Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It’s still a matter of when...

There’s been a lot of Public Option stuff out there today. Basically, it boils down to this: while Democrats (including the White House) remain overall supportive of the Public Option (Glenn Greenwald's caterwauling aside), they’re not going to fight for it now. (Key word being: now).

If you want a better barometer of where the Public Option stands, ask after Thursday. If the GOP comes to the Summit (as expected), and the effort at Bipartisanship attracts approximately zero GOP votes for Health Care Reform (as expected), then what is going to keep Democrats from passing something with a Public Option in it?

Probably procedure. Even now, no one is sure that a Public Option can pass via Reconciliation since its still subject to the Byrd Rule. (I just finished reading True Compass, and there was a moment where Senator Kennedy asked Senator Byrd to waive his rule for Health Care Reform, and he refused. The point being: Byrd can just waive his rule and that’s it??)

Thus, Governor-Doctor Dean’s point from last night, that a Public Option might take the shape of a Medicare Buy-In, which he likes better anyway:

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Brian Beutler (calling it like I saw it a couple days ago):

The public option has been alive, then dead, then alive, then dead so many times now it's enough to make your head spin. Right now it's somewhere in between--an undead public option, still beloved by a large majority of Democrats, but, for now, lacking the political leadership needed to usher it through the legislative process.

Ezra Klein:

It would be fair, at this point, to ask why Democrats would have a problem if they attempted to pass the public option. The public option is popular policy, it's good policy, and it energizes the base. The problem is that it's not popular policy with the handful of conservative House and Senate votes that you need to push this bill over the finish line.

Caucus politics present another dilemma: The public option died due to the opposition of Nelson, Landrieu, Lincoln, Lieberman and a handful of other conservative -- and vulnerable -- Democrats. Reid cut a deal with them, and they signed onto the final product. For many, that was a big political risk. The price was letting them say they killed the public option. Bringing it back to the bill will mean they voted for a bill that ended up including something they'd promised their constituents they'd killed. Cross them on this and you've lost their trust -- and thus their votes -- in the future.

This is assuming that any of these guys are back after November. (Not sure I'd miss any of them).

Ezra also takes a moment to rip the White House for its messaging. Again . Yawn.

Jonathan Chait (after ripping the hell out of Glenn Greenwald, and deservedly so):

Health care reform is still hanging on for dear life in the House. The dynamic is that the Democrats are going to lose some votes from pro-life members who insist on Bart Stupak's language. They need to make up the votes by persuading Blue Dog and other centrist Democrats who voted no for the original bill to vote yes this time. Many of those centrists said at the time of their original vote that they preferred the Senate bill and opposed the public option. Restoring the public option, aside form sucking up a lot of time by introducing another big fight, would greatly complicate this already-complicated task.

That's why Jay Rockefeller opposes adding the public option to the bill at this point. Rockefeller is the author of the public option. So it seems like the fear that reopening this debate will sink the whole bill really is the reason for the administration's reluctance. Or maybe Rockefeller's in on the pretense, too.

I still think it'll pass the house.

Brian Beutler, again:

A few things are perfectly clear: The White House isn't helping in this effort at all. And some Democrats, both among the rank and file, and in leadership, are nervous about the push. But the popularity of the provision, both among Democratic members and the voting public have thus far provided enough of a counterweight to keep the public option an open question.

I still think it’s a matter of timing, Brian.