Senate leaning toward opt-out; public option cloture whip count up to 57 or 58

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Oct 22, 2009 at 16:37


Democratic Senate leaders and representatives from the White House are meeting on the public option today at 5pm. I feel dirty linking them, but according is Politico, they are leaning toward including the opt-out in the merged Senate health care bill:

Two Democratic senators said Thursday that they have been told negotiators are zeroing in on creating a national government health plan, but allowing states to drop out of it or choose a different competitor to private insurance.

"I keep hearing there is a lot of leaning toward some sort of national public option, unfortunately, from my standpoint," said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), a key swing vote on health reform. "I still believe a state-based approach is the way in which to go. So I'm not being shy about making that point."

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said he has been told the same regarding the direction of the talks, but was assured the government plan would not be tied to Medicare rates.

If this is true, then the fight is no longer over whether or not there will be a public option, but what kind of public option there will be. Given how many times we were told the public option was dead, that would be a truly remarkable victory for progressives.

Then again, this so-called public option might just be a co-op. Tom Carper:

"I think at the end of the day there will be a national plan probably put together not by the federal government but by a non-profit board with some seed money from the federal government that states would initially participate in because of lack of affordability. The question is should there be an opportunity for states to opt out later on and if so, within a year, within two years, within three years?"

Either way, here is a quick look at the state of play for the public option in the Senate:

This means that the number of obstacles to including a public option in the Senate bill, and thus the bill overall, is down to two or three, depending on Blanche Lincoln.

We are on the brink of victory in the public option campaign. We only need two or three more Senate votes on cloture, and we have it. Very, very close now.

Chris Bowers :: Senate leaning toward opt-out; public option cloture whip count up to 57 or 58

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Carper's description (4.00 / 1)
sounds triggerish. States could participate in this non-profit plan based only on lack of affordability. If the Snowe definition of affordability or anything close to it is what he is talking about...

let's not be all stick and no carrot (4.00 / 4)
let's let the last few holdouts know that we'd be thankful for a cloture vote... and won't hold it against them if they vote their "conscience" afterwards.

we may as well use what leverage we have in order to get to 60.

maybe thank the white house. or heck, thank harry reid... if we don't get a story about him backing down 2 hours from now.


Both are always necessary, pressure must never let up. (4.00 / 1)
We could do a lot more praising and thanking. I look forward to the day that some proggy Rep puts a quote from openleft on their site.


--

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


[ Parent ]
Muddled Garbage (4.00 / 7)

This is so maddening and muddled. So much crap is being thrown around and labeled "public option" that it is impossible to reclaim a true definition of the public option anymore. They have successfully watered down the concept. Carper was quoted today saying:

"I think at the end of the day there will be a national plan probably put together not by the federal government but by a non-profit board with some seed money from the federal government that states would initially participate in because of lack of affordability. The question is should there be an opportunity for states to opt out later on and if so, within a year, within two years, within three years?"

This combines opt-out with triggers with co-ops, all in one statement on the public option. What the hell does "not run by the federal government but by a no-profit board" mean? If it is not run by the government and funded by govt. seed money, it is not a "public option". Rather, it sounds exactly like Conrad's CO-OPs! But it is being called  "public option"! WTF!


I agree (4.00 / 3)
When I read this quote elsewhere, I wondered the same thing: if it's "not by the federal government" is it really "public"?  This isn't a rhetorical question: can Bowers or some other expert answer this?  And explain why they're getting excited about this now, when they were so down on co-ops before?  It seems quite plausible that we could get out of this process something called a "public option" to sooth those who care about the phrase, with the actual content as gutted as Reid could possible make it.

[ Parent ]
Snowe is officially off the reservation... (0.00 / 0)
Forget about her public option comments, this is what will do it for the White House:

From ABC News:

She added: "Christmas might be too soon. . . . We should give it the time it deserves."

It's clear now that she is no longer negotiating in good faith... Sorry, Max... she's gone.  Even the White House won't kiss up to that statement.

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!


"Even the White House won't kiss up to that statement." (4.00 / 2)
My heart hopes you're right but my brain thinks you're wrong. The WH rolled over on the August deadline faster than Lassie rolls over for a dog biscquit.

[ Parent ]
Not like they had much of a choice (4.00 / 1)
I mean the bill was no where near even close to being done by the August recess. Look at how long it took to get the bill through Finance.

It was simply not possible to get a $900 billion bill on an issue that had eluded 10 Presidents through both houses of Congress is three and a half weeks. the August deadline was ridiculous.


[ Parent ]
No sorry, the White House did no such thing. (0.00 / 0)


--

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


[ Parent ]
Premature triumphalism (4.00 / 7)
I'm unclear as to the reason for celebrating about words as opposed to substance. Bowers writes:

If this is true, then the fight is no longer over whether or not there will be a public option, but what kind of public option there will be.

Or, to translate:

If this is true, then the fight is no longer over whether or not there will be a pony, but what kind of pony there will be.

If a genuine Medicare for All -- like Kennedy's original bill, with phased lowering of the age of eligibility -- were the outcome of this process, that would be a reason for rejoicing.

But triumphalism over a matter of semantics? Meh.

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


the fight is not over whether we'll get a pony, (4.00 / 1)
but over the context in which the word "pony" will appear in the final bill.

[ Parent ]
Yes, you're right (4.00 / 2)
I missed the doubleplusgood extra heaping of meta. Sorry.

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 ]
The fight is not over when you get a Pony... (0.00 / 0)
...because it'll be just the start for the fight for a stalion!

Pls remember, stomping with your feet and crying "but I want I want I want a HORSE" won't get you anywhere. Too much, too soon.


