Stop going off about the public option — March 22, 2010

Stop going off about the public option

Sorry to be so negative, but really: people just shouldn’t be getting pissed about the absence of a public option, for at least three reasons:

1. Even with a public option, we always would have needed to address subsidies for those with low incomes. People are welcome to chime in with other information here, but the public option does not address affordability at all. It addresses the quality of insurance. Subsidies were always the bigger deal.
2. *We got coverage for 32 million people*. We got *affordable* coverage for 32 million people. We got coverage that *saves 32 million people from health-care-related bankruptcy*. Liberals of a certain stripe have gotten monomaniacal about their preferred policy, rather than focusing on the end goal — which is *to help people who couldn’t afford good health insurance to afford good health insurance*.
3. Now we have something that we can fix. Before we had nothing. New entitlements don’t disappear, as David Frum has now-famously pointed out. Entitlements get better. So let’s make this one better.

This has been, in some ways, a great hour for the Left. In other ways, it has revealed them to be monomaniacal public-option fetishists. Now is not the time to continue the fetish. Now is the time to consolidate our gains and *keep moving forward*. You want a public option? Great! You’re closer to a public option than you were a year ago. So go get it. Donate to candidates who support it. Call Bernie Sanders’s office and ask what tactical advice he’d give. Don’t act like an armchair quarterback and complain that the big bad U.S. Congress with its big bad traitorous liberals didn’t give you what you wanted.