Though talented op-ed writer and president of the USA Barack Obama has previously stated he would veto any bill that came across his desk that didn't include a robust public plan, he seems to be walking away from that commitment now. According to the Post,
"[T]wo top administration officials signaled Sunday that the White House may be willing to jettison a controversial government-run insurance plan favored by liberals."
And, according to the Times,
"The White House, facing increasing skepticism over President Obama’s call for a public insurance plan to compete with the private sector, signaled Sunday that it was willing to compromise and would consider a proposal for a nonprofit health cooperative being developed in the Senate."
The "public option" was never an ideal plan, but the fact that the insurance companies so opposed it was reason alone to believe it was a step in the right direction.
These two reports from today are horrible signs. Once the smoke signals have been sent out that it's on the chopping block, that's all she wrote, at least this time around. It's difficult to imagine the White House regaining control of the debate in the next few weeks enough to bring the public option back to life.
So, where does this leave progressives? Matt Taibbi is gloomy, Paul Krugman is desperately attempting to clarify the terms of the debate, Nader is as unreasonable--suggesting Medicare for all--as ever, and Allison Kilkenny is skeptical that the WH can provide the country with a coherent message of reform. Nate Silver sees some cause for hope down the road.
The main issue, I believe, is ignorance. Health industry lobbyists, with the implicit help of the mainstream media, have confused and disoriented the citizenry to such an extent that honest debate is really not possible in this country. If we want any hope of passing health care reform in this country, then every report on the issue should contain at least the following facts.
Number 1, from the WHO:
"The U. S. health system spends a higher portion of its gross domestic product than any other country but ranks 37 out of 191 countries according to its performance."
Number 2, from CBS/New York Times:
"A clear majority of Americans -- 72 percent -- support a government-sponsored health care plan to compete with private insurers, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds."
"Americans are more dissatisfied than citizens of other nations with their basic health care even while paying more of their own money for treatment, a five-nation survey released Thursday notes."
Only if we constantly remind the public how awful our system is will we be able to marshal enough progressive support to withstand the propaganda campaign that the for-profit health industry is waging and will continue to wage.
On a final note, it is--and always has been--absurd to think that any amount of concessions will bring the Republicans on board with real reform, or that including Insurance and Pharmaceutical companies in the process will result in anything other than furthering the status quo. These parties do not operate in good faith, and will fight to the death to continue to make money off of the sick. They are businesses, and to expect them to operate as anything else, especially charities for christssake, is naive and destructive.