Rockefeller opposes public option in reconciliation

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Feb 22, 2010 at 20:26

In a setback for the ongoing public option campaign, Senator Jay Rockefeller has come out in opposition:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) threw a wrench into Democratic efforts to get a public option passed through reconciliation, saying that he thought the maneuver was overly partisan and that he was inclined to oppose it.

"I don't think the timing of it is very good," the West Virginia Democrat said on Monday. "I'm probably not going to vote for that, although I'm strongly for the public option, because I think it creates, at a time when we really need as much bipartisan[ship] ... as possible."

Rockefeller added: "I don't think you [pursue] something like the public option, which cannot pass, will not pass. And if we get the Senate bill--both through the medical loss ratio and the national plans, which have in that, every one of them has to have one not-for-profit plan, which is sort of like a public option."

Rockefeller fought hard for the public option in 2009.  He led the fight for the pubic option in the Senate finance committee, and he helped forge the short-lived Medicare buy-in compromise.  As such, having Rockefeller turn against the public option is a blow.

What I find particularly difficult to accept about Rockefeller's statement is that he He railed against replacing the public option with co-ops during 2009, but seems to be supporting them now.  It is also difficult to accept someone calling himself a strong support of the public option, but saying that bipartisanship is more important.  Because, like, a lot of Republicans voted for the health care bill when the public option was dropped.

Still, in the end, Rockefeller is only one vote.  Democrats can afford to lose nine, and still pass the public option.  Also, there are other ways of achieving increased public health insurance, such as Medicare buy-ins, expansions of Medicaid and CHIP, or just directly providing health care through expanding community health center funding.  The goal is to provide more people with the option of choosing public health insurance, and that is still achievable.

Chris Bowers :: Rockefeller opposes public option in reconciliation

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if Rockefeller can't support it because it's too "partisan" (4.00 / 2)
despite the fact that it's supported by large majorities of the population, then we're done. game over.

Maybe... (0.00 / 0)
We can get him to support the compromise again with the Medicare buy-in?

As someone on Kos commented... (4.00 / 13)
...Rockefeller: "I'm strongly for the public option except by the only means available for it's passage."

John McCain won't insure children

I just realize another nonsensical part (4.00 / 4)
If you are for reconciliation, then clearly the public option issue is not about bipartisanship since reconciliation is meant to avoid the problems with trying to create a bipartisan bill. How one can be for one , and not the other - well I would love for him to explain that one.

[ Parent ]
It's not hard to explain (0.00 / 0)
Some people consider reconciliation used for other than its originally intended budget purposes to be illicit.

I would guess that Robert Byrd is in that camp (there is that thing called the Byrd rule after all) and Rockefeller may be influenced by Byrd in that regard.

My prediction is that, even if there are enough votes for reconciliation, there will not be enough votes to overrule the advice of the Senate parliamentarian on anything.  I think there are a few Senators who are going to be holding their noses because they think using reconciliation for health care reform is ethically questionable, but they won't go beyond certain limits.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
That does not make Rockerfeller's argument less contradictory (4.00 / 3)
His stated reasons is bipartisanship. Not the rules. His argument the more I think about it is a contradiction. Saying that it is about limits makes about as much sense as saying one is little bit pregnant.  You are either going to be bipartisan to get votes or you are not. Otherwise, you are just lying when you say you are for the public option.

I am against the public option in reconciliation to pass the public option due to bipartisanship, but I am  for the side car legislation that is meant to circumvent bipartisan efforts. Which is it?  You can't be both. The two are logically inconsistent arguments if the point is that one wants a bipartisan bill. by the very nature of what you are doing- passing the side car bill, you are not for bipartisanship when it suits you.

I will tell you what I think. I think Obama's hand is on the scale, and Rockefeller is providing the weight. I think Reid could not do it and  the White House is to chicken shit do it openly. So they are finding people who can hatchet the public option. that's my opinion rather than this non sensical we are a little bit pregnant for reconciliation but not too much.  

[ Parent ]
Ultimately it is about the money they take from corporations (4.00 / 3)
They, all of these politicians, are whores for the crooked SOB's who run the medical industry.  They will never vote for anything that will chip away at the stranglehold these leeches have over the American people and the extortion it allows them to manifest over people in the last months of their lives.

