I don't think enough attention has been paid to Illinois Dem Jan Schakowsky and her simple and elegant plan to expose Austerity Hysteria for what it truly is: gutting social programs for the poor and elderly while adding to the deficit through tax cuts for the wealthy. You'd think then that Schakowsky's public option plan, which would in fact lower the deficit, would be widely embraced by those using the country's national debt as an excuse for wealth transfer.
Of course, you'd be wrong.
Unveiled last Thursday by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Schakowsky, and more than 120 co-sponsors, the measure would give consumers a choice between private and public health insurance plans in the new law's exchanges. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that it would cut the deficit by $68 billion between 2014 an 2020.But of course the deficit and the national debt was never really the argument, wasn't it? It's all about finishing the Bush era wealth transfer to the top. Same as it ever was.
How would it save that much money? "It would compete with insurance companies, who frankly would have to lower their rates," Schakowsky said, promising that it would force private insurers to "be more efficient."
Progressives were disheartened with -- but still largely supported -- the resulting health care law enacted in March, which didn't offer public insurance programs to consumers ineligible for Medicare or Medicaid. Even a public option was viewed as a raw deal by liberals, who wanted a single payer system, as exists in Canada and Britain.
"This is kind of a compromise from that, saying, at least make [government-run insurance] one of the choices," explained the Democratic Congresswoman. "The American people, she added, "overwhelmingly" support it.
Republicans and conservative Democrats derided the public option as just another government program, invoking widespread distrust for government as a reason for their opposition. Their other opposing arguments, given consistent CBO projections that it would save money, were mostly without empirical backing.
The plan itself has no chance whatsoever of course. But exposing Congress and where its interests really lay is the key.