And don’t you DARE let SC opt out of health care reform

Here’s the thing that really frosts me about this health care debate: One of the little bargaining chips offered by those milquetoast “liberals” who don’t have the guts to stand up for the public option (and seriously, a “liberal Democrat” who won’t stand up for single-payer or something equally sweeping is a waste of skin) is the idea of letting states “opt out.” For instance, from the WSJ story I mentioned earlier:

Mr. Reid announced his support Monday for a government-run health plan — the so-called public option — while adding an escape clause for states that don’t want to participate.

OK, so you’re going to subject me to all this hullabaloo — the townhall meetings, the “You lie!” nonsense, all of this — and in the end, even if you get the guts to institute the public option, you’re going to deny it to me and mine?

Think about it, folks: If only one state in the union opted out, which state do you think it would be? Hmmm, let’s see … could it be the one that fired on Fort Sumter? Could it be the one where the governor wanted to lie down in front of the truck delivering the stimulus? Could it be the home of Joe “You Lie” Wilson and the “We Don’t Care How You Did It Up North” bumper stickers? Could it be the state with the highest number of elected radical libertarians (on the Eastern Seaboard, anyway)?

As the former governor of the state that would probably be the second one to opt out used to say, “You betcha!”

And folks, that would just be too bitter a pill to swallow.

42 thoughts on “And don’t you DARE let SC opt out of health care reform

  1. bud

    I hate to break this to you Brad but it’s not the “milqtoast” liberals who are most at fault here (although they could have been more assertive), its the concept of BIPARTANSHIP. I’ve suggested for months that the liberals simply ignore the far right and do what’s right for the country. But noooo. We have to have bipartisan concensus. Well by doggies this is what bipartisan concensus gets us. Yup, this was a compromise worked out to secure folks Lindsey Graham and Joe Liberman who would not under any circumstances vote for the more liberal plan that you and I agree is necessary. Liberman in particular has threatened to filibuster a full-blown public option bill. Graham probably won’t even vote for this watered down bill, but he may at least consider it.

  2. Doug Ross

    You probably won’t have to worry about it.

    Your man, Joe Lieberman, has announced he will join the filibuster to prevent the bill from happening.

    “Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Tuesday that he’d back a GOP filibuster of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care reform bill. ”

    Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats and is positioning himself as a fiscal hawk on the issue, said he opposes any health care bill that includes a government-run insurance program — even if it includes a provision allowing states to opt out of the program, as Reid’s has said the Senate bill will.

    “We’re trying to do too much at once,” Lieberman said. “To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don’t think we need it now.” ”

    Hopefully Joe will get some real Joe-mentum on this issue. He’s got it right – trying to overhaul 16% of the American economy because 20% of the people aren’t happy with their insurance is not smart.

  3. Doug Ross

    Another reason it won’t happen:

    “The Business Roundtable, comprised of chief executives at Verizon Communications (VZ.N), JPMorgan (JPM.N), General Electric (GE.N), Wal-Mart (WMT.N) and other companies that together employ more than 12 million people, said the federal government is inefficient and would underpay providers. That would result in providers boosting prices for private insurers and employers, the group said on Wednesday.”

    Too many big donors in that bunch…

  4. Greg Flowers

    Someone, anyone, what is the essence of the Bill currently on the table? What will the additional costs be?

  5. Lynn Teague

    You’re right that South Carolina would probably opt out, and the consequences would be terrible and lasting. Not only would our state be alone in the amount of suffering inflicted on our citizens, but thinking people with a choice would leave the state, or not come here in the first place. For example, unemployment is sky-high for recent college graduates. Therefore, lack of health insurance is sky-high for the same demographic. If I were an intelligent well-informed recent college grad, where would I set up housekeeping? Not in an opt-out state for sure.

  6. Herb B.

    Brad, this is exactly what I thought when I read about this. Guess which state will secede first?

    Guns of the South, 21st century version

  7. R M Stevenson

    Yes, of course, Sanford will opt out SC, but the new health care package is scheduled for 2013, I think I read. Won’t we be rid of this guy by then? It seems he’s served a lifetime. Even if Sanford opts us out, can’t a different governor opt us in, unless we elect a Sanford clone?
    Also, if a state’s opt-out public option is all we can get from Congress because the liberal Democrats want some bipartisan support, should we blame liberal Democrats? How about blaming Republicans who will vote for nothing else? How are SC’s own elected senators voting on the public option? Shouldn’t South Carolinians expect our own elected governor and senators to look out for us? Why should liberal representatives from the northeast worry about a state whose population consistently votes for the senators who try to impede health care public options? Maybe we should look in the mirror to discover who to blame. The voters of South Carolina elected Sanford twice. Why didn’t four years of watching Sanford govern make voters reject his second term? One more question, if we are looking for someone to blame, why did all of the large newspapers in SC endorse Sanford twice? Let’s see if The State endorses a Sanford clone in 12 months or endorses someone who cares about South Carolinians and knows that good government takes working together and compromise.

