A gang of one
Word on the street is that the White House has told congressional leaders that it supports a public-option trigger in the final bill. Other administration sources are denying the story. It's a good, old-fashioned who-the-hell-knows?
It's always hard to evaluate these leaks. On the one hand, this could mean that the White House supports the public option trigger. On the other, the leak could be an effort to whip up liberals and strengthen Harry Reid's hand when he says that he needs a viable public option to bring the bill to the floor. Or maybe this is just the White House following through on a promise to Olympia Snowe. Or maybe this is the White House stepping in to play the bad guy on the public option to keep Snowe's vote. Or maybe it's an effort to shift the goalposts a bit to the right so a state-based opt-in plan seems like a victory to liberals.
It's all a bit hard to say. If we do get a public-option trigger, it will be testament to the power Olympia Snowe now holds in this process. Aside from her, there's virtually no affirmative support for a trigger. Unlike the state-based public option ideas, the liberals don't even consider the proposal a compromise. To them, it's simply a loss. Moderates such as Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh have begun talking up Tom Carper's idea to allow states to create their own public options, which most liberals also prefer to the trigger. The trigger concept is an idea with a constituency of one, but when that one is Olympia Snowe, it may be enough.
Photo credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg.
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