A public, government-run health insurance option — high on liberals' wish lists — did not make it into the final health care reform law. But that doesn't mean it's dead. A group of 128 House Democrats are recasting the public option as a deficit-slashing measure, armed with a new Congressional Budget Office analysis showing it could save the federal government $68 billion between 2014 and 2020. But is re-litigating one of the most contentious parts of an already contentious law a good idea right before midterm elections? (Watch a Fox report about the public option's revival)
This puts conservatives in a tough spot: Congressional "deficit hawks" are always telling us that getting our fiscal house in order will entail "some choice they don't want to make," says Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. Well, here's $68 billion on the table, with a measure they hate, even if "most of the country consistently loved" it. So conservatives, which will it be: ideology or pragmatism?
"Remember the public option?"
Deficit reducer? Please: This $68 billion in "savings" is nothing but "smoke and mirrors," says Bruce McQuain in Questions and Observations. Medicare and Medicaid are supposed to be cost-effective, too — except it's politically untenable to make them so. "There is no stomach (or spine) to cut doctor's pay in the Congress and they risk all sorts of problems if they cut pay to hospitals." This is going nowhere.
"Dumb idea of the day—Reintroduce the public option to lower deficit"
This isn't a serious effort, but it'll come: This "game of pick-which-is-worse," deficits or government-run health care, is "mostly just petty political gamesmanship" and a way to "needle Republicans," says Peter Suderman in Reason. But especially if the GOP continues to dodge offering its own serious fiscal solutions, "the public option fight is destined to be a long one."
"Public Option II: Public optioner?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- How Harry Houdini escaped death
- What is Molly? Everything you need to know about the party drug
- On ISIS, neocons and liberal hawks have a 'boy who cried wolf' problem
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
- The constant struggle of running a family farm in 21st century America
Subscribe to the Week