The Waiting Is The Hardest Part
Determining whether a public insurance option will be in the final health care bill from Congress has been excruciating, and it's not about to get any better. I guarantee you it's going to look dead and buried or a rock-solid cinch about half a dozen more times before this is over. Here's what happened just today:
• Raul Grijalva said that his public option whip count is down to 46, from 60. And he wouldn't announce the names, which made it look like he was shielding the members who dropped off. Bad!
• Later, 51 Democrats in the House write to Steny Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi affirming their strong support for the public option. Good!
• Harry Reid backed off his remark that the final bill will have a public option. Bad!
• Later, we learn that the Grijalva whip count is probably bigger than 46 members; they just stopped the whip count once they had enough votes to block anything without a public option. Good!
• There's now a new whip count of all members of the Democratic caucus, on a public option tied to Medicare +5% rates. So far 170 members of the caucus support this. Good! But they need 218 for passage. Bad! But they're not done yet and Chris Bowers hears it's higher. Good!
• Andy Stern says there will be a price to pay for any Democrat who joins a Republican filibuster of a health care bill, regardless of whether a public option is in there or not. Good!
• Nobody wants to be the one to kill a public option. That's actually good! But they'll try to call whatever compromise that's inoffensive to the insurance companies a public option as a way out. That's bad!
I would recommend David Waldman's piece, because I think it's closest to the actual scenario on the minds of the Senate and the White House right now. Chasing this rumor or that can make you weary, however.