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Without a public option, Obama’s health plan must die

Four weeks ago, I wrote a post “Real Health Reform or Nothing!” that made the case that if we can’t get real health care reform, then progressives in Congress should vote to kill the bill. At the time, I received some emails from people who implied that I was crazy.

So, yesterday, FireDogLake posted “Without a public option, Obama’s health plan must die“. Their point is basically the same as mine — that a bill with a mandate requiring coverage, without a public option, is a huge giveaway to the health insurance industry that will do nothing to bring down the cost of health care. In fact, it may accelerate the rise in the cost of health insurance, since everyone will be required to purchase it no matter how high the cost.

So Democrats have a choice. Failing to pass health care reform may be a huge blow to the Dems. But passing a health care reform bill that requires everyone to pay for health insurance, while costing taxpayers lots of money that goes directly into the pockets of corporations, will probably be a larger blow in the long run (i.e., by the time of the next election).

Let’s be clear — the goal of the Republicans is not to kill health care reform, it is to kill the Democratic party and Obama. This point is well made by an editorial in the NY Daily News:

The most violent opposition isn’t directed at his ideas about health care reform. It is directed at him. It is about him. They couldn’t make enough of a majority to beat the Harvard-educated black guy out of the White House, so they will beat him on an issue where they see him as being most vulnerable.

In the process, they’ll come after him on health care the way Kenneth Starr went after Bill Clinton on oral sex in the Oval Office.

UPDATE: Electoral Vote has a good discussion about health care reform that has an interesting viewpoint. I’m not sure I agree with his conclusions, but he supplies good information.



  1. Cyn wrote:

    point taken. but 🙂 something maybe better than nothing. remember how many years it took to get to just this. so setting a precedent..even a weak least creates the stage upon which to build something better. once something is established its extremely difficult to eliminate. if there is nothing there it can be ignored.i want true socialized/universal healthcare but i doubt i’ll ever see it in my lifetime. my daughter might live to see a progression from whatever crap is passed now to an actual public option…dare i say it..maybe even universal healthcare. she’s a ‘tween’ btw. 🙂 so she’s got more years to wait it out than i do. for so many different reasons, Americans are just slow to change. but i do think real change is inevitable. just not soon enough for some of us. 🙁

    Monday, August 17, 2009 at 8:58 am | Permalink
  2. I wonder what Democrat will run against Obama in the primaries next Presidential season.

    I really wonder.

    I also wonder if we’re about the see the collapse of both of the major parties: Libertarians rising out of the ashes of the GOP, and Progressives (or Greens?) walking out from the disgrace of the Democrats. (They control Congress and the White House, and they couldn’t do it? Such weakness is just not acceptable. Either grow a spine or get out of the way.)

    Monday, August 17, 2009 at 9:00 am | Permalink
  3. Ross wrote:

    I live in Britain where we’re served by the NHS, a free health care system supported by our taxes. I know the Republicans have being saying a lot about the NHS recently to try an undermine and think there one thing all you Americans should know. THE REPUBLICANS ARE LIEING TO YOU, THEY’RE PEDDLING TOTAL CRAP EVEN GOING SO FAR AS TO MISQUOTE NHS PATIENTS AND QUOTE BRITISH GOVERMENT REPORTS THAT HAVE NEVER BEEN HEARD OF OVER HERE. Quite how you can all stand to have such a influential political party abuse you all so badly and make it so clear that all they really care about are the corporations is beyond my understanding. They are using you, turning a profit off you when you are at your weakest and most vulnerable. You have to get rid of them, make it socially unacceptable for anyone to support them at a grass roots level because this is the faction of your society that is getting the USA such a bad name, these are the imperialistic neo conservatives that every one else in the world hates. It’s not your freedom’s or your political views or your love of violence or anything else, it’s this tiny minority of sick, sick souls who use, hurt and even economically enslave others just so they can turn a profit. If there’s anyone to blame for the death of the American dream, its these individuals, they are selling you all out. If you need a right wing political faction form a new one, based around the real Christian ideals of tolerance, charity, humility and discipline rather than continuing to support a load of hypocritical lier’s and thieves who will willingly sell their morals to the highest bidder.

    PS, I may have been born in the UK and continue to live here, but my family comes from Mobile Alabama and I’ve lived there and toured all over the US. I choose to live here because it’s better. People arn’t allowed to carry guns or take advantage of the weak. The words ‘bring me you weak and dispossessed’ may be part of the American soul, but its the UK that honors them these days and its only the UK that elects independent candidates and has a multi-party system. Politics here is an never ending cycle of bi elections, local election and debates, they ever have an official shadow government comprised of individuals who oversee and constantly inspire debate about everything the government does. That’s real democracy.

    Monday, August 17, 2009 at 9:26 am | Permalink
  4. Sammy wrote:

    I am taking from this post a bigger issue than that of health care. The real nugget of truth is found in the NY Daily News quote regarding the REAL motivation by conservatives in this argument. It has little to do with health care reform and everything to do with beating Obama.

    To take this to a ridiculous extreme, if Obama’s administration suddenly proposed a flag burning amendment (something arch conservatives have tried on numerous occasions), those same conservatives would oppose it with venom.

    Monday, August 17, 2009 at 10:07 am | Permalink
  5. Seth Russell wrote:

    Why can not co-ops be setup to be just as robust as a public option?

    Monday, August 17, 2009 at 10:21 am | Permalink
  6. Iron Knee wrote:

    Seth — My question is, why would you not want to have a public option? Why are the health insurance companies in favor of “co-ops” and (so strongly) against the public option? When you answer those two questions, you will have answered your own question.

    Unless you are just a troll, and in that case, please go away.

    Sammy — Indeed, Newt Gingrich sang the praises of end of life planning, before the Dems proposed it and he agreed with Palin that they are “death panels”. What happened to the “loyal” in loyal opposition? This is the legacy of Karl Rove — everything is politics, policy is dead. I know Obama is trying to change this, but unless something is done about the media, I fear it can’t happen.

    Monday, August 17, 2009 at 10:34 am | Permalink
  7. Seth Russell wrote:

    Iron: Personally i would love a public option. But like the president i want effective health reform more. I didn’t know that insurance companies favor the co-ops. Co-ops have been very successful for consumers in things like credit unions. Why can they not be effectively setup for health care? Do you know of a specific reason why they cannot?

    Monday, August 17, 2009 at 11:35 am | Permalink
  8. Pkam wrote:

    I agree with this. Not because I’m ideologically opposed to for-profit health insurance (I’m actually pragmatically opposed to it), rather mainly because without a strong public option, I believe that health care costs and out-of-pocket expenses will continue to balloon, which means we’ll have to do this all over again in a few years.

    I think my position is backed by an article in the NY Times on August 14th by Peter Steinfels, in which he cites a book by Angela Wasunna (Medicine and the Market). This book (which I haven’t read) purportedly demonstrates that the “invocation of market solutions [in health care] rests much more on ideology than on empirical outcomes.” In other words, conservatives want to believe that the market can solve this problem, but there is no evidence that it can.

    Monday, August 17, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Permalink
  9. Kevin wrote:

    Well while we don’t have any empirical evidence on what the market can do for health care (actually I’d say the current state of things with so many uninsured, many companies dropping coverage as a benefit, etc. is pretty damn empirical, but not everyone agrees), we DO have great empirical evidence for what the market can do for another sector — banking.

    Personally I think I’ll pass on trusting the market to do anything but cause train wrecks the taxpayers have to pay for, based on the market’s own track record.

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 10:17 am | Permalink