This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," December 19, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," the last revolt on health care. Forget the Republicans, could liberals sink Harry Reid's Senate bill?
And it's Obama versus Wall Street once again. But will the president's latest banker bashing do anything to help the economic recovery?
Plus, tensions with Iran come to a head. Is it time for the administration to finally act?
Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report," I'm Paul Gigot.
Among plunging poll numbers the White House scrambled this week to quell a liberal vote against health care reform. Led by former Vermont governor and DNC chair, Howard Dean, party progressives are attacking the bill as a sell out to corporate interests. And support among the American public isn't much better. According to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, more Americans now believe it's better to keep the current health care system than to pass President Obama's plan, with 47 percent calling the plan a bad idea.
So joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; senior editorial page writer, Joe Rago; and senior economics writer, Steve Moore.
Joe, so, Howard Dean says that he can't support this bill because it would increase insurance prices, increase premiums basically for individual consumers. Could he possibly be right?
JOE RAGO, SENIOR EDITORIAL PAGE WRITER: Oh, he's actually absolutely right.
GIGOT: No kidding? Mark this down, Rago and Howard Dean agreeing.
RAGO: Well, the insurer Well Point looked at this bill state by state and city by city, and they found premiums are going to rise 20 percent, 30 percent, 150 percent.
GIGOT: In some states.
RAGO: In some states. But the reason isn't the one Howard Dean proposes. It's that the regulations they favor and sort of the brute force central planning that the Democrats want to bring to health care.
GIGOT: And so you impose regulations like you force people to — force insurers to sell certain plans at certain times.
RAGO: At certain prices. And in a way, that encourages young and healthy people to opt out of risk pools, and wait until they're sick to buy-insurance. Plus, the entire regulatory apparatus that's going to come to health care.
GIGOT: And the individual mandate, which would oblige individuals, even people like you, young and healthy, to buy-insurance if they don't have it, even if they have to pay a lot more money for it.
RAGO: Right, and that's really the big complaint of the left and people like Howard Dean, who say, this is a bailout for the insurance industry. And you know, that there's a certain sense in which they're right.
GIGOT: But it's not really a bailout for insurance industry. In the sense that the insurers don't make a big return on equity, what is it, two and a half percent, something like that.
RAGO: Yes, and...
GIGOT: And the difference between what we — where we disagreed, Dan, with the left is that we think we want a more competitive insurance market by competing across state lines, for example. What they want to do, they want the government to play a much bigger role?