With "Supporters" Like This, The Public Option Does Not Need Opponents

I wish Ezra Klein would just come clean and say he does not care about the public option:

[Howard] Dean's point was simple: "If you're not going to have a public option, don't have health-care reform, and strip all the money out of the bill." . . . I asked Dean how he could believe this, given that his 2004 health-care plan didn't contain a public plan but did contain a lot of dollars to fund expanded health coverage. He replied that it did contain a public plan. "It actually did have a public option. It allowed everybody over 55 to sign up for Medicare if they chose to. It allowed everyone under 25 to sign up for a Canadian-style system. It was optional." The argument behind the public plan -- the argument Dean is using now -- is that it competes with private insurance companies and transforms the entire insurance market. But this is, as Mark Schmitt says, a very new idea.

Suppose for a moment, it is a new idea, so what? Is it a good idea? Why doesn't Ezra write about that? Two potential explanations - one, he wants to label any health care plan an Obama win or two, he does not really support the public option. Time to come clean Ezra.

Speaking for me only

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    He's afraid to admit something huh? (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:18:39 PM EST
    What is it?  He wants some population control around here?  He thinks it will weed out stupid people faster, they will die sooner?  If he does't tell us we'll all have to "speculate".  I think it has to do with the fact that healthcare reform is gritty and is NOT SEXY!  This is not the agenda he had in mind for himself when Obama took office :)  His sexy agenda is being derailed by ISSUES damn it :)  If the American people start going hungry in large numbers his whole life plan is derailed for at least a decade :)

    he's rubber man (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Dadler on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:20:31 PM EST
    stretching long and hard to make his illusions fit reality.  again, when someone takes the perjoritive approach to a "new" idea, you can bet your bottom dollar they have lost all of their imaginative ability.

    and, hey, tent.... (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Dadler on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:21:21 PM EST
    ...if i don't tell you, thanks for all the effort on this blog, it is much appreciated.

    Yes, he does do a disgustingly good job (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:24:02 PM EST
    doesn't he of bringing the real debates to the forefront.  He even seems to remember often what the Demcratic platform used to be when we seemingly had one.

    yep (none / 0) (#7)
    by Dadler on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:28:09 PM EST
    and that from one of he posters whom, i'm sure, he regularly shakes his head at and thinks: "what is this fool trying to say?"

    He doesn't "think" it (none / 0) (#31)
    by NYShooter on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:13:06 PM EST
    He comes right out first and TELLS you "you're a fool."

    Shorter Ezra: (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by kmblue on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:24:33 PM EST
    I got mine, too bad about the rest of you.

    Oooh scary! (5.00 / 4) (#11)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:36:20 PM EST
    Not a new idea.  Wow.

    Okay then, Mr. Klein, how about an oldie but a goodie like single-payer Medicare for all.  LBJ's objective was to eventually enact Medicare for all.  It's been more than 40 years since then and more than 60 since the Great Depression efforts to do so.  Shaking head.

    Can we start over with Dean's 2004 (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by MO Blue on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:38:26 PM EST
    health care plan? Please, pretty please.

    You know (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:40:29 PM EST
    I was thinking I would take that plan right now.

    Oh (none / 0) (#37)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:23:20 PM EST
    that is a fantastic idea! His plan was simple, easy to explain and used existing public plans. Do you think you could get the idiots in DC to listen to you?

    For those of us approaching 25, it doesn't (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by andgarden on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:47:25 PM EST
    look so attractive. Everyone should be explicitly allowed to buy into Medicare. (Heck, I don't understand why that wasn't the starting point for this public option).

    Aren't you the proponent (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by Cream City on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:54:27 PM EST
    of accomplishing health care reform incrementally?  Wouldn't this be a start toward expanding it later?

    It would turn on what's available (none / 0) (#27)
    by andgarden on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:58:43 PM EST
    to those in the middle. Status quo would be unacceptable.

    Hmm (none / 0) (#34)
    by MO Blue on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:19:17 PM EST
    What is your position on the people on Medicare opposing the current plan(s) because of the cuts to the Medicare budget?

    There may be cuts or there may not be (none / 0) (#36)
    by andgarden on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:23:05 PM EST
    The specifics are simply not available.

