First I want to say that I had an incredible time at Netroots Nation. What a treat to see so many in the liberal blogosphere gather to discuss health care and virtually every other issue we face. Kudos to all the politicians who showed up to represent their positions as well.
Anyway, a huge topic that was raging through the weekend was the state of the 'public option.' Since the Baucus Dogs haven't finished their bill we still don't have the goods to really make any sense of what the House of Lords is going to put forth. We do have the Senate HELP committee bill, but the Baucus Dogs are trying to muck up the works by stalling the process and trying to empower the teabaggers. Any member of Congress that is affected by the lunatic fringe appearing at these events should resign immediately.
I was talking to Digby at length about it over the weekend and she said she had a meeting with Mike Lux and he laid out a possible scenario to her that could come to pass even if Grassley, Bayh, Conrad, Baucus, Nelson and the rest of the paid off shills of the health insurance industry come out with a bill that doesn't have a 'public option.'
He later wrote about it in his piece: The News of Its Death Is Greatly Exaggerated
Here are a couple of possibilities for getting a bill passed:
A. The first is that conservative Senators are given a fig leaf compromise on the public option, so that they can say to people they forced a compromise, and then are brought over with all kinds of other incentives that make them more comfortable with the bigger bill.
B. The second is that the conference committee simply breaks the bill in half, one half being the less controversial part that everyone agrees upon, the other being the public option and the financing, both of which can go through the reconciliation process. Then Obama and Reid muscle the 50 votes they need for support.
None of this is easy, and none of it is pretty, but having been through a ton of these kinds of issue fights, both from inside the Clinton White House and from the outside, I can tell you that all of this is doable. These kinds of rhetorical logjams happen all the time, where it looks like the House and the Senate are both unalterably dug in, and then magically deals get done. On important bills, effective Presidents and Congressional leaders find some tough-to-thread-the-needle sweet spot, or they use some uncomfortable or inelegant legislative tool, and things that matter can get done. The media and establishment conventional wisdom, which always tends toward the dire and toward the conservative scenarios, is sometimes proven wrong. So ye of little faith, do not give up hope. The worst thing sometimes happens, but not always. Politicians sometimes sell people out, but not always. Keep fighting for the public option. If you're looking for inspiration, take a page out of Gov. Dean's book. I co-moderated this part wonky, part political, part fiery panel (along with the wonderful Texas AFT union organizer Tanya Tarr) with Gov. Dean, and I'm sharing it with you because like me, he still believes hope for a public option is still alive and worth fighting for...read on
There have been so many mistakes in the way the Democratic Party has framed the health care debate that I'm not saying the plan Lux wrote about is going to come to pass, but it is a possibility. He is a man that has credibility because he's been part of Obama's transition team and has been involved in tough negotiations throughout his political career. It will take a strong will by the progressives in Congress to get a public option passed, but they can do it. We've been holding their feet to the fire for months now and they've made pledges and promises on the record so it's not like they can duck and hide from their own words. Nothing has been finalized yet so no mater what spin you hear, it's not over yet. Blue America and the entire liberal blogosphere has been pushing hard and will continue to do so.
But with the right combination of activist stubbornness, political acumen and presidential commitment, this could be a way this plays out...
This all depends upon progressives keeping their noses to the grindstone and fighting for the public option even if it feels futile. This is a negotiation and nothing is final until the votes are cast. It's vitally important to keep up the pressure however we can. As long as there is a possible scenario like this one, I refuse to completely give in to pessimism. Sometimes the good guys do win one.
We have many more actions coming up and we will not stop fighting.
It's pretty clear that they're not down with the kabuki play, and are serious about conference. Well played, progressives.
Only an arrogant nitwit would believe they could negotiate a deal that gave health care away to the pharmaceutical industry, the doctors, the hospitals and the insurance companies, tie everyone's hands and keep the government from being able to negotiate costs for the next decade and then jam it on progressives to sell in their districts at the end the end of the process.
How you doin' today, Rahm? Hope you enjoyed your trip under the bus, courtesy of the New York Times on Saturday. Nice pushback to your attempts to make Max Baucus and Jim Messina the scapegoats for your grand mess.
This has been Rahm's baby all along and he knows we'll be a huge thorn in his side all the way. All THE WAY!