Obama did defend the public option for health care reform today at his presser, as Ezra Klein reports:
Which is the perfect answer to that stupid "drive private health insurers out of business" talking point. Supposedly the government can't run anything...so how is the government going to put insurance companies out of business if insurance companies are truly offering the best, most efficient health care coverage as they say they are?
At the press conference that finished up a few minutes ago, President Obama fielded a slew of questions on health care in general and the public plan in particular. For supporters of the initiative, his answers were encouraging.
There were two ways he could have responded to the press corps' queries. The first would be a procedural reply: "All ideas are on the table," or something of that nature. But that wasn't his approach. Instead, he defended the plan's substantive merits. His answer was, in other words, an effort at persuasion rather than diversion. The implication was that he, at the least, is genuinely convinced by the case for a public insurer. Check it out:
OBAMA: Now, the public plan, I think, is an important tool to discipline insurance companies. What we've said is, under our proposal, let's have a system, the same way that federal employees do, same way that members of Congress do, where we call it an exchange, but you can call it a marketplace, where, essentially, you've got a whole bunch of different plans....As one of those options, for us to be able to say, here's a public option that's not profit-driven, that can keep down administrative costs, and that provides you good, quality care for a reasonable price as one of the options for you to choose, I think that makes sense.
QUESTION: Wouldn't that drive private insurance out of business?
OBAMA: Why would it drive private insurance out of business? If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care; if they tell us that they're offering a good deal, then why is it that the government, which they say can't run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business? That's not logical.
Do you believe your insurance provider is giving you the best option at the lowest price? How many insurance options are offered to you through where you work? If your job is anything like mine, it's one company offering various plans at various costs...but it's still one company. You don't have a choice, really.
Wouldn't you like another option at least?
[UPDATE] In other news, CNN is reporting that President Obama has named an Ambassador to the vacant Syria post.