Next Steps on the Public Option

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Sep 29, 2009 at 20:51

The bad news is we learned today the Senate Finance Committee will not report a public option in its version of health care reform. The good news is we also learned today there are at least 51 Senate votes in favor of Schumer's public option. Here is how we get to 51:

  1. Take the 47 "yes" votes from the Washington Independent public option scorecard.

  2. Add Bill Nelson and Tom Carper, who both voted for Schumer's public option today;

  3. Add Claire McCaskill (who voted for Kennedy's HELP public option back in May);

  4. Add Joe Biden
Arguably, proving that there are 51 votes in favor of Schumer's public option is the bigger news. This is because everyone knew the public option would be defeated in committee, but claims that there were 51 votes in favor of a trigger-less public option were pretty much all based on a post I wrote two weeks ago.

Because Democrats are not going to pursue reconciliation for the public option (see why here), the next step in the process does not actually involve Kent Conrad's Budget Committee, as I had previously reported (the Budget Commitee only comes into play with reconciliation). Instead, a source on the Hill confirms to me the Senate HELP and Senate Finance committees will be merged by an informal, behind the scenes process involving the four major players in the Senate: Tom Harkin (Chair of HELP), Max Baucus (Chair of Finance), Harry Reid (Majority Leader), and the White House. Together, these four will meet and decide what sort of bill to send to the Senate floor for debate and amendments.

During this process, we can guarantee that Harkin will push for a HELP or Schumer-like public option to be sent the floor, while Baucus will push for no public option to be in the bill at all. Given his recent statements, the best bet is that Reid will probably push against a public option too, and instead favor either triggers (which he has called a good idea) or co-ops (which seems to be the sort of public option he likes best). With two against and one in favor, this means that the only way a public option ends up in the bill that is sent to the Senate floor will be if the fourth major player, the White House, demands it.

It is all up to the White House now. If it pushes for a public option to be included in the health care bill sent to the Senate floor, then a public option will pass as part of health care reform (at that point, all we would need are 60 votes for cloture, and from what I hear we have 57 already). However, if it allows a health care bill to go to the floor without a public option, it is pretty unlikely that a public option will pass as part of health care reform. Here is why:

  • Amendments won't work. There simply is not any good chance of adding a public option to the Senate bill through floor amendments, because the 60-vote process will be in effect for floor amendments. While we might have 60 votes for cloture on a health care bill that includes a public option, we do not have 60 votes for a public option all by itself.

  • Conference committee (almost certainly) won't work. Even if the House passes a public option, which they are highly likely to do, do not expect them to overpower the Senate in conference committee. This is because the Senate will already have voted down adding a public option via amendment, and the White House will have already demonstrated that it isn't going to demand the public option in the final bill. It wil be difficult to convince them to change their mind by the conference committee.
So, it is all about the White House demanding a public option in the process of merging the Senate HELP and Senate Finance Committee. So, we are going to have to start putting pressure on the White House itself.

The best source of pressure the White House can feel on this will come from the Progressive Block. If they can produce a hard count of 39 Progressives who will vote against health care reform without a public option, it is difficult to imagine any amount of phone calls, faxes, emails and petitions to the White House that would equal that pressure. While we all need to bring whatever pressure we can, as expected all along, the Progressive Block taking a hard line is our best option for the public option.

Chris Bowers :: Next Steps on the Public Option

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I've got Harry Reid covered. (4.00 / 4)
I'll send another letter his way, and I'll try to fit in some time for another phone call as well. Either it's a strong public option included in the HCR bill or that nice donation I was planning to give him may go somewhere else.

Yes, Virginia, there are progressives in Nevada.

Reid supports a public option (4.00 / 7)
Chuck Schumer just said this on Rachel Maddow show.

He also said he expects there will be 60 votes for cloture, "to give their fellow Senators a chance to vote their conscience," and then the bill would only need 51 votes to pass.

[ Parent ]
Wonderful! (4.00 / 4)
And since Schumer is leadership and close to Reid, we can probably take this to the bank. And btw, is the video up yet? I'd like to blog this just so we can all stop complaining about rumors and start getting to ACTION! ;-)

Yes, Virginia, there are progressives in Nevada.

[ Parent ]
I just listened to the interview again (4.00 / 1)
Schumer definitely said that Reid supports a public option.

[ Parent ]
One of Chris' votes worries me. (0.00 / 0)
I do not have much faith in Claire McCaskill. She seems to be very inconsistant in which direction that her votes will go.

[ Parent ]
Three reasons why McCaskill is not a problem (0.00 / 0)
1)She was on Fox News Sunday recently and she basically took the Bill Nelson approach to the PO, she would have trouble voting for a PO tied to medicare rates but would support one that had a level playing field, basically Schumer's PO.

