Rockefeller, Schumer push public-option amendment in Senate

posted at 12:15 pm on September 29, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

If Max Baucus thought he had a prayer of getting a centrist consensus on his health-care overhaul bill in the Senate, his fellow Democrats have quickly disabused him of that notion.  The Baucus plan already costs $900 billion over the next ten years and relies on a tax that will likely never produce the $287 billion revenue stream Baucus predicts.  Now Jay Rockefeller and Chuck Schumer want to add a public option on top of that which will make it even costlier, both financially and politically:

Two members of the Senate Finance Committee plan to put their Democratic colleagues on the spot on Tuesday by offering amendments on whether to give uninsured Americans the opportunity to join a government insurance program.

While health care reform legislation in the House and an alternate plan in the Senate have included a so-called “public option,” the Finance Committee’s version, which Republicans haven’t rejected completely, has not included a government-sponsored provision.

Sens. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Chuck Schumer of New York planned to offer the amendments last week before the action was delayed.

Schumer and Rockefeller threaten to pull the string on an elaborate work-around by Baucus to gain the most amount of support possible for health-care reform, and it will unravel the effort.  Not only will all Republicans oppose any bill that includes a public option, but a number of Democrats will also flee.  Red-state Democrats such as Ben Nelson (NE), Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor (AR), and even Kent Conrad (ND) have already expressed deep misgivings about that approach and favor a different mechanism.

Rockefeller and Schumer claim that any overhaul without a government option won’t work.  However, they also have not offered any explanation as to how they will pay for the addition of a public option.  They also do not explain how Americans, now opposing ObamaCare in greater numbers than ever, will reward the centrists for selling out to a big-government solution.  They already saw the evidence of the backlash in hundreds of town-hall meetings and Tea Party protests over the summer.

Schumer and Rockefeller have shown their dismissive attitude towards the constituents who sent them to Washington.  How many more are infected with this hubris?  Probably not enough to pass this deficit-exploding monstrosity, and if anything, the pair may have pulled the string that causes this to unravel more quickly than ever.


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Pull the string? The picture makes it look like he’s saying, “Pull my finger.”

Daggett on September 29, 2009 at 12:19 PM

They don’t care about the people. They care about the money. The only thing they want is the premium dollars that people and businesses pay for insurance.

They don’t want to talk about the claims that will have to be paid – that’s the cost to future generations.

They want all the money from all private businesses (in this case health insurance companies) to go through Washington DC so that they can decide how to spend it.

I am sick and tired of people in DC telling me that they can spend my hard earned money better than I can. Keep your freakin paws off of my income.

ThackerAgency on September 29, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Give them enough string to hang themselves with.

DrAllecon on September 29, 2009 at 12:20 PM

Put in the public option, they lose to the right.
Take it out, they lose to the left.

THEY LOSE.

Bat Chain Puller on September 29, 2009 at 12:20 PM

So if it’s added to the bill, then not only will it have a public option, but if you don’t have insurance whether it be ObamaCare or otherwise, you go to jail? Is that right?

And there are some that still think the fascist and totalitarian warnings are conspiracies?

MobileVideoEngineer on September 29, 2009 at 12:20 PM

Hope so. We gotta make it to the 2010 elections without irreversible damage.

petefrt on September 29, 2009 at 12:21 PM

The more they spit in the face of constituents, and the more the electorate wakes up – the more likely it is that America can be reborn from these ashes of socialism. I am astounded by the lack of understanding of the political situation that Schumer is showing. I realize he’s not Rocket Surgeon, but he didn’t strike me as quite this mentally challenged. Like you said, he’s going to lose a ton of moderate and red-state support, and the whole thing will go away. I wonder if that’s the plan, to make this meltdown and start from scratch?

WashingtonsWake on September 29, 2009 at 12:21 PM

Thelma and Louise just revved up the engine. Please let it end up just like in the movies.

sherry on September 29, 2009 at 12:21 PM

Who wants some?

You… Schumer… you want a little? Huh?

LibTired on September 29, 2009 at 12:21 PM

but if you don’t have insurance whether it be ObamaCare or otherwise, you go to jail? Is that right?

MobileVideoEngineer on September 29, 2009 at 12:20 PM

Rape a 13 year-old. No Jail.
No health insurance. Go to Jail.

WashJeff on September 29, 2009 at 12:22 PM

MobileVideoEngineer on September 29, 2009 at 12:20 PM

yep, that’s right. . . they can determine a punishment of a year in jail and 25,000 dollars if you don’t buy insurance. But one bugaboo for them in outlawing abortion is that they can’t figure out a proper punishment for violations of the law.

If I told people they had to buy my insurance or I’d steal 25,000 dollars from them, or hold them against their will for a year, I’d imagine I’d make more sales.

ThackerAgency on September 29, 2009 at 12:22 PM

Other than the fact that the wrong outcome to this debate will change the entire character and future of the U.S. as we know it, it’s kind of amusing to watch the Dems scrambling around like pigeons in the park fighting over the spilled popcorn.

Drained Brain on September 29, 2009 at 12:22 PM

Does Schumer go out of his way to look so fairy tale wicked?

myrenovations on September 29, 2009 at 12:24 PM

Under the recently articulated HotAir rules of decorum, are we allowed to rebrand Sen. Chuck Schumer as Sen. Chuck Schtumper?

Because a good schtumping is exactly what he and his colleagues are about to give this country with that public-option amendment of theirs.

FlameWarrior on September 29, 2009 at 12:26 PM

I don’t understand how they think what they are doing will help anyone. If they can’t afford insurance now, with new regulations and requirements on benefits in insurance plans, the rates will increase. They won’t be able to afford insurance after this bill.

But if they don’t pay for insurance, they have to pay a tax. Who gets this tax? Can we use these tax dollars for other things or is it all going to pay for health care?

None of this makes any sense, and it isn’t going to help anyone.

My ultimate problem is that even through the rhetoric, I don’t know who this bill is going to help. The only thing certain is that it’s going to cost a lot of people a lot of money.

ThackerAgency on September 29, 2009 at 12:26 PM

Schumer and Rockefeller have shown their dismissive attitude towards the constituents who sent them to Washington.

Can’t constituents petition a vote of no-confidence to remove certain elected officials? If the elected ignore the majority of their constituents, I see no other road to follow.

shick on September 29, 2009 at 12:29 PM

Schumer and Rockefeller have shown their dismissive attitude towards the constituents who sent them to Washington.

Two of the sleaziest people in Washington.

GarandFan on September 29, 2009 at 12:29 PM

Pull this thread as you walk away

Christien on September 29, 2009 at 12:31 PM

These Marxist SOBs are so wedded to Socialism that they refuse to give a d*mn what consituents want.

johnsteele on September 29, 2009 at 12:32 PM

My ultimate problem is that even through the rhetoric, I don’t know who this bill is going to help
ThackerAgency on September 29, 2009 at 12:26 PM

How about the unions and the illegals?

Knucklehead on September 29, 2009 at 12:33 PM

Schumer is a great reason why the Democratic party should be outlawed.

Hening on September 29, 2009 at 12:34 PM

My ultimate problem is that even through the rhetoric, I don’t know who this bill is going to help.

The politicans and their cronies, that’s who it’s going to help. They never said this bill is to help the people. It’s for the government to control the people. They are just saying it’s going to help the people so the people will be ok with them putting it through. What they didn’t count on was the people waking up and saying Wait! No! Stop!

Brat4life on September 29, 2009 at 12:35 PM

My ultimate problem is that even through the rhetoric, I don’t know who this bill is going to help
ThackerAgency on September 29, 2009 at 12:26 PM

How about the unions and the illegals?

Sounds about right.

Ohhhhhh….. and also a BLOATED GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRACY!

zenscreamer on September 29, 2009 at 12:36 PM

Ed uses the term “pull the string” as the tag for the home-page screencap.

But, based on Schumer’s particular gesture in that photo coupled with the awfulness of the amendment we’re discussing here, perhaps a better tag would have been “pull my finger.”

FlameWarrior on September 29, 2009 at 12:36 PM

Ed, while THEY like to call it the “public” option, can we call it what it is…

The “government” option”?

Public option sounds almost public servicy.

