I’m going to assume that Reid has already ruled this out categorically and what’s happening now is pure pandering to the left, but two days after writing this post, I still don’t see why this is such an insane gambit. Remember, according to PPP, most of the people who oppose O-Care are already committed to voting against the Dems this fall. They won’t take many more casualties by going to the wall on this and trying to push a public option through.

So, assuming they can manipulate their numbers enough to get CBO to score the public plan as somehow reducing the deficit, why not push?

Senators Barbara Boxer, Jack Reed and Tom Udall have all now signed the letter pushing for a reconcilation vote on the public option, the group organizing the push confirms, bringing the total of Senators now pushing for the vote to roughly a fourth of the Dem caucus.

That means the number of signatories to the letter, which calls on Harry Reid to allow a vote on the public option under reconcilation rules, has more than tripled in two days.

“Going from 0 to 4 to 14 senators on the record in 2 days?” Adam Green, a spokesman for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, emails. “This is what momentum looks like.”…

What’s interesting here is that the range of Senators now signing the letter goes well beyond those who are conventional liberals or facing tough primary challenges. The ones to watch now: Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin, neither of whom have taken a position on this.

What’s giving Reid pause here, I assume, is the fact that he’d have to use reconciliation to pass the public option, which may be (a) procedurally impossible and (b) politically explosive. While the Dems have already taken the brunt of the hit by backing O-Care, it could be that there’s a faction of centrists out there that will tolerate them passing a bill, but only if they do it with the standard above-board 60 votes. If they try to do an end-around Scott Brown and the GOP by using reconciliation — which, interestingly, even Evan Bayh now tentatively supports — that might land them in deeper trouble with the public notwithstanding the popularity of the program they’re using reconciliation to pass. If Reid and The One ultimately keep the public option out, I’ll have to assume that’s why. Or am I missing some alternate explanation?

Exit question via Newt Gingrich: Is it time for the GOP to compromise? We hold (most of) the cards, so it’d be on our terms. I think.