2)Unlike most of the moderates, she's somewhat of an Obama loyalist and is close to the President, which means she gets many of her queues from the Admin and in fact only became less vocal on the PO after the WH began signaling that it was dropping it with Sebelius' "not essential" and  Obama's "sliver" comments.

3)McCaskill is a good government Senator, or at least as close as you can get without being Bernie Saunders. She's not a corporate shill, like most of the moderates, and one of the biggest voices for fighting against the Military industrial complex, blackwater and government contractors generally. So, under the hypothetical that she would be a tough get on the PO, it wouldn't, imo, be from being beholden to the insurance industry but because she was convinced its not politcally palatable in her state, which happens when your own president isn't actually defending or defining the PO so he can still claim Co-ops or triggers satisfy the "intent" of the PO.  

[ Parent ]
Ha (4.00 / 1)
Yah, good luck there, dude. Letters. That'll do it.

[ Parent ]
What else you got? (0.00 / 0)

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Grassley said that a public option floor vote... (4.00 / 2) likely to pass.  Of course, his intent is to try and scare conservadem Senators into working with him, but I can't imagine he has much credibility with anyone right now.

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!

Interesting turn of events for the White House to be involved - yes? (4.00 / 3)
First, I have to commend you for being right up to the minute on this.

Second, is the WH involvement like this a usual way to go on forming a final bill?

Seems to me this is good news for our side. Obama will really have to show his colors. (can you tell I'm still thinking Obama's a good guy.)

When you say WH will it be Rahm doing negotiating?

What an astute observation about the Progressive Caucus. I think you're totally right. Is the block still secure?

Entirely backwards (4.00 / 6)
We seem to accept that a small number of Dem senators can thwart the will of the majority who support the public option, yet don't even consider whipping a small number of progressive senators to outright oppose any bill that omits the majority supported public option.

A super majority of the majority in the Senate supports the PO. Surely some at least a handful of them ought to be willing to say "no public option, no bill." The senate rules are for everybody, including the majority. A small number can be very powerful, especially when they represent a wider held sentiment.

Finally, as a matter of positioning and rhetoric, we need to make clear that no bill is better than a bad bill. It's good politics because a mandate bill w/o a public option would be horrible policy and worse politically. We need to lay the groundwork for killing this thing if necessary. Publicly taking that position actually strengthens our hand.

If the WH is indeed the leverage point, a pledged group of Dems in the senate too willing to scuttle the whole effort will make clear that no public option means no deal. That's ultimately the only thing that will move the WH.

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans

We hope the Progressive Block in the House (4.00 / 1)
will carry out this function of drawing the line in the sand, if necessary.

As Chris wrote about in his original post, the White House will carry weight in hammering out the final Senate bill, which then must be reconciled with whatever bill the House passes, hopefully/likely containing a Public Option. Pressure on the White House to include the Public Option in the Senate bill will come from House Progressives standing firm on their pledge to vote against a bill that has no Public Option.

[ Parent ]
Fight everywhere! (4.00 / 3)
Concede no state, no district and no legislative chamber.

Why not a firewall in the Senate too? Especially since a very small number of Senators can have a huge effect. A second front in the Senate will also reinforce and help hold the House caucus firm.

Being satisfied with just the House progressives is not good enough. We need to fight everywhere with all means at our disposal. The stakes are too high.  

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans

[ Parent ]
Not Going To Happen! (0.00 / 0)
Ultimately, no Senator is going to scuttle the President's "signature health care initiative" from the LEFT.

Only CONSERVATIVES get to do that! You'll notice that Obama hasn't been meeting with Bernie Sanders. He's been meeting with the Republicans, Big Pharma, and the Blue Dogs, plus lobbying Ass-hats like Chuck Grassley and Olympia Snowe who will never vote for any bill with a public option. Period.

That ought to be enough of a clue where Obama will ultimately come down. He's not playing "11 dimensional chess" he's simply selling us out. He doesn't care about a public option. He wants a health care bill. That's all.

If it moves the ball 6 inches that's good enough for him. He's not going to have to pay those insurance mandates with no cost containment. He'll just shrug his shoulders and say "we did the best we could."

At some point, progressives are just going to have to realize that Obama is NOT one of us. He's not leading our movement. He's just going to take our votes and money and then do whatever corporate America dictates.

If he were different, he'd have started out explaining to the American people exactly WHY single-payer is a good idea, and what a "public option" is: CHOICE!

