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Morning Fix: Public option blinders?

The Republican leadership may be focused on the wrong fight on health care. AP Photo by Susan Walsh

Republicans' decision to make the public option the focus of their efforts to defeat President Obama's health care plan may look like sound political strategy from afar but it runs the risk of distracting voters from arguments against the proposal based on more GOP-friendly issues like taxes and spending.

"We couldn't be in a better place on health care than fighting it out over the public option," said a Democratic strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of a desire to keep his name out of public strategy discussions.

A slew of recent national polling affirms the idea that picking a fight on the public option may not give Republicans their best chance of success in the debate over health care.

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed 48 percent favoring a public plan administered by the federal government while 42 percent opposed such a proposal. The latest Washington Post/ABC survey showed even stronger support for the public option -- 57 percent of the sample said they favored having the "government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance" while 40 percent opposed the idea.

That data provided a stark contrast with the deep concerns among the American public about the possibility of tax increases and the effects of the plan on the current system.

Roughly one in three (35 percent) of the Post respondents supported the idea of raising taxes on the most expensive of insurance plans. And, in that same poll, just 18 percent said Obama's plan would strengthen Medicare -- important due to the propensity of older voters to participate in midterm elections -- while 43 percent said it would weaken the program.

The song was the same in the NBC/WSJ poll with 47 percent of adults saying that their own health care costs would go up under the Obama plan while just 13 percent said their own costs would diminish.

The issue for Republican leaders is that the public option fight animates their base as it plays into suspicions many conservatives have that the Obama administration is working methodically to involve the government in all aspects of American life.

"It is a touch stone to the base of each party," said Dan Hazelwood, a Republican direct mail consultant, of the public option. "But swing voters have a different and very conflicted view of health care reform."

And so, the base sees beating back the public option as the sine qua non of the health care debate even if polling clearly shows that there are other fights on the bill Republicans are better off picking.

While the loudest voices within the GOP are focused on the public option, other leading party strategists -- most notably Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) -- are seeking to make taxes and cost the central issue.

In a floor speech earlier this week, McConnell noted that "even aside from the issue of whether a so-called public option is in or out of the bill that hits the floor, I think it's fair to say that this isn't what the American people bargained for" adding that the "plans under discussion would lead to higher costs and more long-term spending and debt."

Republicans would do well -- from a political perspective -- to fight on the ground McConnell is staking out. But, the power of their base (and the fear that many party leaders carry about crossing that base) may well make such a pivot impossible -- and, in the process -- hand Democrats a pass on what could have been a devastating issue in the 2010 campaign.

Thursday's Fix Picks:

1. Inside the Obama marriage. (You know you want to read it.)
2. White House exchanging cash for access?; and the push-back.
3. The Angler endorses KBH in Texas governor's race.
4. Rudy's not running, is he?
5. Sarah vs Levi, Part 456.

DNC Calling Out Palin: The Democratic National Committee is going after former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R) over her recent comments -- made via Facebook -- on health care. "You've spent a great deal of time spreading lies about health reform, and we've had enough," reads a Facebook post directed to Palin. "We're calling you out." The campaign also includes a web video and an e-mail that will be sent to the entire DNC list, according to a source familiar with the strategy. It's hard to imagine the former governor not responding.

Political Jujitsu in NY-23 . . .: With just days left before voters in New York's 23rd district go to the polls to elect a new member of Congress, an outside group funded by a major donor to the Club for Growth is up with ads touting the liberal credentials of state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (R). The group, known as Common Sense in America and funded by Arkansas banker Jackson Stephens, is funding commercials in the North Country district that cast Scozzafava as the "best choice for progressives." The ads are clearly meant to hurt Scozzafava in the eyes of Republican and conservatives voters and, in so doing, provide a boost for Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman who is running even -- or close to it -- with businessman Bill Owens (D). Get it? These sort of tactics are not new in politics; back in 2000, national Republicans funded a series of direct mail pieces touting party switching Rep. Michael Forbes's (D) conservative credentials -- a strategy that caused the incumbent to lose the primary to a little known librarian named Regina Seltzer.

. . . As Conservatives (Continue) to Flock to Hoffman . . .: Hoffman's candidacy continued to win support from conservatives across the country on Tuesday including New Hampshire businessman Ovide Lamontagne (R) who is considering a Senate primary challenge to establishment backed former secretary of state Kelly Ayotte (R). "If Republicans are going to take back Congress and enact real reform, we need to elect independent conservative leaders instead of the establishment's hand picked favorites," said Charlie Spies, a D.C.-based lawyer who is advising Lamontagne.

. . . And Democrats Attack: Democrats, too, are seeking to take advantage of the fascinating situation in upstate New York, releasing statements calling on former Rep. Rob Portman, the likely Republican nominee in Ohio, and Rep. Mark Kirk, the likely nominee in Illinois, to announce publicly whether they supported Hoffman or Scozzafava. "Ohio Republican primary voters have a right to know if Portman supports the pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, pro-labor candidate Scozzafava or if he stands with the far-right Doug Hoffman," said Democratic Senatorial Committee Campaign communications director Eric Schultz.

Click It!: Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) "celebrates" the six-month anniversary of Sen. Arlen Specter's (D-Pa.) party switch with a video tribute set to Boy George and Culture Club's "Karma Chameleon." (The video for that song is surprisingly weird.)

