Thursday, March 11, 2010

Health Care: Durbin Whipping AGAINST Public Option? And Reid's Voting FOR It?

Whoa, there! Just as we're all starting to feel better again about health care reform getting done, this happens.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told Greg Sargent today he'd be willing to introduce the public option amendment. But if Durbin's comments are any indication, it won't get very far.

"We have to move this forward. We know the Republicans are likely to offer a lot of amendments, and some of them may be appealing to Democrats, but we have to urge them to stick with the bill," he said.

That's upsetting to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which is pushing senators to publicly support using reconciliation for a public option. Adam Green, the founder of the PCCC, tells TPMDC he's about to launch an offensive against Durbin.

"We're going to make it radioactive for him to whip against the public option," he said. The PCCC will target Durbin with web videos. It will also, Green said, blast emails to its supporters -- specifically the ones whose senators have signed on to the push -- asking them to write to their senators and demand they stand their ground.

So Sanders proposes introducing a public option amendment to the reconciliation bill, and Durbin (who was supposedly for the public option) proposes whipping Democrats against it... Even though Sanders and 40 other Democratic Senators (including Harry Reid!) have all said they're ready to vote for the public option in reconciliation.

So what are we to think? And what are we to do?

I called Harry Reid's office. All the lines at his DC office were full, so I then called the Las Vegas office. Someone answered, and I asked if Reid is changing his tune on the public option.

The staffer told me that Harry Reid supports the public option and will vote for it if the public option amendment gets a vote in reconciliation. Wait... HUH??!! So Durbin is moving to the right of Reid on the public option?

Maybe, or maybe there are some inside games happening. Perhaps Dick Durbin's just floating this as a possibility, or perhaps Harry Reid knows that he needs to stick with the public option to keep the Democratic base here in Nevada on board with him. Whatever is actually happening, we need to kill this talk of killing the public option.

And whatever else you do today, please call Harry Reid's Las Vegas office at 702-388-5020 NOW to thank him for moving health care reform forward and supporting the public option, and ask him not to give up on either! It's urgent that we pass health care reform and pass the best package possible. And since we all know that the best package possible includes a public option, we shouldn't give up on it just yet. Let's also make sure Harry Reid doesn't give up.


  1. I was going to write this on Twitter, but it's totally failwhaling:

    @atdleft Sadly, I agree with Durbin. Get it passed, then work on changes. Each adjustment risks driving someone off and making it Epic Fail

  2. BTW, what's with all the hype for the public option?

    According to CBO, the public option was staggered to have higher premiums than private plans. It was designed to make nobody want to be on it.

    And of course, if your job offered health benefits, or your health care costs didn't exceed an arbitrary percentage of your income, it was completely cut off to you.

    Don't get me wrong, I *DEFINITELY* wanted the competitive public option that Obama promoted while he was running, but the only form of a PO that was congressionally approved was one so limp that nobody would choose to be on it unless they had something extremely catastrophic, and there's other ways to take care of those people.

    Progressives have just about made the Public Option into the Moby Dick of this whole affair, and while I understand in theory the reality is that in practise there's nothing there most people would want, and to shake the whole bill apart for this is not worth it.