Then he'd have drawn a line in the sand and demanded at LEAST a public option and mobilized all his supporters to get out and put the maximum pressure on Congress to get behind it. (Just the way Bush did with all his big bills).

Then he would have asked his network to help raise at least $30-50 million for advertising to beat back the insurance industry media blitz and get out the word.

Then he would have made it up to the American people to decide: "Do you want affordable health care or not? If so, then come out and support us."

But that would immediately have alienated the media and business class who would label him as some kind of wild-eyed "populist" which is the dirtiest word in their vocabulary.

It might not have worked anyway, and would have made the rest of his term harder. It would also have made him a hero to millions of Americans and ensured a loyal turnout in 2010.

But, it would be a bloody civil war with the right-wing. And he's not willing to lead that kind of fight.  

[ Parent ]
NY Times (4.00 / 2)
The NY Times article on the public option committe votes was the gloomiest I saw.  They cited unnamed Senate "leaders" as saying that a public option did not have the votes to pass.  Baucus?  Grassley?  McConnell?  Reid? Durbin? Schumer?  The janitor?

"Senate aides", also unnamed, were cited as saying Reid wouldn't put a public option in the floor bill sent up for a vote.

The corporate establishment is working overtime on this.  CNN IIRC was reporting the public option was dead last week.  Reporting?

Those are RUMORS. (4.00 / 3)
Maybe they are true, but more likely they aren't or the unnamed "leaders" are just Baucus and Conrad trying to push the "public option is dead" meme. Yes, you're totally right that the corporate media are totally irresponsible in creating news stories rather than reporting what's really happening.

Yes, Virginia, there are progressives in Nevada.

[ Parent ]
When the Public Option is no more (4.00 / 1)
we will see a snap-back to the original idea of free health care paid for by taxation by the progressive community.

The public option was a bad strategy badly executed.

When the Public Option is no more... (4.00 / 5) will be too late to do any "snap-backs," as the final, individual-mandate-laden, public-option-free bill will have been agreed upon and finalized by the movers and shakers already.  It will be a done deal...and it will all be over but the shouting.

[ Parent ]
Only if the congress passes and the president signs (0.00 / 0)
an ineffective bill.

If the bill dies because the strategy of negotiating with the bad faith actors, Republicans and Corporodems, after taking the more progressive ideas off the table is shown to be a mistake, then the issue will "snap back".

The American people, a majority of whom prefer a "public" system of some sort, will not simply forget that their healthcare system is broken. Unless, that is, a poor bill is passed.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
What I fear (0.00 / 0)
is a bad bill giving conservatives an argument for trying their approach once they get into power. Thankfully, we all know republicans truly don't give a shit about healthcare and never do anything about it when they control Washington.  

[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, but this is not specific enough (4.00 / 7)
"A public option" means next to nothing. Due to vagaries I wavered a great deal before backing the Robust Public Option meme... now suddenly it seems to be disappearing too.

We all know what DC calls A Patriot Act or Military Intelligence.  Now imagine what they will be willing to call A Public Option.

I don't doubt for a minute we could come close to agreement in a place like this, but we need to hold very firm to the No Triggers or it isn't a PO meme etc.

And another thing! (lol)

Here we are trusting Harry Reid to do the right thing .. when he has not indicated with any consistency that he will. And he certainly has a long history of selling us out in the final stretch. Expecting him to do anything but stab us in the back is lunacy. Hell.. that goes for Rahm Obama too.

This is all to familiar... run it down to the wire with a few pretty words or vague promises... fuck us... and call it a Public Option victory... and or blame Republicans or the weather or something.

Declaring victory will be very important... (4.00 / 3)
... so that we can go through the same process on financial reform.

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 ]
I agree! Both ways! (4.00 / 3)
I agree with both your sarcastic meaning and the literal words.

[ Parent ]
Triggers are but one consideration (4.00 / 2)
What restrictions will there be on getting access to the P.O.? For example, if your work has insurance, can you choose the P.O.? Why is it that Obama is so sure that fewer than 5% of Americans will get the plan (and how much leverage can such a plan have to change, well, anything)?

And what other hobbles will be added to "level" the plan, to keep it from being a threat to Big Insurance? Of course, only a cynic or a purist would wonder about such a thing....

The Monty Python Argument Sketch, updated for "public option" advocacy:

M: I came here for a robust, strong public option.
A: No you didn't; no, you came here for a public option.  

[ Parent ]
I think its just an image game at this point (4.00 / 3)
they already know there will only be an emasculated public option, at best. The White House and roughly half the Senate Dems would never go for anything robust and meaningful. That's partly out of concern for campaign donations, but a lot of it has to do with plain ideology. That's why they've gamed this the way they have from the beginning...the only thing that got them off script is that so far the base just won't let go of a real public option. I think this has really taken them by surprise; you have to admit, we've never fought like this before on a matter of policy...what we're doing would have been inconceivable in the Clinton years.