Deeds Tries to Use Awkwardness as Asset: Scrambling to remain within shouting distance of former state attorney general Bob McDonnell (R) in the Virginia governor's race, state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) is up with a new ad that aims to make an asset out of his awkwardness. Borrowing heavily from the Roanoke Times endorsement of his candidacy, the Deeds ad casts the Democrat as a work horse not a show horse. "The Times said it best, if you want 'slick' go with the other guy,'" says the narrator in the Deeds' ad. Judging from polling that shows Deeds trailing by double digits, the ad may well be too little too late. (Sidenote: Deeds says nothing in the latest commercial from the campaign, keeping up a trend in his advertising throughout the campaign.)

Say What?: "My understanding is it was a telephone book and a shoe box. . . . I guess unless Nextel who has about 100 billion phone books out there, and every household, would have a weapon of mass destruction in their house as a phone book." -- Embattled Gov. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.) attempts -- with an emphasis on the word "attempts" -- to make light of an attempt on Sen. Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) in the early 1980s.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 29, 2009; 5:20 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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Actually; it's all too obviously easy to solve the problem(s) of health in this country. Restrict the frivolous lawsuits against providers by unscrupulous lawyers and clients. Allow insurance companies to sell across state lines. Arrange for businesses to pool together in order to secure lower rates. Make insurers accept all clients, including those with preexisting conditions. Make employer based policies transferable when a person changes jobs. For those who don't have health insurance . . . if they don't have a policy because of low income or unemployment; enroll them in a PRE existing program such as Medicaid. If a person is otherwise working and reasonably self sufficient, force them to purchase at least the minimum coverage for catastrophic situations.

We DON'T need to totally overhaul EVERYTHING in order to make health care a better proposition than it is now ! We definitely must not put even more layers of ignorant bureaucrats who know nothing about health care between patients and their providers. This is what got us into these problems to begin with !

Posted by: gjdagis | October 31, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

The liberal democrats can never take a common sense approach to a situation, for they do not possess that ability.
We do not need a massive, incompetently crafted, socialized health care bill, that the crafters themselves do not understand.
Smaller steps are needed to change health care without harming this country.
America cannot afford obama's socialist agenda.

Posted by: spiris333 | October 31, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Republicans can use Healthcare to score a coup! GET THE FACTS BEHIND THE NEWS
The Republican party has an opportunity to seize this moment and establish themselves as the leading party. As the discussions on healthcare reform continue it has become apparent that the public wants healthcare reform that will cover almost everyone and they want it at the lowest cost possible.

Republicans have come up with several good ideas, selling insurance across state lines, giving individuals the same tax breaks as those who get insurance thru their employers, tort reform to lessen Doctors insurance costs etc. These idea will help but are not sufficient for almost universal coverage at the lowest cost possible.

How to save BIG MONEY on healthcare REFORM!

Despite all the smoke and mirrors the best opinion shows that the public option saves money not costs money. The Urban Institute in Washington DC estimated that a gov’t insurance plan would save $224 to $400 billion over a period of 10 years. The private insurance co’s simply will not offer the low cost full coverage insurance plans that would reduce the subsidy for the uninsured and underinsured. The gov’t plan would. The Massachusetts experience using Heritage Foundation ideas with exchanges has covered over 97% of the people but at high cost. Yearly insurance plans run from $800 to $1,000 per month. The Congressional Budget Office has confirmed the money saving of public option plans by estimating that the cost of one of the proposed House plans would be reduced from $1.1 billion to only $800 billion, a saving of $300 billion over a 10 yr period with a gov’t plan. The polls show 60% of the public want a gov’t option.

There is another important step we can take to reduce cost by an estimated $40 billion annually or $400 billion over a 10 year period.

According to Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler Physicians for a National Health Plan, the public option misses at least 84 percent of the administrative savings available through a single payer, gov’t, healthcare plan. The public plan option would not do anything to streamline the administrative tasks (and costs) of hospitals, physicians offices, and nursing homes. They would still contend with multiple payers, and hence still need the complex cost tracking and billing apparatus that drives administrative costs. These unnecessary provider administrative costs account for the vast majority of bureaucratic waste. The Physician group research in California showed that now 31% of every health care $ was paid for administrative costs. This compared to 3% of medicare administrative costs. The PNHP single payer information is available at Tel 312-782-6006,

I suggest the republicans introduce a single payer healthcare reform bill with a gov’t plan. Many liberal democrats will go along with you and you may take control of the healthcare reform debate and give the public what they want.

Posted by: robtdi | October 29, 2009 9:17 PM | Report abuse

"latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is ", WJS owned by Rupert Murdoch, owns media outlets and is a major shareholder, chairman and managing director of News Corporation (News Corp - Fox & the WSJ)). Keep your FIXED polls to yourself...we know thwy aren't reliable (i.e., Fox Stations)they come from Keith Rupert Murdoch who recently had to become an American citizen to keep his holdings in the USA.

We can read Face Book... Palin's way of communicating with whoever...Stupid, the site is a social networking site where information given is DUBIOUS.. (Palin that means doubtful)...THIS IS SO EASILY COMPREHENDED...are people really that GULLIBLE? (Palin gullible means easily tricked)

Still Loving this Country...

Posted by: lindarc | October 29, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Mikek3, that should be *anticipatably* weird, shouldn't it.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | October 29, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

A Boy George Culture Club video was suprisingly weird?

Posted by: MikeK3 | October 29, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

There will be a adequate viewing period for legislation.

