Why Arlen Specter's Health Care Defection is Still Kind of Depressing

In a validation of the progressive primary challenge strategy, Arlen Specter today reversed his position on a public health care option.


Here was Arlen Specter on May 3rd when he was up by 40 points in his primary campaign against Joe Sestak:

MR. GREGORY:  Let me--I just want to turn, then, to the issue of health care. You would not support a public plan?

SEN. SPECTER:  That's what I said...

MR. GREGORY:  OK.

SEN. SPECTER:  ...and that's what I meant.

Specter meant it so much that now, seven weeks later, with his lead over Joe Sestak reduced to 20 points (see polling trends here), that he has completely reversed his position:

Speaking moments ago to a large and animated crowd of union organizers and health reform advocates in a brewing house just North of the Capitol, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) said he supports a public insurance option.

"Schumer has it right about having a public component," Specter said.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has taken a lead role on negotiations over the public option in the Senate Finance Committee, and earlier this year proposed a compromise: the committee's health care bill should include a public plan, he said, but one that competes on a level playing field with other insurers.

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