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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

No Arguing with a Vulcan: Obama Explains Public Option

The only thing we have to fear is illogical capitalists.
[Image from Salon.com]
President Obama is thinking the same thing I said in March: if the government can't do anything right, why are you defenders of the status quo so afraid private insurers won't be able to compete with a public option for health care coverage? In this morning's press conference, the commander-in-chief tells us exactly what the public plan will do, then lays down the Vulcan strong hand and explains why public-option opponents are illogical:

MR. OBAMA: Now, the public plan, I think, is an important tool to discipline insurance companies. What we've said is, under our proposal, let's have a system, the same way that federal employees do, same way that members of Congress do, where we call it an exchange, but you can call it a marketplace, where, essentially, you've got a whole bunch of different plans.

If you like your plan and you like your doctor, you won't have to do a thing. You keep your plan; you keep your doctor. If your employer's providing you good health insurance, terrific. We're not going to mess with it.

But, if you're a small-business person; if the insurance that's being offered is something you can't afford; if you want to shop for a better price, then you can go to this exchange, this marketplace, and you can -- look, OK, this is how much this plan costs; this is how much that plan costs; this is what the coverage is like; this is what fits for my family.

As one of those options, for us to be able to say, here's a public option that's not profit-driven, that can keep down administrative costs, and that provides you good, quality care for a reasonable price as one of the options for you to choose, I think that makes sense.

QUESTION: Wouldn't that drive private insurance out of business?

MR. OBAMA: Why would it drive private insurance out of business? If -- if private -- if private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care; if they tell us that they're offering a good deal, then why is it that the government, which they say can't run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business? That's not logical [President Barack Hussein Obama, transcript, White House press conference, 2009.06.23].

Dang. Vulcans really do belong in the big chair.

Update 16:55 CDT: "The Gloves Come Off..." says Forbes.com's Brian Wingfield of the above presidential comment. And Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, who has roughed up the president on past occasions, says that here, Obama is making sense. (Krugman, along with Matthew Yglesias, also digs the Obama-Spock groove.)

Update 2009.06.24 08:30 CDT: The President may have the pulse of the electorate: this NYT/CBS poll has some complex results, but 72% of Americans support a public option. Even half of Republicans say they'll go for a public option.


  1. And it just drives the press mediocre players to despair when they can't find some emotional drivel or hot button to fret about.

    With all the problems with the economy, etc. I think it is fair to expect probing questions from the press instead of fawning lapdog or laser-like focus on irrelevancy queries.

  2. Obama a Vulcan? Please. Vulcans are incapable of showing emotion, yet at press conferances Obama frequently feels the need to remind reporters that he is the president, when they do ot throw softball questions at him. Much like the spoiled brat who takes his ball and goes home.

  3. oops for got to sign my post

    Tim Higgins

  4. "spoiled brat"? Actually, I found the President's occasional scolding of the reporters Tuesday refreshing and not at all connected with a failure to ask softball questions. Obama chided journalists for their superficiality and devotion to filling the 24-hour news cycle with new headlines rather than pursuing real issues. Consider his response to Margaret Talev's question about his smoking: "You think it’s neat to ask me about my smoking, as opposed to it being relevant to my new law. That’s fine. I understand. It’s an interesting human-interest story." That's the President criticizing the media for putting personal issues above important policy discussion. The President is right on there (and that's what Doug mentions above).

    And remember: Spock is eminently capable of well-timed and wholly appropriate cutting remarks. (Did you catch how he dissed the Vulcan Science Academy with that biting "Live long and prosper" after they trash-talked his mother? Ouch!)

  5. It does not bother me to see reporters scolded every now and then. What I think is childish, or immature is the fact that Obama needs to remind reporters, and others especially in committee meetings that, "I won the election", or "I am the president". This is classless and yes he is a spoiled brat.

    And remember, Spock is only half vulcan, his mother was human, but I didn't need to tell you that.


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