And don’t start by telling me that it’s oh-so-popular and yet somehow Republicans have just scared too many people –including a number of Senate Democrats — about it. If the public option is so darn popular, why is Nancy Pelosi trying to rebrand it so that people think they’re getting something other than what we’ve been discussing for months?
If it’s so popular, why has President Obama remained non-committal about it all this time? The fact is that the hypothetical public option in which millions of Americans magically receive new health coverage from the insurance fairy is popular, but a public option in which people are specifically asked to help pay for other people’s new coverage is not. Thus Speaker Pelosi’s attempt at trickeration.
The new “opt-out” idea from Harry Reid, in which states could decide not to participate in the new federal government insurance plan, is cut from the same cloth as Pelosi’s maneuvering. If the point were to give states a true choice in the matter, an “opt-in” plan would be far more intellectually honest since the easiest thing for state politicians to do is to not to deviate from the default option that Washington gives them. But Reid’s point, of course, is to set a public option in motion while giving the appearance of flexibility. Don’t fall for it.