Instead of leaping out of their seats to call President Obama a liar, by all rights Republicans ought to be jumping up to demand enactment of a robust public option today.
That's at least if the GOP was actually listening to the needs of its major constituency: the business community.
It's obvious that the insurance industry desperately doesn't want a federally run public option because of the potential for new competition that it will bring. As for the rest of corporate America, they ought to be cheering every time the words "public option" are even mentioned.
Just look at the results of a new poll of U.S. business leaders: nearly 90 percent of whom cite health care costs as a major concern, more than cite taxes, government regulation, labor costs or energy costs.
Without reform, 86 percent of those polled believe that health care costs will continue to rise in the next five years, and 55 percent believe it will go up "a lot." If costs continue to rise as expected, nearly nine out of 10 business leaders expect to raise their employees' deductibles and copayments. Nearly 8 out of 10 expect to cut benefits. And nearly one in three expects to lay off employees, the statement of results.
And this is astounding: this poll, taken at the height of the "health care scare" and all of the screaming about the "death panels" and other misinformation out there, finds that 51 percent of American business leaders want a public option.
Yes, that's right. A majority of U.S. business executives in this poll actually support a government-run public option for health care. The poll was conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research on behalf of a group called Business Forward, and was based on 800 live telephone interviews with U.S. business leaders.
Are these guys crazy?
No, these business leaders get it. They understand that soaring health care costs represent a serious Achilles' heel as they compete in a global economy. Rising health care costs will make it harder for these business leaders to execute their businesses and realize more profit.
This is true whether you're a local florist, or a Fortune 500 company. More businesspeople ought to see the upside of health care reform, and use it to boost their profits and raise their stock price, which would happen almost from Day One after reform was enacted.
Given their legitimate business concerns over the price they are paying for rising health care costs, I'm not sure why Corporate America is not only doing more to support President Obama and others who are pushing health care reform — I wonder why these businesspeople aren't clamoring for a government-run system. Let government take it on, reduce costs as the president has described, and get all of those health care costs off companies' balance sheets, once and for all. Does it really make sense anymore, here in the 21st century, to continue to rest the primary responsibility for health coverage with employers?
A "Medicare for all" program would be a great boon for the bottom lines of most companies all across America.
Perhaps now is the time for a corporate health benefit to go the way of gold watches and company retirement pensions.