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Is Blanche Lincoln canny or misinformed?


For months now, Blanche Lincoln has been saying that she "would not support a solely government-funded public option." This has really annoyed progressives, as none of the bills include a government-funded public option. The public plans are entirely funded from premiums, much as private plans are.

But what if it's a brilliantly canny move? Back in July, Lincoln wrote that "individuals should be able to choose from a range of quality health insurance plans. Options should include private plans as well as a quality, affordable public plan or nonprofit plan that can accomplish the same goals as those of a public plan." In other words, she was, at one point, supportive of a public option. It's not hard to see why: The policy was, and remains, quite popular. But it's also quite controversial. Her uncommonly specific formulation seems to give her room to vanquish a fiscally irresponsible, wildly liberal version of the public option that doesn't exist while opening the door to a version of the public option that does exist.

All that means she can have her public option and eat it too, or something. I wouldn't say I'm wildly convinced by this line of reasoning. But it fits her statements closely enough that it seems somewhat possible, too.

Photo credit: By Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

By Ezra Klein  |  November 17, 2009; 4:52 PM ET
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She said to the press that the difference between a nonprofit option and a government option is that the latter puts the burden on the taxpayer. It's pretty astonishing in light of the way the Schumer amendment was written.

Posted by: DarkHeart | November 17, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

"The public plans are entirely funded from premiums ..."

"Are"? Don't you mean "would be," or better yet "supposedly would be," or even better yet "as proposed would be crappy little entities that everyone realizes would do no good at all but would be the camel's nose under the tent"?

Posted by: ostap666 | November 17, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I wish she were smart enough that one could have any faith in your theory. Sadly, she is not.

Posted by: dal20402 | November 17, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

What Lincoln does or does not personally believe is irrelevant because she works for Big Ag and the Waltons. Were they to allow a credible Republican challenger, Lincoln would be toast.

Conservadems are right that the crippled public option may end up insolvent and require a taxpayer bailout. It would be much better if the PO were not crippled and could pay Med+5 rates, but that was their choice.

Posted by: bmull | November 17, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

If there's a health care reform movie, Rachel Maddow could play Blanche Lincoln.

Posted by: bdballard | November 17, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

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