The public overwhelmingly supports universal health coverage. So does Dan. The president says the time to address health care is now.
Republicans, of course, think it is preferable to continue running a system that costs more, works worse and results in a large section of our country having no coverage. But Republicans face a Democratic party with a huge (though not insurmountable) majority, and the public does not see it their way.
This all should add up to Democrats delivering on one of the major initiatives President Obama campaigned on. How are they doing? Paul Krugman has a nice column in the Times about how they are about to vomit all over themselves.
What the balking Democrats seem most determined to do is to kill the public option, either by eliminating it or by carrying out a bait-and-switch, replacing a true public option with something meaningless. For the record, neither regional health cooperatives nor state-level public plans, both of which have been proposed as alternatives, would have the financial stability and bargaining power needed to bring down health care costs.Republicans say a lot of things about Democrats that are wildly inaccurate and slanderous. The fact that they are spineless may not be one of those things.
Whatever may be motivating these Democrats, they don’t seem able to explain their reasons in public.
Thus Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska initially declared that the public option — which, remember, has overwhelming popular support — was a “deal-breaker.” Why? Because he didn’t think private insurers could compete: “At the end of the day, the public plan wins the day.” Um, isn’t the purpose of health care reform to protect American citizens, not insurance companies?