Weekly Pulse: Public Insurance Option Not Optional

 By Lindsay Beyerstein, TMC Mediawire blogger

During a press conference yesterday, President Obama voiced support for government-administered health insurance for all who need it (aka the "public option"), as a key component of healthcare reform. Though Obama stopped short of threatening to veto a bill that didn't contain such an option, he said that a public option is needed to enforce market discipline. If the system is going to reform, the health insurance companies can't just keep selling the same bad coverage with bigger public subsidies for their monopolies. Essentially, Obama isn't about to force taxpayers to buy overpriced insurance from private companies.

"The public plan, I think, is an important tool to discipline insurance companies," Obama said during yesterday's White House news conference. "I think there is going to be some healthy debate about the shape that this takes." He outlined three options: Get insurance through your employer, buy insurance on your own, or buy insurance from a marketplace where public and private insurance providers compete for business.

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Whither Pakistan

I have become increasingly despondent over the state of affairs in Pakistan.  This is fairly personal for me because my family originated there (they moved to modern India just before partition; and I moved to the US for graduate school).  Perhaps the inevitable will happen.... the inevitable always happens... and things will get worse before they get better.

Occasionally, there are glimmers of hope.  None more so, than the words of Cyril Almeida, who writes in the Dawn (a leading Pakistani daily...also found at Cyril Almeida

On April 17, Cyril asked the question that everyone wants answered.

How did we arrive at this point?

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Launching Bi-weekly Public Opinion Roundup

As President Barack Obama was assuming office in January, 93% of Americans said that restoring public trust in government should be a top priority (63%) or an important but lower priority (30%) for the new President. Take it as an absolute value, this is a stunningly high percentage; put it in comparison with the other seventeen (widely discussed) issues tested in an AP-Gfk survey, and you will find out that only improving the economy, creating more jobs, making the government more efficient and increasing the country’s independence scored higher.

It’s good to be reminded that people crave trust in government — despite well coordinated efforts that tell a different story. I won’t debate here the relationship of the individual to the “state” (an Aristotelian term in loan) but, in my bi-weekly visits to The Opportunity Agenda blog, I will translate the latest findings on public attitudes on public policy issues, voting patterns and trends, elections and elected officials.

Without an ideological lens, I will help understand Americans’ opinions on issues of public interest such as health care, immigration, the economy, and human rights; and explore how these opinions relate to people’s experience of a deeply held American value: the promise of opportunity. People’s outlook to the President's economic stimulus package can tell a true story about their perception of security,equality, mobility, voice, redemption, or community which make up opportunity, as explained in our newly released report The State of Opportunity in America.

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Clinton: U.S. firmly committed to two-state solution

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The Lobby should shut up.

I struggle mightily with the current humanitarian dilemma in Gaza - I understand Israel's reluctance to do anything that empowers Hamas, but share with many people the frustration of seeing innocent people suffer.

And, apparently, a frustration that Secretary of State Clinton also has.  So when a friend of Israel - as she has long been - expresses concern that Israel is dragging her feet on getting aid to those who need it most, I think it merits serious consideration.

What is does NOT merit is shreiking and finger-pointing from Israel's supporters in the US.  It's one thing to be worried that Hamas gains strength for every dollar or shekel that crosses one of the Gaza checkpoints, but it's quite another to scream invectives and cast aspersions upon someone who very clearly has Israel's well-being in her expressions and deeds.

The subject of how to deal with the Middle East broadly and the Israel-Palestine conflict more specifically has been elevated to the highest offices, and the presence of someone like Hillary Clinton smack in the middle of the discussion should be a point of comfort for the Lobby.  Don't let her concern for the plight of those who suffer distract or distort from what is an impeccable record on Israel, nor let it serve as a wedge on an issue that everyone can agree upon - needless suffering is just that: needless.  Whether Jew or Muslim, Arab or Israeli, NO ONE'S interests are served by the suffering of the innocent.

So do all of us who love and support Israel a favor - shut up.

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