Posted by: leapin

what, you can't read 1200 pages of legalese in under 72 hours and analyze the consequences? try not to let it put you to sleep and you may succeed.

Posted by: snowbama | October 29, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Government healthcare is nirvana for the free lunchers of today’s NeoCom Statist Destructionist Party. Of course everything put out by Scary Reid and Nanny State Pelosi must be truthful because all of the following promises of BHO have. Wait..make that HAVE NOT taken place.

The administration will be open and transparent. No more secrecy. (“It’s the people’s business”)
No slipping in pork to bills when no one is looking.
Corporate tax breaks and pork information will be online.
Lobbyist meetings and information will be online.
There will be a adequate viewing period for legislation.

Posted by: leapin | October 29, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Republican strategy lesson 1:

1) Target a bill your K-Street lobbyist handlers don't like.

2) Sabotage bill with extra nonsense rules to "protect the voters and taxpayers."

3) When sabotaged bill fails, claim "Government is too incompetent to do anything right".

4) Get re-elected to Government.

5) Retire and work for K-Street sabotaging more bills. Perhaps enjoy that little extra something in that numbered account in Lichtenstein.

Any questions now on the health care bill?

Posted by: ian807 | October 29, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse


Again, my apologies. Of course the 1/6 percent of GDP is health costs. That will teach me to take my anti-senility pills! ;-)

Still, what this figure does imply is that, to remain competitive, the US will have to get a grip on these costs.

One hears so many on the Hill bemoaning their children's or grandchildren's futures, but although reform of health care is a STEP in the right direction, it's not going to keep the US from sliding against its competitors if no substantive action is taken.

This is still a great and wonderful country, but those who beat their chests while shouting 'this is the greatest country on the face of the earth', are living in the 1960s, not today or 50 years ahead.

Is this how it was when ancient Rome was in decline? Sic transit gloria mundi.

Posted by: sverigegrabb | October 29, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

In the Carter administration, they printed about 13% more money supply, which resulted in 11% or so inflation 2 years later, and Volker had to jack the prime up to 20% to get all that excess money out of the system.

In the Obama administration, they have printed 120% more money supply, which right now is in reserves, but eventually will make its way back into circulation, and lead to enormous inflation. The fed will have to jack up interest rates to intolerable levels to get things under control. The big question is when will that money leave the banks? The prevailing wisdom is when the economy starts rolling again (perhaps the recession is over news may be the start).

If our dollar devalues strictly upon the basis of increased money supply, we will be looking at a dollar worth less than 50 cents of todays value, an you will pay double for everything.

When this point occurs, I think you will find few Democrats with the audacity to claim that the Democrats are ahead of the Republicans on fiscal issues.

Recall that the present irresponsible spending of the Obama administration has caused the GAO to revise its estimate of the USA losing its AAA rating in 3years instead of 10years.

With all of that in mind celebrate the new entitlement!

Posted by: Wiggan | October 29, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Leave it to Odumbo the Great African Teleprompter Reader to end the American Experiment. Folks, an "historic" expansion of Medicaid and a public option will doom us: Endless subsidized illegitimacy for the fatherless welfare garbage, illegals and their anchor babies.

Posted by: tjhall1 | October 29, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

They are CHOOSING to be blind to the reality that a few non-profit healthcare management companies are already running in the black. The same model can be used on a national level!

Posted by: huntersteph4 | October 29, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

"Let's give people credit for living good and punish those who don't."

Well life itself tends to reward people who live well and punish people who don't. But a health care system, as an entitlement, rewards disability (except in the peculiarly American case of being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, of course).

Yet wouldn't making people work out and eat right be considered the apex of intrusion into personal freedom? What's next, outlaw contact sports for children? Prohibition? Heck we can't even pass a tax on sugar water drinks with some chemicals, bubbles and colors mixed in.

If people have a right to pay market prices for diabetes, how could we charge more for treating the consequences?

Posted by: shrink2 | October 29, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

The interview was about the Obamas' marriage and personal life, and how it has changed since taking office.

The casualties in Afghanistan affect us all, whether we live in the White House or not. And obviously, it is not a mere annoyance.

If you would read the article, instead of picking up other people's snark about it, you would realize that. But of course, you aren't looking for the truth, only for ways to bash the president.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 29, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

See through skin:

Things that don't annoy Obama
Sally Zelikovsky

President Obama said only once since he took office has White House life annoyed him: when he was criticized for taking his wife out for date night... to New York on the taxpayer's dime during supposedly the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Silly me for thinking, had he truly been statesmanlike or presidential, he would have been annoyed with the recent rise in casualties affecting our soldiers in Afghanistan.

Posted by: snowbama | October 29, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Remember a few weeks back in Vienna when, with great fanfare, the administration announced an agreement with the Iranians regarding their stockpile of enriched uranium? We were told that the mullahs had agreed to ship 70% of it to Russia in order to complete the processing into fuel suitable for a nuclear reactor.

Well, guess what? The Iranians are going back on the deal. They now say they will ship small amounts of their enriched uranium to Russia over the period of a year - the amount and timing of the shipments to be - you guessed it - negotiated.

who knew?

Well everyone but Obimbo it seems.

Posted by: snowbama | October 29, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Wow, snowbama, you are getting lazy. You lifted 6 whole paragraphs from an Ann Coulter piece, without even adding one line about "libtards" or such at the top or the bottom.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 29, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

how much for one night in the Lincoln bedroom this time around?

when all you know is reading teleprompters and collecting cahs, what did you expect?