TXUS on September 29, 2009 at 12:36 PM

KILL THE BILL!

Christian Conservative on September 29, 2009 at 12:38 PM

FBook Tip… From the developer of the Facebook Poll Application

No I won’t give away personal details, but the person who posted the poll is not who you’d suspect. I think she’s going to have a very bad week and will never do this sort of thing again.

No It’s just some kid.

freedomplow on September 29, 2009 at 12:40 PM

I can’t even think of why Baucus even tried knowing that his “allies” would tear it down unless they could add that which the majority of Americans don’t want, the public option.

Remember when the fringe media constantly harped that GW Bush was polarizing the country and then turned around to claim that Obama would unite the country. He united the country alright but in opposition of his progressive agenda.

larvcom on September 29, 2009 at 12:41 PM

They know a public option won’t pass. They just want to be on the record supporting it so their idiotic constituents will keep voting for them.

Buy Danish on September 29, 2009 at 12:41 PM

Ohhhhhh….. and also a BLOATED GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRACY!

zenscreamer on September 29, 2009 at 12:36 PM

The ultimate goal…if they can have one third of the population depending on the government for pay, there will never be another budget that won’t increase…and never an “anti” government candidate.

right2bright on September 29, 2009 at 12:42 PM

Public option is smart for Democrats — they should push it. They might lose popularity in the short run, but once private insurance is dead, everyone will be dependent on Government for health care and will accordingly be much more liberal. It’s huge for them.

Outlander on September 29, 2009 at 12:42 PM

Can’t help wondering if the public option is their way of killing the bill while appearing to want passage.

ElectricPhase on September 29, 2009 at 12:46 PM

General question please:

If they pass this monstrosity that doesn’t go into effect until 2013 why is it impossible to stop if the Republicans get control next year of the House and (if they pass this thing) I think the Rs have a chance of taking the Senate too.

?

Thanks!

Stephanie on September 29, 2009 at 12:48 PM

Thanks for the article, it reminded me to send an email to my senators. Again.

Cindy Munford on September 29, 2009 at 12:49 PM

Other than the fact that the wrong outcome to this debate will change the entire character and future of the U.S. as we know it, it’s kind of amusing to watch the Dems scrambling around like pigeons in the park fighting over the spilled popcorn.

Drained Brain on September 29, 2009 at 12:22 PM

Too true. If it isof any wonder to you why the Dem’s seem so obsessed with pushing HC trough despite the electorate, one need only refer back to Marx for the answer. Marx stipulated that state control over med care ws the “keystone” of socialism. It is the anchor by which the rest of his Marxist ideology is made possible.

Once they have the “keystone” where grandma or the kiddies cannot have access unless you meet their conditions, namely political compliance with the rest of the program, you are SOL!

It is emotional blackmail, which really come to think of it is the corner stone of all leftist policy. Ever more $ foe education, it’s for the “children”. Global warming, its for the poor polar bears, the earth we leave our kids. You can come with endless examples of this mechanism to pull on heart strings in order to engender sacrifices to their causes de jour.

The defining element behind “social justice” is emotional blackmail to justify usurpation of power.

Archimedes on September 29, 2009 at 12:49 PM

Congress itself needs overhauled and reformed.

Congress should cease legislating until it roots out the corruption, incompetence and sheer idiocy that comes out of Washington on a daily basis.

That should take the next 50 years, at least.

Then they can take on health care reform in 2059.

NoDonkey on September 29, 2009 at 12:50 PM

Schumer and Rockefeller have told the serfs that they will accept OgabeCare and like it.

You stupid, stupid 52%ers gave us this bullshiite. Thank you very much.

Bishop on September 29, 2009 at 12:55 PM

However, they also have not offered any explanation as to how they will pay for the addition of a public option. They also do not explain how Americans…

Explanation? Simple: they care so it will work!

mankai on September 29, 2009 at 12:57 PM

Why can’t you just leave me the alone, hmm? If I get sick, and I don’t have insurance, I’ll pay for it in installments. The whole reason why things are as expensive as they are is because of government meddling with the doctor-patient relationship.

Let me optimize my own health care costs by negotiating with my providers directly, instead of injecting a whole new host of overhead and bureaucratic costs into the situation.

