At his press conference today, President Obama championed logic – what a novel idea! – in the otherwise purely political debate over the ramifications of “the public option” for medical insurance being developed in Congress. Here’s what he said in response to the concern that the public plan might drive the private insurance companies out of business-
THE PRESIDENT: Why would it drive private insurers out of business? If private insurers say that the marketplace provides the best quality health care, if they tell us that they’re offering a good deal, then why is it that the government — which they say can’t run anything — suddenly is going to drive them out of business? That’s not logical.
Now, I think that there’s going to be some healthy debates in Congress about the shape that this takes. I think there can be some legitimate concerns on the part of private insurers that if any public plan is simply being subsidized by taxpayers endlessly, that over time they can’t compete with the government just printing money.
So there are going to be some I think legitimate debates to be had about how this private plan takes shape. But just conceptually, the notion that all these insurance companies who say they’re giving consumers the best possible deal, that they can’t compete against a public plan as one option, with consumers making the decision what’s the best deal. That defies logic, which is why I think you’ve seen in the polling data overwhelming support for a public plan. All right?
Any president who first notes the logical inconsistency of his opponent’s positions, but then goes on to recognize that one of those positions does raise a concern that needs to be addressed (i.e., that the public plan must compete fairly with the private ones), and finally uses the word ‘conceptually’ to summarize his point, is sure to warm the cockles of a philosopher’s heart. It certainly did mine.