Saturday, 24 October 2009

both Houses moving toward the middle -- the Schumer public option

Reid plans to unveil his bill early next week. That dramatically increases the odds that we will see opt-out, not trigger. Schumer has spent weeks selling the opt-out to Senators, with considerable success. But the last we heard of the Snowe trigger, it was a crappy deal in the extreme, and nobody has either (a) repaired the bill to make it workable, or (b) started selling it, especially to suspicious liberals. And the Snowe trigger can’t be fixed, packaged and sold all in the next 48 hours.

Reid is canvassing the Senators this weekend. The trick is that he can’t go out there and say “I’m counting votes for both the opt-out and the trigger”, because somebody like Baucus can easily con Reid out of his shorts by saying “I’ll give you cloture on the trigger but not on the opt-out”.

Also, as I intimated earlier, House and Senate leaders want to pass bills that are close together on the public option, to make the conference easier. That means opt-out, because the Snowe trigger would be stomped to death instantly in the House.

The House is considering a trigger – NOT the Snowe trigger, which starts with nothing and shifts up to the public option, but a hybrid trigger which starts with the Schumer public option and then triggers up to the robust, Medicare public option. House leaders says the White House likes it. Currently the House is not discussing the Snowe trigger or the opt-out, although Pelosi is trying to get the SENATE to go for the opt-out, by speaking positively about it.

My proposal would have been to use the opt-out, and then use the Snowe trigger IN the opt-out – for the states that opt out, the Snowe trigger could drag them back into the Schumer plan if too many people are going uninsured. That plan would get more support in the Senate. But hey, they didn’t ask me.

So we could have the House passing the Schumer public option with the option of shifting upward to the robust option, while the Senate passes the Schumer option with the option of a few states opting out. Got it?

So both Houses possibly are tiptoeing toward the Schumer plan, from opposite directions.

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