How I hate these nanny-state soul-sucking leeches.

spmat on September 29, 2009 at 12:59 PM

This makes perfect sense for the Dems. If you think about it, this whole thing only works with a “free” public option in terms of nat’l mandated coverage. Young people forced to carry coverage? Free public option. Middle class families that see premiums explode due to Obama’s “reforms”? Free public option. Union members with bankrupt companies? Free public option.

Obamacare is a political loser w/o the public option. Turns out that it’s a policitical loser WITH the public option. They’re going all in on this – either they get what they want whole hog or they kill it by trying to get it all.

volnation on September 29, 2009 at 1:01 PM

Let me get this straight: Non-citizen breaks law to enter America illegally and gets free health insurance. Tax paying legal American citizen can’t afford health insurance and goes to jail? Can I renounce my citizenship and become an illegal?

parteagirl on September 29, 2009 at 1:02 PM

Just a thought…

Is it possible that Rocky and Schummie know the best way to kill Obamacare is to give the left EVERYTHING they are asking for. These two have been in the Senate for too long not to know when they are sabotaging.

This way they can wipe their hands of this mess while appeasing the left.

“Let them eat quail!”

GrayDog on September 29, 2009 at 1:02 PM

I loathe Schumer. He’s a preening wannabe tyrant. He belongs to that disgusting group of elitists that believes they know better than we ourselves how to run our lives. And how does Rockefeller keep getting reelected in WV? He can probably be defeated. Not sure about Schmucky. In his case we just may have to pray for an accident.

DerKrieger on September 29, 2009 at 1:03 PM

General question please:

If they pass this monstrosity that doesn’t go into effect until 2013 why is it impossible to stop if the Republicans get control next year of the House and (if they pass this thing) I think the Rs have a chance of taking the Senate too.

?

Thanks!

Stephanie on September 29, 2009 at 12:48 PM

Once a program is in place it is nearly impossible to kill as it becomes someone’s personal fiefdom.

We maintain a gov. facility, in I beleive Conn., that is the world’s largest bottler of helium, mandated by congress. Why?
It is a Def Dept project enacted after WWI to have a “strategic reserve” in case of war to float derrigibles(blimps) as a defense against bi-planes. Yep!

The TVA, Tennessee Valley Authority was created to promote the electricity use by rural Americans. This program still exists. I’d say the country has been pretty well electrified by now. In fact anyone off the grid at this date has gone out of their way to do so, and also in fact, we have new programs to encourage this behavior.

We have Prarie dog eradication programs that are at war with other programs to preserve them. It is insane!

No matter what “logic” is brought to bear a gov program once started it acheives the closest thing to immortality man will ever know. That is why efforts like Mandatory Gov run healthcare must be stopped before being started.

Archimedes on September 29, 2009 at 1:03 PM

But new democrat NC senator Kay Hagan says she won’t vote for a bill that increases costs and/or the deficit.

Taheehehe. Yeah, she’s lying, but still…it’s funny.

SouthernGent on September 29, 2009 at 1:07 PM

Until we have an amendment to the Constitution that holds members of Congress and the President personally liable for all spending that exceeds the government’s income (with the sole exception of national defense needs in time of war) and mandates a tax-rate (percentage of income) cap, we might as well sit back and enjoy getting skroot by arrogant sh!tweasels like Schumer.

MrScribbler on September 29, 2009 at 1:08 PM

Pull the string?

Was that an Ed Wood reference?

pseudonominus on September 29, 2009 at 1:13 PM

Those two socialist fools will stop at nothing to pacify their parasitic constituents that are constantly scrounging for more handouts from the nanny state.

rplat on September 29, 2009 at 1:16 PM

but if you don’t have insurance whether it be ObamaCare or otherwise, you go to jail? Is that right?

MobileVideoEngineer on September 29, 2009 at 12:20 PM
Rape a 13 year-old. No Jail.
No health insurance. Go to Jail.

WashJeff on September 29, 2009 at 12:22 PM

Don’t pay your Taxes = No Jail
Bully voters at the Voting Polls = No Jail

BigMike252 on September 29, 2009 at 1:22 PM

Pelosi and Schumer are safe. They’re walking the others off a cliff.

marklmail on September 29, 2009 at 1:24 PM

They haven’t even gotten close to answering the question of how much monthly premiums will cost for the public option.

