As news reports come in of one Republican after another suggesting that a government-run public option for health care may not be so bad after all, evidence is beginning to mount that the GOP may be conceding defeat in the health care battle -- or at least preparing itself to make major concessions.It's looking like non-Congressional moderate Republicans have realized that this is a losing battle for all Republicans the way it's playing out right now. They're not beholden to Capitol Hill lobbyists, and frankly they're not going down with the ship.
Prominent conservative blogger Erick Erickson raised the alarm on his RedState blog on Wednesday that at least some congressional Republicans may be ready to throw in the towel, and even vote for a compromise that could include a public option.
"I am told quite reliably that in a meeting today on Capitol Hill, Republican Senators began to rapidly move toward concessions on health care because they are afraid they cannot hold their members," Erickson wrote. "Some Republicans are now thinking of supporting a government program."
Erickson urged his largely conservative readership to "go to the action center and start calling" their members of Congress.
But Congressional Republicans don't have a choice. They've staked everything they have on appeasing the reactionary lunatic fringe of their party, and if they crumble on health care, these guys will turn on them to the point where it's the Democrats who will see major gains in 2010. They will primary the hell out of GOP incumbents and replace them with frothing wingnuts. All the Dems will have to do is refrain from actually combusting on live television and they win.
On the other hand, this is exactly the scaremongering rally the base cry that the GOP wingers believe they need right now. Republicans will have to fall all over themselves prostrating to the Pretty Hate Machine, and the base will indeed rally.
But the cracks are in the foundation now. The weakness is showing, and the blood is in the water. At this point the Republicans have to double down on the Obama Derangement. And I think it may be enough to finally get America to go "We've had just about enough out of you." If the Dems are smart enough to let the Republicans self-immolate, they have a serious shot at getting a real bill through.
Maybe. We'll see. Meanwhile, HuffPo is talking a Public Option plan that gives the states the power to opt out of the program.
How such a system would work is still being debated, according to those with knowledge of the proposal. But theoretically, the "opt-out" approach would start with everyone having access to a public plan. What kind of public plan isn't yet clear. States would then have the right to vote -- either by referendum, legislature, or simply a gubernatorial decree -- to make the option unavailable in their health care exchanges.Possibly this could work, but I think Dems are sorely underestimating the stupidity of GOP tenther governors who will immediately plan to exempt their state from the public option. They'll get voted out of office, but if enough of them do it, it could seriously damage the power of the public option.
For conservative Democrats -- especially those from states with major private health insurance industry interests -- this concession could be key, allowing them to punt a vote on a public plan to local governments. For progressives, it would not be the hardest pill to swallow.
"It is clearly much better than triggers and [Carper's] opt-ins," said Richard Kirsch, executive director of the group Health Care For Americans Now. "A trigger option is a way to kill the public option and these opt ins are not effective because it leaves it up to state legislatures to set it up..."
Another Democrat working on reform legislation added, "If everyone gets a plan, and states have to affirmatively vote, preferably by referendum, to opt out. I really don't see a lot of states opting out, for one. And, for two, you get your national [public plan] available everywhere. If a few holes start appearing, it's not nearly as fatal as if you went with the Carper plan, which after a few years might mean 10 or 20 [state-based] public options. If you go the other way, you'll probably have like 47 states. It's a big difference."
On the other hand, the states WITH the public option are going to be more than happy to take those federal dollars...