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Opt-Out Public Option Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

October 8, 2009 - by David Moore

Everyone in the game is buzzing about Sam Stein’s reporting on HuffPo that a proposal championed by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) (pictured at right), for one, is being floated by Dem. Senate leadership as a feasible compromise on the public option. Brian Beutler of TPM says Sen. Schumer is cooing positively over it.

Avelino of the OpenCongress team points out – one thing to keep in mind is that, as in many details of complicated policy negotations like this one, this compromise has actually been on the table before. NYT: “At least one opponent of a public option, Senator Ben Nelson, the Nebraska Democrat, said Tuesday that he was warming to a compromise proposal floated last week by another Democrat, Senator Thomas R. Carper of Delaware.” ThinkProgress highlighted the story back on Oct. 1st.

Ezra Klein of WaPo makes a crucial point: “It’s an opportunity to pit liberal and conservative policies against each other, rather than just pitting liberal and conservative congressmen against each other.” (So much of the media coverage of the public option in health care reform has unfortunately been over the politics of Democrats vs. Republicans, as opposed to how other similar popular social programs [like Social Security] are actually administered and measured and continually evaluated.)

Martin Feldstein of AEI has a different proposal: “Let’s scrap the $220 billion annual health insurance tax subsidy, which is often used to buy the wrong kind of insurance, and use those budget dollars to provide insurance that protects American families from health costs that exceed 15 percent of their income.” Nothing yet on this suggested compromise from Reihan, we’ll be looking out though. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) writes in HuffPo: “A majority of Americans support a public option. An overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress support a public option. Doctors support a public option.”

Email us relevant links on this topic:, and we’ll post them as quickly as possible. We’ll try especially to add more analysis from respected think tanks on the advisability of this state-by-state opt-out proposal.

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