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman

[ Parent ]
Yeah, over on the Quick list about Glenn Greenwald's article (0.00 / 0)
he basically agrees with my thesis that this is just a game of rotating convenient foils so that the target is always moving but the result is the same with the party leadership.

That all o this is quite predictable at this point. that some one unexpected with say I am for or against x, but for me, here I think they are telegraphing that this is game too much because of the contradictions in what they are saying.

At this point, I just look at this as a way to see behind the curtains.

[ Parent ]
I disagree with Rockefeller's logic (0.00 / 0)
but it's not what you are saying.

He's not saying he's for the public option but against using a method that will get it because it will threaten bipartisanship.

He's saying he's for the public option but against trying to pass it using a method that will FAIL and will also threaten bipartisanship.

Educate, Agitate, Organize, Mobilize, Act!

[ Parent ]
bullshit- I am not even going to debate this sort of response anymore (0.00 / 0)
nearly everyone that I read online who I think of as being able to understand langage and how it is used says what I am saying about the use of the language.  

[ Parent ]
I guess you're right that there is no point in debating (0.00 / 0)
the point I brought up about what Rockefeller's argument is.

It's a waste of our time since either what I think his argument is or you think his argument is, I reject both as stupid arguments and agree with you that he is probably just doing the White House's dirty business.

Educate, Agitate, Organize, Mobilize, Act!

[ Parent ]
no wonder (0.00 / 0)
I couldn't get through to his press secretary. oh well screw him

Extraordinary progressive star in the making

I've called my Senators and Representative repeatedly (4.00 / 1)
I've called my Senators and Representative repeatedly to support the public option. But, I'm just about where Rockefeller is at this point.

Here is what I really need:

Guaranteed issue
No preexisting conditions
Elimination of anti-trust exemption
The price controls by HHS, suggested in Obama's proposal today

I want it this year, for sure. With that in place I feel like I would at least have a snowball's chance of starting a small business within the next few years without being uninsurable. I live in California, and am covered by Anthem Blue Cross, so I am screwed unless reform passes this year. (And maybe even if it does...)

ec=-8.50 soc=-8.41   (3,967 Watts)

My fear with this push (0.00 / 0)
and I've kept it under wraps, is that we'll come out with 46 or 47 votes for the public option, 50-51 without, and then have to decide whether or not to drop it or fight for those last three or four votes, which means weeks more of deal cutting and compromising that people hate.

[ Parent ]
Not only the Senate (0.00 / 0)
I doubt whether the votes are there in the House for a public option at this point. The existing House legislation only passed by a very narrow margin, before one Dem resignation and another Dem death.

Much of the work of the PO might be accomplished by the 80% loss ratio in the Senate Bill, and the new proposed regulations on rate increases.

If there is a procedural way (clueless here) to have a vote on the Medicare expansion without jeopardizing the core Senate Bill, then I'm all for it. But Rockefeller's statement is a clear indication that the public option is not politically achievable, despite public popularity.

There is a narrow path to achieving non-ideal legislation which is significantly better than the status quo. And it lies between spineless Blue Dogs and lefty prima-donnas.    

[ Parent ]
Still (0.00 / 0)
I think when this passes, progressives need to refocus on make the public option or Medicare expansion a future goal.  

[ Parent ]
You're where Rockefeller is? (4.00 / 1)
Pussing out in a giant act of cowardice, reflective of your insulated perspective that appears impenetrable to things like smart political strategy and responsibility to voters?

Man, sorry to hear THAT.  

Help us Optimize McCain! Use these widgets to make it crazy-easy...

[ Parent ]
Not exacty (4.00 / 3)
Like Chris, I love the Medicare buy-in. That makes a lot of sense, and would help a lot of people.

My problem is with anything called a public option, that is still on the table, other than the Medicare buy-in. Most of those other public option proposal don't seem very good at all. I am uninterested in options that are worse than Medicare.

So I will call my Senators and Representative tomorrow morning, and tell them I support the Medicare buy-in, but I will not say "public option" to them on the phone.

ec=-8.50 soc=-8.41   (3,967 Watts)

[ Parent ]
"So we didn't get anything." (0.00 / 0)

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

Jello. His vote can still be had. (4.00 / 4)
Jello Jay will not be the vote that sinks this. The problem is his stance gives other supporters cover to come out against. If momentum stalls, we're sunk. However, if we can get the number close to 50 his opposition will become Jello-like...

