Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Betting On The Pony Races

I do mind that approach to writing about politics, because it takes an unaffected spectator's view of outcomes which will affect all of us. Besides, it's not really impartial when politics is turned into horse races.

The example that got me going (again) has to do with the current step in the health care reform dance:

The odds now seem to be that any legislation emerging from the Senate will omit the kind of straightforward, immediately available public option originally envisioned by advocates, including President Obama. But if the deal announced by Mr. Reid holds, it is likely that a bill will be sent to the White House that includes a broader and more direct role for government in the health insurance market.

Supporters of the public option want it to remove the profit motive as an obstacle to medical care, and also to menace the private insurance companies that they generally view as greedy and mean. At times, some lawmakers seemed to favor the public plan simply because private insurers hate the idea.

In Congress, opponents view the public plan as a dangerous expansion of government, creating a new entitlement program that would ultimately drive the country further into debt. Even though the Congressional Budget Office said the plan would have little impact on insurance premiums, the opponents fought it as a grave threat.

What did you learn about the reasons why some people want a public option? That it's all about emotions, really. It might then come as a great surprise that there really are very good reasons for being wary of the private markets in health care.

I'm not sure if it's even worth discussing the public option, because it ain't "public" anymore (what with guaranteeing control to the private companies or being triggered only in some far-distant unlikely future) and it ain't an option for the vast majority of participants, either.