51 Senators Open To Public Option

by: Chris Bowers

Wed May 13, 2009 at 17:28

It now seems likely that there are enough Senators in support of a public health care option to pass it through the 50-vote reconciliation process. Here are the numbers:

  • Forty-three Senators are neither Republicans nor in Evan Bayh's "conservodem" group. None of them have come out in opposition to a public option in the health care reform bill. This includes both Jim Webb and Jon Tester, who often stray from the party on big votes.

  • Six members of Evan Bayh's group have indicated they are open to a public option: Tom Carper (DE), Kay Hagan (NC), Mary Landrieu (LA), Glanche Lincoln (AR), Claire McCaskill (MO), and Mark Warner, (VA). That makes 49.

  • Arlen Specter, who falls into a class of Senator all his own, has also indicated he is open to a public option. That makes 50.

  • Susan Collins is a lone Republican voice who has said the same. She makes 51.
Without the 60-vote option available to Republicans on health care, that makes enough to pass a public option in the health care bill. As such, it could really happen. And it needs to happen, as it is the only real way to keep down health care costs and make health care available to everyone.

Looking back over the past few months, forcing health care reconciliation in the budget blueprint, and the Progressive Caucus taking a hard line on the public option were huge developments. I have complained a lot over the past month that there really isn't much in the way of spending differences between the conservative and progressive movements (for example, in the post below this one), but a public option for health care would be a big deal. It would be the biggest, long-term change in the federal government since Medicare was singed into law in 1965. Remarkably, it is actually within reach right now.


Chris Bowers :: 51 Senators Open To Public Option

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You forgot one thing (4.00 / 4)
Harry Reid is still Senate Majority Leader. So we need 9 more votes plus a few unnecessary pre-compromises and we might have a chance.  

you mean Reid may refuse to bring the bill up for a vote? (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
no, that he may not be willing to use reconciliation. (4.00 / 2)
and that he may not twist enough arms. but mostly, i suspect, the poster just wanted to take this opportunity to give reid some much deserved hell.  

[ Parent ]
As I've said in David Sirota's thread (4.00 / 9)
on this subject, I am not satisfied with this timidity on the Public Option.  It isn't lost yet, but who is the champion of the Public Option?  I hear only vague murmurings, not the loud guffawing at the ridiculous Repulican arguments that will be needed to swing people behind the public option.

They say the government can't do Health Insurance but they're afraid to compete against it.

We need one Senator on point on TV with this message every single night until this thing is voted.

Otherwise, I say they're not serious about it.  Public Option was supposed to be the way of finessing the negatives of Single Payer.  But who is fighting for it?

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

Very true (4.00 / 3)
Though the counter arguement is pretty obvious; just say the public side is subsidized (with your tax dollars) so it isn't really fair competition.  That would be a lie, but a pretty good sounding one.  (It is so much easier to argue points as a conservative.  You'd think they'd be better at it.)

But right now we only hear one side.

[ Parent ]
The counter-argument to "unfair" is who cares? (0.00 / 0)
Is it fair that working Americans are now on a treadmill with all the low-wage countries of the world?  What's fair got to do with it?  Private for-profit health insurance is a luxury we can no longer afford.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
Isn't lost, yet? (4.00 / 1)
I'd say the opposite... today, for the first time ever, did not rule out the public option...  Considering how vehemently he opposed the whole idea as recently as a few weeks ago, this is major progress, IMO.

We have the moementum, but we have to keep pushing forward!

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

[ Parent ]
re (0.00 / 0)
I'd say the opposite... today, for the first time ever, did not rule out the public option...

who do you mean?

[ Parent ]
Whoops... sorry... (4.00 / 1)
It was Grassley

REID: Voting against us was never part of our arrangement!
SPECTER: I am altering the deal! Pray I don't alter it any further!
REID: This deal keeps getting worse all the time!

[ Parent ]
What's Wrong With You? (0.00 / 0)
No one is fighting anything except Lockheed Martin which runs the Social Security Program, the Health Insurance Industry, AIPAC and the Defense Industry and voting blocks, not individuals.