[ Parent ]
On expecting the worst (4.00 / 1)
The signs and portents look marginally better; I'd agree with Chris on that. Nevertheless, I'm still inclined to agree with you that in the end, this will be swell for the health care/insurance industries, and kinda stinky for sick people, or potentially sick people. I suspect it'll resemble something like current employer provided health plans -- the better ones. No pre-existing condition finagles, but nickle-and-dime co-pays, limits on lifetime care, the same bullshit arguments with doctors over whether or not you need what they say you need, and, of course, premiums which no one can afford even with subsidies.

Shorter version: Go ahead and expect a pony, but be prepared to don sackcloth and ashes when FedEx arrives with your goldfish. If I'm wrong, I'll provide the stones for optimists to throw at me after I've finished my crow. (And please, let that be the last reference to dumb animals in this crazy-making calculation of odds.)


[ Parent ]
Watch ABC's reporting (4.00 / 6)
I used to work at ABC and I know some of the people working with Jon Karl on this story.

Baucus' staff is trying to walk back Reid and ABC is reporting them simply as "Senate staffers"

ABC is jumping the gun somewhat on this. Reid is making a bet that no Democrat will filibuster.  


Let's hope it's a good bet... (4.00 / 1)
You'd think that Reid know a bit about gambling, being from Nevada.

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 ]
NBC saying hold on.... (0.00 / 0)
http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/

Although, they are probably making too much of this 'cos it specifically says "robust" public option in the narrative, which we know isn't part of the deal.

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!


'Ben Nelson supports the opt-out'???!!! (0.00 / 0)
Bowers has clearly gone wayward here.

The piece he cites fails to support his assertion.

And this NBC piece has him talking to some of his 'gang' friends about opposing cloture on the motion to proceed!

If this is a representative example of Bowers' vote counting skills in operation, we may want to check the solidity of some of those other votes he's put in the 'aye' column.  


[ Parent ]
he does support it (0.00 / 0)
he was singing yesterday about how wonderfully bipartisan and popular it is, so he pretty much made it clear he supports it.



[ Parent ]
Ben likes the opt-out (4.00 / 2)
because it means he gets to opt-out of his responsibilities.

He thinks that if the bill has an opt-out provision, then he won't take the heat for an act that will either piss off his donors, or his base (up to a 17 point loss in approval among dems),  and probably piss off the state GOP no matter what.

He likes the opt-out because then he gets to pass the buck.

But it makes me think that I should opt-out of helping him get reelected.


[ Parent ]
60 vote meme changing? (0.00 / 0)
I find it very interesting that the NBC post you link to doesn't just say 60 votes are needed.  Instead it gets into "wonky" details on Senate procedure.  This is a small sign of a potentially big development.  Even if we can't change the rules of the filibuster, changing the norm will accomplish the same thing, at least in the short term.

But according to Congressional aides familiar with the mechanics of Senate procedure, once a bill makes it to the floor it's very hard to pull provisions out of it -- like the public option. You would need 60 votes. (There are only 40 Republicans and maybe dozen centrists Democrats: let's call it 55 votes)

But the 60 vote threshold works in favor of Snowe at the beginning of the process. To get a bill to the floor, the Senate votes on what's called, "The motion to proceed." But to break the likely filibuster on that motion, Reid will need 60 votes. And that's where Snowe, Nelson, and other centrist could control the process.

Today, Snowe and Nelson strongly suggested their group would not support the "motion to proceed" unless they were happy with the elements of the bill, meaning it didn't include the "robust public option."

So even though this is bad news on the surface, I like the fact all the players involved seem to be treating this as a big deal involving arcane procedure.  Perhaps the "60 votes needed in the Senate" meme will finally die.  One can hope.


[ Parent ]
Wow. So close, and yet so far. n/t (0.00 / 0)


They'll ask for too much to give us cloture (4.00 / 3)
better to keep the heat on Reid and go for a real bill with 50 votes:

http://www.actblue.com/page/ha...


By all means, make them notice that there's an alternate path! (0.00 / 0)
Recongnizing that the Dems don't need to buy off their votes at any price because there's still a different way if they become too grredy will make them more humble. Their votes are just a COVENIENCE, nothing more. And they should think about this!

[ Parent ]
I smell steak sauce (0.00 / 0)
Per Carper, sounds like they're going to put lipstick on a coop and sell it as a public option...

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

Well, that's what you get... (0.00 / 0)
... when you advocate for [a|the] [Federalist]? [strong|robust] public [health insurance?] [option|plan], eh?

As Churchill said: This pudding has no theme. Steak sauce or no.

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 ]
Mostly Max? (4.00 / 2)
There were so many bad elements in BaucusCare this makes me cringe.  Mostly?  Mostly?  What about taxing good insurance?  Mostly Max?  What about the $3,800 fine and no insurance?  The more I here he's trying to take control, the less I like it.

He represents 1 vote and we don't need him or his vote and we sure don't need Baucus Care.  This does not smell good at all to me.

If anything like Baucus Care gets shoved down the throats of the American people,Harry Reid can say good bye to his Senate seat.  And he won't ne alone.


Baucus is really showing his colors now... (4.00 / 3)
So Baucus was just claiming that he supported a public option but wanted to work on a compromise as a PO wouldn't pass... Now that it looks like it will be a part of the bill, Baucus is pitching a fit.  He's really shown how big a shitbag he is.

Senator from Wellpoint (4.00 / 3)
It would be extremely conspicuous if Bayh failed to vote for cloture.


no votes for filibuster (0.00 / 0)
they may not yet have votes for po but i think they have the votes for clouture. if that makes sense.  

Disagree.. (0.00 / 0)
#58: Blanche Lincoln faces a tough re-election fight, and will need support for Democratic and progressive groups.

Perhaps, but she needs the confidence of Arkansans more, a state which went McCain +20 in '08.  PO cloture won't get Lincoln.

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