It’s not often that former Vermont governor and Democratic presidential aspirant Howard Dean says something with which we agree, but he hit the bull’s eye Tuesday when he said that “the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill and go back to the House. You have the vast majority of Americans who want the choices, they want real choices. They don’t have them in this bill. This is not health care reform, and it’s not close to health care reform.”
Dean’s comments on Vermont Public Radio came within hours of President Barack Obama’s latest pep rally for Senate Democrats in their continuing quest to do what the latest CNN.com polls say nearly two of every three Americans oppose: Put a federal bureaucrat between you and your doctor.
But wait, there was more from Dean, who went on MSNBC and ravaged Obama’s claim that the Senate Democrats’ version of health care reform won’t drive up the cost of insurance premiums or the federal deficit. Host Lawrence O’Donnell must have been shocked when Dean let loose with this: “You talk to every health care economist out there and they will tell you that whatever ideas are — whatever ideas exist in terms of bending the cost curve and starting to reduce costs for families, businesses and government — those elements are not in this bill. There is no cost control of any substance in this bill.”
Dean’s final devastating observation: “You’re going to be forced to buy health insurance from a company that is going to take an average of 27 percent of your money … and there is no choice about that. If you don’t buy that insurance, you are going to get a fine.”
To be sure, much of the heat in Dean’s comments results in his mounting anger that Obama and Reid removed the public option — a government-run insurance program competing with private insurers — and the since-scuttled proposal to expand Medicare coverage to people 55 years and older.
Just last week, Dean — who backs complete federalization of health care via a single-payer system — was enthusiastic about an earlier compromise that included those two provisions. Even so, Dean’s outrage about the exclusion of the public option reminds us that Reid and Obama are attempting to square the circle by crafting a bill mandating a government-run health care system in America that 60 senators will support, even if it’s a lousy bill. And the Senate bill is truly lousy, as everyone — including Democrats — knows full well.