Just yesterday, Ezra Klein, who usually has the inside track on developments in the health-care circus debate reported Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) seemed to be pushing Senator Schumer’s an opt-out option,
Everyone agrees that they didn’t embrace Reid’s new strategy. Everyone agrees that the White House wants Snowe on the bill, feels the trigger offers a safer endgame, and isn’t convinced by Reid’s math. But whether officials expressed a clear preference for the trigger, or were just worried about the potential for 60 votes, is less clear. One staffer briefed on the conversation says “the White House basically told us, ‘We hope you guys know what you’re doing.'”
Ezra linked to this post by David Kurtz, Death By A Thousand Leaks? In which the bottom line according to one leak seemed to be some kind of “trigger” point at which some kind of public option health care insurance could kick in. But the White House dismissed that report as premature, a way of leaning on Pelosi to give up any kind of public option. Why do most Democrats and Independents, and a few percent of conservatives prefer a strong public option. The two more obvious benefits to the nation is the downward pressure such an option would have on health-care costs, while the second is getting more Americans insured. Thus the political gamesmanship is unwelcome at best. At a political level the game is dragging down the Republican party, but Democrats failure to show stronger leadership on the health care issue is hardly endearing them to voters either. This report from today’s WaPo has an odd headline under the circumstances, Prognosis improves for public insurance -OMENTUM SHIFT IS DRAMATIC Top Democrats push option in health-care legislation
Reid’s original inclination was to leave the public option out of a final bill he is writing from measures passed by the finance and health committees. But his liberal colleagues began urging him two weeks ago to reconsider, after insurance industry forecasts that premiums would rise sharply under the Finance Committee bill, which lacked a public option. The report had the effect of prodding Democrats to look for better ways to control costs, and the public option — strongly opposed by the insurance industry — reemerged as a possible solution.
Because a government-run plan would be dedicated to holding down costs and would lack a profit motive, congressional budget analysts predict that it could reduce the cost of expanding coverage to people who don’t have it by as much as $100 billion over the next decade.
In the House, Pelosi was still trying to line up votes for the most cost-effective version of the public plan, one that would pay providers based on Medicare rates. Rank-and-file House Democrats summoned Friday to an early-morning caucus were asked to say publicly whether they would vote for a bill that included such a provision.
Muddying the waters
Senior Democrats said it was still unclear whether that idea would prevail. While support for a “robust” public option is strong, they said, other issues are muddying the waters. For example, as many as 20 votes hinge on resolving a battle over abortion that has pitted an unyielding abortion-rights faction against antiabortion Democrats who want to make sure no federal money is used to pay for the procedure.
House leaders planned to work through the weekend to resolve as many individual concerns as possible, with the goal of producing a bill as soon as next week.
WaPo’s take is that a public option with a state opt-out provision is a long way from the gathering of angry screwballs otherwise known as tea parties. In real world politics where your side seldom gets everything it wants, that glass half full view is true enough. Maybe its too late, maybe not, but it does seem that so many Democrats posting on Democratic blogs or in the comments section have become so disappointed or cynical they have stopped putting pressure directly on Senate Democrats in particular. Cynicism is not going to win this battle. Anyone of any political leaning, regardless of the party of your home state senator should still be sending those e-mails, faxes and post cards pushing for a strong public option. Imagine the effect of say, a million college Democrats, or a million union members, sending a post card and e-mail to their senators this weekend. Combined with media coverage that would create a lot of pressure. Senate Republicans only have two relatively moderate Senators Snowe and Collins. Not often enough, but they will occasionally listen to reason. Snowe gets an earful of pressure from the extreme rightie do-nothing ideologues like Mitch McConnell (R-KY). How about giving her some thoughtful comments from a million hard working Americans that live in the real world.