Harry Reid and the public option
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.
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