The ‘public option’ as a diversionary tactic
It’s been a little more than 24 hours since Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer finally unveiled H.R. 3962, the House version of the Democrats’ health care reform bill. Yesterday, we saw an immediate tidal wave of information coming out about the bill’s contents, as well as a plethora of statements from lawmakers stunned by the sheer size of the legislation at 1,990 pages. Today, we’re starting to see even more.
On the other side of the Capitol, though, Harry Reid is working on the Senate version, and the Wall Street Journal has an interesting take on his decision to incorporate the much-maligned public option. One reason for its resurrection, writes Kim Strassel, is that the inclusion of a public option provides a mechanism by which more conservative Democrats can appear as though they’ve won a victory once it’s excised prior to a vote.
Who knows? It might even work. Mr. Reid included the fig leaf of an “opt-out” for states that don’t want the public option. It’s a ruse, but it might provide cover for votes. If not, he’s got room to maneuver. There’s the “opt-in” alternative, which even some Republicans claim to like. There’s the fall-back “trigger,” which re-earns him Olympia Snowe.
And if it doesn’t fly, well, is that so bad? Mr. Reid can still say he gave it the varsity try. He’ll get it to the floor and let those swing-state Democrats amend the public option away. Not his fault! What he also knows, even if the press doesn’t, is that for all the big talk of his liberal members, they are the more likely to give way. Even without a public option, this bill is a big step toward a single-payer system. And it isn’t as if any of them risk losing their seats by voting “only” for a $1 trillion health expansion.
Better yet, by turning the public option into the big, bad bogeyman, he makes it more likely he’ll snag those swing-state votes in the end. Nebraska’s Mr. Nelson, Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln, Indiana’s Evan Bayh—they can all claim victory for stripping the bill of a national insurance plan, then feel comfortable voting for all the tax hikes and Medicare cuts that remain.
Another reason for bringing it back, of course, is that it serves as a diversionary tactic, taking away from some of the other wallet-busting concerns.
Speaking of tax hikes, premium jumps and Medicare cuts, notice how nobody is today talking about them? Mr. Reid surely has. The public option might be controversial in D.C., but the majority leader knows most of the country doesn’t understand it, or assumes it doesn’t apply to them. Most Americans already have health care that they like, and polls show their real fear is that this experiment will leave them paying more for less. This, not the public option, is ObamaCare’s exposed jugular.
The insurers get this, which is why (as they now try to bottle the genie they helped loose) they are issuing reports on how “reform” will double or triple premium prices. It is why America’s Health Insurance Plans, the lobby group, has run ads in swing states warning about huge cuts to Medicare Advantage. Some of the grass roots get it, too, which is why Americans for Tax Reform is now live on TV in Nebraska noting Sen. Nelson has signed its taxpayer pledge and that he’d violate it by voting for the bill’s nearly $500 billion in tax increases.
If Mr. Reid had pulled the plug on the public option, these highly unpopular policy issues would be front and center. As it is, the public-option sideshow is sucking up all the air, and will continue to. It even overshadowed liberal divisions, such as union pushback on Cadillac-plans taxes. Maybe, just maybe, Mr. Reid likes it that way.
It’s standard operating procedure for the Democrats, who require crisis to further their radical agenda, and rely upon the ever-distracting use of politics of personal destruction to remove or restrain any barriers to their own jilted idea of progress. It’s nothing new, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less interesting.
Make no mistake, folks — the public option is in there. They’re obviously not listening to the people. But there is so much else there, and opposing the public option alone without focusing anger on the tax hikes, increased debt and decreased access is like picking on Adolf Hitler because of his mustache.
No, I’m not comparing the leftist Democratic Party to the leftist Nazi Party. I’m merely using Hitler as an example of how we can sometimes focus on the trees rather than the forest. Any way you look at it, we must become more educated about the contents of this bill. We should know the provisions which will affect small business, and the effect those provisions will have, for when we find ourselves speaking with small business owners. We should be aware of the rationing, Medicare cuts, taxes on medical devices and other factors which will make things more difficult for seniors, for when we’re talking with our parents, grandparents, neighbors, or friends.
Not everyone pays as much attention to these matters as you do. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth. That the polls are showing more and more people leaving the parties and joining the ranks of the independent–while simultaneously trending conservative when questioned on ideology–is evidence, though, that people know something is up. People know something is wrong. Trust in the mainstream press is shrinking by the day. Actions taken by the White House are smacking more and more of desperation.
The people are waking up, folks. And if everyday Americans like you and like me can plant a little substantive doubt in their minds in an impromptu conversation at the checkout counter, that doubt will sprout roots and grow. And, as conservatives, we all know that true, healthy growth is always a good thing.