It's Not the Public Option, It's the Public Subsidy

In the three days following President Obama’s speech to Congress pitching his proposed makeover of the U.S. health care system, the Washington Post-ABC News poll asked this question: "Overall, given what you know about them, would you say you support or oppose the proposed changes to the health care system being developed by Congress and the Obama administration?"

Now, as recently as late June, President Obama’s approval rating was at 65 percent in this same poll. Given that level of support for the president at the beginning of summer, you might have expected that a majority of Americans would now support the proposal the president and his party spent all summer promoting.

Not so.

Forty-eight percent of Americans said they oppose Obama’s health care plan. Only 46 percent said they support it. In the same poll, Obama’s job approval rating dropped to 54 percent, continuing a slide that started in April.

But the most interesting number in the poll came in response to this question: "Which of these comes closest to your own view: ‘The more I hear about the health care plan, the more I like it,’ or, ‘The more I hear about the health care plan, the less I like it.’

Fifty-four percent said the more they hear about Obama’s health care plan, the less they like it. Only 41 percent said they more they hear about the more the like it.

Because of poll numbers like these, Obama and his allies are now signaling that they might be willing to jettison the one part of the health care plan Americans have heard about most: the public option.

According to the Washington Post-ABC News poll, support for the health-care plan climbs to 50 percent when this element is abandoned.

Don’t be surprised if Obama tosses the public option overboard in his final effort to establish a beachhead for socialized medicine.

This prospect is why Americans need to focus their attention now on an element of the bill that is as great a threat to their liberty as the public option. It is the public subsidy.

While a government-run health insurance plan would threaten to force private insurers out of business, causing America to end up with the government as the sole health insurance provider, the public subsidy for health insurance premiums created by both House and Senate versions of the health care bill would lead to the government paying for at least part of the health insurance premiums for most Americans.

It is an old maxim that he who pays the piper calls the tune. This is never truer than when the government pays the piper.

As soon as federal money finds its way into any institution, federal bureaucrats and liberal politicians will attempt to run that institution according to their own designs and values.

Ask the people who used to run General Motors.

If they could not fend off the tentacles of Barack Obama and his bureaucratic minions once they accepted a federal bailout, how will middle-class moms and dads and their local doctors and hospitals fend off the same busybodies if they accept a federal bailout for their health care?

It is telling that the House and Senate health care bills do not aim at providing subsidies only to "low-income" people. The subsidies are deliberately aimed that the middle class and come with a mandate that everyone receiving a subsidy must buy their health-insurance plan in the government-run "exchange" where federally regulated "private" health insurance plans will compete with the government-run "public option."

 "Creates affordability credits to ensure that people with incomes up to 400 percent of federal poverty have affordable health coverage," says the House Ways and Means Committee’s summary of the bill. "These credits are phased out according to a schedule defined in the act as individual and family incomes up to 400 percent of poverty and the credits apply only to Exchange-participating plans. Affordability credits reduce the costs of both premium and annual out-of-pocket spending."

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, a family of five — mom, dad and three kids — would need to earn $103,160 this year to have an income that is 400 percent of the poverty level.

Few will escape the clutches of these subsidies.

Once the government is paying for the health care of most Americans, it will claim the right to make decisions about their health care.

The same moral avatars whose vision has given us more than a million aborted babies per year will be making calls with life-and-death significance for everyone.

If this generation of Americans allows this to happen, we will have betrayed every generation that went before us. They kept our country free and prosperous. We will have doomed our children to live in a country that will never be as free or prosperous again.