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Asked about the public option trigger on CBS's Face the Nation, Sen. Olympia Snowe was clear and unequivocal. "It's not on the table," she said. "And it won't be."

Huh? This was, after all, Snowe's idea. But her colleague and frequent collaborator, Sen. Susan Collins, was even more clear. "The problem with the trigger is that it just delays the public option," she said. There's nothing wrong with moving toward a compromise. The problem comes when the compromise starts moving, too.

Update: Looks like Snowe was talking simply in terms of the Senate Finance bill, as opposed to all future compromise bills. She's still open to the idea in other contexts.

By Ezra Klein  |  September 14, 2009; 3:15 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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But the public option was already a compromise.
And the trigger was a compromise on the compromise.

Posted by: adamiani | September 14, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I think that the Senate bill won't have the trigger but that doesn't mean that the bill that comes out when the House and the Senate put the bill together that there won't be a trigger in the Final bill that comes out of the House/Senate bill.

Posted by: maritza1 | September 14, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I was sort of wondering how long it would take for Olympia Snowe to badmouth her own idea.

Posted by: JWHamner | September 14, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, did you think Snowe was a "get"?

You've said repeatedly that there would be some form of a public option in the final legislation. Well?

Posted by: scarlota | September 14, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse


you're being short-sighted. The public option was a compromise for a limited portion (although large segment of the Ezra reading audience). Single payer was never in the mainstream. If you watched the town halls at all you'd see that 10% at most wanted single payer. The public option is now in the mainstream with a pretty fair split for and against depending on what poll you look at and the time you look at it. 10-15 years from now if nothing is done (and I hope it is) then we'll have 20-30% uninsured or more and then you'll get your public option.

I myself have been in favor of the trigger because you don't get the government involved but the fear of the government involvement forces us all to reduce costs. That to me would've been the best compromise but I guess Snowe got talked to by the Republican leadership about staying on board. Its a shame. It could've worked I think.

Posted by: visionbrkr | September 14, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

The public option is dead. Has been dead for weeks, if not months. And I would be very surprised if the bill got more liberal on this issue in conference.

Ezra - it's time to declare it dead. If you do, your readers may move on to more productive topics for debate.

Posted by: mbp3 | September 14, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

So are they basically admitting up front that the insurance companies won't be able to meet even the minimal requirements and/or restrictions that might be involved in a public option trigger? If so, shouldn't it raise the question in their minds, what's so great about the current system that's worth keeping?

Posted by: bucky_katt | September 14, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse


If you look at the context of her statement, she seems to be referring to the Finance Committee proposal, which as co-ops. She's not referring to the final bill.

Posted by: JeffL3 | September 14, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Will Olympia Snowe buy a Thanksgiving turkey with one leg missing just because it satisfies her desire for an arbitrary 10% savings?

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | September 14, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

ENOUGH! Stop talking with these idiots and move on already.

Posted by: impikk | September 14, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Thanks people of the blue state of Maine for voting on personality and nice life story and persona instead of what they will actually do. That was more important than 300 million people having a truly good universal health insurance program for perhaps a generation or more before the next opportunity.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | September 14, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

The way this game is played is you stake out a position on the far side of what you really want. When the bill gets to Obama it will have a trigger. If only because, as Ezra pointed out in a previous post, that's the way they get it toi appear deficit-neutral.

Posted by: bmull | September 15, 2009 5:04 AM | Report abuse

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