Those are the CONSTITUENTS...the public is nothing to politicians. You have to understand that.

Public Opinion means nothing. Votes come from the above blocks....if you can call them "votes"...they are more like programmed votes.

Voters are manipulated.

Today Geithner said Social Security and Medicare are soon to run out of money....meaning???????

How could they possibly have single payer....they aren't even going to save Medicare...they are going to privatize EVERYTHING.

Any movement toward single payer or public option is a faux movement...faking left, throwing right. You don't know what hit you by the time the pass is caught.

I would think people would realize this by now after several absurd wars based on lies that have been exposed.

But no. People keep getting faked out. And I have to ask...WHat's wrong with you?

Your leaders don't care about you. They seek only to confuse you and abuse you. That's what world leadership does. It confuses and abuses. And in the United States its just the same as it is everywhere else.

I think it used to be better. But not anymore. This is politically, what Americans call a "third world nation". It's ALL about Centralized POWER..and no longer has nothing to do with the "public" anymore.

[ Parent ]
not only are you (4.00 / 1)
preaching to the choir, but you do it in a way that is off-putting.

feel free not to talk down or speak in absolutes. We're not that stupid.

[ Parent ]
Many in this choir sing out of tune (0.00 / 0)
I don't think so....the diary considers the possibility that Senators will vote based upon public sentiments found in polls. I'm not part of that choir.

I separate myself from that choir. It's out of tune. Desafindado. I prefer to sing in tune.

To even consider that the "senate" has anything to do with responding to actual  public opinion is wrong...dead wrong. Public opinion is simply regurgitation of what the politicians have put in to your heads. You are left with no possibilities other than those presented. That's why you voted for Obama instead of a third party candidate. They told you it would be useless. And most of you believe them and are still waiting to see if Obama will come through for you. He won't. They simply manipulate you. They are using you.  

Obama is essientally a fascist.

He's in favor of kidnapping and killing innocent people for the state and gives no reason why.

He will not give you anything on health care...he will modify social security and medicare by privatizing them.

Now...Am I still preaching to your choir?

[ Parent ]
yes (0.00 / 0)
you're still preaching to the choir.  

[ Parent ]
Alex, Really? (0.00 / 1)

Honestly... ....and I'm not honest very often, it doesn't seem quite like that...but on to other things. You've impressed me with your short, pointed, concise retorts. Maybe I'm in a postion to help you.

Listen Alex,  I make a lot of money working with Liberians and investing their money in American banks. American banks are more secure than Liberian banks. Liberians know this and I'm often contacted to put their money in my own bank account. All I have to do is make a small deposit in theirs. It's that simple. I'm making a fortune at this. So...really... I don't really care about politics at all. I care about you.

This money, this money I'm talking about....it money that's been inherited. Often anyway. Sometimes it's for other reasons.

For some reason Liberians trust me.  I can't blame them. I tell it like it is. Maybe it's because I understand their language. I'm very wealthy as a result. I think they will trust you too. I have more than enough business from them. I think it's time for me to give back a little.

If your really one of the choir like you say you are, I could work something out for you... get you in on this very lucrative way of making a living without having to work another day for the rest of your life! I can tell your one of the smart ones. Not like the others. I don't even consider making this kind of offer to one THEM!

I'll have one of my people, a wealthy Liberian widow named KiKi whose looking to invest contact you via your email tommorrow. All you have to do is create an account in my name.

I like you Alex, your good people. I see this as the beggining of a very beautiful relationship.

By the way, Kiki is hot, very hot. She'll burn your house down.

[ Parent ]
One more thing Alex (0.00 / 0)
I forgot to mention..this has nothing to do with Nigeria...It's Liberia..

[ Parent ]
you should... (0.00 / 0)
take a bow.  

[ Parent ]
Everyone - Stu Piddy is a Troll - remove him now (0.00 / 0)
   Yes, a large number of viewpoints are acceptable here. And yes, many of us here are to the left of Obama... and even those who were not much to the left of Obama during the campaign may find that President Obama is further right than Candidate Obama was.
  But several of Stu Piddy's posts have been rude, and extremist.
  The final straw is Stu Piddy's solicitation of Alex to take part in a Nigerian (oops... Liberian) banking scam.
  How loudly must one announce oneself as a Troll, before being removed?

