Scarecrow points out Ezra Klein’s odd argument about a public plan:
On a day in which the Senate Finance Committee proposal to exclude a Public Option is getting either green or at least no red lights from the White House, Harry Reid, John Kerry!! and (who could have predicted?) the jubilant stockholders of American insurance companies, Ezra Klein tells us that it wasn’t the most important element anyway.
I check Klein’s place every day, because he knows a great deal about the subject matter and sometimes does interesting interviews. But it is dismaying that someone who’s supposed to be an expert doesn’t make the logical connection between the horrors of the for-profit insurance industry and the obvious solution of creating an alternative that people could choose and that would force the industry to shape up, become more efficient or lose market share.
I know many were delighted with President Obama’s defense of a "public option" yesterday. But coming on the heels of Robert Gibbs’ statement that the President doesn’t prefer a public option over co-ops, I listened carefully and my impression is that this is just Phase III of the co-op squeeze play: try to say co-ops are just as good as a public option and convince people that having a true public option just isn’t a big deal. Because that’s what Kent Conrad designed them for — as he told me, he came up with them when it was determined that there "weren’t enough votes" for a public option (and the public most certainly wanted one).
It’s why Jerry Nadler called co-ops the "fake" public option: make the 76% of Americans who want a public option feel like they got one without actually having to give them one. There’s a reason insurance stocks are soaring.
I don’t know what Ezra’s motives were in echoing the White House sales pitch so quickly, but he’s worked hard to build up credibility as an astute observer of health care policy over the years. A sudden default to a "let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good" position that cedes the battle for a public plan right when it’s politically convenient for the White House undermines that credibility.
The same thing happened with the Social Security fight earlier this year — Ezra was arguing that the White House had no intention of pursuing Social Security reform when they quite clearly were, quoting anonymous sources in the White House who were feeding him bs about having "no intention to touch Social Security in the foreseeable future." Even Ezra was speculating shortly thereafter that Kent Conrad may have "extracted promises that the administration would let him start tinkering with Social Security" as part of a reconciliation deal.
I understand access is important, and being able to get the White House on the phone can be intoxicating.
It can also be an unworthy altar to throw your credibility on.