Donald Lambro

They want a fully government-run, government-financed, government-regulated system to create yet another entitlement constituency that they can depend on at re-election time.

While Senate Democrats are searching for ways to pay for their healthcare system, House Democrats were unveiling a plan that would require all individuals to obtain a health-insurance plan or force employers to provide such benefits for their workers.

At the heart of their proposal would be a subsidized government healthcare plan that the private health-insurance industry believes would unfairly compete with them and put many out of business.

This issue came up last week in the president's news conference, where he was asked by ABC News reporter Jake Tapper about his promise that Americans won't have to change plans when employers drop their own plans in favor of cheaper government plans.

In often tortured, defensive rhetoric, Obama replied, "What I'm saying is, the government is not going to make you change plans under health reform."

But as Tapper later pointed out in his ABC blog, it seems the president "wasn't saying 'no one' will take away any American's health insurance -- he was saying the government wouldn't.

"Which is not to say that the government wouldn't create a situation where such a thing would happen," he added. Exactly.

However, the Congressional Budget Office's preliminary estimates of a draft of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's bill suggests that millions would drop out of their private plans.

"About 10 million people would choose to obtain coverage through (government-created health insurance) exchanges rather than their employer because the subsidy they receive under the legislation makes insurance from an exchange cheaper," said a report on CBO's findings from the Senate Budget Committee's Republican staff.

"Another 10 million people would have no option but to obtain coverage through exchanges because their employers would not offer it," the staff report said.

The White House and the Democrats will deny it, of course, but critics say this is one of their devious goals: to replace for-profit, private health insurance with a government-run system financed by the taxpayers.

If you listen carefully to what the Democrats are putting together on Capitol Hill, this is exactly what they hope to eventually accomplish.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.