In the Arena

Bargaining Chip

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Drudge is going purple-apoplectic about the looming Nationalization or perhaps Government Takeover of health care and all the–red alarm bell here–taxes and–another alarm bell–public options that will surely destroy free enterprise–no, freedom itself!–as we know it…in other words, he and his Republican friends are rabid crazy demagoguing the proposed House health care plan.

A few points:

1, It’s not a bad plan. It covers 97% of Americans. It has a public option that could limit, via competition, the obscene profits–up 428% this decade–of the private insurers. It forces those companies to accept all customers and charge them all the same rate. It has a 5.4% surcharge tax on the wealthy to pay for it, which is surely one honorable way to do it.

2. It’s not a perfect plan. It imposes a mandate on employers to cover their employees. In a global economy, where our companies compete against businesses who operate in countries where there is state-funded health care, this is an unfair imposition–which will hobble our ability to escape the recession. I much preferred the system Hillary Clinton proposed in her health care plan during the campaign, which gave companies a chance to move their employees into the federal employees health benefits program (for a fee, if they already offered programs) and subsidized the premiums of the working poor.

3. It doesn’t have much of a future. It may not even pass the House. And if it does, a great many of its provisions will be bargained away in the House-Senate conference that produces the final bill. But it does stake out a negotiating position, from which compromises can be made–and therefore is a valuable exercise. But it’s not an exercise that anyone, except demagogues, should get very exercised about.