By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
If the weekend TV talk shows are the crystal balls of national politics, then the so-called public option in the Obama healthcare reform effort is on the respirator if not already dead. About the most Democrat-friendly Republican in the U.S. Senate (particularly on healthcare reform) Olympia Snowe of Maine, told CBS this weekend the public option is,
"universally opposed by all Republicans in the Senate" and "therefore, there's no way to pass a plan that includes the public option."
The president's address to Congress last week may have swayed some apolitical Americans, or served as fodder to those who believe healthcare is a "right," not a service for which we all must pay. But his talk does not seem to have done much to change the minds of key Senators who will decide whether government-sponsored health insurance lives or dies.
Senator Mary L. Landrieu, the Democrat from Louisiana, joined that chorus on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," arguing that a government-run health plan would "undermine the private insurance system that she said covered 55 percent of insured Americans.
"Let's not revise the whole system, let's build on its strengths," she said.
The problem seems to be White House math. The White House claims a public option will pay for itself. That belies the obvious—it will not. The sooner President Obama gives up his quest for universal coverage, the sooner his popularity ratings will recover some of their lost ground.