    But whatever happens, there will still be Medicare, which is a whole lot better than nothing.


    President Obama has stated numerous times (5.00 / 4) (#42)
    by MO Blue on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 02:30:36 PM EST
    that cuts to the Medicare budget will help pay for the health insurance plan. Bills currently under consideration all are using Medicare care budget cuts to offset costs.

    The Senate is awaiting separate legislation from the Finance Committee, which continues to seek an elusive bipartisan deal that would further expand coverage to nearly all legal U.S. residents. The combined measures would require about $1 trillion in new spending over 10 years that would be offset with hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases.

    On the House side, Democrats introduced a $1 trillion bill Tuesday they say would expand insurance coverage to 97 percent of legal U.S. residents. The House bill would be paid for by roughly $500 billion in Medicare and Medicaid cuts and $544 billion in new taxes on high-income earners. link

    Based on all current available evidence, it would appear if a health insurance bill passes, the Medicare budget will be cut.


    Well, one thing's for sure: (5.00 / 4) (#23)
    by Anne on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:48:59 PM EST
    Ezra's no Dan Froomkin, is he?

    I think Ezra seems committed to writing whatever he has to that allows Obama to slip-slide away from being held accountable for where things are on health care.

    As for Ezra caring about the public option - which option are we talking about?  I've gotten to the point where, when someone mentions it, I just come out and ask them to define this thing they are calling the public option.  A lot of people have trouble with that, looking at me as if I am supposed to understand the meaning of "public option" in much the same way I was supposed to understand "hope" and "change."  

    I can't even tell from day to day if Obama understands what he is talking about when he uses the term - or if he gets yet that ideas alone will not reform anything, and that the details absolutely do matter.

    As for Ezra, well, all I can say is that I would have more respect for him if he would be honest, but I don't think the Village culture or atmosphere encourages that, and so I am not expecting to get much of it from him.

    I don't get it (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Steve M on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:52:47 PM EST
    Isn't a Canadian-style plan a public option?  Isn't Dean right?

    He didn't use the ... (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Robot Porter on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:59:39 PM EST
    term and, according to Klein, that makes all the difference:

    If anyone remembers the term "public plan" being uttered in 2004, I'd be surprised. I certainly never heard it.

    Yup, it's an idiotic argument.  But that's Klein's stock-in-trade.


    Proving BTD's point (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by andgarden on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:01:02 PM EST
    Oh (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by Steve M on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:01:34 PM EST
    I didn't realize the name was more important than the substance.  Well that certainly makes all the difference!

    OMG, that is sooo dishonest (none / 0) (#41)
    by ruffian on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 02:18:54 PM EST
    Of course no one uttered those words in 2004. Those words were invented in this debate to come up with something short of single payer or Medicare for all.

    Ezra Klein has lost all of his credibility with me, if he cares.


    No, it's Medicare. (none / 0) (#39)
    by masslib on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:51:31 PM EST
    You confuse me (none / 0) (#40)
    by Steve M on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 02:06:09 PM EST
    what's the difference between Medicare and a public option?

    I'm going to but in here uninvited (none / 0) (#44)
    by MO Blue on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 03:02:18 PM EST
    The Canadian system and Medicare are currently structured with certain advantages that the "public option" as defined by H.R, 3200 (for example) would not have. The most relevant are the large size of the insurance pool and the ability to negotiate extremely favorable rates with medical providers.

    Just those two items can be the difference between success and failure in health insurance.


    Yes, Steve (none / 0) (#43)
    by caseyOR on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 02:31:24 PM EST
    Canada's system, called Medicare after our own single-payer system, is a "public option." Perhaps the current confusion comes from there being no clearly defined  "public option" plan in the current debate.

    Also, Ezra seems to be afflicted with a stunning case of verbal literalism. If the exact words are not present, the concept does not exist. Does Ezra also believe if he closes his eyes we cannot see him?


    If you're fine with (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by lilburro on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:15:00 PM EST
    smaller health reform measures, that's fine - like Kevin Drum's fixation with community rating and Ezra's desire to see anything passed.  I read his entire post "The Liberal Revolt" as saying anything would work for him at all.