If the premiums to purchase the public option are higher than what people are paying to insurers now, then what?

God, liberals suck.

13Girl on September 29, 2009 at 1:26 PM

Was that an Ed Wood reference?

pseudonominus on September 29, 2009 at 1:13 PM

“Bevare!”

Doughboy on September 29, 2009 at 1:33 PM

Schumer and Rockefeller have shown their dismissive attitude towards the constituents who sent them to Washington.

The voters who sent that clown Chuck Schumer to anywhere other than Ringling Bro.s Circusought to be dismissed.

JohnGalt23 on September 29, 2009 at 1:56 PM

General question please:

If they pass this monstrosity that doesn’t go into effect until 2013 why is it impossible to stop if the Republicans get control next year of the House and (if they pass this thing) I think the Rs have a chance of taking the Senate too.

?

Thanks!

Stephanie on September 29, 2009 at 12:48 PM

This one is easy. Say this horrible idea gets passed into law this year. Obambi signs the bill. We start paying taxes on a program that won’t begin until 2013, after the next POTUS election. Meanwhile, a so-called “reserve” will be built up over 4 years to supposedly offset the HUGE cost of this program for the following 6 years.

However you know as well as I do, that Congress will spend this surplus on other pet programs, and that the reserves won’t be there when the program begins in 2013.

In the meantime, the expected voater backlash begins in 2010. I do believe the House will change hands. I believe the Senate will be less lopsided, but I don’t think the R’s can get 10 of the 19 seats the Dems have to defend. I believe they can get 6, maybe 7.

So the new house in 2011 passes a bill to nuke this program. It doesn’t pass the Senate, thus this monster program can’t be overturned. Let’s say they try again in 2011, and it passes the Senate because the other Dems up for re-election get nervous. Obambi vetoes the bill, and the 2011-2012 Congress does not have the votes to over-ride the veto.

So if this horrible passes now, we are doomed until 2013 and we have a new occupant in the White House

karenhasfreedom on September 29, 2009 at 2:00 PM

Is it possible that Rocky and Schummie know the best way to kill Obamacare is to give the left EVERYTHING they are asking for. These two have been in the Senate for too long not to know when they are sabotaging.

This way they can wipe their hands of this mess while appeasing the left.

This was the first thing that came to my mind when last week (or so) Rocky came out and said publicly that the bill amounted to a tax on the middle class (w/o a public option). I thought then (as I do now) that they’d be better off killing this thing now and spend the rest of their lives blaming right wingers and the “evil” special interests.

Think about that last part. If they pass it, they may have a ST victory but they’ll get beat over the head with each tax increase, public option sob story, seniors crying about Medicare cuts and exploding deficit and UE number from now until the end of time. If it dies, and they can effectively blame the oppos, then it is a huge political mallet if exploited. I could be wrong but….

volnation on September 29, 2009 at 2:07 PM

Was that an Ed Wood reference?

pseudonominus on September 29, 2009 at 1:13 PM

“Beware! Beware of the big green dragon that sits on your doorstep. He eats little boys… Puppy dog tails, and BIG FAT SNAILS… Beware… Take care… Beware!”

Asher on September 29, 2009 at 2:08 PM

Put in the public option, they lose to the right.
Take it out, they lose to the left.

Bat Chain Puller on September 29, 2009 at 12:20 PM

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that the very definition of “Shah mah”, “Checkmate”?

Amendment X on September 29, 2009 at 2:13 PM

Now Jay Rockefeller and Chuck Schumer want to add a public option on top of that which will make it even costlier, both financially and politically:

Actually, the CBO recently wrote that adding the public option would reduce the overall cost of the bill to the federal government.

http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/105xx/doc10553/09-10-Response_to_Enzi_for_Web.pdf

Tom_Shipley on September 29, 2009 at 2:36 PM

And how does Rockefeller keep getting reelected in WV?

