Morning Briefing for August 18, 2009

FOR AUGUST 18, 2009

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1. Introducing “Competition” to the Health Insurance Market

In a truly remarkable moment, HHS Secretary Sebelius let the cat out of the bag when she said that, although a public option isn’t a strict requirement, the President is committed to some structure that will, through the miracle of competition, induce private insurance companies to “do the right thing.”

But the President and Congress haven’t proposed anything at all that will increase competition. They could allow interstate marketing of health insurance and pre-empt the many state-mandated minimum coverage requirements that make this a sclerotic and inflexible market.

Instead, what is the proposal? First, a government-funded “public option.” Now, some kind of national system of “co-ops,” which will be functionally indistinguishable from a public option because they will similarly benefit from free capital, grabbed from the taxpayers.

These people aren’t proposing to introduce competition at all. They’re proposing to introduce supply. (If Obama, Pelosi and Waxman actually reasoned that too much supply makes prices fall, they can each have a gold star.)

But the market isn’t adding new supply today, because none is needed. Indeed, if it were legal to produce new lower-cost products without some of the features mandated by current laws, the market would produce that supply overnight.

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2. Co-Ops are the Public Option By Another Name

You are going to hear a lot of talk in the coming weeks about co-ops. The Obama administration is signaling that the “public option” may not be needed in the healthcare plan.

They are retreating to “co-ops”. Friends, a cooperative healthcare device is the public option just with a better poll tested name.

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3. Howard Dean: Democrats should try to “tackle health reform another time”

Where, oh where is MoveOn.org now? Have they spent all their health care money and the plan is still sinking? (Note the nearly straight line down in the graph.) Intrade now shows there is a 14% chance that a public plan option will be law by Dec. 31, 2009.

Dean said on the CBS Early Show that punting to another time and space may be the best option.

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4. Has Arlen Specter Been Bribed?

Specter goes to the lefty blogger confab in Pittsburgh on August 14th and is asked, “Is it fair to say that on the climate legislation, on Employees Free Choice, on the public option health care plan, these are all areas where you would be voting with the majority for cloture?”

Specter’s response? “Yes.”

Guess what. Three days after Specter’s yes, Obama decides to raise money for Specter.

Sure, Obama had already said he’d campaign for Specter, but had actually done not one thing to help Specter. Heck, Obama did absolutely nothing to keep Sestak out of the primary, something Obama could have done.

But Specter goes on record saying he will now vote for cloture on stuff four months ago he adamantly was opposed to and now Obama says he’ll raise money for Specter, as will Joe Biden.

The question is: which came first?

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5. Cash-for-Clunkers hurting charities.

Already by about $50 million, which is real money for anybody (except a Democratic legislator, of course). It’ll likely get worse.

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6. So, the White House *was* just signing people up without their permission.

I understand that it’s probably legally wise for the White House to assign responsibility for Axelrod’s health care spamming to all those evil, evil advocacy organizations, but really.

The White House says, “We are implementing measures to make subscribing to emails clearer, including preventing advocacy organizations from signing people up to our lists without their permission when they deliver petition signatures and other messages on individual’s behalf.”

If the petitions were only presented in hardcopy form, somebody had to enter those email addresses into the system. If the organizations in question had provided a digital list of email addresses, somebody had to add them to the White House’s distribution list. If the organizations in question had signed up those email addresses one at a time, somebody on the White House Staff needs to explain why he or she didn’t even set up a please-click-to-confirm-your-registration system.

Somebody with a name.

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7. Representative Eric Massa (D-NY) Betrays Constituents

A video of Eric Massa is blowing up. The video captured the Democratic Congressman at the Nutroots convention stating the following: “I will vote adamantly against the interests of my district if I actually think what I am doing is going to be helpful.”

Massa also said every time Americans see protestors at the townhall meetings, the Democrats lose another 3 million voters.

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8. A Mistake or a Trick: When is Rep. Martin Heinrich’s (D-NM) Townhall Meeting?

The Democrats have been playing lots of tricks lately to stack the deck in favor of their healthcare plans at townhalls.

Alan Grayson and others waited until the last minute to schedule theirs. Some, like Grayson, then had them in union halls to ensure sympathetic audiences.

But Martin Heinrich (D-NM) may have pulled the best trick yet.

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9. Happy Warriors Until the End

On occasion our frustration gets the best of us. We get angry and frustrated. We sometimes want to sit it out — to go into seclusion and meditation.

At Right Online this past weekend, I talked about what Asaph wrote in Psalm 73, and then gave my advice I’ll now give you.

Victory comes, though we know not when. We must be happy warriors until the end.

For those of you who struggle with what goes on, who see retreat and capitulation, and who feel like not just your political opponents, but those who hold dear all those things you hold as blasphemous — be cheerful. Be happy. Victory is already yours.

You must just have the courage to not get discouraged and have the will to fight on.

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