Posted by: snowbama | October 29, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

You *did* read what Gibbs had to say in their defense, didn't you? Most of the people cited were long time friends that had contributed to the campaign.

But don't let that stop you from running with the conservative press boogeyman-du-jour.

Posted by: mikem1 | October 29, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

katem 1, I ask myself the same question. Many countries have gone to universal coverage, some have even gone the socialised med route. Why do we in this country view this as an impossibility? I'm sure it will be bumpy, but I'm also sure the way we are funding health care now does not work for the consumer. We need national change, and I think we can come up with a good program.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | October 29, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

but remember Reason, that is not a reflection at all on Obama or liberalism. you must continue to chant that over the next several weeks.

In fact, all failures that Obama has racked up are simply the fault of George Bush. I fully expect Bush to waltz in and take over the government again if this keeps up.

Posted by: snowbama | October 29, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

The White House found itself on the defensive Wednesday as spokesman Robert Gibbs tried to answer questions about a Washington Times investigation indicating that this White House -- like those before it -- rewarded big Democratic donors with access to the White House and its powerful players.(Snip)“During his first nine months in office, President Obama has quietly rewarded scores of top Democratic donors with VIP access to the White House, private briefings with administration ....

how much for one night in the Lincoln bedroom this time around?

when all you know is reading teleprompters and collecting cahs, what did you expect?

Posted by: snowbama | October 29, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Here is one of my hand picked proposals for healthcare reform. Give those who have a current gym membership a reduced price. Then at the end of the year give that person a physical. If they have better blood pressure, less weight & healthier bodies give them another discount on rates. If they are in worse off shape, raise those premiums. Let's give people credit for living good and punish those who don't. The Cleveland Clinic has it right. The gov't. needs to follow their leadership in this. We can do better without costing Americans out of house & home, as the current Democratic bill will do.

Specter is getting nailed from both sides, the right & left. He predicted it back in early 2009, and said he is ready. I also see where a new poll says: Specter 46%-Sestek 42%. Getting good & close now. Toomey is right to be attacking Specter hard, as Specter is still the favorite in the D primary.

Doug Hoffman is a force and is now winning in NY-23. Smart move by Club members to run commercials touting Scazzafava's liberalism. It serves 2 fold: first & foremost to win Hoffman conservative & moderate voters while trying to take votes away from Owens and give to Scazzafava. Hoffman is likely to continue to rack up the votes and win come Tuesday.

In Virginia, McDonnell, Bolling & Cuccinelli is gonna sweep. They are up by so much it's not funny, and independents have flocked to their cause. Republicans have now turned to New Jersey to try & help Christie garner enough votes for the victory here in the final hours of the campaign. NY-23 & Virginia are over, going Conservative all the way. From here on in, New Jersey is the toss up.

Posted by: reason5 | October 29, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Crikey!

I forgot about the family feud in the Palin household! First it was the brother-in-law, now it's the former almost son-in-law. Who needs soap operas on telly? Is this really worthy of you, CC?

Posted by: sverigegrabb | October 29, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse


I'm all for the public option. Obviously, it isn't socialized medicine. But calling it socialism scares people into opposing it.

The closest thing to socialized medicine we have is the VA. That organization, along with the active military, actually have doctors on the government payroll.

Those opposed to the public option claim that the government will undercut the private companies, not just by taking no profits, but by taking a loss and billing the taxpayer. Effectively driving all private insurance out of business, leaving the public option as the only option.

In reality, the public option will be available to only about 5% of the public. Anyone with insurance through their work will get no option at all.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 29, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

"...they probably make a mistake if they do not include the cost of health club and gym memberships and over-the-counter meds and nutritionists in the total."

Yes for example, we just sent a psychiatric inpatient to a back specialist in the community. The proposed treatment, we learned this morning, surprised me. It is the "core" health program designed by the PT at a (small business not owned by the doc, nor a hospital chain) health club.

This is great. To start with, no pills, no high $$$ studies to "rule out" arcane diseases (in machines owned by, oh you get the picture) This is good.

Posted by: shrink2 | October 29, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

While the Republicans may decide to focus on taxes and costs, my guess is that the Democrats are ahead of them on this, too. CSPAN has been running Senate floor "debates" and last night Sheldon (D-RI) and Durbin (D-Ill) led the charge, talking about the public option and cost savings. Sheldon was particularly effective (former prosecutor) reviewing data on monopolistic health insurance markets around the country, current percentage of population receiving government health coverage (medicare, medicaid, VA), current payment and pricing practices between providers and insurers, the excessive administrative costs that the insurance industry pushes on to the consumer etc. It was impressive; the Republicans will have to figure out a better line of "attack" other than what they've been doing so far...

Posted by: sherrill3 | October 29, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

The reason you can't buy health insurance as easily and cheaply as you can buy car insurance -- or a million other products and services available on the free market -- is that during World War II, FDR imposed wage and price controls. Employers couldn't bid for employees with higher wages, so they bid for them by adding health insurance to the overall compensation package.

Although employees were paying for their own health insurance in lower wages and salaries, their health insurance premiums never passed through their bank accounts, so it seemed like employer-provided health insurance was free.

Employers were writing off their employee insurance plans as a business expense, but when the IRS caught on to what employers were doing, they tried to tax employer-provided health insurance as wages. But, by then, workers liked their "free" health insurance, voters rebelled, and the IRS backed down.

So now, employer-provided health insurance is subsidized not only by the employees themselves through lower wages and salaries, but also by all taxpayers who have to make up the difference for this massive tax deduction.

