Rep. Jan Schakowsky Re-Introduces Public Option Bill As Deficit Reduction Measure

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It appears that Rep. Jan Schakowsky intends to hold Republicans to their word with regard to deficit reduction. Citing studies that prove a public option would control health care costs, Schakowsky introduced the "Public Option Deficit Reduction Act".


The bill, which almost certainly cannot pass in the Republican-controlled House, is a mostly symbolic effort meant to keep the public option alive as a policy prescription. It is sponsored by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), who is on the Energy & Commerce health subcommittee, along with Energy & Commerce Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) and 43 other lawmakers.

“The Public Option Deficit Reduction Act will give health care consumers more choice and lower their premiums,” said Schakowsky. “And, by providing a lower-cost alternative to private insurance, it would put pressure on all insurers to lower their premiums in order to compete.”

Citing an earlier estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Schakowsky expects it to reduce the deficit by some $100 billion over 10 years by boosting competition among insurers and paying providers at Medicare rates. The 2010 version of the public option was expected to reduce the debt by $68 billion over 10 years.

This probably has as much chance of passing in this Congress as a handgun ban does. But it serves a good purpose. First, it keeps the focus on Republicans' hypocrisy with regard to the deficit, because a public option would save money and keep insurance costs down. They could also introduce a Medicare buy-in bill for people 50 and up, which would really reduce the cost of Medicare and put it on the road to full solvency. Either way, there's no question that it would save money in the long run. Republicans will scurry around and whine about socialism in between whines about tyranny and guns, which keeps them from actually focusing on their own message and forces them to dance to our tune.

The other benefit is the incentive for all of us to try and overcome the insane gerrymandering and take back the Congress. I figure if people view the Congress as lower than cockroaches and head lice, there should be hope for any candidate, Democrat or otherwise, to be elected in 2014. We just need to make the case for the next two years for why this group of Republicans is toxic to the country and Democracy.

Along those lines, Democrats (particularly the DCCC) should take note: If they had contended in every district instead of ignoring 45 of them, it's possible that the popular vote edge would have even been bigger than it was. That needs to happen in 2014.


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