In a blow to the bill grinding through the Senate, Howard Dean
bluntly called for the bill to be killed in a pre-recorded interview
set to air later this afternoon, denouncing it as “the collapse of
health care reform in the United States Senate,” the reporter who
conducted the interview tells me.
Dean said the removal of the Medicare buy-in made the bill not worth
supporting, and urged Dem leaders to start over with the process of
reconciliation in the interview, which is set to air at 5:50 PM today
on Vermont Public Radio, political reporter Bob Kinzel confirms to me.
The gauntlet from Dean — whose voice on health care is well
respsected among liberals — will energize those on the left who are
mobilizing against the bill, and make it tougher for liberals to
embrace the emerging proposal. In an excerpt Kinzel gave me, Dean says:
“This is essentially the collapse of health care reform
in the United States Senate. Honestly the best thing to do right now is
kill the Senate bill, go back to the House, start the reconciliation
process, where you only need 51 votes and it would be a much simpler
Kinzel added that Dean essentially said that if Democratic leaders cave into Joe Lieberman right now they’ll be left with a bill that’s not worth supporting.
Dean had previously endorsed the Medicare buy-in compromise without
a public option, saying that the key question should be whether the
bill contains enough “real reform” to be worthy of progressives’
support. Dean has apparently concluded that the “real reform” has been
removed at Lieberman’s behest — which won’t make it easier for liberals
to swallow the emerging compromise.