by Conor Clarke

Paul Krugman's column this morning is a great read -- a strong case for the public option on both substantive and tactical grounds. But as someone who has been getting a fair number of vitriolic emails for arguing that a public option is not a necessary part of health-care reform [update: there's no need to hold the vitriol, and the address again is conorjclarke (at) gmail (dot) com], I want to point out that Krugman adds the following caveat to his argument:

That said, it’s possible to have universal coverage without a public option -- several European nations do it -- and some who want a public option might be willing to forgo it if they had confidence in the overall health care strategy. Unfortunately, the president’s behavior in office has undermined that confidence.

This is the crucial difference between the let-it-go-already and the hold-on-for-dear-life positions with respect to the public option: I don't think the president's behavior should undermine the confidence of health-care reformers. (Indeed, I think he's been pretty consistent: The public option is important but not essential.) What Congress has done to my confidence, on the other hand...

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to