House Democrats are coalescing around an $871 billion health-care package that would create a government-run insurance plan to help millions of Americans afford coverage, raise taxes on the nation’s richest families and impose an array of new regulations on private insurers, in part by stripping the industry of its long-standing exemption from federal antitrust laws.
Senate Democratic leaders, meanwhile, huddled with President Obama on Thursday, and lawmakers said Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) was increasingly leaning toward the idea of including a version of a public insurance option, albeit one that would allow states to opt out of such a system, in the chamber’s bill.
This sounds like great news, but as I read other stories this morning the air spluttered out of the balloon, so to speak.
Some reports are saying the House mostly seems ready, or close to ready, to pass a good bill. However, Mike Allen of The Politico says Pelosi doesn’t have the vote for a robust public option and is considering the “trigger” compromise as “the most likely compromise because it can probably satisfy liberals.”
Memo to Allen, Pelosi, et al. It will not satisfy liberals. We know a bait and switch when we see one. A public option subject to a “trigger” amounts to no public option at all, because the “trigger” will never be pulled without a bruising political fight.
For a rundown on the three compromises being proposed at the moment, see Ezra Klein. And then for the odds on which compromise will be accepted, see Nate Silver. If you go by Nate, Congress may pass something it can call a “public option,” but it won’t be what we want.
Matters are even more iffy in the Senate than in the House, as insurance industry lackeys like Olympia Snowe and Ben Nelson still refuse to support any bill with a public option, even with the state opt-out provision.
In pushing to include a government-run health insurance plan in the health care bill, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, is taking a calculated gamble that the 60 members of his caucus could support the plan if it included a way for states to opt out. … Mr. Reidâ€™s outlook was shaped, in part, by opinion polls showing public support for a government insurance plan, which would compete with private insurers.
People watch Washington in wonder. A provision with huge public support is considered “risky” in Washington. We know why that’s true, but it still makes the Senate look like a cheap carnival sideshow.