So their plan was always to toss the substance overboard, and put a blank sheet of paper on the President's desk...they probably thought they could get a couple of Republicans to go along, and that would allow them to completely bypass the base and the 15 or 20 Senators that represent us (hence the focus on bipartisanship). Problem is, the GOP doesn't want to play along, and that means the Quisling Caucus has to deal with us, and so far we just haven't laid down.

And I think our reaction makes them really worried about 2010, and so even though everyone knows a real bill is unpassable with this current crowd, they are going through the motions...Schumer is making what amounts to an early bid for Senate Minority Leader, liberals Rockefeller and Harkin are all of the sudden let out of the attic and shoved in front of the cameras, etc. Cantwell sits on the SFC and never said a peep on health care at all-anything-until July when she apparently came out in favor of a public such an underwhelming manner that it took weeks to confirm whether or not she actually really did say she supported it. Even after that, she did nothing...until this, the final week of September, when all of a sudden she explodes with passion on the subject. Where was she in March, April, May...? She needs to establish some political cover, and now that the deal is beyond her influence, she can safely do so...

In any case, it looks like the final bill will be signed into law sometime around Christmas, when its too late to mount a real primary, and then we'll hear dire warnings about the need to coalesce around the Democratic ticket.

I honestly am not trying to be snarky here, but this is just based off of everything we have ever experienced with these guys...over the last 15 or so years. What could really change this scenario is 1)for the House to get some self-respect and sieze the initiative to pass their bill now, thereby setting the tone, or 2)a progressive block in the Senate.

Regardless of what eventually happens, now is the time for the bloggeratti to do some contingency planning, for the likely event that there is no real reform.

[ Parent ]
Oh, there will be "real reform," all right... (4.00 / 3)
...the "real reform" of making it mandatory to buy private insurance, whether you can afford it or not, or pay a hefty tax for the "privilege" of remaining uncovered.

What kind of "contingency planning" do you have for when people find out what "health-care reform" really turned out to mean?

[ Parent ]
No, contingency planning for how (4.00 / 3)
to take down the Vichy Dems in 2010.

These guys are going to keep stalling until they think they can sneak it past the base...they're hoping that once they finally send a bill to the White House, we'll be too tired, demoralized or distracted (with Iran?) to care. And since it will be close to the Holidays, we won't have time to react.

Think about it: they will literally pass something in early December, and in less than a month the election season will begin. It will be too late to mount any serious challenges, and we will be basically be given an ultimatum that we either support them or lose Congress. Essentially, they're trying to turn the tables on us. And the White House is absolutely, completely on board with that 150%.

That's why we need to plan now. That's why we need to decide who we go after, and how we go after them. That's why we need to start recruiting now, why we need to start PACS now.

It has to start today.

Otherwise, we will have been completely defeated by these people, and will have lost the party for the forseeable future.

Health care reform was always going to be a Rubicon, either to progressive-populist ascendancy, or to the triumph of the status quo and the decline of America. There is no way around it, and there is no turning back. One of us is going to win, and one of us is going to lose.

[ Parent ]
It's already started.... (4.00 / 2)
The progressive PAC is going to target Cooper...

But, we need more, and we should have been preparing for this in August against Conservadems.  

Blanche Lincoln is being primaried from the right, believe it or not!  She's hopeless... the best threat against her is a green candidate (greens do well in OK) to take her out.

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 ]
If the Greens are the only ones willing to challenge Lincoln, then support them. (4.00 / 1)
The time to start forming primary and independent challenges is now.  Let's all start targeting House and Senate races where the choice is between a right-wing Democrat and a Republican, and work to elect progressives in Democratic primaries and independents in the general.  We need to send the message out, in absolutely no uncertain terms, that right-wing Democrats will no longer be tolerated.  If they want to act like GOPhers so badly, let them switch parties and drop the pretense of being anything else.  We, on the other hand, must work to elect genuine progressives.

[ Parent ]
I think that's AR Mike (0.00 / 0)
but I get your point.

[ Parent ]
So what? (0.00 / 0)
If these folks work to pass an ineffective healthcare reform bill the damage will have already been done. Tossing them out of office after the fact is like closing the barn door after all the cows have escaped.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
The liberal community's already targeted them during the process (0.00 / 0)
The PCCC and DFA have been bombarding Ben Nelson and Max Baucus with pro-PO ads.

If after all that they still work against a PO then it's not about trying to prevent damage.  It's about correcting for the damage.