How many people are stuck in jobs they hate and aren't good at, rather than going out and doing something useful, because they need the health insurance from their employers? I'm not just talking about MSNBC anchors -- I mean throughout the entire economy.

Almost everything wrong with our health care system comes from government interference with the free market. If the health care system is broken, then fix it. Don't try to invent a new one premised on all the bad ideas that are causing problems in the first place.

Posted by: snowbama | October 29, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Let's pass this thing asap, an extended "jobless recovery" is exactly what the country needs. Idiots.

Posted by: akwa01 | October 29, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I am still so very confused as to why an OPTION to purchase a different plan is socialised medicine.

If I want to make a choice - IE go out on the open market and use my right to choose between plans that best suit me _Just like I choose a car, a trip, auto insurance and many other services

Since when is competition such a bad thing? I mean we choose between K-Mart, Wal-mart and Target for goods, why not AETNA, CIGNA, United Healthcare and Blue Cross?
Why should I care if A FOR PROFIT company goes BUST? If they can't compete they should go bust - isn't that the idea of all this free market capitalism we CRAVE and demand.

So Please explain it to me like I am a three year old - OR A SENIOR or a CONGRESMAN

Posted by: kare1 | October 29, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

sverigrabb, I apologize for misplacing you geographically, but I am fond of visiting Canada and regret to learn that you are not there. It is not insurance cost that is 1/6 of gdp. It is the cost of all health care: public and private; insured and uninsured, paid through insurance or out-of-pocket or through Medicare trust funds, or federal taxes, or state taxes, or hospital district property taxes. It includes out-of-pockets for drugs and for copays. It includes dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, and may include chiropractors and physical therapists, as well.

Most of the "1/6 of GDP" cost is not touched by private insurers. It is a big ball of health care and they probably make a mistake if they do not include the cost of health club and gym memberships and over-the-counter meds and nutritionists in the total.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 29, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

One of President Barack Obama’s key political advisers has become the central strategist in New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine’s bruising campaign for re-election, a race the White House desperately wants to win to avert the consequences for its own agenda of a Republican winning in a traditionally Democratic state. The White House was so concerned about Corzine's chances

but, but, but, yesterday the liberal idiots told us that these elections do not reflect in any way on Obama. They had the audacity to call that warped view a "fact".

Posted by: snowbama | October 29, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

"The song was the same in the NBC/WSJ poll with 47 percent of adults saying that their own health care costs would go up under the Obama plan while just 13 percent said their own costs would diminish."
I haven't been polled (with the number of polls out there I must be the last uncontacted American) but this question, and other polls like it, always confuses me.

Realistically, here is what I think would happen if there were NO change at all to the health care system:

My current rate (let's call it $10 for simplicity) would go up. It would go up more each year not only because of inflation, but because I would be one year older. It would skyrocket once I hit 50 and then become unaffordable when I am 55. So let's say the (fictional) $10 I pay currently would go something like this -- 10, 12, 13, 13, 15, 25 [when a major birthday hits], 26, 28, 29, 29, 40 [another major birthday], 41 ...and so on.

Realistically, here's what I think would happen if a good quality healthcare reform package (however you define it) is successfully passed:

In the short term, insurance companies (like the banks are doing now with credit cards, in advance of the law becoming effective) would gouge their customers. After the reform actually hits, my costs would rise, but more slowly. So, what I envision happening is something like this:
10, 16, 17, 14, 14, 14, 15, 16, 17, 17, etc.

In other words, I too believe my health care costs would go up under health care reform. I just think they would remain affordable. And I think without reform, they would go up much, much, much more, until I'm in effect booted out of the system, due to cost, in my mid to late 50s. Which is right when I'll need it the most.

Does that mean I'm against reform? Obviously not.

So I really don't get the point of the question. There's no scenario (unregulated, current Wild West system, good quality reform, etc.) where costs actually freeze or go down. There's just a horrific increase (if no reform) or a moderate increase (with reform).

Perhaps this speaks to the limits of polling such a complex policy choice. Or to drawing false inferences from a question that doesn't mean what you assume it does.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | October 29, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Clunkers: Taxpayers paid $24,000 per car
CNN Money, by Peter Valdes-Dapena, Original Article
Posted By: NavySEAL F-16- 10/29/2009 11:40:52 AM Post Reply
NEW YORK - A total of 690,000 new vehicles were sold under the Cash for Clunkers program last summer, but only 125,000 of those were vehicles that would not have been sold anyway, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the automotive Web site

Lib economics. buy a 5000 dollar car for 24K. bill the rich.

Posted by: snowbama | October 29, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

An informative and interesting blog with thoughtful and intelligent posters from all sides.

Posted by: snowbama

Except for when you post, snow-clue.

Posted by: jasperanselm

always some exceptions.

Posted by: snowbama | October 29, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin criticizes Levi Johnston for selling his body. Is she really so stupid that she doesn't realize that she did the same thing? Sold her female body to John McCain and the GOP for the chance to be VP. Does she even dream that her credentials in a man's body would have gone on the ticket? Sarah, your price might have been higher, but Levi's no more of a wh*re than you are!

Posted by: Jayne | October 29, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse


Firstly, I do not live in Canada--although I've got friends who do. I'm originally Swedish and was brought up partly in England, so that's why I 'write funny'. I divide my time between the US and England for work reasons (I'm a writer and journalist, hence my fascination with US politics).

