Democrats may be assembling the circular firing squad
after the public option's defeat by the Senate Finance
Committee yesterday. But a few liberals see an upside to yesterday's vote. The emergence of Sen. Jay
Rockefeller (D-W.V.) as a champion of reform is just one reason why the public option might live to see another day.
- Looking Ahead, Public Option Still has a Chance Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic explains the ways that the provision could still pass. "Finance is but one
committee," he writes, "an
important committee, to be sure, but one all the same. The bill from
the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee has
a public plan. So do the bills that came out of three House committees
over the summer. Senator Harry Reid has indicated he probably won't
include a public plan when he merges the Finance and HELP proposals,
but there will be a chance to add one during the floor vote debate and
then again during conference committee deliberations, assuming the
House passes one."
- Public Option Gained Two Senate Supporters Steve Benen points out that while the measure failed, the Schumer amendment earned votes from two senators previously considered "on the fence" about a public option.
"The Washington Independent's Public Option Scoreboard
featured 47 supporters of a public option, 39 opponents, and 14
senators who are 'on the fence.' Two of those 14 -- Bill Nelson (D) of
Florida and Tom Carper (D) of Delaware -- voted for the Schumer
amendment," he wrote.
"Adding two to 47 obviously doesn't produce a majority," he added, but
it's an important step closer.
- Liberal Reformers Find New Hero in Rockefeller Jonathan Cohn heralds
Sen. Rockefeller, who emerged as a liberal champion of health care
reform. "Rockefeller sees it through the eyes of West Virginians making
a year--people who just want to know they can pay their premiums and
that, if they do, the insurance they get will protect them when they
get sick," he writes. "But for Rockefeller, it really boils down to a
simple proposition: A
public plan is good because you know it will always be there for you." Digby agrees, as does Marcy Wheeler, who dubs Rockefeller "Jay Rock."
- Could Public Option Pass the Senate? Sen. Tom Harkin told Bill Press,
a liberal radio host, he's confident a public option could
pass the full Senate. "I have polled senators, and the vast majority
of Democrats — maybe
approaching 50 — support a public option," Harkin said. "I believe
we'll have the 60 votes, now that we
have the new senator from Massachusetts, to at least get it on the
Senate floor. [...] But once we cross that hurdle, we
only need 51 votes for the public option. And I believe there are,
comfortably, 51 votes for a public option."
- Schumer Introduced More Viable Public Option Cohn also notes
that Sen. Schumer's version of the public option, though less optimal than
Sen. Rockefeller's version, has a better chance of passing. "The
odds are against enactment, particularly for the Rockefeller
amendment," Cohn concedes. "But Schumer's, which is more or less
identical to HELP's,
may be able to get fifty votes. Then it becomes a question of whether
moderate Democrats, even those voting against the public option, would
break ranks and uphold a filibuster over it--and how much Democratic
Party leaders, including the one sitting in the Oval Office, care about
the one or two Republican votes they stand to lose over this issue."
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