Public Option Panics Conservatives

(Rob Gray?  Really??  If this is true, Charlie Baker has made his first big mistake. - promoted by David)

David Brooks put his panic on full display today.  The Boston Herald’s Jay Fitzgerald agreed “with almost every word of it.”  Our government is on the verge of passing real healthcare reform with a public plan.  Ordinary people who work for a living will be able to buy insurance without buying golden parachutes for insurance execs.  And people like Brooks, who favor the rich getting richer, are really spouting nonsense in the hope of stopping reform:

“Democratic health care bills… do almost nothing to control health care inflation.”

That’s totally rubbish, of course.  If Americans fund public plans, we spend much, much less on inefficient private plans, bringing down the total cost of healthcare for our nation.  Brooks throws up a lot of other false ideas, but most important is his false assertion that people don’t want public plans.

The [June CBS-NYT] poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insurance and that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector.

 So the time is now to push back against the conservatives and in favor of reform.  If you know someone who lives in Nebraska, Connecticut, Maine, Montana, Louisiana, or Oregon, encourage them to call their Senators to pass a public plan sooner rather than later. If you live in another state, urge your Senators to pressure those states’ Senators to support a public plan.


If you decided to read the extended text, well, here’s a relevant news item.  Insurance companies are pouring money into Senator Baucus’ coffers:

Top out-of-state corporate contributors included Schering-Plough, New York Life Insurance, Amgen, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield; individual executives such as Richard T. Clark, chief executive and president of drugmaker Merck, have also made regular donations. Most of these companies, particularly major insurers, strongly oppose a public insurance option, which is favored by President Obama and top House Democrats but has not received support from Baucus’s committee.

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8 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. The really good news

    is that even Republicans are becoming (at least slightly) divided. Olympia Snowe has decided to come out in favor of the public option, instead of the trigger. Can Susan Collins be far behind?

    I think Olympia Snowe is the one elected Republican that I know of in the entire country who I actually have some respect for. I wish she'd hurry it up and switch parties, already.  

  2. Three issues

    1)Ad hominem attacks hurt the credibility of our argument

    And people like Brooks, who favor the rich getting richer

    There is no evidence he thinks this, David Brooks disagrees with us that we need a public option-and the thought of a truly public option is scaring the very moderates and independents that swung the election for Obama. It was not progressives that won him the general election-the economy and Sarah Palin convinced moderates and independents to swing for Obama in a big way-and judging by his previous columns Brooks might have been one of them.

    Brooks simply does not understand the facts. For him healthcare reform means tweaking a few costs, cutting down some regulations, and getting Ben Nelson and Susan Collins' approval before anything happens. Its flawed logic and a flawed recipe for reform, the system is so broke radical reform is the only thing that can fix it. But this does not mean he doesn't care about healthcare for the average American, and if these are the lines of attacks progressives use against Nelson and Collins then don't be surprised when ANY kind of reform fails. If the left wing blogs are gunning after Kerry as a DINO then I think they will provoke some serious backlash and will hurt the Presidents agenda.

    2) The Polling

    While the polls show overwhelming numbers of Americans supporting a public option and universal healthcare they are also enormously worried about the national debt and fear raising taxes. I think if the final plan is too expensive or if the President does not clearly specify how he will pay for it then it is doomed to fail. The tax and spend line of attack is one of the few areas that the GOP still agrees on and still resonates with swing voters. I wouldn't be cocky and assume the American people want a public option when they find out if its expensive and actually requires sacrifice on their part.

    3) The Rush

    I still do not understand the rush to pass any kind of legislation immediately. First off, the Wyden Plan is already backed by a solid number of Republicans, is more radical than the House plan since it provides for a more robust public option and eliminates employer based healthcare truly freeing the private sector as well. Its been endorsed by archconservates like Sen. Bennet and Sen. Hatch and is sponsored by a leading progressive voice in the Senate. Now, I am not sure it could clear passage in the House since the GOP is significantly more rightward and united than it is in the Senate and since so many of our members are conservative or moderate Blue Dogs.

    The final bill will likely be made in the conference committees which will be about as entertaining to watch as touring a sausage factory. Hopefully most of the elements of the Wyden plan can be incorporated into the House bill for the President to sign.

    But again, I can't stress this enough. Progressives do not want this bill to be rushed, when push comes to shove progressive will cave in to the moderates to get a bill passed quick. We already heard Senator Kerry say he will drop the public option to get a plan out NOW. The President might feel the same way. Frankly I'd rather wait and have a good plan than rush and get a crappy one. Also the more time there is the more pressure the grassroots can put on Congress to make the public option work.

    Those criticisms aside, I agree that any plan without a public option is a bad one. Also I really like the President's talking points that if they truly loved the free market why don't they support opening up the HMO cartels to competition from government? Seriously, this kind of healthcare reform is what CONSERVATIVES run on in countries that have universal coverage. Its the best of both worlds, nobody is forced to choose a gov. plan, no rationed care, and it will force the private companies to produce more affordable and higher quality plans to compete.  

