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October 27, 2009

…yes, Paul Krugman did just say this:

Still, if the Massachusetts experience is any guide, health care reform will have broad public support once it’s in place

In other words, jump on the entitlement bandwagon: the way to get more public support for an unpopular program is to start making people dependent on it – even if they didn’t want it in the first place!

This logic would be mildly amusing if it were not, in all likelihood, a significant factor in the Democrats’ political calculus for how health care reform should be structured. In the face of polling data like the latest Rasmussen numbers linked above, you would think it’d be political suicide for Congressional Democrats to continue on the Baucus bill track, much less to resurrect the public option. But the Dems are, in fact, more clever than that (or maybe they’re just waiting to use their secret weapon). They’re counting on the idea that, if health reform passes, so many will become dependent on the public option/nonprofit network/health exchange/public policy chimera that they’ll have no choice but to support its continued existence.

Democrats might tell you this is just a matter of the “47 million” uninsured people in this country thanking them for bringing about reform that gets them covered. But, in reality, the significant amount of crowd-out that any plan in the model of the Baucus bill would create, in terms of crowding people out of their existing insurance, insurers from the marketplace, and labor supply from the workforce, means that many of those who would likely become dependent on any public option-type program currently have insurance coverage or don’t want/need it. It’s not very easy to go back to a health plan that no longer exists because the government’s intervention put your previous insurer out of business.

But hey, anything for a vote, right?

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