The Actual Conflict
Chris Bowers makes a very good point about what's being left unsaid in the Senate about the health care bill.
There are 59 members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate, and the only Democrat to oppose a public option is Joe Lieberman. It takes only 51 votes to pass a public option through reconciliation, and the Senate leadership has not yet decided whether to use reconciliation for the public option.
And yet, somehow, we keep being told by Democratic members of the Senate that there is no way a public option will pass through the Senate [...]
It is strange how only one Senate Democrat has stated categorical opposition to the public option, and how the Senate leadership has state reconciliation is still on the table, but that we keep hearing from multiple Senate Democrats that a public option won't pass the Senate. Unless we are dealing with number three, then there is an almost conspiratorial code of silence among the Democratic Senate leadership right now. Have they decided they are not going to pass a public option under any circumstances, but they just haven't informed the American people about this yet?
Opposition is always framed as "the public option cannot pass the Senate", as if every Senator has done the whip count by themselves, and removing the agency of that particular Senator to vote for or against a bill. It just "can't pass." Except, I've heard lots of Democratic Senators on the record supporting a public option, but nobody on the record, save Lieberman opposing it. In fact, there are 51 members of the Senate who have said, at one point or another, that they are amenable to a non co-op public option. That's enough to pass through reconciliation, and while I find the idea that a public option through reconciliation would have to be stronger than it is now to be intriguing, in reality, smart legislative staff could figure out a way to pass a ham sandwich if they wanted.
That's not the issue. The issue is that the Democratic Party is conflicted over whether standing for some kind of values and principles or getting enormous donations from corporate interests. In a nutshell.