Friday, September 04, 2009

Today's Panic (Read Right Away or It Might Be Over)

This feeding-on-itself political news environment wouldn't be so bad if it didn't infect people with panic. It's to be expected that the various sides on the healthcare debate are going to jockey for position, but what's more than a little crazy is the panic some folks express, their instant disillusion with Obama, so disappointed they'll never believe anybody again, etc. Meanwhile, President Obama's speech is not until next Wednesday. It's a little too much like the mindless panic of the Rabid Right.

I've read the headlines and the summaries for way too many accounts and speculations, and just about the only one that passes the smell test so far is this one from Ambinder, and even it is unlikely to be accurate in all details. There have been rumors and panics a half dozen times about Obama abandoning the public option (as it's called) and each time he's reaffirmed his support. I don't expect this time to be significantly different.

I will add this to the argument: I don't see how it is possible--or even legal--to make it a law that everyone must buy health insurance, and not at least offer the choice of a public nonprofit plan. I can't think of a precedent for a law requiring that people buy the product of a private for profit company. People are required to pay taxes, but even that requirement makes some allowances. So I'm not worrying about socialism. I'm worrying about government mandated capitalism.

Update: Apparently the individual mandate is based on laws requiring auto insurance, available only from private companies. But you are required to buy auto insurance only if you own a motor vehicle. You can choose not to own one. To me this is still a stretch.

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