Today Nancy Pelosi referred to the Public Option as the "Competitive Option." After I got over gagging at the sheer condescension implicit in that gesture, I immediately became re-frustrated by what I have to believe is a sweeping illiteracy when it comes to understanding the most basic principles of economics. Not even economics really, but "math."
The fact is, if the government creates a Public healthcare plan, it is playing by entirely different rules than the corporations it will pretend to compete with. A little like if I showed up on a playground with a bunch of 4th graders and said I'd like to "compete" with them in basketball -- I could, obviously, act like a stupid sucker and only barely defeat them... or act like a stupid sucker and only barely lose to them. Or, I could completely crush them.
See, when taxpayers are the source of revenue, there is effectively nothing preventing a program from being a monument of efficiency -- nothing except cost to taxpayers, that is. I wish Pelosi or Obama would field this question from a reporter or at a town-hall meeting (that is, if reporters weren't airhead-suck-ups and town-hall meetings weren't pre-screened):
Precisely how much better (or worse... though, it'd be hard to imagine you creating a worse "option"--what would be the point?) than currently existing "options" will the government option be? Leaving aside for a moment the cost to taxpayers, how much awesomer will this plan be? It will cover everyone? Never deny anyone coverage for any treatment? Or will it cover "almost-everyone" and cover "reasonable treatments?" Or will it be the same as existing plans, but "non-profit." In that case, can you crunch some numbers for us and show us how that'll work, exactly?