The public option gambit

Democrats are talking about reviving the public option. This time, they'd better not back out


Published February 19, 2010 3:20PM (EST)

It's looking more and more as if the Senate really is going to have a reconciliation vote on the public option. Whether this means they can get to 50 (and whether Vice President Biden would actually cast the deciding vote for it if necessary) remains to be seen. I'm guessing that at the very least they want to show good intentions, which means that base demoralization is on their minds. This is good. It should be on their minds. The mid-term depends upon it.

But I would warn them that if they think that building up the base's hopes on this again only to fail to even get 50 out of 58 Democrats it isn't going to work. If they are serious about rallying the base they need to deliver, period. No excuses. They have a majority. If they hold a vote that only requires 51, they need to win it.

I'm just praying they aren't going to have a spirited losing debate on the floor and then go the Evan Bayh route yesterday when he was on TV, righteously blaming the Republicans for being obstructionists (good) but also blaming Democrats for making the "perfect the enemy of the good". One more lecture about this and I'm going to put my foot through the TV. The truth of the matter is that liberals have been accommodating every damned step of the way, forced to eat dirt from backstabbers like Joe Lieberman and have been far more compromising than jackasses like Bart Stupak and Ben Nelson. It pays to remember that if liberals had their way we would be talking about a national, cradle to grave universal health care plan (Medicare for all) instead of this Rube Goldberg contraption that's been put together with toothpicks and ear wax. So lectures about demanding perfection really need to be aimed at the vaunted "centrists" and the conservatives, who made this mess a necessary requirement for passage.

The activists at the PCCC who are working on this deserve a lot of credit for plugging away and getting it back on the reconciliation agenda long after everyone else had pretty much thrown in the towel. It makes sense both politically and fiscally to do it and there's really no good reason that they can't muster a majority. It's even possible that the congress has finally realized this.

But if they are running the same game they ran before I can't imagine how much worse they are making it for themselves. They need to be very, very serious about passing it. This Charlie Brown with the football routine is what's killing them with the base. They just can't afford to do it again.



Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2010 Elections Healthcare Reform