The P.O. Yo-Yo
Harry Reid pulled the yo-yo trick today. First some anonymous staffers were quoted in the NYT that the Majority Leader's merged bill that will go to the Senate floor would not include a public insurance option. Then Reid's spokesman denied it to Greg Sargent.
These yo-yo maneuvers really dispirit people, and I don't know if they're meant to be trial balloons or what, but the leadership needs to at least try to crack down on the leaks. Anyway, the public comments are quite enough, thanks. Reid himself called Olympia Snowe's trigger option "pretty doggone good" last weekend. Bill Clinton did the same thing on Meet the Press. There's no need for an additional article contributing to the death narrative. It saps the energy for reform from the most vociferous reformers, and that's probably by design.
The public option will come up for a vote in the Senate Finance Committee as soon as tomorrow. Liberal supporters admit they don't have the votes. But it will force many centrists to go public on the issue, opening them up to criticism. And even if Reid doesn't include the provision in the bill, he'll certainly allow amendments to that effect on the floor. So this is really just the beginning of a fight that will continue right through to the conference committee.
In the end, whether or not the public option survives depends on the White House's advocacy. So the only tea leaves worth reading are the ones about which politicians they are pushing to support the bill.
...I've now seen a couple assertions that 60 votes will be required for any strengthening amendments on the Senate floor. I'm not sure where people are getting this, but historically that has been something used to preserve the final bill. If this is the case, then, as Chris Bowers writes, Reid's inclusion of a public option in the merged bill really is the hinging point for whether or not it will ultimately be included.