I agree with a lot of the points you've made and, in fact, have a number of Canadian friends who complain that it's easier to come to the US for treatment than to circumvent the Canadian gov't.-run system.

It would have been much, much easier if Truman had been able to get national health care passed in 1948. It's more painful now, and needs to be done piecemeal, as the danger of aggravating the unemployment situation has to be taken into account.

On the other hand, doesn't it say something about the private health insurance system that it accounts for 1/6 of the US GDP? That is staggering--and it tells much of the story.

Posted by: sverigegrabb | October 29, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

The GOP's real opportunity would be to take the lead on health care. But they have chosen to campaign on more of the same failed GWB failed policies even though they did not invite GWB to their convention. Heck he could have given on of his motivational speeches.

Posted by: knjincvc | October 29, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

It's amazing how many members of congress (R's & D's)have their hands in insurance company pockets ...especially the wives!!!

If the opt-out provision is included and my state chooses to opt out, I'm going to be very unhappy and will campaign against every member who supported opting out. Our country needs health care reform, not more government financial support of insurance companies, so Beware GOP.

Posted by: knjincvc | October 29, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

" plays into suspicions many conservatives have that the Obama administration is working methodically to involve the government in all aspects of American life."

Do people (conservatives) really believe this? No, really: do they think the president sits around plotting this type of ideological makeover of the US gov't as his primary intent? That's insane. And it's what keeps us from having an honest debate on the issues.

Posted by: ChrisDC | October 29, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I have a question for all you Republicans out there.

Do you REALLY think it's a winning strategy to help you regain control of Congress in 2010 to go around yelling "socialism", "rationing", "government take over of health care", blah, blah blah or otherwise try to defeat health care reform?

Don't you think most of us are weary of hearing this same old crap time and again? It worked for you in 1994 but it's not going to work this time around. The American electorate is not stupid enough to fall for your deceptions and lies again.

Thank you Democrats for doing something about health care! It's obvious the Republicans don't give a $hi!t about health care or they would have done something about it when they had control of the White House and Congress in 2000 - 2006.

Posted by: montana123 | October 29, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Except for when you post, snow-clue.

Posted by: jasperanselm | October 29, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I had no idea i could afford all this spending. I am richer than I ever thought.

Posted by: um1967 | October 29, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

The polls Chris cites are the LOWEST I've seen for the public option. They've typically ranged between 64 and 80%.

And then there's this. A particular profession favors the public option at a rate of 63%. Another 10% BEYOND that favors going further to a single payer plan (so it's basically 73%). This profession is not only among the most educated in America and aware of what goes on in other countries, they are also the most closely plugged in to health care. Who are they? Oh, nobody, just your doctors.

Pretty sad when Americans are letting FauxNews scare them away from this instead of LISTENING TO THEIR DOCTOR.

Posted by: B2O2 | October 29, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

What no stooges today. What a difference. An informative and interesting blog with thoughtful and intelligent posters from all sides.

Posted by: snowbama | October 29, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

The GOP has lost touch with Reality.

Posted by: walker1 | October 29, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Its like Carter is in office all over again...

And just like back then, Obama is about to lose Democratic Majority on the Hill because of his insistence on shoving Marxism down our throats.

Bush III needs to take a break and look around at the country before assuming that everyone is on-board with this.

Congress hasnt represented the majority of Americans for close to 100 years... They are elections ONLY for those that participate in the process. Getting people out to vote is the issue at this point.

Having a party majority does NOT mean he has a majority of support for ALL his endeavors and wishes...

Posted by: ProveMeWrong | October 29, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse


Thanks for the link to the Toomey video. That was pretty funny -- and telling. Toomey obviously thinks he has a better shot against Sestak than against Specter.

Posted by: mnteng | October 29, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Thanx for the correction, shrink. I had assumed they were paying on a direct basis: contrib to salaries, etc.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 29, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Mark in the last paragraph below is referring to Federally Qualified Health Centers. They are in underserved areas, both urban and rural. They do lots of great things and they are funded by Medicaid and Medicare using an "enhanced" fee for service model, though they are trying to move away from this now.

Posted by: shrink2 | October 29, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Andy, I know that the major insurers use Medicare as their benchmark, but they never reach it. When they get close with a doc or a hospital that provider becomes "in panel". When they fail to reach their cost point, then [most] providers in an area opt "out of panel". Most of the cost issue is with medical and drug providers, not with insurance. Most of the interface problems with the public - preexisting conditions and rescission - are with the insurers. The insurance issues are easier to address, I think, and to couple with near universal health care.

Because I have accepted the proposition that we will not get serious about streamlining medical costs until we have near universal health care I would probably fight for a better bill, but nevertheless vote for a lesser one, if near UHC would result.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 29, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

The problem for the GOP is that they have to triangulate between public sentiment, insurance lobbyists, and party politics.

Some insurance reforms are so popular that even the lobbyists aren't fighting--pre-existing conditions, excission, etc. But they thought painting the public option as "socialized medicine" was a way to win one for the insurance companies and stop Obama's agenda.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 29, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

It's so ironic that the Republicans suddenly get fiscal religion when it comes to actually do something positive for the American people. Never mind of course that we, the American people, subsidize a major chunk of elected officials' generous government healthcare plans...

Spending billions of dollars on wars, however, especially defending ourselves against a country that did not threaten us in any way and where WMDs were nowhere to be found, and borrowing abroad to finance that particular excellent adventure, gives the Republicans a ha*d-on.

