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The Public Option Opt-Out Sham: Opt-Out Of What?

The Hill is reporting that Harry Reid will pursue a public option with an opt-out for individual states despite the dissent of Olympia Snowe. Insiders claim that he has at least 58 votes and is closing in on 60.

The opt-out is bogus. Even Snowe, who is amenable to a trigger, is opposed to an opt-out. An opt-out may protect insurance industry interests in states with vulnerable Democrats; insurance companies in their respective states will not have to compete with a subsidized competitor. But Blue Dog Democrats, and their constituents, should not be fooled.

Some may argue that an opt-out is a reasonable, consensus oriented approach. Some may even try to defend this approach in the name of federalism; states that favor a public option can have one and states that oppose a public option can opt-out. But I have a question for proponents of an opt-out: opt-out of what?

Senate Democrats have not worked out the financial details of their plan. While states may opt-out of the public option, all Americans collectively share the tax and debt burdens of any public option regardless of which states offer such a plan. An opt-out does nothing to address the financial burden of public options. The Democrats may pay some lip service to private management or state control, but ultimately the federal government will be responsible for any public option plans and their deficits.

Blue Dog Democrats often fancy themselves as being fiscally responsible. But how are they representing their constituents and being fiscally responsible if people in states like Arkansas, Louisiana, and Montana are forced to pay the taxes and carry the debt for fiscally irresponsible public options that are adopted in fiscally irresponsible states like California. Its neither fair nor fiscally responsible.

Blue Dog Democrats talk the talk, but will they walk the walk when it comes to fiscal responsibility. Or will they hide behind Harry Reid’s parlor tricks and sell out their constituents. There is no tax opt-out. There is no debt opt-out. There is no true opt-out. Each and every one of us, and our children and grandchildren, will carry this burden. The opt-out is a sham and Americans need to know it.

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