The president says things that aren’t in the Republican plan are very popular. This is a very common liberal talking point; bloggers like Ezra Klein constantly point out that the “public option” is very popular. Well, if these ideas are popular, why is the Democratic plan garnering only 25 percent support? And if the “public option” is so popular, why is Obama’s chief talking point that there is no government takeover of health care and he shares so much common ground with Republicans?
The reason is that they are not popular, not really. Doubtless, if these various proposals could be magically imposed with no cost, no one would object and everybody would be happy. But the idea that you can give something for nothing is something the public does not believe in — and since most of these efforts involve insuring the uninsured, the already-insured have every reason to fear that the cost of such efforts is going to be imposed on them. The health-care bill began to falter due to the claim that Obama and friends could insure 30 million people and not increase costs.
In the end, though, what is being debated is not some putative Republican proposal. There are two bills, a Senate bill yet to pass and a House bill that has already passed. They were written by Democrats, and moved ahead by Democrats. Those bills are the issue, and they belong to Obama and his party, and they are loaded with things that frighten the public, and the only real question now is whether they will be jammed through.