Posted by: Gatsby10 | October 29, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

"I am saying that the debate you will hear in public will not be as analytical as what many of us have said here; it will be a largely false debate on both sides."

Sad to say this is true about most things.
Being highly educated, perceptive and caring is a wonderful gift, but there is a burden that comes with it. You go through life stunned on a daily basis by willful ignorance.

"Don't you get it, they want to eliminate the lower/lower middle class. This is selective genocide."


Posted by: shrink2 | October 29, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

sverigegrabb, I agree with you that "socialized" is used as a fear word, but I do not agree with you about your characterization of the other 22 industrialized nations' health care regimes. Canada, where you live, has privately employed physicians and public insurance. England has a National Health Service, which we can properly characterize as socialized medicine. Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, and France have thriving private insurance and privately employed physicians. Most have mixed systems, as we now do.

T.R. Reid has pointed out that all of our competitor nations agreed on nearly universal health care and developed it either mixed, or public, or private, before everyone in each country got serious about cost control. I mean here, medical costs, not insurance costs. As we have said, that involves training more GPs and nurses and pharmacists to do clinic or unified care or public health care in the schools and the like and ABANDONING fee-for-service. It means moving the indigent to clinic care [as in SF] and out of the emergency rooms. You do these things in Canada, as I understand.

Here in the USA, amazingly, Medicare propagates fee-for-service as the model and Medicaid supports the emergency room model for the indigent. Only our VA system and our federally supported rural clinics follow more cost effective models among public programs, as far as I know.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 29, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

"Grandpa, what was a rebuplican?"

Posted by: Tomcat3 | October 29, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I have to disagree with some of your assumptions. First, in general when Medicare sets a rate of return for a certain procedure the large insurance companies use that amount as a guide for how much they will pay doctors/hospitals for the same procedure. Now they may charge you more in the form of copays but that is because they aren't as efficeint as Medicare and because they are trying to maximize their profits.

I do understand your point however, which is why I think Olympia Snowe has it right that a trigger is a very good option in this case. The threat of a public option (especially a very strong one) may be the kick in the pants the insurance industry needs to fix the problem of the uninsured and underinsured. There are options out there that the Ins industry could do to provide coverage to the uninsured but they won't do them unless they are forced, hence the trigger.
BTW, I would expect that a trigger gets added in on the floor of the Senate as a compromise to the moderate Dems and the few moderate GOPers.

Posted by: AndyR3 | October 29, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

On the news the Rudy isn't running for Gov.:

Chris, I'll believe that when the last TV camera burns out, the last newspaper folds (God, you didn't hear that), plus a stake is driven through his heart! Give-Me-A-Break!

As for envisioning little Ricky Lazio as Gov., excuse me while I wipe away these tears of laughter which keep blurring my vision.

Posted by: sverigegrabb | October 29, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse


Health Care Reform a Cruel Joke for Americans Targeted with Gov't Microwave/Laser Weapons...


Thousands of unjustly targeted Americans are being physically harmed, their health degraded by the devastating physiological effects of being silently irradiated by microwave and laser radiation "directed energy weapons"...

...the WEAPONIZATION OF THE ELECTROMAGNETIC SPECTRUM, CAMOUFLAGED AS CELL TOWERS and in portable and hand-held weaponry supplied to security/military/intel and law enforcement...

... a silent Bush-Cheney- spawned "final solution" that may have the nation's political leadership in its ideologically-driven cross-hairs.

This technology is capable of altering moods, emotions, inducing fatigue, weakness, exhaustion, confusion, life-altering injury, diseases such as cancer, and a slow-kill death.

And key elements of the federal bureaucracy -- chief among them the defense/security/intel establishment -- are proliferating these technologies by various modalities -- reportedly, from hand-held weaponry to satellite and terrestrial cell tower based delivery systems.

American citizens and families targeted by this covert torture matrix also are subject to financial sabotage that decimates their livelihoods and financial resources...

...and relentless "community stalking" -- harassment, surreptitious home entries and vandalism by government-enabled vigilantes affiliated with federally-funded community policing and anti-terrorism organizations.

Warrantless, covert placement of warrantless GPS tracking devices and misuse of cell phone technology to hunt down the unjustly targeted enables this grassroots terrorism. But the Obama administration continues to allow these warrantless intrusions into the lives of unjustly targeted American families.


BAN the use of microwave/laser radiation directed energy weapons against the American people (including experimentation); and

BAN the warrantless tracking of individuals via GPS or cellphone technology -- the electronic backbone of an American Gestapo now operating on YOUR watch.

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled): RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | October 29, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Please help me understand why the words 'socialise/socialised' are such knee-jerk triggers in this country?

The rest of the indistrialised world has 'socialised' health care and thrives on it. The life expectancy in this country is, I believe 34th in the world, due in great part to those who either can't get proper medical treatment or early diagnosis.

Isn't it time that the American public began thinking like grown-ups and stop quiverring in the shadow of Cold War stereotypes of 'the creeping scourge of Socialism'?

I certainly don't mean to suggest that European countries (as well as Japan) are paradise--society has many of the same problems to the US, BUT on the health care front, Europe and Japan have recognised affordable health care as a basic human right.

Posted by: sverigegrabb | October 29, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

thanks Chris for finally writing a fact based article about the GOP. Those of us in "socialized " countries like Canada have been shaking our collective heads in disbelief at the notion that the American public doesn't want the public option. This just might be the GOP's Waterloo. And thank-you to the moderate GOPers who put country before party.

