Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Public Option Strikes Back
"I'm not dead...I'm getting better."
If the public option was to quote a movie line, that classic one from Monty Python and the Holy Grail about sums it up.
Harry Reid stunned liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, and children of all ages yesterday when he announced the version of the Senate bill that will be brought to the floor for a vote will, in fact, include an opt-out public option for the states. The compromise that Reid has been pushing allows conservative Democrats a little wiggle room, and it appears to be working.
Reid's either incredibly smart or incredibly dumb. The fact that he is bringing this bill to the floor means that he likely very nearly has a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate. If not, he is at least forcing the Democratic caucus to think twice before voting against health care reform or lose their progressive base support.
Now, here's the question as well, can Reid count on ANY Republicans to support the legislation? Is there a Lugar or Collins or Snowe wild card up his sleeve?
Personally, I think this was something that Reid had to at least bring to the floor. If he had not, his tenure as Majority Leader likely would have been in jeopardy because the progressive wing of the party would have accused him of failing to take a risk. If he doesn't pass the legislation with the required number of votes, his risk may cost him the position anyway because he couldn't keep his caucus in order. The decision, however, takes the pressure off himself and puts it squarely on the backs of on-the-fence Democrats like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.
Evan Bayh has been extremely quiet in this health care debate, and you would have to figure that both Indiana senators could serve as swing votes either way. Lugar has been progressive in many ways lately voting to ban concealed weapons in national parks and for hate crimes legislation. Who knows if a vote for health care reform might be something he has up his sleeve? Lugar appears to be building a resume of a Senator who may or may not be running for re-election in 2012. If he is, he's building it as if Indiana is now officially a swing state.
The Senate plan continues to be much less liberal than the House plan pushed by Nancy Pelosi. Perhaps sensing a loss coming, House Minority Leader John Boehner continues to advocate for throwing out the progress made towards health care reform and starting over. Boehner seems to be saying, "Your reform stinks so try our plan...and we'll have that plan when welll...uh...socialism...death panel...Obama...communist(poof-disappears into a cloud of tanning powder)."
Hat's off to Harry, now let's hope he can get his caucus to support it and bring a few Republicans on board, too.