Jonathan Cohn reported that a preliminary CBO analysis of a strong public plan concluded that it would reduce the cost of the House's health care bill by $150 billion. That is a substantial amount of money. Since Obama wants health care reform to be budget neutral, if the strong public plan were removed there would need to be a massive tax increase to make up the difference.
Progressives should frame the choice clearly: A strong public plan or a massive tax increase.
Blue Dog Democrats, New Democrats, and supposed “fiscal hawks” who oppose a strong public plan need to be put on the spot. Why do you want to raise taxes instead of provide the American people with the strong public option they overwhelmingly support?
There will be nowhere for representatives who label themselves “fiscal conservatives” to hide. If they continue to oppose a strong public option they will be branded as liars, hypocrites, and corporate sellouts.
When the official CBO projections are released, it could be the start of a full on civil war within the party. If the Democratic leadership chooses a massive tax increase over a strong public plan, it will begin a devastating fight against their base. Obama will need to step into the fight, or it has a chance to not only derail health care reform but turn a huge swath of the grassroots base against the party for years.
Choosing to raise taxes instead of embracing a strong public plan, which is not only the goal of the grassroots but also proven to save money is the path to political destruction. It would be a slap in the face to the base of unimaginable proportions. It would be a clear message to the activists, donors, and volunteers who propelled the party to victory in the past two elections to just stay home in 2010.