A TALE OF TWO PLANS. The blogosphere has endless amounts of commentary on Hillary Clinton and the DLC's American Dream Initiative, a laudable-if-modest set of policy proposals to help the middle class, subsidize the poor, and offer this undefined thing called opportunity. None of the plans are particularly inspirational, and the health care section is packed with the usual pabulum about electronic medicine, small business buying pools, and giving kids insurance. All the easy stuff, in other words. And, according to Google News, these shocking proposals garnered over 220 news articles.

Elsewhere, on Capitol Hill, Pete Stark and Jan Schakowsky presented the AmeriCare Health Act, a fully realized piece of legislation that would create a universal insurance program using a slightly revamped Medicare template. The plan would have a deductible of $350 ($500 for a family), a 20 percent copay, and an out-of-pocket limit of $2,500 for individuals and $4,000 for families. The benefits are full and comprehensive, the HHS secretary is empowered to bargain down drug prices, the poor are subsidized, the funding mechanisms are spelled out, and the plan uses a proven and highly effective model to provide universal care to everyone who wants or needs it without disrupting the care of anyone content with their current arrangement. It's a great plan. And when I searched Google News for it, I found precisely one mention of the plan -- at ModernHealthCare.com.

This is the problem many of us have with Hillary. She can focus press attention at will, but she uses her powers for, at best, mediocrity. So the press will report today on a Democratic plan to do nothing interesting and ignore one that would actually solve the health care crisis. Had Clinton decided to attend a different press conference, it could've been the reverse. Indeed, news of her finally shaking off her post-1994 stupor and coming out in support of an expansive and inspiring universal plan would've been catnip to the media, netting her magazine covers and a new look from liberals worried about her appetite for progressive reform. But she declined to lead, instead playing the safest cards she could draw and refusing to assume an actual leadership role in the Democratic Party. If anyone could explain to me why that's the sort of stratagem Democratic primary voters should reward, I'd be fascinated. In the meantime, go leaf through Stark's proposal. It's an excellent example of what a Democratic fix should look like, and all should know about its existence.

--Ezra Klein

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