[ Parent ]
Agree (0.00 / 0)
If the ads and other efforts are taking place NOW, then they can still have effect before the bill is written and passed.

Waiting until the primary to attack these folks is the strategy I was questioning.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Lincoln and Bayh (0.00 / 0)
are the only anti-PO/centrists up in 2010, and neither is primaryable.

There's a bunch of centrists coming up in 2012 though, and I think liberal groups should start (if they haven't already) talking to people in, at the very least, CT and DE about mounting challenges against Lieberman and Carper.  I don't know how fertile the ground in MT, ND and NE are for primarying Baucus, Conrad and Nelson, but even a Democrat who can't prevail in the general but can in the primary would be worth running, if for no other reason than to weed out these poisonous blights in our Party.

[ Parent ]
"Real"? Not as such. (4.00 / 1)
The base has been well-trained not to worry about whether the "public option" (if one) is "real." That will be a lasting lesson to those who might have worried about progressive activism -- how easily it can be distracted with a not-all-that-shiny object.

Again, I'll quote Glenn Greenwald:

The industry interests which own and control our government always get their way.  When is the last time they didn't?  The "public option" was something that was designed to excite and placate progressives (who gave up from the start on a single-payer approach)....

Look around the internets. Look how often progressives are whipping for "a public option" or "the public option."

"Real," "robust," and "strong" are like the "Devil" in "Tampa Bay Devil Rays."

[ Parent ]
Yeah (4.00 / 3)
Everybody seems to clearly understand that trigger=scam, but it may not be as clear regarding the PO being open to everyone; using Medicare rates; subsidies being available only for the PO; sufficient pre-population of the PO.

Yuck, the whole rickety concept's a mess. It was always meant as a distraction from single-payer.

While I do hope they can somehow pull a real PO rabbit out of the senatorial hat, the only worthwhile alternative would be for the Block to block a reactionary bill and for activists to then frame that stand as a seminal event, and use that political event to push the "Overton window" toward single-payer as the only real reform.

[ Parent ]
The Schumer "public option" is a joke... (4.00 / 1)
It does not allow using Medicare rates and it must pay for itself.  So if it is not possible to bargain for lower rates than private insurance and if it is just another form to fill out for doctors, and if it starts from scratch in terms of signing people up, it will not work.  Because it will start with a small pool of people, it will have to charge high rates to cover the huge startup costs.  Where are the savings in that?

The Democrats are setting themselves up to lose in 2010 and Obama could well be a one-term President.

[ Parent ]
Quibble about primarying (4.00 / 1)
In any case, it looks like the final bill will be signed into law sometime around Christmas, when its too late to mount a real primary

The only anti-public option Senators up for reelection in 2010 are Blanche Lincoln and Evan Bayh.  Neither are really primaryable.

On the other hand, there are quite a few up in 2012 - Lieberman, Carper, Conrad, both Nelsons.  So let's start gearing up for primaries then.

[ Parent ]
If they can't be made to face primaries... (0.00 / 0)
Then run an independent against them, a progressive one.  Make sure said independent has the record to match his or her rhetoric.  This isn't rocket science.  If primaries aren't viable as a means of pressuring right-wing Democrats from the left, then we must target them with progressive independents.  Staying home and not voting won't do the job because incumbents generally tend to do better when voter turnout is low.  So the trick is to send the message that from now on only left-wing candidates will be preferred.  If we can't get them from the Democrats, we'll go with candidates from other political parties.  But we have to send that message.

[ Parent ]
A big crop in 2012 (4.00 / 1)
and I'm all for going after them starting now. Force them out of office without even a race.

But we can definitely take down Reid NOW, either in a primary or in the general.

[ Parent ]
Don't give up on Harry Reid yet! (4.00 / 7)
Chris - I think you're right about holding together the Progressive Block in the House and putting pressure on the White House.  I also agree with you that Baucus may be a lost cause.  Just about every MT Dem committee has pressed for a public option and he voted against it. Damn - he's terrible.

But, I think we need to put a LOT more pressure on Harry Reid.  I suggest that we work with the unions in NV and get them to withdraw their support for Reid's re-election if there isn't a public option in the final health care bill.  Fully 1/6 of all workers in NV are union.

So, pressure on Reid can get a public option in the final health care bill, along with pressure on the White House.

I haven't. (4.00 / 4)
We do support the public option here in Nevada. ProgressNow Nevada has a petition to Congress for the public option, as well as a thank you note to Reid for supporting the public option. We're ready to go all out for him IF he does the right thing, which I believe he will do. :-)

Yes, Virginia, there are progressives in Nevada.

