Last week I argued that the only reason the public option campaign went down to defeat in the Senate was because a few Senators lied to us.
I stand by that analysis, but it still leaves me with a couple of regrets about the campaign:
1. We should have been throwing everything at getting health care done through reconciliation from the start. If the only reason we lost is because a few Senators lied, then we should have been pushing just as hard for reconciliation as anything else in the fight. If there are bad-faith actors in the caucus, then the goal should have been to remove their influence over the process altogether. That would have meant conducting a whip count to reach 51 senators in favor of using reconciliation. We could have started it as soon as the budget passed with reconciliation on April 29th.
2. We should have pushed to expand Medicare availability, rather than create a new public option. As popular as the public option was in polls, Medicare is even more popular. It is also simpler to explain, and does more to build toward universal coverage through Medicare in the future.
No guarantee this would have changed anything for the better. We may never have found 51 votes for reconciliation, and there may have been the same, long, slow fold on Medicare expansion as there was on the public option. Still, as we look to the future, I hope any path progressives follow on health care focuses on reconciliation and expanding existing public options, rather than creating new ones.