Competent pro-free market voices like the Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon and the editors of the Wall Street Journal (via Patient Power) have raised red flags about the so-called “co-op” idea that’s moving through the Senate and being floated by the administration as a fallback from the “public option”.
The Journal cleverly calls the co-op idea “Fannie Med”. Cannon writes:
The presidentâ€™s approach to health care reform hasnâ€™t changed at all. All he has done is tried to distract attention from how dangerous and unpopular his approach really is.
But that doesn’t mean President Obama could use the “co-op” rhetoric to smoothly shift political gears and pull government health care over the finish line in Congress any easier than before. In fact, it might make it even harder — if you can believe the poll numbers released today by Rasmussen:
Just 34% of voters nationwide support the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats if the so-called â€œpublic optionâ€ is removed. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 57% oppose the plan if it doesn’t include a government-run health insurance plan to compete with private insurers.
Last week, Rasmussen Reports tracking found that support for the Congressional plan was at 42%.
If you go further into Rasmussen’s analysis, you see that enthusiastic support for health reform dives from 26 to 9 percent, while strong opposition only tapers off from 44 to 37. That’s probably why the White House has backed away from backing away from the “public option” for now, and why Lefty activist groups like ProgressNow are sending around emails with the title “It’s Not Dead Yet”.
Nonetheless, the fact remains that 54 percent of Americans clearly want no health reform this year.
In some ways I think that’s too bad — because we do need modest health care reform of the opposite variety that is being proposed by the Democrats in Washington DC. Realistically, though, that’s not going to happen under the current political regime — so I will gladly take no pill, as opposed to the Obama Care pill.
As the Washington Examiner‘s Chris Stirewalt eloquently argued a couple days ago, Obama is fighting for his political life. How might that play out?
He can stick with the “public option”, and continue to face fierce opposition from freedom-loving Americans. Or he can water it down to the “co-op”, face a little opposition, and drain the enthusiasm from his base. It’s not clear Obama has enough votes either way to pass government health care. A few days ago, I thought he might just be ready to dump the “public option”.
Now I think he’s going to continue fighting for it — either by letting it die in the Senate (and throwing some of his Democrat allies in Congress under the bus) or by spending every ounce of political capital to pass it and wreak even more political disaster on his party (and a different kind of disaster on the rest of us). He then could lean heavily on his taxpayer-funded political patronage to temper the damage in 2010.
However, the President could save political face and promote good health reform by promoting ideas like these. Do I think it will happen? Hardly a chance. But I thought I’d throw it out there anyways.