Friday, November 20, 2009

Attention All Liberals And Progressives: Listen To Karen Tumulty!!!

I said from the beginning that the opt out provision for the public option was a policy and political winner. Now at least one major mainstream media journalist whom herself had big time reservations about whether we would even have a public option in the final bill, has noticed what having the provision in the Senate bill actually means.

Check out Karen Tumulty of Time's post from yesterday

I've always had trouble understanding the opt-out version of the public option. Or more specifically, I've had trouble understanding why any state would actually opt out of something that some might find ideologically objectionable, but that doesn't actually cost them anything, gives their citizens a choice, and might actually bring in some government money down the line.

In that sense, the opt-out reminds me of all those Governors who made a lot of noise about rejecting the stimulus money, but then took it. As Doug Holtz-Eakin, a Republican and a former director of the Congressional Budget Office who is now a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, puts it: "If the default is, you're in, the legislative momentum has to be found to get you out. ... You have to make the case that eliminating a choice is a good thing."

That's why I'm a little puzzled at this passage in CBO's preliminary analysis of the health bill that will go to the Senate floor in the next few days:

CBO's analysis took into account the probability that some states would opt not to allow the public plan to be offered to their residents. Rather than trying to judge which states might opt out, CBO applied a probability recognizing that public opinion is divided regarding the desirability of a public plan and that some states might have difficulty enacting legislation to opt out. Overall, CBO's assessment was that about two-thirds of the population would be expected to have a public plan available in their state.

Translation (I think): We're plugging in a random number here, but we have no clue why anyone would opt out either.

KT's analogy is the same one I made the day the idea was floated. Seriously folks how about taking yes for an answer for once. The truth is this version of the public option doesn't cover as many people as any of us would like and the premiums would be higher than desired, but you can say the same for the supposedly more robust House version. This is a way to get the bill passed and get at least the foundation for a really effective public option in the future.

Its time to get behind this move and move on to fighting other battles like the one over the Stupak amendment. Seriously.


  1. I live in Texas and if the opt-out is in place. I can guarantee that Texas will opt-out.

  2. I can just about guarantee you that they won't. Oh they will talk about opting out but it will never, ever happen.

    The poverty level is too high, people are losing out on health care too much there, and low income voters are starting to vote in higher numbers, especially minorities.

    Republicans talk a good game but when the shit hits the fan they all want to get reelected. It is what it is.


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