The Obama administration doesn't care about the public option and Congress doesn't care about cost control
Color me unsurprised that Barack Obama didn't mention the public option in his remarks to the Senate last weekend. One of the dynamics that hasn't really penetrated in this debate is that the Obama administration is mainly interested in the cost controls. The president will throw the public option overboard if Susan Collins asks him nicely. Conversely, Peter Orszag will lay down in traffic to save the Medicare Commission. Generally, Democrats want to reform the health-care system because they want to cut the number of uninsured. The Obama administration's commitment to health-care reform stems from their belief that it's the first step towards cutting long-term deficits.
That's why it's been so depressing to watch the Republicans and conservative Democrats who base their opposition on cost control prove stubbornly unwilling to cut a deal that would control costs. The Obama administration would support pretty much any cost containment device that could pass Congress. They'd cap the employer tax exclusion, create a Medicare Commission, bundle every hospital payment in the country, support a strong public option, whatever. But there has been no bloc of votes interested in a deal along those lines. Instead, the conservative Democrats have contented themselves with killing the public option and the Republicans have committed themselves to killing the bill. That's left liberal Democrats like Jay Rockefeller to advocate everything from progressive ideas like the public option to conservative ideas like the Medicare Commission.
December 7, 2009; 2:35 PM ET
Categories: Health Reform
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