Monday, August 17, 2009

The Public Option is not dead -- maybe

By Capt. Fogg

President Obama is being excoriated right and left -- well, mostly left -- for having abandoned the public health care option in health care reform. Are we buying into the propaganda once again? It's not true, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs
said on Face the Nation yesterday. The president is still committed to the idea.

Although Heath and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
told us on the same day that it's "not essential," leading to the speculation that the idea had been dropped, now we're being told she "misspoke." Was she being used as a stalking horse to try out the idea? I don't know, but if the admittedly unscientific CNN poll showing that 57% of us think it is indeed essential has merit, the huge and boisterous tumult trying to tie it to every vestige of evil that can be pressed into service is mostly sound and fury and a tale told by Republican opponents. Presumably, the number who think it's merely a good idea is even larger.

We're not going to have reform without it, says
DNC Chairman Howard Dean:

[A]public option is essentially what veterans and people over 65 have — it's Medicare.

A sentiment which reflects what many of us supporters have been saying all along in the face of dire warnings about death panels and summary executions and worse.

The amplitude of the argument, which still seems to be growing louder has made us forget that health care reform is a very popular goal and with some insurers talking about very substantial hikes in premiums I don't think public support has waned very much at all.

Congressional support is another matter, of course, with Kent Conrad (D-SD) proclaiming on Fox News yesterday: "The fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the United States Senate for a public option. There never have been." There is some justification, to put it mildly, for public disillusionment with Congress.

I wonder how many letters, calls, hookers, and e-mails it takes to equal the power of corporate contributions, junkets, and three-martini lunches.

(Cross-posted from
Human Voices.)

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