Luke 12:48 "to whom much is given, of him shall much be required". Would Jesus want progressive taxation, or regressive taxation?

[ Parent ]
Who's fighting for it? (4.00 / 5)
The single payer advocates, who are demanding a seat at the table when they aren't invited, censored by the White House live blogger, and arrested at hearings. They are the only ones dragging the Overton Window left so that there's even space for a public option.  

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
Right Lambert! (0.00 / 0)
That's right.

Obama said he's AGAINST single payer....it isn't "american" enough...that means it's not capitalistic enough....it's socialist....

Health care needs to be privatized along with SS and Medicare...that's where they are going...but people keep promoting single payer while they are attacking social security and medicare...

It's dazzling.

and really tiresome...because no one is getting it.

[ Parent ]
and it seems appropriate for reconciliation (4.00 / 1)
the public plan plainly is manly about govt spending, so it will fit in reconciliation.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

Susan Collins (4.00 / 2)
While I have no problem believing she would vote for a public option, I'm surprised she is willing to go for the reconciliation process.  She looses a lot of power if Democrats decide 50 votes is all they need after all.

Maine's population is old... (4.00 / 1)
... and not well-served by the state health care system. I think she'll try to get this for her constituency.

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
Age (4.00 / 2)
Really?  The only folks who do have socialized, single payer style health care are the elderly.  They need this the least.  I guess it is true that they are the most aware, though.

[ Parent ]
i'll believe it (0.00 / 0)
when i see it, we are dealing with spineless dems and elitist repugs here not politicians that actually care about their constituents. govt healthcare is just fine for those in congress but its socialism for anyone else to have the same.

Opem to the Public Option is Good (4.00 / 5)
publicly committed to it is better.  Count this as a significant hurdle overcome, but only one step.

Also, we may not need the votes of the rest of the conservadems on this issue, but they should still be hounded about this.  

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

yes -- the more the better... (0.00 / 0)
i wonder if what is happening here is that senators are wanting to avoid getting cut out of the celebration in the event that healthcare reform actually passes, and we are seeing a bit of a snowball effect, wherein, as real healthcare reform seems more and more likely to go forward, more and more senators are preemptively jumping on board.      

[ Parent ]
It seems as though (0.00 / 0)
Republicans are very good at getting people to sign on to a bill that seems like a long shot, thereby, over a long period, making the bill no longer a long shot. But the Dems seem to take the status quo as unchangeable.  Getting people to sign on to bills is a great way to improve its chances.

I admit to having no data on this, so I may be off base.  I'd love to know if its out there.  

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

[ Parent ]
it does seem to be the case that this dynamic (0.00 / 0)
is underutilized by progressives in congress... part of this might have to do with the nature of corporate lobbying.  

[ Parent ]
Democracy is about Choice..to deny it for corporate rule is fascism..! (0.00 / 0)
   Isn't that big of them..!

  Democracy is abut choice isn't it..?

  Why are these Senators denying Americans to choose what they think is best for their health care and health in general..?

  Denying Americans the option and choice for a public option for health care coverage, is the government controlling their health care, for the corporate fascist agenda..!


     "Ours is not a system based upon trust but one of suspicion.."  Thomas Jefferson

If Obama can get this through (4.00 / 7)
he would have won two of his three major objectives in the first year.  Cap and Trade still looks dicey, but it would be very hard to argue that he has not had an enormously successful year.

If it is true UHC, then it is the most significant Democratic victory since the Voting Rights Act of '64.  

And it will means Obama will have moved left since the Election in November.  

And if it is done by reconciliation (0.00 / 0)
it effectively means the filibuster has become a greatly limited.

[ Parent ]
Cap and trade doesn't look that dicey to me (0.00 / 0)
It looks like its going to be implemented through regs and not laws. It appears to me that the EPA will just begin doing it.

There is no problem going forward. Is this the stroy that makes you think it?