  8. Kathryn Fenner

    Yup, I saw this one the minute I read it, too. Bud’s right, too–it’s not liberal milquetoastiness that’s the problem–it’s bipartisan-group-hugginess.

    and of course, as per usual, despite all the outreach, the hardliners will filibuster.

    Greg–the essence is hard to pinpoint or distill, and the costs are debatable. Robert Samuelson in yesterday’s WashPo says they are high, while many suggest that by insuring everyone, you take primary care out of the emergency room, where it is most expensive.

  9. Maude Lebowski

    Greg, I don’t see how the middle class could get out of this without paying higher taxes for poorer quality care.

  10. Bart Rogers

    I may be wrong, but when this was first mentioned, one of the Western states was listed as being the first one to most likely opt out because they already have a good health care system in place. If memory serves, there were 3 states on the list.

    Never mind who opts out first, the issue will be how many states will follow their lead when they do.

    Greg, as of now, after much research, I don’t think anyone other than members of congressional committees have any idea of what is in the bill or what the actual costs will be.

    Variables with the potential to have an impact on the cost are many. How much longer will we have a “jobless” recovery? How much longer will unemployment figures continue to be in six figures each month? How much longer will banks restrict credit? How much longer will it be before the money set aside for SBA loans starts hitting the street? How many more programs will the administration try to initiate before the voters have a chance to digest the ones already in front of them? How much money can be salvaged from Medicare fraud? The list is long and each item affects the ultimate cost.

    Along with most Americans, I support changes and an overhaul of the health care system. There are too many inequities and this to me should not a left or right issue but one that addresses the concerns and care for all of our citizens. To me, it is preferable to solve the problem in the free market but this is not going to happen and we know it. The bill will pass and most likely, it if gets to the floor, the nuclear option will be pursued if there are not enough votes to get it through the Senate. We can only hope the end product is not too unwieldy.

  11. Brad Warthen

    Yes, it most certainly is liberal spinelessness that is to blame.

    You say it’s the need to be bipartisan. No it isn’t, because this problem goes back to before the election. No mainstream Democrat had the guts to run on single-payer or anything close to it. No, they were all too busy being “reasonable” and reassuring us that they wouldn’t do anything crazy like actually FIX the system. The only one nutty enough to advocate what we need was the certifiable nut, Dennis Kucinich. For which I gave him credit back when I was giving Obama and the rest a hard time back during the election.

    As I said at the time (and I was very insistent about it), the Democrats needed to RUN on sweeping, comprehensive reform, because I knew that there would be compromise during the process of legislation. That made it particularly important for liberals to take a strong, liberal position while running. But to my great disgust, they did not, and we’re reaping the result of that now.

    Even if the Democrats told Republicans to go to hell and did it their way, THEIR WAY is weak and watered-down to start with.

    There are certain things I depend on “conservatives” for — such as not cutting and running after they get us into a war, when it would be disastrous to quit. They have at least delivered in recent years, even in the face of contrary public opinion.

    There are other things that I rely upon “liberals” for. And unfortunately, the liberals haven’t been delivering. And they’re being weak on even having a public option even though, according to the Wall Street Journal of all sources, there is now a plurality among the public in favor of such an option. Failing to deliver on it would be inexcusable.

  12. Brad Warthen

    Oh, and before you say, “the Republicans should be advocating the public option,” allow me to say, Get Real.

    Here’s the thing about that — the Republicans don’t actually BELIEVE in the public option. So it’s kind of hard to blame them for not advocating it. But I do blame people who OUGHT to be oriented philosophically in that direction, but won’t stand up for their principles.

  13. Kathryn Fenner

    How about the Republicans figured out how to fix the system during the 8 years they were in control–oh yeah–they were busy giving away the surplus in tax cuts for the rich and running up deficits.

    Yes, we are spineless. Jelly fish. Most of us are elitist academics with tenure and great health care and we don’t care about you, really. Yeah, that’s the ticket! That’s why our first president in 8 years (who is hardly a liberal) is squandering his amazing popularity on this issue.
    This is the thanks he gets?

  14. Doug Ross

    From what I have read, the public option in the Reid bill is a red herring anyway. In order for a state to opt out, it has to meet a number of criteria that basically would require the state to provide the EXACT same package as the federal public option. So it’s an opt out clause that won’t ever be executed, i.e. a political game being run by the Democratic leadership.

