George Bush bet his presidency last night on an up-tick in the economy before election day. Yet compared to what his Democratic foes are proposing, his State of the Union address was a modest beginning to his campaign for re-election.
On what may be the hottest political issue of the year, Mr. Bush spurned Democratic calls for massive health care insurance reform through a "play or pay" plan that would force employers either to provide their employees their employees with coverage or contribute to a government-controlled pool. Instead, he stuck by what he called "our own private health care system." To provide coverage for perhaps half the 35 million American workers who now lack any kind of coverage, he proposed a tax credit of up to $3,750 for low income families to finance their choice of health insurance and medical care.
Mr. Bush couched the issue in strak terms by suggesting Americans will reject "a nationalized system which will restrict patient choice in picking a doctor and force the government to ration services arbitrarily. "Actually, he was describing a Canadian-style approach fostered by only a minority of Democrats--presidential hopeful Sen. Bob Kerrey among them. The "play or pay plan," originally proposed by a bipartisan national commission, would be a hybrid system.