall, we grab more turf and the public likes it in the end.

    So we need as much regulation of insurance as possible.
    We need as strong protections for people as possible
    We need as robust an "exchange" as possible -- public option being the best

    and so forth.

    The battle will be on all of these fronts from now til the end of the year.

    In fact, WaPo's blog that started this was based on BOTH Sebelius and Conrad, and concluded that PO was doomed. But Obama is still talking about it, and it still exists in several of the House bills.

    Point is this:

    If we really want it, we CAN fight for it.

    No argument here that it shouldn't be about politics. But the moves to sabotage reform (and I think that's exactly what Baucus and Conrad are attempting) are all about politics -- and corporate fundraising.
    "Watered-down" is indeed a subjective notion. I think dropping any public option is just that -- but what do I know? I'm spoiled by having a super-efficient single-payer system.
    Maybe those Americans who can afford insurance from their new regional co-ops will be ecstatic about them. I think millions will still fall through the cracks.
    This is not the best Obama and the Democrats could have done.

    Obama is apt to be as tough on this as he was on public option.

    And, you seem to be fairly recently active here, which Obama boiler room are you acting out of?

    You forget, Oleeb, that the President said he was still open to using the reconciliation process only three weeks ago (at the same time he was promising to veto McCain's plan and just before he was meeting with medical industry lobbyists).

    If Dem progressives try to filibuster a plan because it contains no public option, the Dem leadership may have to pull out the reconciliation card on them. The Dem Party is the liberal party, is it not? Yet progressives for the most part have been the only ones not appointed to the administration (they can't even confirm Dawn Johnson). Look at the military and security appointments; look at the economic advisers; even a seemingly liberal attorney is appointed AG and is promptly co-opted by those who wqant to bury the bodies. Progressives were not asked to the table when hashing out this so-called reform.

    (And anyone who objects to informed criticism of our government or its policies is losing sight of this country's history and founding principles).

    Fight for it! By all means, fight for it!
    But don't waste your time telling me you'll fight for it.
    Tell Sebelius, tell Rahm, tell Baucus and Conrad -- and above all, tell the president.
    Because I'll repeat what Obama said yesterday; it sounds to me like a step backward -- and not a tactical one at that:
    "The public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform. This is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it."
    Get that? "Whether we have it or we don't!" Obama's given you fair warning.
    Ignore it if you want to. But don't act surprised at what gets passed.

    Don, I've read that reconciliation is a lot trickier a process than most people think.
    It will be ironic (to me, at least) if Obama tries that procedural tactic to sideline his own party's progressives rather than the Senate-side bluish dogs who routinely undermine his agenda.
    Maybe he's hoping a "compromise" bill will draw enough Republican votes that he can call it bipartisan. Seems like a high price to pay.

    Recently active? Um, no. I've been here a lot longer than you.

    It's not over til it's over.

    And HCR won't be over for several months. So until its on the Presidents desk, it is possible to include anything.

    Yeah sorry, acanuk. I was joking about using reconciliation against liberal Dems, but should have made that clear (all these years and I still haven't got smiley-face usage down).

    You know, reconciliation is tricky, but it is doable where there's a will to do it. I can't understand someone using it as a threat, then turning on a dime and giving in a few weeks later.

    The American people favored a complete overhaul of health care before they were allowed to be rolled by the HC industry and its paid spokesmen in congress. The majority is still for it (either single payer or a real public option).

    Using reconciliation to ensure that the will of the people is not overridden by moneyed interest is not abusing the rules as I see it. I just don't believe true reform was ever seriously on the table with those who control the process.

    Look at it this way. You've got two groups, a progressive group trying to push health reform and a conservative/"moderate" group trying to kill it. Which of these two groups do you need in order to pass health care reform? If you want to do X, then you have to do at least the bare minimum necessary to get the supporters of X on board. Goodness knows the opponents of X aren't going to be able to satisfy in their stead.

    Reform without the public option is not reform. Requiring people by law to hold health insurance but giving no governmental guarantee that there will be an adequate health insurance option is worse than doing nothing.

    "Those who control the process."
    Yes, Don, at some point -- regardless of how health care reform turns out -- the American voter is going to have to address the underlying problem.
    Which is that their government, in all its branches, serves other interests than theirs.
    Candidate Obama recognized that reality when he talked of rooting out the power of corporate lobbyists.
    President Obama seems to be acknowledging what a small cog he is in the military-industrial-financial-congressional-media complex that holds real, though unconstitutional, power.
    He harnessed the sentiment of revolt against it long enough to get elected, but the consortium runs by its own rules, and they do not include bowing to electoral defeat.
    But you were saying about health care ...

    Thank you, frog. Obama doesn't need more critics -he's rather in need of supporters though.

    Apparently, our role is to attempt to appear above it all.

    But then a member of the press starts waiving a doggie buscuit and the first tails to start wagging are ours.

    We can muster outrage for every reason under the sun and then waste it fighting each other.

    I imagine the opposition laughing wildly while perusing these enlightened critiques over champagne and scones.

    Divide and conquer... it wouldn't be the first time Republicans succeeded with that particular maneuver.

    Make that "biscuit"...

    Does anyone doubt that no Republican senator will vote for the bill with or without the public-option? Seeing as that will likely be the case, the only reason to give up a public-option would be to satisfy certain Democratic senators.

    Obama's top legislative priority should have been public financing of Federal elections. All other progressive legislative goals greatly depend on that.

    Here's my first blog:A Blank Slate
    March 26, 2008, 3:39PM

    "Part of the reason I think it's always difficult for public figures to talk about this is that the nature of politics is that you want to have everybody like you and project the best possible traits onto you," he says. "Oftentimes, that's by being as vague as possible, or appealing to the lowest common denominators. The more specific and detailed you are on issues as personal and fundamental as your faith, the more potentially dangerous it is. "

    Obama talking to the Chicago Sun-Times in 2004

    I know I was making comments for quite some time before that but can't track them. I did discover TPM around the time of the primary campaigns. When did you?

    Yes, you are correct. NO GOP WILL VOTE FOR ANY HCR. It's a fact.

    Like I said, I've been a lot longer than you.

    You waste our time by writing this diary, and THEN tell us not to waste our time talking to you?

    Couldn't you warned us earlier?

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