Democrats Risk Electoral Disaster If They Drop the Public Option
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And by the time, the exchanges have a chance to be tested, Congress and the White House could be in Republican hands. If that’s the case, the Republicans might well undo even the triggered public option. Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans would surely not worry about ramming their preferred policy through the Congress.
On the other hand, if Congress enacts a public option now, it presumably could be implemented at least as fast as Medicare, especially if it were piggybacked onto the existing Medicare bureaucracy. That would enable Democrats to show they had accomplished something beneficial for the public before voters go to the polls in November 2010.
By 2012, if the CBO predictions of substantial savings prove true, Obama could campaign for reelection on the basis that he had improved the welfare of the American people -- and the budget outlooks for government and business.
The loser in that scenario would be the insurance companies. Their plight might not be as dire as the Lewin Group predicted, but they probably would not be celebrating the windfall profits from the combination of coerced consumers and government subsidies.
Given those prospects, it’s hard to understand where Democratic leaders see the political or policy upside of selling out the public option.