If Kent Conrad and Ben Nelson Like It, It Must Be Bad

Sen. Kent Conrad and Sen. Ben Nelson have been among the few Democratic senators who have been actively working to kill the public option. When there is an “alternative” that they are both rushing to jump on board, you know something must be fishy. Nelson said about the new "alternative":

“This is a new concept that came out and, I think, gained some steam last week,’’ Mr. Nelson said, adding, “and it seems not to have lost any momentum since then.’’

This new concept for the public option is the brain child of Sen. Tom Carper. You can read his one page proposal here. The proposal is not just bad, it is worse than nothing.

Technically Carper's "concept" would allow states to form incredibly weak and highly restricted public plans, only if both the governor and state legislature agreed. In reality, this idea would not increase the chances of states forming public options. It would, in fact, create new restrictions preventing the formation of state-based public options. Carper's proposal would make it harder, not easier, for grassroots progressives to get their state governments to form viable state-based public options.

In the plan, there are so many clever restrictions placed on the possible state-based public option that it is impossible to imagine any functioning state-based public options would ever form or survive. Carper's proposal is trying to ensure the failure of the state-based public option, and, as a consequence, would discredit the whole idea of any real public option.

Fortunately, Sen. Jay Rockefeller is not falling for this fake “compromise” meant to kill the public option:

[R]eflecting divisions that could lie ahead on the Senate floor, Mr. Rockefeller said this approach was unacceptable to him. State health plans would not be strong enough to compete effectively with big private insurance companies, he said.

Of all the possible fake “compromises” that have been floated (triggers, co-ops, state opt out, etc.), I consider this one to be the most worthless “alternative” (that is saying something) and the most sneaky attempt to kill a real public option. As as a general rule of thumb, if a health care reform proposal is strongly backed by Nelson and Conrad, but strongly opposed by Rockefeller; there is probably a 99% chance that it is a terrible idea.

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