Usually, my blog posts have a policy point to them, implicit or explicit. This one doesn’t. It’s straight reporting on something that I found interesting.

Yesterday, I was on a media conference call in which the speakers were Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America’s Future, Jacob Hacker, the Yale political science who came up with the “public option,” i.e., government option, Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ). No, I didn’t get to ask a question. But Dana Goldstein of the American Prospect (Hickey mis-identified her as being from The Progressive) did. By the time she asked it, Grijalva had parted, but Ellison and Hacker were there and they purported to answer it. They didn’t.

The background is that Grijalva and Ellison, as well as 58 other Democratic members of the House of Representatives, have stated that they will not vote for a bill that does not include the “public option.” They went into this at length in their presentations. Goldstein led by pointing out that even if the “public option” is dropped, a major expansion of Medicaid to include, among others, single men would still be left in the bill. You 60 Congressmen are promising not to vote for a bill that doesn’t include the public option. But, she asked, won’t you be jeopardizing this expansion of Medicaid. Although both Ellison and Hacker said things in response, they avoided answering her question. They stated how important the “public option” was and how important was the expansion of Medicaid, opinions that I’m sure Goldstein shares. But they didn’t confront the tradeoff that she had pointed out.

Also, Hacker, Ellison, and Grijalva stated their belief that a coop option would not be much a substitute for the government option. Hackers stated that coops are “largely symbolic and untested” and that they “would not be able to break into the market.”

One last tidbit: Ellison referred to the opponents of the bills who have spoken up at town hall forums as “a few rowdies.”