    Here’s a good explanation:

    ” To be granted a waiver (or opt out) from any or all provisions of the bill, the state would have to achieve nearly impossible benchmarks:

    the state has a comprehensive and detailed plan to meet the requirements of the waiver, the plan will lower the growth of health care spending, improve the delivery system performance, provide affordable choices for its citizens, expand protection for excessive out of pocket spending, provide the same level of coverage the same number of uninsured as would have been covered by the implementation of the bill in the state, the plan will not increase the federal deficit the state will provide a 10 year budget plan for the waiver.

    This isn’t an opt-out at all. It’s frankly a nearly impossible standard to meet. And, even if a state did meet the standards iterated above to be granted such a waiver, it would have in essence promised to fulfill the intent of the law anyway. ”

    Please wake up and realize that there is nobody in the government fighting to get you good healthcare.

  15. Randy E

    The idea that the GOP doesn’t believe in the public OPTION is confusing given that it allows COMPETITION. Isn’t Adam Smith’s hand the universal impetus?

    SC has the highest rate of uninsured, one of the highest teen pregnancy rates, and one of the highest premature birth rates. If any state needed the public option it’s South Carolina.

  16. Liz Shepherd

    Someone needs to publicize all the insurance companies business structures. They are one and the same. Look it up. It’s easy to find if you spend a few days doing it, like I did.
    One company, ONE, controls your healthcare now.
    It’s not working too well is it?

  17. Doug Ross


    It’s not competition if you have monopoly control over prices and the right to force health providers to accept the members of the public option.

    Do you think doctors will be able to say no to those insured by the public option if they aren’t happy with the enforced rates?

    Also, let’s not think that signing a bill will bring instant relief. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will take until 2019 to get 9 million people on the public option. Ten years. That’s how government works.

  18. Doug Ross

    From AP reports on the Democrats health care bill:

    “Pelosi and the leadership have yet to work out disputes over abortion services and health care for immigrants, issues that must be settled before the bill can come to a vote.”

    Well, the simple answer to both questions is easy: NO.

    Terminating a life should be a decision made and paid for by the mother. It’s an optional procedure.

    Immigrants (illegal ones) have no rights to any services. Simple solution. By providing free healthcare, it will encourage more illegal entries into the U.S. just as lack of enforcement of illegal immigrant hiring in the workplace has.

  19. bud

    I ranked a collection of organzitions from the ones I least respect (1) to the ones I most respect (10). Here’s the entire list. As it relates to this I am completely indifferent to the various illegal aliens issues. If we fund health care for illegals, ok by me. They’re humans with health needs too. And they probably contribute more to the well-being of society than most people.

    I could live with or without funding of abortion. But if we don’t fund it then don’t fund it for anyone, including those who want an abortion in cases of rape.

    As for the insurance industry I’d just as soon let them go under as keep them.

    Nazis 1
    Al Qaeda 1
    Taliban 1
    NAMBLA 1
    Ku Klux Klan 1
    Health Insurance Industry 2
    Bush (Jr.) Administration 2
    Soviet Communism 2
    Hezbolah 2
    Catholic Church 2
    Conservative Talk Radio 2
    Birthers 2
    Pro-Lifers with exceptions 2
    Creationist “Science” 2
    Tea Baggers 3
    FOX News 3
    PLO 3
    Southern Baptist Church 3
    Republican Party 3
    NRA 3
    Slavery Reparation Movement 3
    Isreal 4
    Iran 4
    “Mainstream” Media 4
    Illegal aliens 5
    US Military 5
    Methodist Church 5
    Global Warming Movement 5
    Scientology 5
    Libertarian Party 5
    National Teachers Association 5
    Pro-Lifers without exceptions 6
    Obama Administration 6
    Democratic Party 6
    Liberal Talk Radio 6
    Labor Unions 6
    ACORN 7
    Unitarian Church 7
    Nudists 7
    PETA 8
    Peak Oil Movement 8
    Vegetarians 8
    Pro-Choicers 8
    ACLU 8
    Green Peace 9
    Sierra Club 10
    Audibon Society 10
    SPCA 10
    NORML 10

  20. Doug Ross


    If I guy came into your house through your back window in the middle of the night but said he’d cook you a nice breakfast, would you think nothing of it?

    That’s illegal immigration.

  21. Brad Warthen

    That depends. What’s for breakfast?

    Seriously, the analogy doesn’t work, because of the special nature of private property. U.S. territory is not private property (except, of course, for the parts that ARE private property). It’s an important value of our country that all are free to walk the streets, to travel from state to state, etc. We are not like the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, where one must have certain papers to be anywhere other than where one is specifically authorized to be.

