REPUBLICANS FOR HEALTHCARE….The latest news from California:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will propose that all Californian children, including those in the state illegally, be guaranteed medical insurance as part of the healthcare overhaul he intends to unveil next week, according to officials familiar with the plan.

….If enacted by the Legislature, his proposal would affect about 763,000 children who now lack insurance….That would be a small piece of Schwarzenegger’s stated goal: to ensure medical coverage for all of the 6.5 million Californians who now have none.

Details are murky so far, but I don’t think the mechanics of Schwarzenegger’s plan is what’s important anyway. What’s important is that two of the Republican Party’s highest-profile governors have now publicly endorsed the idea of universal health coverage for their states. In other words, some kind of universal, or semi-universal, healthcare has now been established as the rightmost bound of the healthcare debate.

Democrats should understand what this means: (a) universal healthcare is no longer some lefty fringe notion, and (b) the plans from Schwarzenegger and Massachussetts’ Mitt Romney are now the starting point for any serious healthcare proposal. Any proposal coming out of a Democratic policy shop should be, at a minimum, considerably more ambitious than what’s on offer from these two Republicans.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.

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