11.30.2009 0

Public Option: Dead, or Alive?

  • On: 12/16/2009 10:20:35
  • In: Health Care
  • By Robert Romano

    The “public option” may be dead or alive. Nobody really seems to know for sure.

    Yesterday, as thousands of Americans were protesting the beleaguered health bill outside the nation’s Capitol, Barack Obama was meeting behind closed doors with Senate Democrats twisting their arms to support the bill that 56 percent of voters now oppose, according to Rasmussen Reports.

    Obama then trumpeted to the American people the Senate was on the brink of passing his signature domestic agenda item: government-run health care. This had meant, on the surface, that significant concessions had been made to one Senator Joe Lieberman (ID-CT). Lieberman had conditioned support of any legislation on the premise that the “public option” and Medicare expansion plans be scrapped.

    To that he holds, but there’s a problem.

    Aside from the fact that nobody knows what’s actually in the bill, significant differences remain between Senators, even according to the oleic Obama. Said Obama, “There are still some differences that have to be worked on.”

    For example, like how to extend government-run, taxpayer-subsidized health care to more than 30 million Americans without calling it a “public option.” For, Obama still insists that the bill will “make coverage affordable for 30 million Americans who don’t have it.” And, who’s going to pay for that? The tooth fairy?

    With the “public option,” Senate Republicans had estimated the bill would cost $2.5 trillion over ten years once fully implemented. And according to an Americans for Limited Government analysis of Congressional Budget Office data, the bill would start operating at massive deficits starting in 2015. By 2019, it would have spent some $361 billion more than it took in via new taxes.

    That bill would drive Americans off of private options, rations health care away from seniors who depend on Medicare, cost trillions of dollars, and bankrupt the public treasury.

    If it’s true, and Democrats have abandoned their plans to extend tax-funded health care to tens of millions of Americans, then the price tag should decrease significantly. If it doesn’t, then the American people will know: the fix is in.

    If there is no “public option,” there should be no expansion of the government-subsidized health care whatsoever. That means no “public-private” companies, co-ops, or any other entity regulated by Congress. In short, no Fannie Med.

    The fact is, not even Senator Lieberman will truly know if government-run health care is out or not until the bill is promulgated and analyzed. And neither will the American people.

    Which means, therefore, that the only appropriate procedure at this point is to postpone this legislation until after the New Year. Since nobody knows what’s in this new bill, there will be time needed to ascertain if, indeed, the “public option” has been removed. And, in fact, what else is in the 2,000 page takeover. To date, it has been more carefully concealed than the Holy Grail.

    Senate Republicans should demand that the Senate—and the American people—be given time over the holidays thoroughly examine this labyrinthine measure. Then, the politicians should honestly consult with their constituents, and, this time around, actually listen to their responses. In the meantime, it’s high time the Republicans employ every parliamentary trick in the book to delay and deny any vote this year.

    The fact is, the best way to ensure the “public option” is dead in 2009 is to not vote on this legislation at all.

    Robert Romano is the ALG Senior News Editor.


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