    It’s also an important value that we encourage people to come here from elsewhere and build new lives, since most of us, or our ancestors, did the same.

    We do, of course, expect this to be done in an orderly manner — and that’s totally appropriate — and we want to know WHO is coming into our country. That’s reasonable. So we have immigration laws. They aren’t always rationally applied, and the numbers of Mexicans we let in legally has never come close to recognizing the legitimate demands for work on that side and for labor on this side. But yes, all other things being equal, people SHOULD obey immigration laws to the letter.

    But if they don’t, it’s not the same as breaking into your house. America’s not a castle, but your home is.

  22. Doug Ross

    So until we modify the system to allow more Mexicans to enter legally, what do you think the U.S. government should do?

    The message seems to be “if you can make it across the border, we’ll give you a free pass”

    Do pot smokers bother you more than illegals?

  23. Kathryn Fenner

    I’m still shaking my head over your indictment of the “spinelessness” of the party you didn’t back–its failure to deliver what you want…Despite your nonsupport, Obama is spending his popularity trying to get health care reform, and you’re not happy with how he’s doing it? McCain has plenty of spine, but if you had had your way and he’d won, would we even be having this discussion?

  24. Maude Lebowski

    I think we should reverse the citizenship-by-birth rule and deport every illegal immigrant we find. It’s disgusting what it is doing to our public schools.

  25. Elliott

    I agree with Ms.Fenner, Brad. Explain to me one more time how you indict the Democrats for not representing you when you support Republicans.Wouldn’t this be like me indicting Bush for not supporting pro-choice?

  26. Greg Flowers

    Brad is correct, the law, even when it makes little sense should be obeyed but immigration law should more accurately reflect the unmet labor needs of this country. If sufficient numbers of laborers were allowed in legally, there would not be a market for illegals being paid substandard wages. The law should reflect the market. That is the most effective way to stem the tide of illegal immigrants, much more effective than a wall or a citizen’s militia.

  27. Bart Rogers

    The new bill is out or at least the doubled in size version. Now, how many are going to actually read the bill, determine exactly what is in it and put accurate/truthful information out to the public? Bueller? Bueller?

    Too much, too soon folks. The first submission was over 1,000 pages, unclear and difficult for the average person to understand. Ergo, the birth of “Tea Baggers” and “Town Hallers”, the objects of criticism, ridicule, and scorn from the left because they voiced their objections.

  28. Kathryn Fenner

    I guess when you start making sausage the ingredients list gets awfully long. Single-payer is Boar’s Head Oven Roasted Chicken–Chicken and Salt. Once you try to create these politically palatable hybrids, you get a lot of byproducts and additives and end up with an awfully long bill. Bismarck was right.

  29. Brad Warthen

    Amen to Greg!

    Responding to Elliott… let me try again to explain myself. I realize what I’m saying is counterintuitive to a lot of folks. It’s something I have struggled to communicate ever since I started writing opinion for a living. My problem is that as lot of folks — even very smart folks — have trouble understanding a guy who really, truly agrees with the Democrats on some things and the Republicans on others. Even though at least 20 percent of the electorate (and maybe more like 40 percent) approaches things the way I do, our political culture is so dominated by partisan terms that we lack the vocabulary for communicating this world view.

    What I was saying here is that I rely on different parties, and different politicians (actually, the individuals far more than the parties) to do different worthwhile things. For instance, I relied on W. to be enough of a stubborn SOB not to cut and run in Iraq — something I deemed (and still do) very important, and which you couldn’t rely on a more “reasonable” politician to do. I hated having to rely on him on that, because in so many ways he was screwing up in Iraq, until he finally replaced Rumsfeld with Gates and later started listening to Petraeus. (I would have greatly preferred to rely on John McCain in that role, but I lost that argument back in 2000.)

    You would think I could rely on liberal Democrats to deliver single-payer. Unfortunately, none of them (except Dennis Kucinich, who is a nut), would run on it. So on that point, it really didn’t matter much whether McCain or Obama was elected, as neither was advocating what I wanted on that issue.

    But, you say, shouldn’t I have backed Obama since between the two, he was MORE LIKELY to deliver the thing that he didn’t dare run on? Perhaps, but only if I were going to make my decision solely on the basis of that one issue, which I would never do. It would be extremely unlikely for me to make my presidential choice solely on a domestic issue. National security, perhaps. Domestic issue, no.