[ Parent ]
Reid needs some sticks, though (4.00 / 7)
I'm glad that you are keeping the pressure on him in Nevada.  But, we really need for you to get the unions to threaten Reid with loss of support without a public option.  At this point, I think Reid just wants to get a bill done.  I'm not sure if he much cares if it's a good bill; he may figure that the problems with a bad bill won't be seen until after he's reelected.  But, Reid can't win without the unions.  So, if the unions tell him that he needs a public option, he's MUCH more likely to get it for us.

[ Parent ]
4.00 (0.00 / 0)


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

[ Parent ]
No Option No Mandate (4.00 / 3)
No bailouts for an industry that doesn't need it.

Simple, hard, repeatable message.

How do these critters go to a family gathering and (4.00 / 1)
feel complacent about fucking them over? I don't get it.  

"They pour syrup on shit and tell us it's hotcakes." Meteor Blades

Chris, who are the 57? (4.00 / 1)
I'm curious.  And what is your source, or if you can't reveal your source on that (cough cough Matt Stoller, cough cough Mike Lux), what "kind" of source is it, at least.  Maybe it would be easier just to name the 3 weasels who haven't committed to not fillubustering a health care bill with public option.  

I know, and I have no connections (4.00 / 1)
Lieberman, Ben Nelson and Kent Conrad.

John McCain won't insure children

[ Parent ]
I'm in the… (4.00 / 1) camp. As Chris's summation states, at this stage just where the progressive caucus's line in the sand is going to be drawn is of utmost importance. If I'm understanding correctly, Sen. Rockefeller's bill--the Medicare-connected one--went down fairly decisively, right? Though I tend to trust Obama's motives more than Congress's, if the White House decides it's just after a win--any win--progressives need to be ready to challenge Rahm & Co. big time.  

"This ain't for the underground. This here is for the sun." -Saul Williams

We don't really (4.00 / 1)
have a whip count on those willing to vote for a bill on reconcilliation.  Someone may support the public option but may be unwilling to move forward without cloture.

For reconcilliation to be viable I suspect you are going to need more than 51 votes.  My guess is once you get North of 53 reconcilliation becomes a real possibility.  
If you hit 55 reconcilliation will be widely supported.  

I was hopefull early, I am now less so.

Courage ! (4.00 / 1)


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

[ Parent ]
Senate Progresssives should threaten to filibuster a bill WITHOUT PUBLIC OPTION (4.00 / 4)
Senate Democratic moderates are exerting pressure because the Senate leadership fears they won't vote for cloture. The leadership feels that pressure and they make decisions based on that pressure.

We need a countervailing pressure.

We have gotten this far because of a combination of inside and outside pressure from the House.  We need the same pressure from the Senate progressives on Harry Reid, Rahm Emanuel and even Barack Obama.

In the House, the Blue Dogs have traditionally exerted pressure and gotten their way by threatening to torpedo a Democratic bill. We seem to have countered that pressure in the House because the Congressional Progressive Caucus has said they won't vote for a bill without a robust public option.

The Senate Democratic leadership has long operated on the assumption that only the right side of their Caucus would torpedo a Democratic bill,either by not voing for it on the floor or the standard tactic of effectively joining a Republican filibuster by not voting for cloture.


That would effectively make both the Senate leadership, and the most importantly the White House, stand up and pay notice. Finally pay notice. They want a bill...frankly any bill...If they finally relize that they won't get any bill if the the progressive in the Senate and the House don't get wht they want, then they might actually fight for a public option.

Especially since the the most votes and therefore the easiest path to a bill is one with progressives votes who get the bill they want.

We have to give them, Harry Reid and the White House no choice. This has to be made as palin as the nose on their faces.

Bernie Sanders had long ago said he could not vote for a bill without a public option.  Rockefeller seems riled up enough. Wyden just said he would find it hard to vote for a bill with no public option. Dodd lead the HELP committee to a public option. Brown might consider it.  Schumer is smart enough player to know how to spin this to get the votes he needs.

This is what is called in military terms...a pincer movement. Go at them from both sides. That is the way to win...hoping the white House finally fights for it is just too big a leap of faith to make...We still have to save them from themselves.  

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

How very Sun Tzu-like of you. (0.00 / 0)
Well, I'm not sure of that, but I do know it's a great strategy that must be enacted immediately.  I'm willing to drive up my long distance phone bill making calls.  Who do I need to target, besides my own state officials?  (I'm in Ohio.)

[ Parent ]
A Senate Progressive Block should theoretically be easy (0.00 / 0)
on cloture, since it literally takes only one Democrat to kill the bill's chances by joining the Republican filibuster.

