Public Option Back on the Chopping Block

Reid has put the House healthcare reform bill on the Senate calendar to begin the Senate's action on the bill. CBO scores on the proposed Senate bill, which melds the HELP and SFC bills, are expected at the end of this week.

Reid filed a motion to introduce the bill on Monday, Nov. 16. Anticipating a Republican objection, the bill would be pushed onto the Senate calendar.

"A motion to proceed to the bill would be in order the next legislative day," said Reid spokesman Jim Manley....

Reid's action late Tuesday sets up a critical vote next week on a motion to proceed to the bill. Such a motion would require 60 votes to succeed — an important, early test of the Democratic caucus's unity on procedural votes. Several senators who caucus as Democrats have expressed skepticism about the bill, while others have expressed a willingness to support procedural votes. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) have both warned Democrats that they will target any senators who support procedural votes on the bill.

Republicans are going to target weak Democratic Senators anyway, so that threat is utterly meaningless and will be a completely unacceptable excuse for spinelessness on the part of any Dem.

Adding to the problem of scared Dems is the Dems who insist upon being catered to. Lieberman has now been joined by Ben Nelson in a vow to block a bill with a public option. (H/T TWI)

"Well, first of all, it [the House bill] has more than a robust public option, it's got a totally government-run plan, the costs are extraordinary associated with it, it increases taxes in a way that will not pass in the Senate and I could go on and on and on," Nelson said in an interview that is part of ABC News' Subway Series with Jonathan Karl.

"Faced with a decision about whether or not to move a bill that is bad, I won't vote to move it," he added. "For sure."

Note that Nelson didn't go quite as far as Lieberman in saying he'd block any bill with a public option, leaving himself room to do what he thinks his role is--negotiate something else. But his arguments are just as disingenuous as Lieberman's. The public option is not government run--it will operate on premiums paid into it, just like any insurance, after the initial set up investment. The tax increases on the wealthy--make that very wealthy--in the House bill are far more equitable than the excise tax on high-value insurance plans in the Senate Finance bill. So here's Ben Nelson, sticking up for insurance companies and the wealthy.

All this thanks to the stunning display of leadership by Reid and concerted arm twisting and lobbying by the White House after Lieberman pulled his shit. Yeah, right. Reconciliation, anyone?

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