Good question. West Virginia may be heavily Democratic, but its citizens are not liberal. Rockefeller is acting like this is his last term. He is certainly starting to show his age, as is his wife. If he votes for anything resembling Cap&Trade, I’ll take it as his retirement announcement. WV has voted Republican in the last 3 presidential elections. Long-term Democratic Congressman Alan Mollohan ( one of the 15 Most Corrupt), just landed his first serious Republican opponent – state Sen Clarke Barnes. Things could get interesting!

humdinger on September 29, 2009 at 2:52 PM

Rockefeller, Schumer push public-option amendment in Senate

I realize that these two are on the Finance Committee but this ranks up there with “Sun still hot” when it comes to newsworthiness. The public option and federal funding of abortions are the political third rails of this legislation. Insisting on ignoring where the public is on these issues will, indeed, kill off this whole issue.

On a related note, perhaps that’s the purpose of the filthy liar going to Stockholm. It’s akin to a relative leaving their ailing loved one alone with Dr. Kevorkian.

highhopes on September 29, 2009 at 2:52 PM

If the premiums to purchase the public option are higher than what people are paying to insurers now, then what?

13Girl on September 29, 2009 at 1:26 PM

If that happens then there will be an awful lot of radicals who will look stupid. The reality is the opposite. The public option will be structured to undercut the private insurance rates. The taxpayer will essentially be paying to kill off their own quality healthcare and replace it with DMV-like Obamacare.

highhopes on September 29, 2009 at 2:55 PM

Schumer is a…

wepeople on September 29, 2009 at 3:00 PM

BREAKING NEWS! IT FAILED!!!!!!!

fbcmusicman on September 29, 2009 at 3:03 PM

They also do not explain how Americans, now opposing ObamaCare in greater numbers than ever, will reward the centrists for selling out to a big-government solution. They already saw the evidence of the backlash in hundreds of town-hall meetings and Tea Party protests over the summer.

Chucky doesn’t have to explain. He did not see or hear a single constituent who is against Obamacare. Of course, he spent the entire recess hiding under his desk, with his fingers in his ears chanting “Can’t hear you, can’t hear you, nyah nyah nyah!”

scrub_oak on September 29, 2009 at 3:13 PM

Chucky just finished saying that they’ll keep working and working to get a public option. During the next election I’ll be working and working to get Chucky a private option…in the private sector.

He said with a public option it will level the playing field. Huh?

He made me laugh even harder when he said “the more people hear about this the more they want it”.

You can’t make this stuff up!

NYconservative on September 29, 2009 at 3:17 PM

He made me laugh even harder when he said “the more people hear about this the more they want it”.

At what point do people say, “I just can’t take being lied to by people who are seizing my hard-earned money”? Seriously, we’re going to se a violent uprising if they keep this up. People want their country back from these crooks.

marklmail on September 29, 2009 at 3:25 PM

Looks like Nelson will vote for the Schumer amendment.

Ensign will never vote for it.

ROCnPhilly on September 29, 2009 at 3:32 PM

I can’t believe I keep having to refer to my fellow posters here as naive.

Schumer is doing what he’s doing because he knows he will never pay a political price for it. He also knows that any price the democrat party pays for it will be short term at worst. This is a fact. Need I remind anyone of social security, medicare, and any number of other failed programs the democrats have forced on us over these last several decades? And with all that, the American people just handed them the reins of the entire federal govt yet again???

karenhasfreedom had it exactly right, the republicans will not have the power to stop it. It won’t happen after 2010 (as she stated, only one house, if that, will go republican). It won’t happen after 2012, as there will never be 60 republican senators (look at a demographic map of the states sometime if you doubt this). After that, it is a de facto federal program that will never die.

And you few that think you will somehow resist this? Please, grow up. You don’t have the guns to stand against the federal govt, or even the state or local versions, and you also don’t likely have the inclination. Oh sure, you can talk big here on this anonymous forum, but you have to pay the bills and raise the kids just like the rest of us. And they know it.

Get used to it folks, people like shipley are now in charge and there is very little chance that will change in our lifetimes.

runawayyyy on September 29, 2009 at 4:33 PM

Why doesn’t Schumer go back to being the proctologist assistant he was before getting elected?

Cybergeezer on September 29, 2009 at 6:25 PM