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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

More Cantwell vs. Cantwell vs. Cantwell

Posted by on Wed, Jul 1, 2009 at 12:14 PM

To review:

On June 22, Sen. Maria Cantwell told a Seattle radio show that the public option for health care reform—meaning, the idea of creating a government-backed national health care program that will compete against private insurers to bring costs down—is not something she's pushing. She prefers something else, she said: the so-called coop compromise, which would encourage small, federally-chartered health care cooperatives around the country. Why? Here's what Cantwell said on the radio about the public plan: “I don't think that's something we can get through the United States Senate.”

Got it. But then, two days later, Cantwell said something very different to the Tri-City Herald: she favors a public plan.

Then, two days after that, in an e-mail to a constituent who wrote the Senator to lobby for the public plan—which is also known as the public option—Cantwell said (italics added): “I believe an effective public option could help improve access to high quality care, while bringing down costs through expanded choice and competition in the health care industry.”

Ok. Then one day later she told the Clark County Columbian: “I think there can be a bill with a public option that can pass.”

What? Within a week, Cantwell expressed opposition to the public plan because it can’t pass in the Senate, outright support for the public plan, hypothetical optimism about the public plan’s potential, and finally provisional support for the idea that a public plan could pass in the Senate. Got that?

Wait, there’s more.

Yesterday, at a public meeting she hosted at the University of Washington Medial Center branch in South Lake Union, the first question Cantwell received from a constituent was: Do you support the public plan? Her answer: “Yes, I support a public plan.”

Here's what I think is going on: Cantwell is caught between constituents who want her to support the public plan and her own interest (perhaps related to Senate committee politics, perhaps related to a genuine feeling about what's best) in promoting the coop compromise.

So she's found a way to do both. She's changed the definition of public plan.

In her mind, the coop compromise is a public plan and the public option is a public plan. So she now says: "I support a public plan"—while still preserving the option to say she was talking about coops all along. It's a classic, definition-shifting, all-things-to-everyone solution to a political pickle.

Which leaves people like me having crazy e-mail exchanges with Cantwell's spokesperson, Ciaran Clayton.


Does Sen. Cantwell consider the coop compromise to be a public plan?


She thinks health care reform should include a public option. There is no plan yet—either drafted by the Administration or by the Finance Committee—but she could support either a federally run health plan or a nonprofit co-op.


So I read this as saying that she believes either a federally run health plan or a nonprofit co-op could be described as a public option. Correct?


As I said, she could support a federally run health plan or a nonprofit co-op plan.


If she could support a federally run health plan or a nonprofit co-op plan, and she thinks health care reform should include a public option, does it not follow that she believes both the federally run health plan and the nonprofit co-op plan constitute a "public option."


Again, she wholeheartedly supports a public plan that would bring down costs and increase access to care.

Sorry if you're asleep at this point, but what's going on here is that Clayton will not recognize a language-based distinction between the public plan and the coop compromise. To Cantwell, it seems, they're both "public plans."

Which, conveniently, allows Cantwell to go all over the state during Fourth of July recess saying what everyone wants to hear, even if it's perhaps not true: she supports the public plan!


Comments (16) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
Insist on a single payer national health care plan.

Accept nothing less.

And remember, two-thirds of America wants such a plan for all US citizens and their dependent children.

We are the Majority. Not Big Pharma or Big Insurance.
Posted by Will in Seattle on July 1, 2009 at 12:40 PM · Report this
crazycatguy 2
If a "public" plan is funded by taxpayer dollars, where are the savings? And since not all citizens pay taxes, will those who do be subsidizing those who don't?
Posted by crazycatguy on July 1, 2009 at 12:57 PM · Report this
Cantwell is a coward. The so-called "co-op plan" is a weakling crumb tossed out by the insurance companies to water down voter's demands for a full public option. Maria Cantwell gets campaign funds from insurance companies and will do their bidding long before she addresses ours.
Posted by montex on July 1, 2009 at 12:57 PM · Report this
By "public plan"
you mean
"Government run taxpayer subsidized plan";
Posted by Just so we're straight on July 1, 2009 at 12:59 PM · Report this
Keep at it, Eli. The co-op plan is NOT a public option. It won't be publically accountable and if Group Health is the example, it won't be affordable.
Posted by alion on July 1, 2009 at 1:02 PM · Report this
meowmeowkitty 6
Hammer away! We can't let them off the hook on this one.
Posted by meowmeowkitty on July 1, 2009 at 1:12 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 7
@2 - you mean like the corporate tax deductions right now? that kind of subsidy?

