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One of the sticking points over this bill, now that the public option has been removed, is the individual mandate. Many progressives simply don't want to require people to buy a product from a private corporation, particularly one that enjoys anti-trust exemptions.

Personally, I support a mandate, because I have not seen anyone indicate to me how the system will support community rating and other insurance regulations without some kind of mandate to ensure that people don't opt out and worsening the risk pool. But don't take my word for it. Take Krugman's, from back when Hillary championed mandates and Obama didn't. (And I, though a Barack supporter, thought Hillary's the better plan.)

Still, I understand why people dislike the mandate. As Obama pointed out during the campaign, even with subsidies, it may be a real burden for many people. And a hardship exemption can only go so far. Moreover, many people - left, right, and center - oppose viscerally being told they must purchase health insurance.

So what do people think about Paul Starr's proposal? He proposes that people be able to "opt out" of the mandate, but in doing so forgo subsidies and some of the regulatory protections if they opt back in.

Poll

Should we let people opt out of the mandate?

25%10 votes
10%4 votes
53%21 votes
10%4 votes

| 39 votes | Vote | Results

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Today, Sen. Lieberman announced that, at least for now, he intends to uphold a GOP-lead filibuster on the Senate health care bill, claiming, absurdly, that the creation of an independent, non-taxpayer-supported, government-chartered non-profit available to less then 10% of the population and only in states that agree to it, amounts to an "unnecessary burden" that will cost too much to taxpayers.

For all we know, Lieberman may be bluffing. He may simply want to play "hard to get," earning face time on FOX and the other cable networks, while getting the White House and the Senate leadership to indulge him.

But if he chooses to filibuster, he'll be voting to block legislation. Funny, then, that Sen. Liebermanonce supported ending the very practice he's all too happy to endorse today.

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I would take this news with a grain of salt, just as I would with a grain of salt the other rumors and speculation we've been hearing all day.

According to tomorrow's NYT, while Obama will scale back elements of the current proposals, the public plan is not being dropped.

[White House officials] insisted that Mr. Obama had not given up on the provision that has attracted the most fire from the right, a proposal for a government-run competitor to private insurers, although many Democrats say the proposal may eventually be jettisoned.

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I admit that I watched the collective freakout over the President's "backing away" from the public option with some confusion. Though some are dismissing it as spin, it really did not seem as though they were saying anything new. Obama has repeatedly refused to draw a line in the sand over the public option, and Sebelius has said before that they will "consider" Kent Conrad's "co-op" proposal.

Whether it's a good idea or not to be noncommittal is another issue entirely. Personally, I think they should draw a line in the sand over the public option, or at least be stronger in their advocacy. But I can see the other side of the argument. And that may simply be that the administration does not want to kill the bill and is just trying to get something first, out of the Finance committee and second, out of the Senate.

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Lots of people have been baffled by Oregon's Ron Wyden joining Sens. Nelson, Landrieu, Lieberman, Collins, and Snowe to delay a Senate vote on health care reform. And indeed, Wyden has been frustrating throughout this process. He's a wonk who has a record of support for universal health care, but having offered his own comprehensive health reform bill - the Healthy Americans Act, aka Wyden-Bennett - he has shown reluctance to embrace the approach that other Democrats and the White House favor. For example, he has not yet given an endorsement to the public plan.

Yet though I don't agree with Wyden delaying the health care bills in the Senate, I think it is worth pointing out that in the last couple of days, Wyden has come out with a proposed amendment to the bills being put forth by the Finance and HELP committees. And it's a reform that ALL of us should be willing to support. If Wyden can be "bought off" by approving his amendment, I'd say it's a win-win. Here's why.

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Most Democrats' response to Ben Nelson is that he's about as liberal as one could expect from a Nebraska Democrat that can a Senate seat. Is that really true, however? No doubt, Nebraska is a very Republican state and a fairly conservative one. I realize that a Barbara Boxer or even a Tom Harkin probably couldn't win in Nebraska. But it isn't clear to me that someone like a Kent Conrad or Tim Johnson couldn't win the state.

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Even as the United States of America has a black president, black representation at the highest statewide levels of U.S. politics lags. Obama himself was the only black U.S. senator, and today his seat still is held by the Senate's only African-American, the controversial Roland Burris. There are two black governors: the embattled, unelected David Paterson of NY and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.

Burris is highly unlikely to remain a U.S. senator after his term is up. News reports that he only raised $845 in the first quarter of 2010 makes a successful run for a full term a virtual impossibility. Of course, his massive unpopularity and the dubious circumstances in which he succeeded to the seat would be likely to doom him regardless of his fundraising success.

Does this mean that in 2011, the Senate will once again lack any members of the nation's largest racial minority?

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Before Gregg withdrew his nomination, he was ridiculed by many for having favored the abolition of the Commerce Department.

Yet is this really a bad idea?

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The bill being debated by Congress does not appear to be a good bill. Frankly, I do not know whether I support it. Many posters (and many economists) say the bailout is flawed or unnecessary. Yet what bothers me is the knee-jerkism of much of the liberal blogosphere.

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It may be premature to speculate about running mates for Barack Obama, as he still has crucial contests coming up in Texas and Ohio (not to mention Rhode Island and Vermont) next week.

Still, given the progress Obama has made towards getting the nomination, it's not inappropriate to begin talking about who he might select as his No. 2.

Most of the names bandied about include Sens. Jim Webb, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Governors Kathleen Sebelius and Tim Kaine. Others (including Howard Fineman and Chris Cilizza) have even mentioned Tom Daschle, who has been a major behind-the-scenes player in the Obama campaign.

But I'd like to propose another name that few have mentioned: Sen. John Francis "Jack" Reed of Rhode Island.

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It appears that Fred Thompson's flirtation with a run for the Republican nomination has produced some chortling here at dKos and in the liberal blogosphere.

To which I say: don't laugh.

Say what you will, but if Thompson- a Republican senator from Tennessee for eight years, longtime Washington attorney, and actor (currently seen on Law & Order) - does jump in and doesn't do so too late, he will be in a strong position to win the Republican nomination. And he might well be the strongest candidate the Republicans could field.

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Tue Oct 24, 2006 at 11:52 PM PDT

Bad News in Missouri?

by liberalpragmatist

I've cross-posted this here and at DU.

I know it's tight, but the recent SUSA poll of Missouri has got me scared.

I don't know what to think. On the one hand, there's that Mason-Dixon poll that has Claire up by 3. OTOH, there are polls by SUSA and LAT/Bloomberg that have Talent up by 3.

The SUSA poll is very frightening to me.

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