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Democrats Continue War Against the Public Option

Reconciliation Rules Might Require Student Loan Reform

The good news is that Democrats might have to include some form of student loan reform in the reconciliation bill to meet the cost-saving requirements of their reconciliation instructions. From Politico:

The Senate parliamentarian notified Democratic leaders that, in order to meet the reconciliation requirements, both the Senate health and finance committees would need to produce $1 billion in deficit savings each over the next 10 years, Conrad said.

With health care alone, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee would not be able to show the items within its jurisdiction save at least $1 billion. By inserting the education package, the committee would satisfy the reconciliation instructions, Conrad said.

If this is the case, it is great news because it means student loan reform will be dealt with this year. That means billions to help students and struggling community colleges hurting because of the economic downturn. Of course, the question remains as to what kind of student loan reform it will be. Will it be like the student-friendly reform that already passed the House, or will it be some baloney Sallie Mae/JPMorgan Chase-created “compromise” that would allow them to continue ripping off billions from American taxpayers?


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But the bad news is that Democrats need to add student loan reform because Democratic leadership is now in all-out war against the public option. If Democrats add a public option, which would save $25-110 billion and is under the jurisdiction of the HELP committee, they could get enough cost savings from that to not need to add student loan reform.

It is unfortunate that Democrats so desperately want to protect the private health insurance companies that they are prepared to waste an extra $25 billion of taxpayer’s money to enrich the private insurance companies by denying the American people the public option they overwhelmingly want. If the public option isn’t included in a final reconciliation package, thank Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Harry Reid (D-NV), who aren’t whipping for the public option–they are apparently whipping against it.

This begs the question: If we were told we could not have a public option because it does not have the votes, why would Reid need to whip against it?

Jon Walker

Jon Walker is political writer and blogger for FireDogLake. He is an expert on health care policy and the politics of health care reform.

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