But with the game theory involved, that liberal rebel should not reveal their intentions until the last minute, after Ben Nelson or whatever centrist fuck says he'll filibuster a PO.  If they reveal their intentions too soon it'll just give Ben Nelson-types license to filibuster for their own reasons.

So if liberal Senators are denying their intentions to join a GOP filibuster right now, that makes sense.  What wouldn't make sense would be Ben Nelson getting fawned over if he were to filibuster, but, say, Bernie Sanders getting yelled at if he were to do the same thing.  Since it doesn't make sense, that's probably what's going to end up happening.

In any case, we should assemble a block of 11 liberal Senators who will block a non-PO bill on final passage.  Keeping the battle on final passage rather than cloture will make things less messy and more likely for success.

[ Parent ]
Solomon's Baby (4.00 / 6)
The problem with the Progressive Block -- and it's a great strategy, one of the best we have -- is that it's hard for progressives to credibly threaten to defeat a reform bill that does anything good at all.  We are the real mother of Solomon's baby.  The fake mom and real mom bring the baby to Solomon, and he decides to cut him in half.  The fake mom shrugs, the real mom screams "give him to her just don't kill him!"  In any legislative fight like this one, the progressives are the faction that actually cares about the outcome, and the corporate centrists are the ones that would be perfectly happy to watch reform die.  Leadership knows that at the end of the day, progressives are more willing to take half-a-loaf than corporate sellouts are to vote for a whole one.

What we are really doing is playing chicken, trying to get our bill on the floor rather than theirs.  We would have a very hard time voting against the final bill, if it really is the last chance for any reform in this Congress, but if we get our bill on the floor then we can dare the centrists to be the ones responsible for voting it down and face the wrath of their base.  

Hence Baucus' identical insistence that a bill with a public option can't pass the Senate, so it shouldn't go to the floor.  Baucus can't stand alone against The President's Bill when it finally arrives, nor can he stand with only Conrad and Nelson for support.  The progressives probably can't stand against The President's Bill once it comes out of conference committee either.  But if they can make sure it's their bill that comes out of conference, they've won.  Baucus and Pelosi are making equal threats: "your bill can't pass my chamber, so it has to be my bill or nothing."  They're both fudging, in all likelihood.  But the closer your threat is to real credibility, the better, and what the progressives have done is make a threat that is at least as credible as the one Nelson and Baucus are offering.  That is new, even if it's not 100% real.

good analogy... but you assume that it will still be a baby when the conservadems get done with it (4.00 / 1)
by the time they're done with it, it will be a monster that guarantees cash to the insurance companies. "compulsory consumerism".

if that's what the bill becomes, they can keep it.

[ Parent ]
Agreed (4.00 / 2)
The analogy is accurate. Honestly, even if through some miracle it was possible to hold these obstructionist democrats accountable in primaries, they would just shrug their shoulders and get jobs in the private sector. They have no reason to care and no reason to give in to threats. Progressive ideology bends toward civic duty and empathy for others. It cannot contend directly with an ideology that bends toward self-interest without some sort of mechanism (in former times integrity and ethics) that balances the score. Seeing Baucus just go: "meh, i'm not really into the public option, next!" undeniably confirmed there is no realistic threat. None. It's goddamn sad.  

[ Parent ]
But what bill does Obama want, really? (0.00 / 0)
It sure as hell isn't anything with a substantive public option in it, otherwise he'd be on Capitol Hill every day twisting arms out of their sockets to get it passed through the legislature.  No, Obama wants only the pretense of reform, something like NAFTA that he can use to screw over every working man, woman, and child in America.  Your analogy is accurate, which is why the right-wing of the Democratic Party feels so confident in playing chicken with the diminishing left-wing.  By forcing the left into a position where it must give up health care reform so as not to risk killing it altogether, the right-wingers have far more leverage over us than we have over them.

In politics, playing hardball is the only game that wins anything, and we on the left must stop wringing our hands and play it.  We must be willing to kill the sham we're being saddled with so we can finally start pushing for the things that need to be pushed.  Otherwise, all we'll end up doing is repeating the same thing over and over while hoping for a different result.  Some call that insanity.  I call it stupidity.

[ Parent ]
We will find out for sure shortly. (0.00 / 0)
Harry Reid is nominally in charge of blending the HELP and Finance bills, but all sources, all the way down to Politico, report that Obama actually will be the one deciding how that blend is done.  If the public option is in the bill that is reported to the Senate floor, then not only will we likely get a public option, but we'll know that Obama wants one and intends to twist the arms necessary to get it (by making Nelson, Conrad, Baucus, Lieberman, Lincoln vote for cloture, then vote against the underlying bill).  If on the other hand the bill reported to the Senate floor has no public option, then you are right.  The attempt to add it via amendment will surely fail, as these senators will be 100% comfortable voting against a public option amendment, while they'd be very very uncomfortable voting to filibuster the entire reform effort.  