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

Here we go again (4.00 / 6)
Still, in the end, Rockefeller is only one vote.  Democrats can afford to lose nine, and still pass the public option.

Each one is only one vote. The next one will be only one vote, and the one after that. We've seen this dance before.  Discipline can't come because we can push back to prevent the last person we need from jumping ship. It has to come from going after the first one from jumping ship. The justifications offered for this are nonsense, and should be treated as such.

I'm not saying its over. But either Rockefeller feels the heat for this, or we lose one vote at a time until there are no votes left.

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.

Is it going to OK for them to say "no?" (4.00 / 6)
When Ezra Klein was calling Senate offices last week he found PO support was very weak. But the key sentiment expressed was nobody wanted to be seen saying "no." As long as it's OK for Jello Jay to say "no" it becomes easier for others to say "no." This is another reason to raise the heat on Rockefeller.

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

[ Parent ]
Exactly (4.00 / 4)
If there is no punishment for this, the number of people who stay signed on will plummet.

It's not just about this one thing - next time progressives are whipping for something, what will stop people from coming out against it if they think there will be no consequences from us?

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 ]
Ezra on Maddow tonight (4.00 / 1)
Says this probably kills the PO effort. Said neither Reid or Obama want to push it or be responsible for killing it. Almost makes you wonder Jello Jay's payoff will be for taking the bullet and being this round's Lieberman...

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

[ Parent ]
Ezra sees the death of the public option everywhere (4.00 / 2)
I suspect what this really means is that key Democrats hope it will be the end of the public option - Ezra tends to pass such sentiments along as truth rather than as what important people anonymously say. Needless to say, those are not the same thing.

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 ]
Kicking ass and taking names means (4.00 / 1)
We don't forget on election day.  If these whores will vote for the corporations when the chips are down our only recourse is to remember on election day.  We need to dry up their donations and make it clear to them we are doing so.

I think Harry Truman was the one who said that if the people had to choose between voting for a Republican or someone who just votes like a Republican, they'd choose the Republican every time.

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman

[ Parent ]
He is, as with all feckless Dems, either a coward, an idiot, or just offering up a convenient and lame excuse to avoid doing something that he feels would be harmful to him politically with little potential upside and is just not worth the risk. I can sorta kinda understand Feingold's opposition to it since he appears to be a process purist (which I don't agree with at all). But Rockefeller's not in that category and is therefore full of it.

All of which means nothing if it can't be used to flip him.

He does owe us over FISA, of course.

As does his good friend.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

fascinating (0.00 / 0)
these posts where Democrats in Congress are portrayed as working are comical.

Is there a vote needed to send it tobreconciliation? (0.00 / 0)
Didn't the Senate already vote last summer to allow a reconciliation path for healthcare? Can't the leadership just bring up the public option under reconciliation rules if it chooses to? If the public option was voted on under reconciliation rules, I'd like to see Rockefeller vote against it.

Granted, the problem is he's undermining the momentum to get Reid to put it in the reconciliation bill. But this is another example of clouding the issues: whether any given senator favors bringing up the public option under reconciliation rules should be irrelevant; the question is whether they would vote for it if it did come up.

Let us fall back to Howard Zinn (4.00 / 1)
and understand that none of these politicians really wants to pass a PO (well, a few do but it is too few to be done.)  They work for themselves, their re-election to the congressional seat and their best ally is the rich elite.  Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, Whip, Tory, whatever.  They need money to survive and the elites have most of it on tap.  Plus they have a juicy health care plan, they and theirs are covered no matter what happens with HCR.

