According to a source briefed on White House-Senate health care negotiations, the public option's saving grace was its political popularity with the Democratic base. The source described the back and forth between Senate health care principals and the White House as a "sort of stare down where the two sides were saying, 'you be the face of pulling it out.' Reid wants Obama to do it to give cover to his caucus, Obama wants Reid to do it so he's not the bad guy on the public option, and can still walk away with a win with reform, with bipartisanship, and with a card for everybody running for re-election."
According to a separate source close to both parties, administration officials pushed hard against the idea of Reid backing the [public option]. "I started hearing...in the days before [the Thursday meeting], that the White House was trying to fuck with them on this whole thing, and that was very much of a thread throughout the days before."
On the morning of the meeting, anonymous sources--and even some high profile senators--came forward to say that Reid was leaning very heavily toward backing the public option. And that's the news he and other senators brought to the White House that night.
"Reid actually asked Schumer to make the pitch," the first source said. When he did, "Obama was less than responsive and asked questions that suggested he preferred an option that could get the trigger and bipartisan support."
Now a number of bloggers in the know, like Mike Lux at Open Left, have disputed the claims that President Obama was actually leaning on Reid to remove the public option or add Olympia Snowe's preferred triggers. Still, one detail that no one is disputing is that Reid fought for, and ultimately achieved, a public option in the merged Senate health care bill.
And now, it looks like Reid may be willing to go even further to make it happen. The Huffington Post is reporting this morning that Reid and Sen. Dick Durbin may be ready to go the way of reconciliation.
As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid works to cobble together the 60 votes he needs to overcome an expected Republican attempt to block a floor vote on health care, there is still one powerful parliamentary weapon he could draw from his back pocket. [...]
"Sure, it's always an option," Reid said after leaving his press conference Monday, when he announced that he'd be pushing forward with a public health insurance option with an opt-out provision that would give states the right not to participate.
Reconciliation gained new relevance on Tuesday, when Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said that unless the public option is stripped out, he's prepared to join a GOP filibuster of the health care reform package. Without Lieberman, Democrats would only have 59 votes to end a filibuster -- one short.
Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who is in charge of corralling and counting votes, also said that reconciliation is still being considered. "The failsafe on this is reconciliation," Durbin said. "I hope we don't reach it because you can only do a limited amount of things on reconciliation."
There's no greater suffering that can be afflicted upon "Holy Joe" Loserman than that of irrelevancy. I have a feeling that even if Reid just threatens "the r word", that might be enough to kick Loserman into shape. And even if Holy Joe ultimately admits he's a Republican and joins their filibuster, he'd be pushed to the sidelines with some simple parliamentary rule changes.
And if Harry Reid REALLY wants to make Loserman's head explode, he can go all the way in bringing back the nuclear option! That might really scare the obstructionists!