Yeah, I read your balance sheets and your SEC filings. It's subsidized for private insurance right NOW.
Posted by Will in Seattle on July 1, 2009 at 1:28 PM · Report this
Wow, Cantwell is starting to sound like she'd make a great fucking Republican.

What the fuck is her problem? I think I'll call too.

Any chance she has any serious competition in the next primary?
Posted by Bad D's make my blood boil. on July 1, 2009 at 1:41 PM · Report this
Cantwell is in a very important position to ensure that we get real health care reform. Instead of providing leadership, I honestly see her undermining the process, caving to corporate interests in a way that I doubt her constituents would support. It's painful to think that a supposedly "liberal" Democrat from Seattle might undermine Obama on health care reform.
Posted by Trevor on July 1, 2009 at 2:51 PM · Report this
cressona 10
If Maria Cantwell had been a senator in the 1930s, she would have advocated that Social Security be an optional pension investment program administered by non-profit organizations under the control of the individual states.
Posted by cressona on July 1, 2009 at 7:35 PM · Report this
cressona 11
In Tuesday's NY Times, David Brooks had a pretty fine column, Vince Lombardi Politics, arguing that winning is the only thing for the Obama administration, that Obama only cares about getting legislation passed, no matter how neutered that legislation is. Brooks is a conservative, but it's essentially a liberal critique.

Actually, I wanted to mention that column not so much for the column itself but for a comment that showed up on the forum for that column. It's by one Stefan in Maryland and it really speaks to my greatest fear about a Cantwellian compromise on health care. Here's the key passage:
A weak public plan is precisely what Republicans want - it will discredit public health insurance because it will not have been given the teeth to do what it was supposed to do: command formidable market and bargaining power to force private companies to slash the cost of insurance and drugs in order to compete and stay in business. So a weak plan will pass, costs will stay high, it will be a huge failure, and the republicans will say "see, I told you so," they will come back into power and declare an end to it, setting back healthcare reform for at least a generation.

I'm afraid that the Cantwell/Nelson/Conrad wing of the Democratic Party is so wedded to certain corporations' interests that they're willing to put those interests ahead of the future electoral success of the Democratic Party. Now if only we can make Maria Cantwell herself pay that electoral price.
Posted by cressona on July 1, 2009 at 7:52 PM · Report this
This merits a primary fight. We're a top two State and a Democrat will win so I want an actual progressive calling her on this BS. She is a moral being--she can recognize right from wrong--and someone needs to shame her into doing the right thing. Support a public plan. Screw Big Pharma. Screw the Insurance Companies. Screw the AMA. Help people.
Posted by aff on July 1, 2009 at 8:01 PM · Report this
BunnyBlinks 13
Madison is no longer jealous of you, Seattle.…
Posted by BunnyBlinks on July 2, 2009 at 2:59 AM · Report this
Who is going to fund this public plan? Taxpayers, but nobody says how. The budget office keeps putting out huge costs attached to this plan. Figure out how to pay for it. Until then a public plan won't work.
Posted by CFAS on July 2, 2009 at 2:13 PM · Report this
The budget office puts out huge costs, but are not including the savings (E-R visits, public health costs, medical crises) created by providing health care to everyone, nor are they comparing anything like Single Payer plans. It is NOT about taxes. It's got to be looked at in terms of per captita spending. You or your employer (which means less money for you) are paying. We are paying more than $5,000 per capita (and that is a low estimate) to not provide healthcare to everyone. Germany, Japan, France, Canada (the list goes on) spend less than $3,000 per capita to provide health care for everyone.

If you think there is any role for health insurance as a money making operation, then I would ask you to give up your water, electricity, police and fire department.
Posted by Neighbohrood Person on July 4, 2009 at 3:44 PM · Report this
Greatest comment: If Maria Cantwell had been a senator in the 1930s, she would have advocated that Social Security be an optional pension investment program administered by non-profit organizations under the control of the individual states.
Posted by cressona on July 1, 2009 at 7:35 PM

Sending this to Cantwell via her website right now! Thanks 'cressona'!
Posted by Activist on July 13, 2009 at 6:05 PM · Report this

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