What’s the latest on the public option—is it on the table or off the table?

Charles Krauthammer believes that President Obama has abandoned the public option, and Krauthammer notes that the president is getting bounced around by Democrats who still consider the option essential to healthcare reform.

Though I rarely disagree with Dr. Krauthammer, I don’t think we’ve seen the end of public option. Frank Lutz, the pollster, remarked the other night on the O’Reilly Factor that we should refer to the public option as what it really is: government health care.

If you call it what it is, you see more clearly the magnitude of what’s at stake. Many Democrats consider a government-run system the sine qua non of healthcare reform—the historic change for which Obama was elected. President Obama could undergo another unacknowledged change of heart, or he could opt for gradualism—i.e., co-ops as an intermediate step along the path to a full-fledged government system.

Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, is also worried about the co-op as a path to government control of our most intimate decisions:

“Government-run health care is government-run health care no matter what you call it.

“The health care “co-op” approach now embraced by the Obama administration will still give the federal government control over one-sixth of the U.S. economy, with a government-appointed board, taxpayer funding, and with bureaucrats setting premiums, benefits, and operating rules.

“Plus, it won’t be a true co-op, like rural electrical co-ops or your local health-food store — owned and controlled by its workers and the people who use its services. Under the government plan, the members wouldn’t choose its officers — the president would.”