The political problem with the trigger option
Besides the one that Digby describes, is the same problem with any and all arguments against the public option. And that it’s still a tactic to avoid offering a competitive public option. And if you put up those obstacles, indulge those obstacles, or even consider the arguments for those obstacles valid, you are telling the voters this:
You value corporate profits over human lives.
In fact, you value corporate profits over your own electability, because you’re willing to write a law forcing people to write a check to a private company who is actively seeking ways to deny them care. That’s another way of saying, “Vote for my opponent,” and then of course said opponent will get to work minimizing the benefits that insurance companies have to provide for that check you’ve been forced by law to write them. Even if you’re motivated strictly by lobbyist pampering and dinners, then you should see political suicide as a problem, as it will cause that pampering to go away.
There is only one argument against the public option—or for a trigger, really. That argument is that companies that are in the business of denying care should not be required to compete with a non-profit government entity in the business of providing care. The idea that the already wealthy are too delicate to have to compete is a politically stupid message most of the time, but right now, it’s particularly ugly, since the rest of us are feeling that climbing unemployment keenly, and the knowledge that we have to compete—not just for extra money but for our very lives—is unlikely to make us sympathetic to super-rich people who will be fine even if they lose this competition.
The worst part is that these town hall sideshows are so silly and out of control that Democrats can’t even pretend to be responding to what the citizens want. It’s obvious that people who show up screaming about how they want the government out of their Medicare and who go into a faint because they heard that the health care bill has no provision to ban abortion aren’t people that you can respond to in any way. They can’t compromise or understand the concept. They’re too busy struggling against reality itself. No, if they ditch the public option, it’s for one reason and one reason only: They don’t consider the voters important, just the insurance industry lobbyists. Our lives versus their profits? Our lives didn’t have a chance.
The worst part is that in all this, the people who sensibly think that corporate profits shouldn’t even be a contender when set against human lives are the ones being told we have to explain ourselves. Ross has a darkly funny post about this:
“You’re overly hung up on this so-called ‘Public option’,” we’re told during the Sisyphean conversations on this topic. “What’s the big deal? Shouldn’t the goal be a good bill, rather than some arbitrary position?” Well, since we’re obviously just ignoring reality today, that’s certainly a good question.
He explains that alternative bills are aimed directly at taking your money and giving it to insurance companies, but I’m going to question whether or not that’s a “good question”. The people who value human lives over corporate profits aren’t the ones who should be required to explain ourselves. Our argument is sound. We believe all people are equal, and that the rich’s wallets are therefore not more important than your lives. We’re the ones who stick by the principles of our founding documents, and we’re the ones who steadfastly maintain that human life is valuable, even if the human holding it isn’t a rich insurance company executive.
It’s the people who are putting corporate profits ahead of human lives who need to explain themselves. They’re the ones who should be asked why corporate profits count more than lives. They’re the ones who should be asked why working class citizens should be forced to decide between paying for an insurance bill or paying their rent in order to make sure that no insurance company executive goes without a fresh supply of yachts and fancy cars. They should be forced to explain why insurance company executive yachts count more than your ability to avoid homelessness, or your ability to have a perfectly treatable illness actually treated. (If you think that laws against rescission will stop the practice, keep kidding yourself. The fines will be low enough to count as the cost of doing business.) Instead of asking why “the left” is so unreasonable, let’s start asking why everyone else thinks human lives count less than rich people’s dollars.