    If that's true, then fine.  But if that IS true, then DON'T make an argument that Obama is a Miracle Man for trying to press full, amazing, revolutionary healthcare reform, which not even LBJ tried to do, blah blah blah.  Ezra argues here that Obama is not trying to push through comprehensive health reform.  This was last month.  Now he implies (with the LBJ reference) that Obama is the first person to ever try full, real reform.  That's just a joke.

    These are the things that frustrate me.

    It appears to me (5.00 / 3) (#35)
    by The Last Whimzy on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:19:31 PM EST
    Making sure Obama isn't perceived as a failure is his primary goal.

    What I tried to point out yesterday is that protecting your hero from failure at the cost of allowing your hero to be perceived as impotent is really dumb.

    Obama could use better advocates.

    "Tried and failed" is better than "it's beyond my control".  I know that Bill or Hillary Clinton would rather be perceived as people who tried and failed instead of otherwise.

    And just to point out, for Obama it's not even known for sure that he would be trying and failing.  He could try .... and SUCCEED!!!

    Ezra does seem disinterested in success.

    So, the newest tactic being used (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 03:17:44 PM EST
    by the GOP, although it possibly is a fair question:

    The House Republican Conference digs in today to a fact reported recently by Bloomberg's Tim Burger: That the pharmaceutical lobby, PhRMA, has hired the firm David Axelrod founded, AKPD Media -- a fact that raises eyebrows because Axelrod sold the firm under an agreement that left it owing him $2 million, a lot of money for a political media company.

    It's hard to imagine a situation in which, say, Karl Rove was still getting checks from a firm that was, in turn, employed by the drug lobby not drawing fire from the left, and Axelrod's arrangement is, a bit belatedly, getting that attention.

    And the firt blurb in that link is how Gibbs could not really answer that question when posed to him:

    QUESTION: So, speaking of David, have you seen this charge from the Republicans on the Hill that they're asking, "Is he profiting" from a payment he's getting from his firm, his firm involved in the pharma advertising deal?

    GIBBS: That's ridiculous. David -- David has left his firm to join public service.

    QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) a $2 million (ph) payout?

    GIBBS: An agreement, I think, that was made because David started and owned the firm. He left the firm, and if I'm not mistaken, is being paid for the fact that he created it and sold it, which, I think, is somewhat based on the free market.

    Gibbs was also (none / 0) (#46)
    by waldenpond on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 03:25:37 PM EST
    defending high salaries to a firm with bailout dollars with the theory that salaries must be high to attract quality.

    He's not very good at his job, is he? (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 03:27:09 PM EST
    He's arrogant, yet sometimes comes off as looking like he doesn't know what the heck he's talking about.

    Sounds like (none / 0) (#49)
    by Steve M on Wed Aug 19, 2009 at 08:10:52 AM EST
    he doesn't have a relationship with the firm any longer, and he would be getting the exact same payout from the firm whether or not they did this deal with the drug lobby.  So I agree that the Republicans are wrong when they claim Axelrod is "profiting" from the advertising deal.  It appears to be just another GOP attempt at distraction.

    No, EZRA! (none / 0) (#4)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:22:26 PM EST
    No, Ezra!  Don't come clean.  I'm enjoying your pretzelations!

    I remember when I was a small child and didn't understand the saying "I used to be disgusted, now I'm just amused".

    Well today, I'm having an amused day. I know it's a defense mechanism, and I'm certain there's a place for me in the Psych-DSM.  But still, it's enjoyable.

    And I must say, there is nothing more amusing than a "creative class" suck-up. I see why they've honored themselves with the "creative" designation.

    I'm very creative (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:29:22 PM EST
    I can make planters out of old buckets.  I look for and do interesting things with Wasabi.  I can do mixed media.  What does Ezra make with his creativity? :)  I'm not willing to give this guy a creative label.  He's giving creativity a bad name. The whole "creative class" is currently the Spongebob episode about using your imagination.

    I'm a quilter (none / 0) (#33)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:15:31 PM EST
    so I guess I consider myself creative.

    But there's a special place in creativity for souls like Ezra's.


