The “60 vote” bar on the public option was always a sham. But now that it’s gone, nobody wants to be Joe Lieberman and play the role of spoiler so PhRMA can have their deal.
I’ve spoken to a lot of offices about this now, and all of them are ambivalent privately, even if they’re supportive publicly. No one feels able to say no to this letter, but none of them seem interested in reopening the wars over the public option. That’s why the White House kicked this at Reid and Reid tossed it back at the White House. If the public option is a done deal, everyone will sign on the dotted line. But between here and there is a lot of work that no one seems committed to doing, and that many fear will undermine the work being done on the rest of the bill.
I totally support the efforts of the PCCC, DFA, CREDO and MoveOn to force the issue on the public option. There is absolutely zero reason not to include it in a health care bill passed through reconciliation, and everyone in Congress needs to be reminded of that fact. The last of the rationalizations for ditching the public option have been peeled off the pundit apologists, who now stand naked and exposed atop their piles of selectively chosen factoids and statistics. (And therein lies the danger of laundering “tips” fed to you by “anonymous sources” who keep their hands clean while you affix your name — you ultimately have to own it.)
But the bottom line is that the health care bill that the White House drafted, the one they pushed through the Senate, the only one they ever wanted, is dead. There is not enough graft and payola in the world to get the Blue Dogs to line up for Martha Coakley duty. The only thing that MIGHT get their support is the cover of GOP votes, but there’s a lot more political hay to be made in GOP-leaning districts by opposing the wildly unpopular White House bill. Americans still want health care reform. They just don’t trust this bill, for good reason — and they’re not going to.
And what’s more, everyone knows it. Ezra says the White House is sticking to its guns, and a public option won’t be in the bill that they unveil on Monday. And that’s because there is no “Plan B.” There never was. Nobody thought it through. The administration is now consumed with the “blame game,” pointing fingers and fighting over who will walk the plank for the failure of “health insurance reform.”
Health care reform can still be achieved, but it’s going to have to be in a series of smaller steps that don’t involve sacrificing cost control to well-funded corporate lobbies trying to bribe their way into profitability. But it will be a while until everyone comes to grips with that fact.
In the mean time, as someone who watched health care reform step-by-step along the way, this is Rahm’s fuckup. He did this. And Obama deserves his share of the blame because he empowered Rahm. Any attempt to offload responsibility to Axelrod, Gibbs, or Jarrett is a ludicrous exercise in irrational denial.
Update: Jon Walker adds: “What a strange ‘Democracy’ we live in that an idea is too popular for any to stand against yet it might bring down the whole party and health care reform because many so deeply hate their supporters.”