If Obama lets a bill with no public option come to the floor, then he never really meant any of it.  You will be right.  I honestly don't think he'll do that, partly because a mandate to purchase health insurance with no public option is electoral suicide.  The young will revolt against the Democrats and never come back.  Obama would have to be both a lying tool AND stupid to ditch the public option in such an obvious way now.  I don't think he's both.

Besides, he could always send a public option to the floor, watch it be filibustered by Nelson, and then let an amendment to strip the public option go through.  Although those cretins in the GOP would probably vote against that amendment too, forcing Rockefeller and Sanders et al to vote for an amendment stripping the public option if they wanted health care to pass at all.  That would be some high drama.  So I suppose I'm wrong, and Obama might conceivably report out a no-public-option bill to the floor if he really thinks that he can't make Nelson vote for cloture.

I still think that's less likely though.  We'll find out which way the deck is stacked soon, however.

[ Parent ]
If it's up to the White House, then the so-called public option is dead. (0.00 / 0)
Obama does not want a public option passed.  It'll be three to one against, and you know it.  We all lost this one, Mr. Bowers.  Sooner or later you'll realize that.

51 - Reconciliation doesn't work = Back to square one (0.00 / 0)
Many people including former Chief of Staff of the Senate Finance Committee Lawrence O'Donnell and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durban has said that reconciliation cannot work for the public option.

First Read (Chuck Todd's political unit) has confirmed this as well.

It's amazing how much people who demand the public option ape the far right who have a Ph.d in ignoring facts.  

Let's go back to Square Zero, instead (0.00 / 0)
The place where a single payer and non-profit private insurance companies are still on the table.

If we're gonna start over, we should try to learn from our mistakes. Yes, that means no more backroom deals with Big Pharma or anyone else, Mr. President. Here's where your convenient use of the word "transparency" actually has some meaning.  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Not entirely accurate (0.00 / 0)
You could, in the theory, pass a PO with reconciliation, but it would have to be done without creating new programs or structures, like an exchange, and it would have to show cuts to the deficit, which, in the irony of ironies, means the PO would have to be extremely robust(i.e. negotiate drug prices, importation etc..). So basically there's only one way to get a PO via reconciliation, and that's Medicare expansion.

Obviously, you truly see the hypocrisy and true constituents of the Blue Dogs and "moderates" when the CBO says that the most robust PO will lead to the most fiscally conservative bill, and yet not only would they would never vote for such a measure but they would passionately argue against it. That they get to call themselves "moderates" when they're nothing but corporate whores is truly the best branding campaign I've ever seen.

[ Parent ]
I dunno… (0.00 / 0)
...a few weeks ago when President Obama went around saying he'll "own" the reform bill that passes, could that have been the signal that he's really planning to have the last word? We know he's been whipping up crowds by talking about a public option. So when the smoke clears and the big, bad popular President says this is what's going to the floor, are the conservaDems really gonna challenge him? We know the Republicans are out of the debate, so passage is then laid at the feet of Democrats, which given public support of this bill, will weigh heavily in the midterms and perhaps beyond. (And right here, right now, the progressive threat of non-passage in the House seems pretty real, no?) I'm thinking aloud here; it's admittedly an optimistic scenario.

"This ain't for the underground. This here is for the sun." -Saul Williams

Optimistic, yes (0.00 / 0)
The President owns whatever bill they sign, whether they wrote it or not.

Maybe he'll just add a robust PO to the bill via the signing statement?  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]
Good one… (0.00 / 0)
...but here's the thing: Isn't the potential for such a scenario alluded to in this bit?

So, it is all about the White House demanding a public option in the process of merging the Senate HELP and Senate Finance Committee. So, we are going to have to start putting pressure on the White House itself.

We keep talking about the Obama White House not "twisting arms" in this cycle, but does it strike anyone else as odd that the President has been stumping for a public option on the road while pretty much staying out of the Congressional debate? Then, the Mike Lux flap last week actually pressured the White House to issue a public statement for damage control. The polls are with Obama, so it feels like there's a disconnect in the Beltway. If Obama didn't want to show his hand, it'd be a secret.

"This ain't for the underground. This here is for the sun." -Saul Williams

[ Parent ]
Yes (0.00 / 0)
One can make that case. But its a bit like reading tea leaves, or telling fortunes in Turkish coffee grounds, one can see whatever one wants.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."

[ Parent ]

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