Pelosi to Obama: We're not taking the public option out of the House bill

Not yet, anyway. From her office:

“As the President stated in March, ‘The thinking on the public option has been that it gives consumers more choices and it helps keep the private sector honest, because there’s some competition out there.’

“We agree with the President that a public option will keep insurance companies honest and increase competition.

“There is strong support in the House for a public option. In the House, all three of our bills contain a public option as does the bill from the Senate HELP Committee.

“A public option is the best option to lower costs, improve the quality of health care, ensure choice and expand coverage.

“The public option brings real reform to lower costs over the 10 year period of the bill.”

Kabuki or meaningful threat? A House source tells Politico there’s no way liberals will cave on a public option on the first House vote — but on a final bill, after a compromise is reached with the Senate, with enormous pressure on them to get something to Obama’s desk, they might buckle then. In fact, the more likely it appears that House progressives will have to bow to the Senate to produce a final bill, the greater the incentive to lard their own bill up with liberal ornaments to increase their leverage during negotiations. Also, as Karl noted earlier in the Greenroom, the more public scrutiny is focused on the public option, the less focused it is on other unpalatable aspects of ObamaCare like the individual mandate. In which case, there’s no reason to drop the program entirely right now; the mere possibility/likelihood that it’ll be dropped should be enough to stop the hemorrhaging of support for health-care reform in the polls.

And yet. The One’s burning an awful lot of political capital in this fight to end up with something watered down. Assuming he thinks he can peel off just enough Blue Dogs to pass a public option on the final bill in the House (and that’s a big assumption, I know) why wouldn’t he go to the mat to pass it in the Senate, too? Here’s Dean-o on today’s “Morning Joe” reminding us that if October 15 comes and goes without a bill, the Democrats are fully willing and able to use “reconciliation” to nuke the filibuster and pass it with just 50 votes, which may well be enough for a public option to get through the Senate. Why not do it? The Dems are going to own the bill one way or another, whether they do it with 50 Democratic votes or 60, and passing a bill with a public option would at least give their own side something to celebrate. The way they’re going now, they’re going to end up with something no one likes and take a beating for it forever from both sides.

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