Bernie Sanders Pushes Back On Public Option

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Huffington Post

Bernie Sanders Pushes Back On Public Option

by
Ryan Grim

Senator-elect Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is interviewed by a Reuters reporter at Sanders' office in Burlington, Vermont November 28, 2006. (REUTERS/Brian Snyde)

While
conservative members of the Democratic caucus threaten to block passage
of health care reform if it includes a public health insurance option,
a growing chorus of liberal lawmakers are making similar threats if the
bill doesn't have one.

Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with
Democrats, said in a statement on Sunday that the bill must have a
strong public option to win his vote.

"I strongly suspect that there are a number of senators, including
myself, who would not support final passage without a strong public
option," he said. Not supporting final passage, however, is different
than vowing to filibuster it and prevent it from even getting to a vote
on final passage, as independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut is now
doing, hoping to strip the public option.

But Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said on Saturday night that if the
bill bends toward the conservatives, "You'll lose people on the left."

One of those could be Roland Burris (D-Ill.), who said Saturday he'd
oppose any bill without a public option. "I won't vote for it," he said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Saturday night,
after the health care bill passed a major legislative hurdle by a
party-line, landslide 60-39 vote, that Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.),
Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) are working on crafting a
public option compromise that could garner 60 votes.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

On Sunday, Schumer predicted that the public option would survive and wind up in the final bill that goes to the president's desk.

Sanders, who self-identifies as a democratic socialist, said that
democracy should triumph in the Senate. "The overwhelming majority of
Americans want to be able to choose between a strong public option and
a private insurance plan. Without that competition, there is very
little in this bill that would keep health insurance premiums from
escalating rapidly," Sanders said. "This legislation cannot simply be a
huge subsidy to private insurance companies that will get millions of
new customers and be able to raise their rates as high as they want."

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