    Another point is that y’all miss the fact that I WAS for Obama — I was just MORE for McCain. That’s another thing people have trouble understanding. Indeed, it was an unaccustomed position for me. It was the first time in my adult life that I had liked both of the major party nominees.

    But his health care position — even though it was far closer to my own than McCain’s — wasn’t one of the reasons I liked Obama. On that point, he was a disappointment. I liked him because I believed he had the potential to help us make a new beginning in Washington. I knew it would be an uphill battle, and it certainly has been, but I liked him for his freshness and ability to rise above the fray. That was what had made him far preferable to Hillary Clinton, who threatened to deepen our partisan divide. He had the potential to exert a positive sort of leadership. And he was smart, and pragmatic, and in general I liked his position on many issues. I didn’t like his partisan, ideological approach to the judiciary, or his slavish devotion to Big Labor, but I liked other things about him. Just not as much as I liked McCain.

    It’s just not all either-or for me. It’s not, I like this one thing about this guy, so I like everything…

    Is this making sense?

  30. Elliott

    Yes thanks, it does make sense when I read your response. I will ponder these comments this weekend. I love the new where we can exchange ideas. Thanks for your hard work. I wish there was some way for you to get a salary out of this. From what I’ve been reading elsewhere, blogs have to a publication for political campaigns to provide writers with an income.

  31. bud

    Brad, I’m with Kathyrn and Elliot on this. Single payer never had a ghost of a chance so it makes no sense to get onto the liberals for recognizing that early on and trying to move public option. The liberals have tried to move that along but they just don’t have the votes. I’m sure you can nitpik their strategy but this is not a failure of liberalism but rather it’s a casualty of obstructionists like Joe Leiberman.

  32. Burl Burlingame

    Although the Democrats have had their moments of absurdity, I’m afraid that it has the been the Fringe Republicans who have turned extreme partisanship into a daily playbook, and a lot of it is due to singling out the “media” as an easy mark. Shooting the messenger has been going on for three decades now. But it has been since 1994 that fellow citizens and Americans that you might simply disagree with have been singled out as enemies of the state.
    As for myself, I am neither a Democrat or a Republican because I neither agree with or disagree with every position in either party. Both sides have their points.
    Like most Americans, I vote for the candidate likely to do the least amount of damage.

  33. Brad Warthen

    Burl, I date it to 1982. That was the first year that I saw really noticeable negative ads in a campaign. As I recall, that was part of the story across the country, but the race that was closest to me was the one that Robin Beard ran against Jim Sasser in Tennessee.

    One of the ads tried to make it look like Sasser had voted for aid to Fidel Castro. It featured an actor dressed as Castro, burning $100 bills to light his cigar, grinning at the camera and saying, “Gracias, Senor Sasser!”

    That was my costume for Halloween at the annual newsroom party that year. I grew my beard, wore old Army fatigues and cap, and went around with Monopoly money and a cigar saying “Gracias, Senor Sasser!” to everybody. We liked to be topical at the newsroom party…

    This did Beard no good, by the way. Sasser won with 62 percent of the vote. Somehow, though, negative ads caught on anyway, and we saw more and more of them in subsequent years.

  34. Kathryn Fenner

    For the modern era, I heard it all started at the Wade Hampton Hotel right here in Columbia–the infamous southern strategy….once you decide to be that Machiavellian, you open the door to all manner of dirty.

  35. Burl Burlingame

    I don’t mind negative ads if they’re accurate and one recognizes the spin. But since they’re often assembled without even the simplest vetting of facts, like the recent spate of nonsense from Protect Marriage Washington, the voter is on their own to recognize these for what they are.

  36. slugger

    So we put lawyers and politicians in charge of our health. What a very smart idea. We should have thought of that years ago.

  37. Doug Ross

    Today’s news includes the analysis that only 2% of the American public would take advantage of the public option if it exists and the cost will more than likely be higher for those people because it will include people who have more health issues.

    So all this fuss to try and fix a problem for 2% of the people when it could be fixed with some basic regulations on the insurance industry.

  38. Kathryn Fenner


    We are trying to make it possible for people whose only access to health care is through an emergency room to have an actual primary care physician who will be in charge of their health care. We are trying to make it possible for health care decisions to be made by a primary care physician instead of an insurance claims denier or an employer.

    Too many people have no access to care except through emergency rooms. Too many people are hostage to an employer for their health insurance coverage.

    No lawyer or politician is going to make any medical decisions under any plan proposed.

  39. slugger


    Who do you think is writing the thousands and thousands of pages that will be the health care bill when it is voted on and approved by those that are writing the bill? It is all about the lawyers and the politicians. The only thing they care about is the power to do exactly what they are doing. Thanking over our lives.

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