I'll give Holman Jenkins this--he pretty much put his finger on the reason I support the public option (though I can't be sure the president feels the same way):
President Barack Obama made a "public option" his centerpiece not because it's the answer to what's broken in the U.S. system, but because it's a halfway house to a single-payer setup that liberal Democrats have always wanted.
I guess I see a halfway house to a single-payer setup as a pretty good answer to what's broken in the U.S. system, but let's not quibble.
Other than that, Jenkins' column in yesterday's Wall Street Journal was fairly impressive in its mendacity. For example, he wrote: "The public is not as dumb as it's made out to be, and Mr. Obama's public option died a bipartisan death yesterday in the Senate Finance Committee." The implication is that the Finance Committee killed the public option because the public opposed it--which is interesting, because polls show the public overwhelmingly supports it. Question: If the public supports something by wide margins, and the Senate is allowed to kill it with impunity (that remains to be seen, of course, but I'm not optimistic about the punity), is it not fair to conclude that the public really is dumb?
Take also this:
What's left [without the public option] is a package of "reforms" that are mere trite extensions of what we've been doing for decades. That is, piling up mandates on private insurers and then lying that this somehow isn't driving up the cost of health insurance; piling up subsidies for health consumption and then lying that this somehow isn't responsible for runaway health-care spending.
Yes, the politics are difficult when it comes to restoring price tags. Voters would have to understand how a tax code that allowed them to choose for themselves how much of their incomes to devote to health care would serve their interests.
Hmm. If memory serves, Obama actually came out in favor of removing a big subsidy for expensive health benefits--i.e., in favor of "restoring price tags" by rolling back a practice that's been in place for decades. Also, it's funny how, when Obama proposed certain ideas for reining in Medicare spending, like an independent advisory council to bring sanity to doctor and hospital reimbursements, Republicans jumped all over him for wanting to "hurt" "senior citizens on Medicare" with his "government-run" health care. (I know, the idiocy is just layered on there...) No mention of that in Jenkins' column, alas.