The beauty of [the] proposal is that it seems to offer Blue Dogs a way out and liberal Democrats a way in. Nobody has to vote for or against a public option. The public option just happens automatically if its purposes -- wider coverage and lower costs -- aren't achieved. And the trigger idea seems so, well, centrist.
The problem is twofold. First, it's impossible to design airtight goals for coverage and cost reductions that won't be picked over by five thousand lobbyists and as many lawyers and litigators even if, at the end of the grace period, it's apparent to everyone else that the goals aren't met. Washington is a vast cesspool of well-paid specialists who know how to stop anything resembling a "trigger." Believe me, they will.
Second, any controversial proposal with some powerful support behind it that gets delayed -- for five years or three years or whenever -- is politically dead. Supporters lose interest. Public attention wanders. The media are on to other issues. Right now the public option is very much alive because so many Democrats care deeply about it, with good reason. But put it off for years, and assign it to the lawyers and lobbyists I just mentioned, and you can kiss it goodbye for ever.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Pulling the trigger
Bob Reich goes after the public option "trigger" proposal,