The White House had to go outside the beltway
to find someone to print a story about the President calling Senators
and speaking positively about a public option. It's great that he said
good things to Maria Cantwell, who already supports a public option.
Ben Nelson too (though he doesn't say that Democrats like Nelson
shouldn't side with Republicans and filibuster a bill, the only Nelson
vote that will matter).
This morning's story in the Hill is probably more on the mark:
"President Obama clearly articulated
his blueprint in his speech, and everyone knows Finance has the bulk of
the bill that reflects that blueprint," the source said. "Everyone,
including the White House, knows the Finance bill is the only bill
that's paid for and can pass. In short, the White House wants a win,
and using the bulk of the Baucus bill is the playbook to get the 'W.' "
It doesn't make any sense -- Harkin says there are 54-57 votes for a
public option. That's a clear majority. And it would certainly pass
the House. No, the only reason to pass a bill without a public option
is if the White House doesn't want one. But who is going to let the
public know? Who is going to make the announcement that there will be
no public option? Who's going to take that political hit?
The White House doesn't have the stomach for it. They want someone else to take the hit. Maybe Harry Reid? Um...no:
Having deferred the issue to Baucus
this summer, Reid signaled on Thursday that he is prepared to join
Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who both
pushed a public option amendment that failed in a committee vote last
There are certainly Democrats in the Senate who have said that they
won't support a public option, but so far nobody has stepped forward to
say they'll join a Republican filibuster to stop it. Nobody wants that
hot potato alone.
But they have to do something, because if a public option winds up
in the Senate bill, it's going to be damn impossible to get out of
So the best model, the safest model (relatively speaking) is one of distributed responsibility. Some group (say, a "gang")
stepping forward to announce that they have arrived at an agreement
that everyone can live with, some abomination that makes the insurance
companies happy and has some code language in there for "triggers."
They'll present it as a "solution," and won't mention that the
"problem" only exists because they're willing to join with the GOP in a
filibuster but won't say so. Then nobody will point out the obvious --
that anyone who is willing to do this should lose their gavels
immediately. That's how we'll know everyone is on board, despite their
That camera hog Lieberman has been awfully quiet lately. Wonder if the President has been calling him and twisting his arm?