Nadler: Dropping the Public Option Could "Cause a Very Big Split" in the Party

David Corn interviewed Rep. Jerrold Nadler Wednesday after the trial balloon of Obama's healthcare "reset" dropping the public option, and got a progressive earful.


"Without a public option, this bill will do a lot of nice things but only by throwing a couple hundred billion dollars at insurance companies," says Nadler, adding that a public option is necessary to hold down the cost of health insurance. "What is the point of passing a bill that mandates people to buy insurance that is going to be unaffordable?" he says.

Nadler insists that a bill lacking a public option cannot pass the Democratic-controlled House, noting that in July, he and fifty-six other House Dems sent a letter [PDF] he had drafted to House Speaker Pelosi declaring they would not vote for health reform legislation without a public option. (At the moment, it looks as if there's practically no Republican support for any health care reform measure that might be crafted by House Democrats.)

Though a public option can likely make it through the House without much assistance from Obama, Nadler notes points out that no such bill could succeed in the Senate absent pressure from Obama. If Obama doesn't make an effort, Nadler says, "I believe it will cause a very big split" in the Democratic Party....

"From a progressive point of view," Nadler says, "we've already compromised five or six times." He cites liberal Democrats' willingness to give up on a single-payer approach and to agree to several restrictions on a public insurance plan. But he acknowledges that voting against a bill without a public option will be a "test" for progressive Democrats: "A lot of them have said they will vote against such a bill, but will they?"

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