It appears Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has created the unholy grail of terrible gimmicks meant to cripple the public option. It is a several-year-delayed, triggered, state-based, non-public co-op limited to the exchange option:

Landrieu calls her proposal the “competitive community option,” which sounds remarkably similar to a trigger proposal advocated by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

A state-based nonprofit insurance competitor would kick into effect where coverage is not considered affordable. It would receive seed money from the government, but would be funded through premiums.

In contrast to Snowe’s proposal, Landrieu’s proposal would not be available on Day One. Landrieu refers to her idea as a “fallback.” She said the insurance market reforms should be given a chance to work.

This is absurd. The simple addition of a trigger designed to never be pulled was enough to ensure a public option will never be a reality; this massive additional bundle of qualifiers is sufficient to ensure this “alternative” will be a laughing stock. Would it even be possible to make this idea more worthless? How else could Landrieu, Lincoln, or Lieberman make it even weaker? Is an idea floating around to limit it to only people whose last names start with J? Maybe they will demand that this non-public option be run by a board of directors comprised of cats? Perhaps it can only sign up customers between 2 and 3pm on Sundays in months that end with -uary.

If Democrats think they can sell this worthless pile of bad ideas as a public option, they must have a very low opinion of the intelligence of the American people.

The Democratic party needs to prepare themselves. If Senate Democrats think they can pass a bill forcing Americans to buy extremely expensive junk insurance from for-profit corporations, with only the vague promise that possibly, after five more years of abuse, they might get the to choose a completely unworkable, state-based, non-public “alternative,” they are in for a rude awakening. If there is no real alternative to the abusive, for-profit, private insurance companies, and very meager tax credits, I don’t know how progressives can morally, politically, or intellectually allow an individual mandate to become law.

Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at