Keith Ellison hasn’t hidden his support for a single-payer health care system. By contrast, Sen. Klobuchar tried sounding like a free market capitalist during tonight’s tele-townhall conference call. Though she tried sounding like a capitalist, she momentarily lapsed into showing her liberal side. One instance came when she was asked whether she’d vote for a bill with the public option.

Her response was that she’d rather vote for a “competitive option”, saying that “you need to put pressure on insurance companies to get a better deal for consumers.” That sounded like HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week when she said that the public option wasn’t essential to health care reform.

By contrast, Rep. Ellison’s participation in a townhall meeting left no doubt what he believes in. Rep. Ellison’s insistance on a public option was unflinching:

Hacker added that health insurance cooperatives, a new private option likely to come out of the Senate Finance Committee, are a “political solution to a political problem,” in sharp contrast to a public health insurance option, which is a policy solution to a real-world problem.”

Congressman Grijalva, co-chair of the progressive caucus, emphasized that health insurance cooperatives are “a way to silence a pretty strong drumbeat for a public option in the country.” To hand the same private insurance industry a trillion more dollars “is not worth the votes.”

Congressman Ellison stressed that the Progressive Caucus will not allow the House to pass a bill without a strong public plan. “We’ve got 60 members who will not vote for a plan without a public option. People opposed to the public option are siding with big insurance industry bosses against the American people.”

The Progressive Caucus has been vocal and steadfast in their support for the government option. They can afford to be because they live in the safest of safe districts. They don’t have to hide their beliefs because the people in their district believe as they do. Sen. Klobuchar can’t sound that steadfast in support for the public option because she has to appeal to more than just the fringe voters of Rep. Ellison’s district.

The thing that’ll trip up Sen. Klobuchar is a little exchange between Dr. Denis Cortese and a caller from Duluth. The caller talked about eliminating doctors and patients on Lasik has brought costs down. Dr. Cortese enthusiastically agreed that that’s the type of model we should be looking towards to reduce costs. That type of provision isn’t in any of the Democrats’ legislation.

It certainly doesn’t square with Sen. Klobuchar’s statement that the government has to regulate health insurance more. Had I been picked to ask a question, I was going to ask why we shouldn’t eliminate many of the governments’ mandate, especially considering many of the regulations don’t serve a useful purpose except for driving up the price of health insurance premiums.

At the end of the day, I’m betting that there aren’t as many differences between Sen. Klobuchar and Rep. Ellison as their words suggest. The biggest difference is in how they can talk about President Obama’s radical agenda. Still, watching the dance is fun.

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