COLLINS REJECTS PUBLIC-PRIVATE COMPETITION…. By most reasonable standards, there are effectively only two moderate Republicans in the Senate: Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

Snowe, as we know, has been engaged in negotiations over the kind of health care reform bill she would be able to support, and would support the creation of a public option if “triggered” by a set criteria. What about Collins?

A key swing vote on healthcare reform said Sunday she would not support a public option “trigger” — a series of benchmarks that, if not met by a certain time, would authorize the creation of a government insurance program.

“No — the problem with triggers is that is just delays the public option,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told CNN’s “State of the Union,” adding that her major qualm with the public option was its scope and cost.

“People are concerned about the government’s role [in healthcare],” she continued. “They’re very concerned we’re not dealing with the No. 1 issue, and that’s the escalating cost of healthcare.”

So, even if regulation and reforms don’t do enough to produce long-sought goals, Collins opposes public-private competition because “people” — she doesn’t say who — are “concerned” about the “government’s role.” This is misguided for three reasons. One, “people” actually support having the choice of a public option to compete with private plans. The polling on this is unambiguous. Two, Collins’ case is entirely ideological — it doesn’t matter what works in the real world; what matters are theoretical, philosophical objections to some arbitrary standards of the size of government.

And third, what Collins really wants to is tackle the cost issue. Senator, if you’re reading, the public option is likely to help lower health care costs.

It’s a reminder that even moderate Republicans aren’t that moderate. They only seem that way because the rest of the party is so far to the right.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.