There are a couple of diaries on the rec list reporting/decying the idea of luring the blue dogs into voting for the robust public option by offering an opt-out for individual states. Most of the commentary rejects the idea, arguing that the public option would be hopelessly sabotaged by having less than full national participation. But this is really beside the point, because
No State Will Ever Opt Out of the Public Option
How can I know this? Because it's already happened before: Medicaid and the Interstate Highway System. Between our experience with those, and the more recent lessons of the stimulus fall-out, it's clear that once a federal benefit has been conferred on the states, internal practical and political considerations make it impossible for the state government to reject it.
The evidence and a political analysis after the jump.
Let's start with Medicaid. It was created in 1965, and is solely for poor people. The feds pay for half or more of each state's means-tested health care program. But the states still have to make up the difference. They can opt out if they want. Every state has been in Medicaid since 1982. None have ever dropped out. True, Arizona wasn't in until 1982, but that's partly because for a state to get in, they had to actually set up a program.
Now obviously, a lot of those states' political leadership was against the Medicaid bill, and even more would have been opposed to any attempt at setting up a program independently to help poor people with their health care. But once the benefit was there, there it stayed.
Likewise, the Highway Trust Fund is opt-outable -- you just have to refuse to conform to federal requirements about alcohol and traffic laws. And at the time the national speed limits and drinking age issues came up, there was all kinds of talk about resistance. And yet they all fell into line.
And the stimulus -- probably the best example of all, even though it isn't clear that the states had any actual authority to opt-out. We saw the usual gang of idiots saying they were going to reject the stimulus, or in one case, actually attempt to do so over the objections of his state legislature. And what happened? We've got Bobby Jindal carting around oversized stealth stimulus checks to promote himself, and Mark Sanford fading into irrelevance after (among other things) the Republican leaders of the South Carolina legislature told him to walk the Appalachian Trail.
The public option will be no different. Once the die is cast, and this "socialist" system is in place, no state legislator is going to want to tell their constituents that they voted to take away something that would save them money, and that everyone else in the country is getting.
Now, I don't think Rahm & Co. can actually get the blue dogs to go for this. Because the blue dogs certainly know that no state will ever opt out of the public option. The question is, can they be convinced that enough people in their key demographics will think its a meaningful, responsible compromise, as opposed to a smokescreen, which it is.
For my part, I'm rooting for the smokescreen.