US government memo reignites EPA carbon regulation row http://www.businessgreen.com/business-green/news/2242173/government-memo-reignites-epa

If it is, this was published on whitehouse.gov
OMB Director Orszag Corrects the Record on the OMB & EPA>

Media reports today are suggesting that OMB has found fault with EPA's proposed finding that emissions of greenhouse gases from motor vehicles contribute to air pollution that endangers public health and welfare.  Any reports suggesting that OMB was opposed to the finding are unfounded.
"By itself, the EPA's proposed finding imposes no regulation.  (Indeed, by itself, it requires nothing at all.)  If and when the endangerment finding is made final, the EPA will turn to the question whether and how to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new automobiles."


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
The devil is in the details (4.00 / 3)
if it's successfully marketed as UHC but in reality is just a way to prop up the insurance companies, then it may be a victory for the Democrats in the midterms, but it's not actually going to help people.

Suppose "U"HC looked like:

1. Mandate to force you to do business with the insurance companies

2. New payroll tax on health insurance (currently not taxed)

3. Crippled public option

4. Inadequate for the those who can't afford it (and you just  know that's going to be a target, just like all other "entitlements")

How much of a win would that really be? Not much, I would argue. And the disingenuous nature of the rollout for the 1.5% reduction in increases doens't give me a lot of confidence there's any integrity to the process at all.

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
my guess is that the mandate is going to be the (4.00 / 1)
main concession to the insurance companies.  obama's most recently articulated principles suggest as much.

i'd be interested in hearing what people have to say about the likelihood and possible effects of the tax on health insurance benefits.  it sounds bad, but what would it actually mean?

in terms of the public option -- it seems to me that even if it is 'crippled,' as long as it has low premiums (that can be covered by the subsidy for low income folks) and decent coverage, it would force insurance companies to offer us much better deals than we have now.  right now, you can get virtually non-existent coverage for a moderately affordable amount, or decent coverage (that still entails a lot of bs) for a ridiculous amount of money.  

about the subsidies -- what are the ranges people are talking about for this?  of course it would be demagogued, but so will the public option, and so would a single payer plan (it would be 'in crisis' from the moment it was established)

the pr event on monday was 95% political.  they are trying to dance with the lobbyists for as long as possible -- dancing required them to be disingenuous in this case.    

[ Parent ]
oh, and also, there are other possible effects of the bill (4.00 / 1)
that, even if the scenario you outline came to pass, would be positive.  like, they can ban insurance comps from denying people for pre-existing conditions.  that in itself would be a pretty big deal (not nearly enough, mind you, but a definite improvement).  

[ Parent ]
If it substantially eliminates (4.00 / 4)
the uninsured in America, it is a significant victory.  The bottom line will be this: will people still have to worry about health insurance if they lose their job.

[ Parent ]
We need to see the detail on the public option proposal (4.00 / 4)
One possibility -- raised by Schumer -- is to so hobble and cripple the public option, by removing the characteristics that make it public -- so that private plans will be able to "compete" with it. IIRC, Medicare Part D, from George Bush, has been able to weaken the Medicare brand, and this could be Son of Medicare Part D. Sure, I'd really, really like to be able to trust the Democrats on this... And some detail could help bring that trust.

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

I think that the public option will pass (0.00 / 0)
I think the reason why Specter defected is key.

Right wing conservatives are in purging mode so there is absolutely no political capital in moderates reaching out to them.


You fail to deal (4.00 / 4)
with the key question:

What kind of public option will 51 Senators support?

If the common denominator is the public option=private option, then why, exactly, might we celebrate?

because it's an improvement over where we were a week ago, (4.00 / 1)
perhaps?  yes, this is still going to be a huge fight, but just a few days ago the rallying cry for those counting the votes was: preserve the public option! now, it's: preserve a ROBUST public option!

thanks to all sorts of efforts, perhaps above all from the single payer activists, it is starting to look like a real public option may be on the table.

oh, and to address your final question -- any public option is A) a foot in the door, and B) a way to keep the insurance companies honest. course, i wouldn't be satisfied with just any public option, but even schumer's compromise wouldn't be nothing...

