Here’s a video of President Obama dropping the ball on the public option at a town hall meeting in Montana:
This interchange has been hitting all the major news outlets (especially liberal ones) as an example of how our civil discourse ought to be — civil. But in all the astonishment that a guy in an NRA jacket and a hoity-toity Harvard grad could exchange views without resorting to bellowing like stuck moose, I think it’s been somewhat overlooked that, although the President speaks eloquently on the idea of flattening tax deductions for the wealthy, he misses the larger concern that Randy and others have. To wit: is this “public option” basically just a massive public aid program that people who are already paying their share will have to fund?
President Obama says, in a nutshell, It’s true that we can’t insure 46 million people for free. We can make up about 2/3 of the cost by improving efficiency and eliminating waste, and we’ll make up the rest with a tax on the richest income bracket.
Now, all that may be true, but I think he’s missing an opportunity to state the obvious — most of the money will, or should, come from actual premiums that currently-uninsured people pay into the program! (The rest of the cost might have to be made up with efficiency gains, etc.) Nobody — I mean, nobody — wants the “public option” to be a giant charity program for people who haven’t bothered to buy health insurance, and it irritates me that the President and his spokespeople don’t make it clearer that this is an insurance plan that just happens to be run by the government.
Here is the sentence that the President forgot:
“Look, this will basically pay for itself with premiums — we’re just giving the insurance market a little healthy competition, in the same way that public universities provide a low-cost, high-quality alternative to private schools.”
Because, really, who hates Ohio State?
Elana says that what we need to make this popular is for the public option to have a snappily-named football team. GO TUMORS!