posted at 11:52 pm on October 5, 2009 by Karl
In recent days, we have been subjected to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claiming there will be a “public option” in whatever healthcare takeover bill comes out of Congress, and reports that the Obama administration is working behind the scenes for the “public option.”
But The Hill’s report on the Democratic negotiations adds this:
A Democratic Senate source downplayed any differences, saying that Reid, Baucus and Harkin cooperate well but that the Finance Committee bill is the only legislation that can pass the Senate.
“President Obama clearly articulated his blueprint in his speech, and everyone knows Finance has the bulk of the bill that reflects that blueprint,” the source said. “Everyone, including the White House, knows the Finance bill is the only bill that’s paid for and can pass. In short, the White House wants a win, and using the bulk of the Baucus bill is the playbook to get the ‘W.’ “
OpenLeft’s Chris Bowers notes that Reid has backtracked from his prior boast,as the number of House progressives demanding the “public option” dropped from 60 to 46. And then Reid’s office issued a modified, limited hangout from the backtracking.
The Wonk Room (i.e., George Soros’s Center for American Progress Action Fund) runs a piece explaining why Reid should stick with the Senate Finance Committee’s bill, and not merge it with the HELP Committee’s far more progressive alternative. It is a decent argument, but one awfully pragmatic coming from folks heavily involved in astroturfing for the “public option.”
The Washington Post reports in passing that “Rockefeller and other proponents of a public insurance option say they will fight to add the provision on the Senate floor or in negotiations with the House, which appears to have the votes for it.” That sounds a lot like an admission by Rockefeller and other libs that the “public option” may not be in the bill that goes to the Senate floor — and that the Senate may not be able to pass a bill with the “public option.”
At the Wall Street Journal, Stephen Moore reports that Senate Republicans are now suggesting a “pre-conference agreement” that would instruct conferees not to impose a public option as part of any House-Senate conference agreement. Senate Dems are operating on a thin margin that gives the GOP some leverage in the process, so it may be that everyone should take “news” leaked by the Dems in light of their need to establish bargaining positions.
Indeed, for all of the rumors of the Dems moving to ram a bill through the Senate, it looks like the Senate Finance Committee may delay action on the Baucus bill until the CBO scores it. Reid, not to mention House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, are talking about not setting any arbitrary deadlines. As with the “public option,” Democratic talk of lightning-quick action on ObamaCare may not live up to the hype.