Americans who like making their own health care choices received welcome news yesterday when Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said he would be willing to block final passage of Obamacare if the government run health insurance program Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced Monday survives the amendment process during the Senate debate. Lieberman explained: “I think that a lot of people may think that the public option is free. It’s not. It’s going to cost the taxpayers and people that have health insurance now, and if it doesn’t, it’s going to add terribly to our national debt.”

Lieberman is dead on. A government run insurance company will be massively more expensive than its proponents claim. Pressed by the leftist news organization Talking Points Memo to respond to “experts” who say the government run plan will actually save money, Lieberman responded: “Well all the history we have of health entitlement programs, including the two big ones that I dearly support, Medicare and Medicaid, is that they end up costing more than we’re prepared to pay, and they add to the debt, and then they add to the burden on taxpayers.” Again, the facts back Lieberman up here 100%.

In 1967, the experts predicted that the new Medicare program would cost about $12 billion in 1990. Actual Medicare spending in 1990 was $110 billion—off by nearly a factor of 100. The leftist TPM shot back noting that the government run health company is supposed to be “financed by premiums, and unable to draw on federal funds.” The statement would be comically naive if the stakes weren’t so high. Does the left really expect the American people to believe that the same government that bailed out General Motors, Chrysler, and scores of highly unpopular banks, would not bailout the already-government-run insurance company they fought so hard to create?

Addressing the “opt out” clause in Reid’s proposal, Lieberman commented: “I would vote against a public option plan even with an opt-out because it still creates a whole new government entitlement program for which taxpayers will be on the line.” This is also true. A government run health insurance program would create a new entitlement program designed to do nothing more than force every American into government run health care. This is not a bug of the plan, it is a feature. Just ask proponents of the plan like Michael Moore who told Rolling Stone this summer: “If a true public option is enacted — and Obama knows this — it will eventually bring about a single payer system, because the profit-making insurance companies won’t be able to compete with a government run plan and make the profits they want to make.” Candidate Barack Obama’s own campaign website back up Moore’s claim, quoting Obama at a 2008 speech in Ames, Iowa: “If I were designing a system from scratch I would probably set up a single-payer system. … So what I believe is we should set up a series of choices. … Over time it may be that we end up transitioning to such a system.”

But the scariest part of Obamacare is that it does not even need a “whole new government entitlement program” to push more and more Americans into government run health care. As Heritage scholar Dennis Smith has documented, even in the Senate Finance Committee version of Obamacare, which does not include a new government run insurance program, almost half of the newly insured Americans would get their new insurance through Medicaid. The House version of Obamacare, with the new government program, is no different.

The point is that no matter how the government run health insurance debate works out, Obamacare will move us closer towards government run health care. The only question is how fast it will do so. But there is still hope. Heritage Vice President for Government Relations Michael Franc explains:

But don’t lose heart. Conservatives will be in a position to prevail because, ultimately, America remains a right-of-center nation. And ultimately this debate will not just be one about our health system.

Rather, it will be a complex and layered debate about many other issues, issues where conservative values carry the day. Lawmakers will be hearing from their constituents on issues as varied and important as the individual’s relationship to government, the size and scope of that government, debt and deficits, our responsibilities to future generations, life (both at its beginning and its end), the level of taxation on individuals and work, job security, and privacy.

We’ll win because there is no other option.

Quick Hits:

  • Despite his ethics pledge, during his first nine months in office, President Obama has rewarded scores of top Democratic donors with VIP access to the White House, private briefings with administration advisers and invitations to important speeches and town-hall meetings.
  • In what would be the company’s third bailout, GMAC, is seeking $2.8 billion to $5.6 billion more in taxpayer money.
  • Insurgents attacked two guesthouses and a hotel in downtown Kabul that housed United Nations staff and other international personnel, killing at least eight people in one of their most daring attacks on the Afghan capital.
  • Stating a position that would undermine the entire plan, a high-ranking Iranian official said Tuesday that even if the country agreed to a United Nations-sponsored plan to ship its enriched uranium abroad for further processing, it would not ship it all at once.
  • Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) told CSPAN that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is not happy with efforts to make sure Obamacare does not force taxpayers to pay for abortions.