09.30.2009 0

Public Option Titanic Strikes Iceberg, Fleeing Senators Take to the Lifeboats

  • On: 10/28/2009 09:23:05
  • In: Health Care
  • By Robert Romano

    The unsinkable ship of ObamaCare—expected into port as long ago as last July—has hit an iceberg. And it now appears that there are few, if any, airtight compartments left to help it stay afloat as it flounders gracelessly on the cresting waves of public opinion.

    Just a day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that the Senate version of ObamaCare would contain the costly so-called “public option,” the embattled Democrat suffered several key defections against the plan.

    The first Senator to head for the lifeboats was Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), who promised to join Republicans in filibustering the “public option.” He said he would vote against the bill “even with an opt-out because it still creates a whole new government entitlement program for which taxpayers will be on the line.”

    Lieberman has hit the nail on the head. There is no taxpayer “opt-out.” So, even if states ultimately determine that they are opting out of the “public option,” taxpayers in that state would still be forced to pay for government-run health care for everyone else. And by ALG’s own estimates, that could cost some $2.1 trillion over ten years once fully implemented.

    The “public option” has been drawing key opposition for more than a week now. Last week, it was Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) who warned Reid against including the “public option.” She said it would likely suffer the same fate as Medicare and Medicaid, the other two unsustainable health care entitlements the federal government has already enacted.

    She said, “Why don’t we fix the two public options we have now instead of creating a third one… I think if you asked, do you want a public option but it would force the government to go bankrupt, people would say no.”

    Landrieu, too, is right on target. Combined, Medicare and Medicaid will cost $710 billion in the 2010 budget. By 2019, they will cost an eye-popping $1.354 trillion annually. Throwing on another $211.5 billion a year to offer coverage for another 45 million people—at an average cost of $4,700—will most assuredly sink the Ship of State once and for all into the icy Abyss of insolvency.

    Making matters worse for Reid, Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) has already headed for the lifeboats as well. She had been the only Republican to vote with Senate Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee. But yesterday, she joined with Senator Lieberman saying she would block the “public option” as well.

    Then, so did Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), who voted with Senate Democrats for the trillion-dollar “stimulus”—but apparently will not for the “public option.” She said she opposed “a taxpayer-subsidized, government-run health insurance company.”

    Next, Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) jumped ship, when she told the Arkansas Farm Bureau, “Creating another government-funded option is not where we’re going. We don’t need to go there. A government-funded option is something that I think is not the way to go.”

    In other words, the “public option” is fast drowning in its own red ink—and it is taking ObamaCare down with it.

    Backed into a corner, the Muroidean Reid can be expected to snarl, claw, and lash out in anger. In fact, all he has left may be an ill-starred attempt to go forward with what has been termed the “nuclear option”—the elimination of the filibuster to pass ObamaCare, complete with the “public option,” without any cloture vote.

    Should he attempt to take this route, the so-called “reconciliation” process normally reserved for budget matters would be perverted to get the “public option” through by the slimmest of margins. That is, if the Senate parliamentarian—and the members of his own party—goes along with it. Which, of course, is now increasingly doubtful.

    All of which leaves Reid with exactly nothing. Without Lieberman, Snowe, Collins, Landrieu, and Lincoln, he’d be at least three votes short of cloture.

    But there will surely be other defections, among Senators who realize that Reid does not have the votes. And who in short order will begin a mad rush for the life rafts—each eager to make certain that he or she is not the last to die for a lost cause.

    They will seize upon the opportunity to placate their own irate voters, rather than tow Reid’s onerous line. They, too, will abandon ship. And just as he did at his ill-fated news conference announcing his “opt-out” ploy, Reid will stand alone on the bridge, watching his own political career torn asunder as the sinking ObamaCare plunges beneath the rising tide of public outrage.

    Robert Romano is the ALG Senior News Editor.

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