Tom Baxter just asked whether Governor Dean was still confident that we are going to see a public option, and he said that he was, through the prism of a bipartisan compromise (with the assorted chunks in that sausage as usual).
4:52 P.M. Catherine basically asked how we can convince people that our system is in need of change - Governor Dean is bringing it back to the point, which is choice (something we Democrats know more about than the other side). The choices will be private health insurance and a version of Medicare not restricted by age as the current version is.
Tom Baxter is bringing up a study that showed that blue states could bear more of the cost of the new system than red states, but points out that those red state lawmakers haven't been convinced by these statistics. Governor Dean is saying that these folks are ignoring public opinion at their peril - I mostly agree with that, but as the economy continues to struggle we may also find that public opinion may change beneath us. It's really a game of chicken - will the public change for the lawmakers, or the other way around?
4:57 P.M. In response to a question from Tom Crawford, Governor Dean points out that there's not a lot of competition to be destroyed by health care reform, with a handful of big insurers in most states.
Catherine is asking why corporations like GM aren't speaking up about the problems being inflicted on them by current health care costs - the Governor says some want to, but are afraid to rock the status quo, but that there is still a lot of misplaced faith in the efficiency of the private sector. Governor Dean also believes most employees would want to keep their employee-provided plans - and hey, I might too, until I figure out what the new plan that passes will do for me. Yay choice!
Governor Dean is saying that the public competitor will lower costs in two ways - it will provide a more attractive product, with no predatory pricing and other such "gotchas" we all know and hate about the private sector, and by lowering administrative costs (read: CEO pay and advertising).
5:04 P.M. Just as an update, we're looking at a select group of fourteen of the local political elite and "new media" (is that still a real term?) here with the Governor. Bernita asked how women receiving breast cancer coverage will be affected, and Governor Dean says there won't be any changes to such existing public programs.
5:10 P.M. Governor Dean just said that the old coalition that defeated this last time isn't there anymore - I wouldn't say it's gone, but maybe they don't have quite the muscle they did in the 1990's. I also wouldn't agree that the public isn't afraid of this at all, we have to assuage their fears as much as we can in the face of these sneaky attack ads.
I asked Governor Dean about some of the "maybe" public options, like the "trigger" option (which would only create a public option if the private sector doesn't reduce costs by some magic amount) and "co-ops" (I commend the reader to Google on that one, not familiar with it), and he immediately labeled all of those as "fake public options" that wouldn't be effective and wouldn't pose a threat to the "real" public option". I haven't seen where various party figures stand on these fake options, but I think it's always up for grabs in the Senate.
5:15 P.M. On the future of the Republican party - Governor Dean is suggesting that the Republican party will have to stress their fiscal credentials and leave all their social conservative nonsense to the fraction of the population who are yearning for the resurrection of Richard Nixon.
Catherine asks, "What's our next big goal?" and Governor Dean immediately pointed to climate change, legislation addressing which (or not, to varying degrees) is already underway, which he expects to be a more traditional political pitched battle (than the health care battle).
And with that (5:19 P.M.) this special session is at an end. We could wish the Governor was still running the DNC!