So I just got done having a spirited argument with Latoya over the White House’s pussyfooting around on the public option. (Gibbs downplayed Sebelius’s statement from the day before and said that the administration’s orientation toward the government option hasn’t changed.) Latoya thinks that Obama needs to start pulling rank and cracking heads in the Senate — a “no-bitchassness mandate,” in her words — to make sure any reform passed includes the public option. Full stop.
I share her frustration and think the public option is the ideal way to go, but it doesn’t have the votes. (The public option is being held up, in large measure, by senators from states with populations smaller than Brooklyn’s.) Open Left says there are 43 Senators who have stated they were on-board. Again, not far from 50. But a lot of the Democrats standing in the way are conservatives like Blanche Lincoln and Kent Conrad, who come from very red states and are facing re-election next year.
I’d be willing to part with the public option — for now — if we could get strong, passable legislation that included:
- Employer and individual mandates, backed by subsidies that helped people without jobs buy insurance, which would necessitate…
- Guaranteed issue, and an end to that “pre-existing conditions” bullshit.
- Ending rescissions.
- Community rating.
- Substantially broadening the threshold to qualify for Medicaid.
- (Along some “libertarian paternalist” lines, we should also incentivize healthy habits and preventive care.)