Friday, June 15, 2012

Elsewhere: Public Option, Podcast

At PP, I noted again how wrong I've been about the public option, and called out liberal activists for forgetting about it. Seriously: I'm baffled that the liberal favorite in a contested primary in Hawaii doesn't support it, at least not visibly.

And a new one for me: I'm a guest on an American Prospect podcast, along with host Jamelle Bouie and TAP's Jaime Fuller. I really don't listen to podcasts at all...too much good music and too many baseball games to listen to, so I can't judge how good it is, but we talked about judges, and Obama's speech yesterday, and some other stuff.

Nothing at Greg's place today, so that's it. There's a Salon column coming out sometime today or tomorrow, no link  But stick around all weekend: in addition to the usual, I'm sort of guessing there are things to write about happening 40 years ago.


  1. I think the public option thing is pretty easy to understand. The 2010 elections and the Supreme Court arguments has everybody spooked/despondent/resigned about health care and they want to touch it with a 10' pole for a few election cycles.

  2. I'm not sure that the public option was as important to most liberals as was universal health care, by whatever means. The "single payer or nothing" group seemed to be pretty small, and motivated more by anti-corporate animus. But then, I live in Berkeley, so sometimes itcan be hard to figure out how widely shared is common sentiment that is heard hereabouts.

    Nevertheless, I don't know why a Senate candidate would make an issue out of changing a brand new law that accomp,ished a lomg-standing liberal goal, when there are so many other fish to fry. Indeed, the public option has dropped out of left rhetoric that I hear in these parts, and has been displaced by more salient concerns.

    Finally, it might make sense for candidates to wait until the USSC rules on Obamacare before taking a stand on how to change it.

    1. My impression is that a lot of people, including a lot of liberals, don't have any clear sense of what the public option is. They just have some vague idea of public health care and the sense that Obama promised some form of it then reneged. I have even seen references by despondent liberals to the "single-payer public option." I don't think there ever was any passion for the public option: there is passion on the left for single-payer, and those fighting for the PO in 2009 either correctly recognized it as a marginal but important compromise (which would do little to inspire the activists in the long term) or mistook it for something broader (in which case people with an accurate understanding of the PO are likely to stop talking about it).

  3. I have no doubt that the policy preference some activists had for the public option was sincere. But I think the intensity behind it was, pretty explicitly, part of a broader strategy those activists were advancing to try to match the influence they saw conservative activists having within the Republican Party. You saw this in the videos they made questioning some Democratic Member of Congress whether they would "pledge" to oppose a health care bill that didn't have the public option--"you don't take pledges? But the Tea Party people take pledges all the time, and they're more powerful because of it."

    In other words, I think they both wanted the public option on the merits and, broadly speaking, wanted to use it to demonstrate and cement their influence within the Democratic Party. To show that they, too, could walk away from a deal or a bill, just like the Bachmann wing of the House Republican Caucus can. Without a bill in the works, pushing the public option doesn't further that strategy, and so the intensity behind it is reduced.


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