    It is a very special place (none / 0) (#48)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 03:33:35 PM EST
    Where the frontal lobes don't talk to each other :)

    Coming clean (none / 0) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:31:43 PM EST
    I support Obama's Afghanistan policy, his free trade policy, believe that a Constiutionally and Geneva Convention compliant preventive detention regime can be developed and other assorted and sundry "selllouts" by Obama.

    But I do not hide those positions and defend them on the merits.

    indeed you do (none / 0) (#12)
    by Dadler on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:36:27 PM EST
    obviously with my little brother rotting in Afghanistan, biding his deadly time until his resignation takes effect in November, i might take issue with somet things, but, when all is said and done and measure, you come out as much more principled and consistent (if a tad ex-jockish [jock itch?] than so many in the media and blogsphere.

    kudos.  now, let's get back on topic.


    Not looking for kudos (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:43:59 PM EST
    Just explaining that it can be done.

    no prob, i was looking to give kudos (none / 0) (#21)
    by Dadler on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:47:09 PM EST
    Klein may be a lap-dog, but he's a hard-working... (none / 0) (#10)
    by JoeCHI on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:32:30 PM EST
    ...lap dog!

    No doubt Obama's reaching for the Snausage's and Puperoni's as we speak!

    Shills (none / 0) (#13)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:37:14 PM EST
    Ezra is an example of the very pitfall that's been discussed on this site in the past. He's so enamored with the person that he puts personality over policy.

    I could care less who comes up with a workable solution or what maneuvers it takes to get there.(Frankly I think Dean's is pretty good). If petty minds such as that are what are steering this country, we're in for h$ll.

    This seems like ... (none / 0) (#16)
    by Robot Porter on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:40:36 PM EST
    a pretty clear rejection of the public option:

    If you look at what Dean proposed in 2004, or what he's arguing now, the constant thread is not the public plan, but the path toward single-payer. But as Schmitt says, the public plan being considered isn't a particularly good vehicle for that transition: The relatively liberal version in the House bill can't bargain with Medicare rates and is limited to the few Americans eligible for the exchange. Even so, it's still the part of health-care reform that single-payer supporters identify with their cause, and so it has a unique resonance, even though at this point, the Medicaid expansion and the insurance exchanges and the subsidies are arguably more important.

    His writing is so poor and opaque (even for a blogger) it may be hard to see. But that's Ezra's version of coming clean.  He's against the public option.

    He tries to be clever by attacking it from the right and left. But since he isn't clever, it doesn't work.

    Read his post previous (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:43:14 PM EST
    where he says to fight for the public option.

    Maybe this is his ... (none / 0) (#20)
    by Robot Porter on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:45:12 PM EST
    "Damascus moment."



    BTD, don't make me ... (none / 0) (#26)
    by Robot Porter on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:56:32 PM EST
    read any more Klein.

    As someone who writes and edits for a living, I find it just too painful.


    He doesn't (none / 0) (#17)
    by jbindc on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 12:41:41 PM EST
    want to make Obama look bad, so he, like many others, will argue anything so that whatever Obama does and says is good.

    Maybe he also doesn't quite "get it" because he's young.

    A few things (none / 0) (#38)
    by NYShooter on Tue Aug 18, 2009 at 01:35:39 PM EST
    I don't quite understand.......,

    Why is Klein, apparently, so influential? I read him, among many others, and see nothing that puts him at the top of the class.

    Why are these Congress/Senate Reps. so afraid of the drug/insurance/hmo extortionists? Wait a minute, wait a minute; I understand, campaign money, but.....
    I see the figures: $1500, $2500, etc. I mean, it's not millions.( I'm talking "each") Wouldn't the benefit of being able to stand up and say, "I didn't take a dime from XYZ industry" be politically more powerful?

    Who is really calling the shots in this White House? You'll probably say Obama, but consider this: If you were on a plane with 25 experienced, licensed pilots as passengers, but the guy sitting up front/left, never took a lesson. Isn't it incumbent on one, or more, of the experienced ones to get together and force an "intervention" with the suicidal flyboy up there?

    I have plenty more questions, but that's enough for now.