Now, this is no reason to despair.  It is simply understanding the situation as it exists in DC.  It has always been so, it will always be so.  The counterbalance to this problem is an engaged and organized general populace pushing for their interests and being aggressive (but non-violent) about achieving their goals.   FDR did not pass the New Deal because he wanted to, the angry populace forced him to do it.  Same with LBJ and civil rights, would he have signed the law if MLK Jr hadn't been doing what he was and had a unified and aggressive movement at his back?  Very doubtful.  Would the PO even still be on the table if we had not pushed, prodded, and agitated for it since the very beginning?  It's death has been announced so many times Jason Voorhees must be green with envy.  It lived and revived because of us.  So don't sweat the count of Senators at this time or the final vote tally, keep pushing for solid HCR and we can get it.  The dirtiest secret in Washington is that we set their schedule as much as they do - we always have and always will.  

We need to keep up the pressure for the public option even knowing we are going to get screwed.  Then we need to be ready to immediately switch to Medicare for All (over 50) if that fails, then single payer if that goes down.  We also need to be willing to hit the streets and demonstrate in DC and around the country to attain these goals and force the politicians to do what we want.  Failure to have this sort of resolve means we will not get a PO, or expanded Medicare, or (eventually) single payer passed into law.  It is good to group online and plan our strategies, it is good to discuss tactics and sign petition of intent, but it is crucial to start moving off the couches and into the street for peaceful but aggressive demonstrations.  Nothing affects the established interests more than a physical group of organized citizens demanding what they want.  It's the way it's always been, it's the way it is today.

Remember, we need not wait for Obama or Sen. Bennet or whomever to save us, we have the power to save ourselves.  The ones we have been waiting for have arrived, they are us.  Now go do it!  Knowing all this, what is to prevent you from having real HCR and saving 40,000 lives a year other than yourself?

bipartisanship (0.00 / 0)
"I'm probably not going to vote for [the public option] ... at a time when we really need as much bipartisan[ship] ... as possible."

Really Jay?  Despite being conscious and with full use of all your senses during the last 14 months, you feel that it's still the Democrats who need to make concessions in the name of bipartisanship?  How about a quick graph (courtesy of Ezra Klein) to demonstrate just how much effort the GOP has put into meeting us halfway:


I'm not usually one to call people names, but the facts here involving our dear Senator are obvious - you just can't fix stupid.

Nevermind (0.00 / 0)
I just read @ggreenwald's post this morning and it reminded me (once again) that these guys aren't stupid, they're just playing us all for fools.

At this point a Progressive Party is direly needed.  I don't care if it splits the Democratic vote; the backstabbing cowards don't deserve to win.  Neither does the GOP, but at least they understand that treating their base with some respect is a pillar of electability.

[ Parent ]
Just send this to Maria Cantwell... (4.00 / 1)
Senator Cantwell,

I have been a resident of Washington for my entire life and have voted for you every time your name was on my ballot.  I was heartened by your support of a public option for health care reform.  

I write today to urge you to support the use of reconciliation to pass health care reform generally, and in particular passing a  Medicare "buy-in" option for people over the age of 50.  I have heard of your reservations regarding using "a process to end run" and having a ten year horizon for the legislation.  While neither of these things are desirable, they are far superior to the option of either watering down legislation to get meager Republican support, or even not passing legislation at all.  

Voters don't care about Senate procedures; there will be  little to no political price to pay for their use, especially when Democrats point out how many times they were used by the Bush administration to pass their ruinous tax cuts.  Much greater harm would befall the Democratic party and the country if only ineffective reform, or even no legislation at all, happened instead.  

Moreover, we have seen time and time again that major liberal reforms become hugely popular after their passage, even if they aren't at the time.  Health care reform and the public option will become just as popular as Social Security and Medicare are today once people have had time to realize how much it improves their lives and see through all the misinformation about it.

I urge you to publicly support the use of reconciliation to pass a health care reform package through the Senate, in concert with the House, which includes a Medicare buy-in plan or other public option.

Thank you,

-My Name

I really don't understand how Rockefeller of all people could come out against the PO (0.00 / 0)
It's like Tom Tancredo coming out and saying that our country could use a lot more immigrants from Mexico to diversify and enrich our national identity.

If this was a case of villain duty then the People in Charge made a poor choice, and should've gone with the regular anti-Public Option standbys like Ben Nelson, or with a fresher face like Tom Carper or Mark Pryor or something.  Rockefeller was a vocal and unflagging champion of the public option when he had no political incentive to be so.  There's nothing to suggest that he was insincere in his support and this about-face is not only confusing but unconvincing.


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