And this whole states-opting-out thing is bullshit. Do people in red states not have rights?
Well, yes. And one of the rights they have - or are supposed to have - is to elect a governor and a State legislature to make decisions about what happens inside their State.
Let’s assume that everyone who voted for Barack Obama wants a public option in health reform. That means 53% of the people in the country want a public option. Okay, the majority of people want a public option which means the rest of us get it too. That’s fine, that’s how democracy works.
But what if the majority of the people in a particular State don’t want a public option? Why shouldn’t the the State opt out? If you follow the link in RL’s post you find yourself in a FiredogLake post that claims States which decide to opt out are “disenfranchising” the people who live in those States. But the opt-out will happen at the behest of the State governor and/or the State legislature both of which have been elected by the majority of voters in the State. If we go along with RL’s logic we must argue that if 53% of the people in the country want a policy everyone in every State must live under that policy - even if 95% of the people in a particular State don’t want to. But why? Some decisions cannot be variable across States - whether we belong to the United Nations, for example, or the use of the Armed Forces. But if a decision can vary across States I don’t see why we should insist on uniformity.
States making their own decisions drives people like Reclusive Leftist crazy but to me that’s the most brilliant idea embedded in our form of government. In a country this big and this diverse not everyone wants the same things and that’s where the States come in. They provide a means by which we can be a really big country and yet not try to force eveyone into the same mold. If the 53% of the people who want a public option are spread evenly across the country then every State will opt in. If the 53% of the people who want a public option are concentrated in “blue” States and the 47% who don’t are concentrated in “red” States then our form of Federalism lets us give most of the 53% what they want without forcing it on all of the 47% who don’t want it.
I know those who called themselves “progressives” will never buy the argument that States should have any say in such an important matter - or possibly in any matter - but there’s also a purely practical political side to this. Reclusive Leftist - and the articles at FireDogLake she links to - are concerned about the people in those red States. Red States have the highest percent of uninsured so they argue it’s wrong to allow their governors and/or state legislatures to cut them off from access to a public option. But if the public option works as well as its supporters believe it will, the States that opted out will want to opt in before too long. If I supported a public option, I’d rather pass a strong bill even if it didn’t include all the States than a weak bill that forced everyone to participate. Then I’d make sure States that opted out today could opt in further down the road, sit back, and wait for those silly red States to realize how much better off they’d be if they did it my way.
Of course the same logic applies to those who think a public option is the first step on the road to perdition. If the public option works as badly as its opponents believe it will, they can sit back and wait for the States that opted in to realize how much better things are going in the States that opted out. So if I opposed the public option, I’d make it my business to insure the opt out clause lets States opt out of the costs as well as the benefits and that States which opted in today can opt out further down the road. Then I’d sit back and wait for those silly blue States to realize how much better off they’d be if they’d listened to me in the first place.