But a public program of the sort Democrats propose doesn’t have to control costs, because in a pinch it can count on the government to keep it in business. Competition is healthy, but how are private companies supposed to compete with an operation that can tap the Treasury?

Students of the Obama economic policy will also note a curious consistency in its approach to economic issues. Some problems, like the near-collapse of General Motors and Chrysler, came about because competition worked very well at serving consumers and punishing poorly run companies.

Some problems, such as high health insurance premiums, came about because competition allegedly didn’t work so well. In both cases, the administration proposes the same solution: more federal spending and a bigger federal role.