The only argument that matters
My colleagues Alec McGillis and Lois Romano do a nice job pointing out the utter bankruptcy of Joe Lieberman's approach to the public option:
Lieberman says the public option is a sop to supporters of full government-run health insurance. He argues that the proposal lacks public support, although polls show a majority favor the concept. He says the government has no place in providing health insurance, despite its role in overseeing Medicare and Medicaid.
Most of all, he insists that a public option would drive the country further into debt. But this argument muddles how the new system will function and is at odds with independent assessments.
Under the Senate and House bills, those without employer-provided coverage would get income-based government subsidies to help buy coverage in a new insurance marketplace. The case for the public option is to reduce the cost of those subsidies by forgoing profits and reimbursing providers at lower rates, and by private insurers' rates lower via competition. A strong public option would lower the bill's cost by tens of billions of dollars, the Congressional Budget Office found.
Of course, this will have literally zero implications for Lieberman's standing in this town, his prominence on major news shows, or the respect he's accorded by his colleagues. What Lieberman figured out is that he possesses something much more important than a good argument. He's got the Democrats' 60th vote.
December 8, 2009; 6:23 PM ET
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