Of 'Public' Options And 'Government' Plans


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In sickness and in health, Republicans have always been better than Democrats at singing from the same hymnal — and right now they're all turned to the page that's headed "government takeover."

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The charge makes supporters of the Democrats' health care plans apoplectic: There's nothing remotely like that in the plans, they say. (It's like equating the provision of public toilets with a takeover of the nation's bathrooms.)

Even so, the supporters would as soon leave the word "government" out of the conversation, which is why they describe the proposed federally run insurance program as the "public option."

That's because these days, "public" is the word we use when we want to talk about government approvingly, by focusing on its beneficiaries - as in public schools, public servants, public lands, and public works. That's how freighted the g-word has become.



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