So the pressure we brought to bear on Harry Reid's office over the weekend did have some effect. The bill does have a public option, despite mutterings from unnamed sources that the mythic and coveted 60 votes would be a whole lot easier without the public option. But we're not out of the woods yet, not by a long shot.
Now we get to see the Republicans really ramp up the scare tactics--telling the gullible and easily frightened that this is just one step behind the evil Soviet Empire that St. Ronnie slayed, with its government-run health care, all evidence to the contrary. Up until this point, Obama has kept the Senate dealings at arm's length, a political calculus that made some sense, looking at what happened to Clinton's attempt to get health care passed. But it's going to take some seriously strong political leadership now to make it untenable for any member of the Senate to vote against health care reform. As Mike Lux says, "Game On":
We don't yet know whether we will get the best version of the public option in the House bill, and the Senate version is not as strong as progressives have been pushing for. But strengthening the form of the public option can be negotiated over in conference committee, once we get there.
For now, we can thank Harry Reid (HCAN has a page here) and Nancy Pelosi for their gutsy leadership, and fight like hungry dogs to win the floor fight and deliver on this hope. In the coming weeks we will have an all-hands-on-deck, all out public war with the insurance industry over whether we finally pass comprehensive health care reform or once again fall short at the bitter end after coming so far.
Here's where things are as we head into the floor fight:
1. White House staffers confirmed for me this afternoon that they are backing Harry Reid's decision "100 percent." Now that's not to say they aren't a little nervous about it. I suspect that there are still some feelings by some people working in that building that progressives should have given up and rolled over, and let them cut a deal with Olympia Snowe on her trigger-written-never-to-trigger. That would have been easier than sweating what will undoubtedly be a very tough battle to get all 60 Democrats to go along with the rest of the party. But us irritating progressive folk got in the way of doing that, and now Obama knows it's time to stand and deliver. I believe my friends at the White House when they say they will do an all-out fight for this bill. They know that starting down this path, and not being able to pull it off, would be a huge embarrassment and destroy all the momentum we've built by making it this far. They are all-in, and know how much is at stake. Rahm Emanuel and Jim Messina are famous for twisting arms and doing everything in their power to get the votes that are needed, and now is their time to deliver.
That's where you come in. Progressive Change has a petition for you to sign to ask President Obama to stand firm and fight:
"Every day, insurance companies deny care and let people die. Getting one Republican senator's vote is not worth delaying reform -- too many real lives are at stake. We need you to fight and state clearly that anything less than a strong public option is not change we can believe in."
Go. Sign. Make phone calls. Let your voice be heard.