    • HI, James!

      1) Brooks is a Republican, and he didn't scold George W. Bush when GWB wanted to drastically lower taxes on the wealthy.  But Brooks did scold Obama for wanting to redistribute wealth from the rich down to the rest of us.  A Republican who doesn't support the rich getting richer is like a tofu burger.  You could swallow it, but you know it's not the same thing as a real one.

      2) As for people's deficit fears, What Digby Said!

      People do not care about government deficits more than they care about whether or not they will go bankrupt if they are unlucky enough to get cancer. They just don't. "Deficit" is a term that has no real meaning to people. It's an empty vessel that carries whatever fears people have, which is then used as a weapon by the protectors of the status quo to stop any kind of progress for actual human beings. People are scared of a lot of things right now and rightfully so, but a future government debt 20 years from now that may or may not actually happen would be far down the list if they had the whole picture. It's demagogic gibberish.

      3) The rush is necessary.  Two ways to kill new legislation are to debate it forever or to "table it," so we need a deadline.  It's very, very difficult to pass new legislation in the US system, so the pressure needs to stay on.

      • Two more issues

        1) He described himself in that post as a moderate and today claimed he is now an independent. And judging by his post-Palin columns I suspect he was an Obama voter. Look I don't agree with David Brooks on this one, I feel that he is an ideological opponent of universal healthcare as opposed to a policy opponent of it. I respect those that feel there are better policy alternatives to the current legislation-I would count myself among them-but I also recognize the political reality that the best policy option might not be politically palatable.

        Also again in that column you linked too, one that I really agreed with and respected as a moderate Democrat, I saw a fear that the President didn't want 95% of Americans to have raised taxes, and Brooks felt that was unfeasible. We can only tax the rich so much and people forget that they are the class that drives investment and creates jobs so one can't soak them too much. But perhaps we will just disagree on this. Portraying a reasonably moderate-conservative columnist as an anti-working class demagogue will not help pass universal healthcare-that was my broader point.

        2) Just because some liberal blogger claims 'the people' do not fear deficits doesn't make it so. I for one am proud that the last Democratic president we had before this one balanced a budget, the first since Eisenhower. I think we can all agree that the surplus Bush wasted on tax cuts should've been spent to pay down the national debt. Unfortunately money doesn't grow on trees and the second Chinese banks pull out of backing the US dollar and buying our debt, and trends show they are already dropping down these purchases, we are all up shit creek without a paddle.

        So I am incredibly concerned about this and deficits now mean tax increases later, and you and I both know its the middle class that will absorb these tax increases. I do not want the US to turn into Weimar Germany or California for that matter and I think most Americans agree. Is healthcare reform worth increasing the deficit temporarily yes-but I remember then Senator Obama promising that he would restore 'pay as you go' and balance the budget once the economy got good. Those promises if broken might not sting as much as the 'read my lips line' but I would say it would hurt the Presidents credibility.

        3) The Rush

        Again the President could have had the Wyden plan on his desk January 21st and signed. It already has broad bi partisan support, would easily pass the Senate, and if Pelosi tramped down her ego a bit and stopped insisting that the final bill come out of the House then we could have a much better plan thats been well thought out and approved by a variety of think tanks from Cato to the CAP and pundits from Mr. Brooks to Mr. Eglesias. I would rather wait and get a good plan passed than rush through legislation that is inferior.

        A good example is Markey-Waxman. A Carbon Tax would be a much more efficient means of curbing greenhouse gases-most economists and environmentalists agree. Its also a lot more enforceable and could generate revenue. Cap and trade is inefficient, it failed to work in Europe, and the only reason some Republicans voted for it is because it basically allows polluters to buy their way out of cleaning up their operations. But we were told the icecaps would melt if it wasn't passed and now we are stuck with a bill thats cumbersome and almost impossible to enforce, especially on the local level. Its all tail and no cattle-and I really hope healthcare doesn't go the same route.

    • What

      ...the thought of a truly public option is scaring the very moderates and independents that swung the election for Obama.

      But

      ...the polls show overwhelming numbers of Americans supporting a public option...

      So these scared moderates and independents are overwhelmingly in the minority, then?  

  3. It is not just Conservatives

    President Obama does not need one single Republican vote to pass this garbage.

    With an overwhelming majority of Democrats in the House AND a fillibuster proof Senate any "reasonable" plan should pass with no problems.

    Once a "reasonable" plan surfaces it will pass.

    It isn't just the conservatives that are panicked.

    Is the CBO a bunch of conservatives?  Is the Mayo clinic a group of conservatives?

    Are "blue dog" democrats conservative?  Are the blue dog democrats' constituents conservative?

    The majority of the "non-conservative" moderates and independents are all saying WTF!!!???    

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Thu 21 Aug 1:59 PM