Was this a "tipping point" in the argument over American health care or just a corporate leader venting? It could be either, but when the chief executive officer of Starbucks complains in public to Congress about the swelling costs of insuring his employees, it's not because he favors the status quo.
The business establishment values predictability and efficiency, and it generally presumes that government is the last place to turn for either of those qualities. So when Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz says, in the company of other corporate leaders, that he hopes "congressional leaders put this at the front of their agenda," it means something. It means at least he is beginning to suspect that, even with all of Washington's deficiencies, a federal solution to the health care problem is starting to look like a better bet than the existing system with its soaring costs, patchwork coverage and economic fallout.
Consider: Schultz told the congressmen that health insurance this year will cost him more than the coffee beans that fuel his company. He pointed out that most of the country's uninsured, estimated at 45 million people, have jobs. He didn't point out, but could have, that Toyota recently decided to build a new manufacturing plant in Ontario partly because of Canada's national health insurance program that saves it the cost of benefits.
Schultz said he wasn't advocating any specific plan and others will correctly note that the Canadian health care system has its own weaknesses. But Toyota voted with its feet. Our system is starting to come apart. Even business says so.