Dear Conservative Democrat XYZ,
I have long shared your fiscally conservative attitudes about deficits and the national debt. In my brief lifetime (not yet 19 years), the debt has risen from $3.2 trillion to nearly $12 trillion. When the government was able to establish a budget surplus by fiscal 1999 after years of careful spending reforms, we saw that surplus rapidly evaporate on the revenue-killing 2001 Bush tax cuts for the wealthy -- some of the most fiscally irresponsible legislation enacted in the last generation -- so that by fiscal 2002, the deficit had returned, and by 2003 had ballooned to levels never before seen.
Also like you, I believe in the power of the free market to solve any number of questions unsuitable for government statutes to address; I too relish the United States' traditional reputation as the only place on Earth where the Horatio Alger dream can still be fully realized.
Now, of course, we all find ourselves in a severe recession confronting daunting and expensive goals of economic recovery, health care reform, and energy independence.
Our shared interest in fiscal responsibility and a strong and stable free market is precisely why I am bewildered at your reticence to support the creation of a public health care option.
Free markets do, after all, thrive on competition; monopolies make them bloated and, if I may devolve into the tautological, not free. The addition of a public option -- supported by President Obama and 76% of Americans -- into the health care marketplace would be a shot in the arm for the free market, injecting real competition into an increasingly oligarchical and inefficient system. Consumers could pick and choose between various plans, exercising the same sort of freedom of choice that they exercise when buying clothes or deciding where to eat.
Just as importantly, the bureaucratic costs created by competition-less and anti-innovation middlemen would be greatly reduced as a necessity to compete with the government's option, eliminating much of the waste that currently inundates the health care system. Not only that, the public option's willingness to provide coverage for anyone who needs it, regardless of preexisting conditions, would soon force the same from private insurers. Once they adjusted to these basic models of fairness and economic competition, HMO's would find an entire new market of 50 million uninsured Americans open to their business. Talk about a boon for the free market!
As a deficit hawk, of course, one must always ask what the cost of such far-ranging and bold legislation would be. The Senate bill's cost cannot yet be estimated, as the Finance Committee there is still discussing revenue mechanisms, but we now have an all but final estimate from the Congressional Budget Office on H.R. 3200, known as the more "liberal" proposal because its public option would be available to any and every American and would offer Medicare-like reimbursement rates. The news is good for fiscal conservatives like you and me: the bill's $1 trillion price tag is more than paid for by its cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, and by its small surtaxes on the wealthiest Americans (raising their overall tax rates to roughly their Reagan-era equivalents). In fact, H.R. 3200, opposed by a significant number of fiscally conservative Blue Dogs as being too expensive, would actually cut the deficit by $6 billion, according to CBO analysts.
So what we have here is legislation that would provide coverage options to every American, ensure the affordability of said options, stimulate competition in the free market, lower costs, render discriminatory coverage a thing of the past, and beyond all that, cut the deficit.
If your proud stance as a "fiscal conservative" is mere code for having been swayed by threats and lobbying from HMO's who favor the current monopolistic health care market, that is indeed a shame. But if, like me, you await a plan that makes a difference in the lives of most Americans while promoting our free market ideals and lowering the runaway costs of government deficits, then I am confident you will support H.R. 3200 and the public option.
Thank you so much for reading!