Posted by: katem1 | October 29, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

If the ultimate goal is to cover every American, and if it is recognized that those without jobs, those about to lose jobs, and those who have low paying jobs without health insurance cannot pay for their coverage, then taxpayers must come up with a subsidy for low income Americans. The low income subsidy will require revenue in the form of higher taxes. If the Democrats decide to raise taxes on the rich to pay for it, the Republicans will pay more for subsidizing private insurance than they will pay for subsidizing a public insurance program. If they were watching their wallets instead of their idealogy, Republicans should be supporters of the public option because it costs them less.

Posted by: jsj20002 | October 29, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Mark: Well analyzed. That may well be the most intelligent thing I read all day.

Posted by: Gallenod | October 29, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

The GOP argument that Obama wants a "takeover" of health care and that the public option is his way of doing it is completely out of touch with reality. It is silly when they make their stump speeches by claiming American don't support this plan when 80% do want a public option, let alone health care reform.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | October 29, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Number 1. A public option, with an opt out plan is a waste. If a state opts out, they must finance health care for all their uninsured, at their expense. At an equal coverage. It is the souther, poorer states that are GOP that will opt out. Give them one chance, and one chance only. Then force them in.

Number 2. It isn't only the GOP that is anti public option. You still have independents and turn coat conservative DEMS who will also vote no.

Interesting, our government doesn't want us to have universal health care; they can't find all their flu shots (either swine, or seasonal), the tamiflu is running out, nurition sucks, food sources are not safe, etc. Don't you get it, they want to eliminate the lower/lower middle class. This is selective genocide. And, they have the nerve to talk about human rights in other countries. Hypocrites

Posted by: linda_521 | October 29, 2009 8:07 AM | Report abuse

The CBO says a public option will save tax dollars.

The CBO estimate is based on two premises:

1] public option = medicare junior for about 15M persons.
2] medicare junior's leverage will force providers to sell to it at the medicare dictated cost which is less than even the cost negotiated by United Health Care or BC-BS, which is far less than the cost paid by any individual without insurance. Medicare's lower rates are subsidized by the private market paying higher costs for medical care.

Assume, by assumption, that medicare junior pushes on the balloon in the same manner as medicare. The balloon will get bigger for the smaller purchasers and private health insurance will eventually leave the market.

You may desire that result. BHO may desire that result. It has nothing to do with "keeping private insurers honest", because It is obvious that all the numbers are available for analysis from the giant public health schemes already operated by the federal government [Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA]..

If we get medicare junior, I hope it will be coupled with the cost savings practices and long run investments we have here identified, many of which BHO has identified; virtually none of which are fostered by Medicare. Otherwise we simply will have opened the next black hole, as Medicare, even though funded in advance by 40 years of working contributions in advance of payouts, is about to plunge us into the abyss.

I am not saying that it cannot work.
I am saying that BHO is obfuscating.
I am saying that Congress sucks as a business manager.
I am saying that of the possible ways to get to Nearly Universal Health Care I prefer others that have more chance of fiscal success; others that we have addressed here many times.
I am saying that the debate you will hear in public will not be as analytical as what many of us have said here; it will be a largely false debate on both sides. If the Ds are obfuscating, the Rs are doing nothing to raise the level of the discussion - save for Ms. Snowe.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 29, 2009 7:47 AM | Report abuse

If Rob Portman and Mark Kirk are smart, they will not endorse either of the candidates in the NY-23rd election. If the question is asked directly to them they should answer something to the effect of "That is up for the people of northern NY to decide."

The Democrats need to be careful here I think. The growing division in the GOP needs to be allowed to grow spontaneously, and if it seems that the Democrats are trying to drive a wedge it may cause the opposite effect by actually bringing the two sides together against a common enemy.

Posted by: AndyR3 | October 29, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

The voters do not seem to be aware that the public option will not compete with private insurers. It will drive them out of business. If that's what they want, then fine. But please understand that the all important end game is socialized medicine for the masses and Cadillac plans, at least partially funded by the masses, for the wealthy and other economically privileged.

People who would not be caught dead in socialized health care-- Nancy Pelosi and family, Rahm Emanuel and family, the Podesta clan and family, etc.

Posted by: hz9604 | October 29, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

CC, I wonder what democratic strategists think of McConnell trying to pivot on this issue? I would be willing to bet that they are happy to have a debate on why the CEO of Goldman Sachs who I am sure has one of these Cadillac packages doesn't pay extra taxes for it. I am also sure that they have a whole slew of examples of people that will be taxed and it will read like a list of the Forbes 500 bosses. And since they got the AFL-CIO to sign on you won't hear a ton out of the Union members who also have these types of no-copay healthcare plans too.

Interestingly, one reason that the Unions are getting behind this now is that in alot of cases the Unions themselves are now covering the healthcare packages of their retirees (UAW set this up in their last negotiations). In many of these cases those retirees have very very good plans with no copays and full prescription coverage etc. IMO, the Union leadership will use the new taxes on these types of plans to convince their members to accept lower cost healthcare plans, thereby saving the Unions millions on retiree payments.

Posted by: AndyR3 | October 29, 2009 7:39 AM | Report abuse

The Republicans no longer represent the best interests of Middle Class America. They serve only Far Right nut cases and Corporate Greed. What happened to them??????

Posted by: aeaustin | October 29, 2009 6:51 AM | Report abuse

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