[ Parent ]
I think you get (4.00 / 1)
the argument here completely wrong as to the problem now presented with the public option.

Once upon a time, people who advocated for the public option believed that any such option would be so designed that it might serve a very useful purpose. Given how Schumer, among others, now seem to be trying to redefine the concept, it's become quite clear how meaningless it might be to introduce a public option unless it is allowed to enjoy the natural advantages and uses such an option should possess.

Of course such an option must be more "robust" than one which, for all practical purposes, is just like any private option -- otherwise, what in God's name might be its point?

And while you think that the mere existence of a public option would inherently be good because it supposedly gets a foot in the door, that's hardly the way this would have to play out. The Medicare Prescription Plan is a pretty good example of how deeply flawed policy can get in the way of good policy. It would certainly have been better if the Prescription Plan had been delayed, and handled by a Congress willing and able to do a decent job of it, instead of bungling it.

One question among many is whether any public plan actually offered up will create long term progress, or, like the Medicare Prescription Plan, stand in its way as a fait accompli that can't be undone and must be worked around in all future legislation.

[ Parent ]
i respect your opinion, and respectfully disagree. (4.00 / 3)
this is something of a silly argument, since i'm not advocating schumer's compromise, but i actually answered your question in my point 'B': even if it were equivalent to the terrible private plans now available, it would prevent the insurance companies from making their plans worse.  cold comfort, i know, but it wouldn't be nothing, since over the last 10 years, the plans have gotten markedly worse.  that was all i said -- it wouldn't be nothing.  if the plan were even marginally better than the best private plan, it would exert downward pressure on premiums and upward pressure on care.  the public plan is one of the few ways for the government to actually keep the private insurance companies honest.  it is where the rubber hits the road on this debate, and the fact that it hasn't been abandoned in the senate is not insignificant.  it shows that the forces of real reform are not getting swamped by the lobbyists and their watercarriers in congress.      

my more fundamental point was just that the debate has actually shifted in the last week (from WHETHER public option to HOW), and that is a good thing (worth the few exclamation points chris gave it in his post).  

the notion that the public option was ever presumed to be on the table in some pristine form is not credible.  where we are today is better than where we were a month ago.  

[ Parent ]
and in terms of the question of whether it would 'stand in the way' (4.00 / 1)
seems like it would be relatively straightforward to increase the benefits, or decide in 5 years to start negotiating for drug prices, or create some kind of 'subsidy' program that would make it more affordable (and not 'self-sustaining,' as schumer is threatening to make it).


[ Parent ]
Your argument makes little sense (0.00 / 0)
If the public option is so designed that it won't compete with the private options, what might stand in the way of all of them getting worse? If the underlying problem, the rise in cost of health care, is not solved, because the public plan can't hold the health care industry's feet to the fire via some negotiating power (as it does with Medicare), what's to stop the public plan from having to track those rises in health care costs as do all the private plans? If the public plan is handicapped from the beginning, by design, why imagine those handicaps won't follow it throughout its existence, by design?

[ Parent ]
Speaking of Medicare Part D (0.00 / 0)
Now that we supposedly "control everything", are Obama and Congress going to go back and redo Medicare's prescription drug program?

[ Parent ]
sorry (4.00 / 2)
I am not at all enthusiastic about a "public" option. The only entity I should be forced to participate with by law should be my government. Not a private profiteer... especially on matters of health.

there are so many issues and I would also like more details.. But if you talk with most folks who live under a "public" Massachusetts plan.. you would know it's not good. And we all know there are countless other models around the world which are worth copying.

the report from pnhp and public citizen on the ma reform: (4.00 / 1)
 Massachusetts (public) is no model for national health care reform


costs too much.
covers too few people.
puts unfair burdens on people who can't afford the required premiums.
those who are most in need are arguably WORSE off now.

and lots more in the report.

no, Massachusetts lacks a real public option (4.00 / 4)
Massachusetts shows why an individual mandate to carry private health insurance won't get the job done.

A real public health insurance option, open to all and competing with private insurers, would solve a lot of problems and could evolve in the direction of single-payer.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

[ Parent ]

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