Friday 16 October 2009

Senate narrows it down to public option, opt-out, and trigger

Apparently the Senate leadership has narrowed it down to a public option, an opt-out, and a trigger; I think the opt-out is the most likely.

When the Senate leaders emerged from the Democratic caucus meeting, they were boasting that the caucus was united, but today it emerges that there was more squabbling about the public option than we were originally told. Rockefeller joined Schumer in publicly pressuring Reid to include the public option in the original merged bill, but it sounds as though Reid wanted to leave it out, and then try to add it as an amendment later, which is stupid because it could be filibustered.

Here’s the key: as it stands now, Tom Harkin says that the Senators have narrowed it all down to three options: a full public option, a public-option with an opt-out feature, and Snowe’s trigger. The trick is that if you present people with three options, they are more likely to choose the middle one, in this case the opt-out, which would be an acceptable outcome.

A problem with the deliberations in the Senate is that the 10-15 Blue Dog Democrats, along with a few centrist Republicans like Snowe, ALL want to be the star of the show, the deciding vote. We rewarded Snowe for playing hard to get, with months of adoring attention, and now a dozen other Senators want to be schmoozed and courted in the same way. To my way of thinking, liberals like Rockefeller held their noses and voted for the execrable Baucus bill; now the Blue Dogs need to hold their noses and vote for cloture, at least, even if they don’t vote for the bill itself. Mark Pryor says he can’t see any Democrat joining a filibuster, and he damn well better be right.

One bit of good news: Lieberman says he’s inclined to support cloture but he hasn’t decided yet. I guess he hasn’t decided whether he wants to be thrown out of the Democratic caucus, either.

House Democrats are talking about a negotiated public option, with a trigger that would potentially launch a Medicare-linked public option later on; that plan is actually to the left of all three Senate options, so it’s a longshot.

The insurers aren’t even trying to act in a reasonable way, to sway the debate. Guardian, an insurance firm, has cancelled all coverage in New York state rather than cover ONE muscular dystrophy patient. A Guardian executive referred to such patients as “dogs” which the firm could simply “get rid of”.

No comments: