The Public Option: Who Really Thinks It'll Be Profitable?

Posted: Oct 23, 2009 7:21 AM
Yesterday Mary Landrieu presented herself as one of a few key Democrat senators who may waffle on the still-in-the-making health care bill.

Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana said she might be willing to let some states try "fallback or trigger" mechanisms that would create a public option if residents don't have enough insurance choices.

But she told reporters, "I'm not for a government-run, national, taxpayer-subsidized plan, and never will be."

This, naturally, got the goat of many progressive advocates of Democrat plans for health reform who insist that the public option is both popular and makes financial sense. Matt Yglesias, for example, thinks that Mary Landrieu doesn't really understand what's being bandied about. [# More #]

The larger issue here, I think, is that unlike these programs the “public option” wouldn’t be a taxpayer-subsidized program. It would be a government-run health insurance plan that people could buy.

This might be a fine enough criticism, but are Matt and others on the Left willing to really stake their argument on the public option being a government corporation that is (at the very least) budget-neutral? This would be the exception to the rule of government corporations like the Postal Service and Amtrak that habitually hemorrhage money. And how long do progressives think it will take for the public option to make up its seed money and actually produce a profit for the government?

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