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Harry Reid and the public option

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Politico's Pulse offers this rundown of Harry Reid's evolving thinking on the public option:

WHY THE SENATE BILL MAY INCLUDE A PUBLIC OPTION: The public option was front and center again yesterday, with President Obama’s senior aides reiterating the White House position that Obama supports a government-run option -- but isn’t demanding one. Fortunately for public-option supporters, they may not need much more presidential support now that reform has fallen into Senate Majority Leader Reid’s lap. Unions and progressives have been aggressively railing against a Senate Finance bill that they call a giveaway to insurance companies. And this week, progressives will begin running ads in Reid’s home state of Nevada asking whether he’s strong enough to get a public option passed.

The conventional wisdom has been that Reid would not include a public option in the bill he takes to the floor, but would give liberals the chance to add it later. Now, Reid could diffuse a lot of progressives’ animus by doing the reverse -- including a public option in the bill he brings to the floor, but giving opponents the chance to strip it out. The move could increase his progressive cred and prevent a backlash from the very allies whose help he will need in what’s shaping up to be a very tough re-election campaign.

I've heard a lot of conflicting things about Reid's intent on the public option, so I'm going to steer clear of any predictions. But it's worth keeping one thing in mind: These two outcomes are not equal. If Reid includes some kind of public option in the compromise bill, then it will take 60 votes to strip it out on the floor. If he does not include some type of public option in the bill, then it will take 60 votes to add it on the floor. In other words, getting your priorities met during the Senate negotiations means you don't have to face the filibuster, and your opponents do. It's a huge advantage.

Photo credit: Melina Mara -- The Washington Post.

By Ezra Klein  |  October 19, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Comments

again, as said before (ad nauseum)its a matter of if the democrats think they have all of their "ducks in a row" in their caucus.

If they put it in at this point they're hedging their bet that no democrat will vote to deny cloture because everything that has been worked on over the last several years towards this point could be destroyed by that. That's a mighty big risk to take on for that public option, especially when other things can be done to "keep insurers honest" as they like to put it.

Oh and on state of the union I believe WH officials also backed away from the "requirement" that the public option be included. Also Senator Conrad basically said he'd vote against a plan with a public option tied to Medicare rates.

Posted by: visionbrkr | October 19, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

So like can we camp out in front of his office?

Posted by: leoklein | October 19, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

"In other words, getting your priorities met during the Senate negotiations means you don't have to face the filibuster, and your opponents do. It's a huge advantage."


Ezra -- The 60 vote requirement is to end deabate, 51 are all it takes to pass an amendment. If an amendment (pro or con) is allowed without a prior time agreement, it will take 60 votes to end debate on that amendment. If Reid does not include a public option and an amendment to include one is ruled germaine, it will require 60 votes to end debate. If he does include the public option in the underlying bill and an amendment to remove it is ruled germaine, it will still require 60 votes to end debate. A filibuster works just as effectively under either scenario.

The only way to avoid a filibuster is to get a ruling from the parliamenatian that would facilitate the reconciliation option. The problem Reid faces is that to get such a ruling he would need to force the parliamentarian ignore all vestiges of prior Senate proceedings as well as abandon any shred of proffessional ethics.

In other words, the reconciliation option will be announced within the next two weeks and forced through by Thanksgiving.

Posted by: WoodbridgeVa1 | October 19, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

In other words, the reconciliation option will be announced within the next two weeks and forced through by Thanksgiving.

Posted by: WoodbridgeVa1 | October 19, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse


wouldn't it be sad if this happened and the public option had its "sunset" one year into its inception thanks to reconciliation rules. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place.

Posted by: visionbrkr | October 19, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

The robust public option--the only one that makes sense--doesn't even have a spokesperson at the merger. Not Reid. Not Baucus. Not Dodd. Not the White House. What chance does real reform have???

It appears that the White House never had a solid Public Option strategy at all. Otherwise they wouldn't have let the HELP version get so screwed up. And they wouldn't have had their most politically-vulnerable guys on the front line making such an explosive decision.

Posted by: bmull | October 19, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

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