Last night on Countdown, Eugene Robinson and Keith Olbermann agreed on the risks for Obama: If he doesn't come up with a viable public option, he will very likely face a challenger in the Democratic primary.
Olbermann: But what about the risk of passing some sort of interim measure here and we hear Congressman [Raul] Grijalva, who's the head of the Progressive Caucus having released a statement last night about grave concerns about these contacts supposedly from the administration to health care reform advocacy organizations they are going to cease supporting the public option. What good does it profit a man to win a bill and lose the base of his party?
Robinson: In the medium term and in the long run it doesn't strike me as a great idea. I mean look, you could say okay, this is the best bill we can get. Is the liberal Progressive Caucus going to thwart what is possible in search of the perfect? And so you could put them in that position and you could maybe wrestle them into going along with what they consider a bad bill, but there's a lot else on the table. He's, our involvement in Afghanistan is deepening, we're talking about Iraq, we're talking about Guantanamo. We're talking about a lot of issues on which the Progressive Caucus is going to have a lot to say and I don't think you want them to be in a foul mood.
Olbermann: No, no, no because he's compromised on everything so far and as self defeating as it might be, the Progressive Caucus and progressives would abandon him if necessary if this were to be the policy of this administration into 2012. If it's necessary to find somebody else to run against him, I think they'd do it no matter how destructive that might seem at face value.
Robinson: Well, I think that is possible. We are a more polarized nation right now and I think searching for a mythical center, a mythical compromise between doing something and doing nothing, ah... there's nothing in the middle there, you know. Either you're going to do something or you're not and I think you've got to choose.
Olbermann: The middle has been nothing all this time. This is just a different variant of it.
Meanwhile, the House Dems' Progressive Caucus has fired a return shot across the bow. Last night they delivered a letter to the White House: Not only will they not support a House bill, they will not vote for the final bill without it and asked for a meeting with the president:
We continue to support the robust public option that was reported out of the Committees on Ways and Means and Education and Labor and will not vote for a weakened bill on the House Floor or returning from a Conference with the Senate.
Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, a public option built on the Medicare provider system and with reimbursement based on Medicare rates-not negotiated rates-is unacceptable.(...)
A health reform bill without a robust public option will not achieve the health reform this country so desperately needs. We cannot vote for anything less.
To date, only six members have signed. If they get to 40, we have a very different ballgame.