Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why Is This Even a Question?

From Firedoglake:

On the Rachel Maddow Show last night, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) publicly delivered a message that is likely not to sit well with Senate majority leader Harry Reid. Schumer basically said it was completely up to Reid if he wanted to put a public option in the combined Senate bill that is brought to the floor. (The HELP bill contains a public option and the Finance bill does not.) Schumer also said if Reid puts a public option in the Senate bill, it would not be removed and likely become law.

Well, first leader Reid has the option of putting [the public option] in the final bill. If he puts it in the final bill, in the combined bill, then you would need 60 votes to remove it, and there are clearly not 60 votes against the public option. And so we’re urging him to do that, and he is seriously considering it. Once it passes the Senate, if that were to happen, it is in the House bill, it is in the Senate bill, and it would have to be in the final product. So, it is very important to see if the public option is in the bill leader Reid puts together. He hasn’t yet made up his mind, but many of us who believe in the public option are urging him to do so. So far, we are getting heard.

The message is pretty simple. Reid has the power to pass a public option. If the public option is killed in the Senate, the blame rests squarely on Reid. The question is, with a very tough election coming up, does Reid want to be know as the man who killed the public option?

All true, of course. But remind me again why this is even in question? Obama, supposedly, wants the Public Option. The Public wants the Public Option. A majority of the Democrats in the Senate and the House want the Public Option and the Votes are even there for the Public Option. Can someone explain to me in what universe there is, or ever could have been, a question about Reid putting it into the Senate Bill?

The same universe that we've been plumbing for signs of intelligent life for the last nine months. The universe in which Rahm and the White House didn't bargain away most of the goodies at the start by accident, but on purpose. The Universe in which the Republicans insist on total accountability within their party and the Democrats never do. The Universe within which when major, powerful, political figures refuse to use their power to get something done you kind of have to assume they don't want to do it.

In his book "The Great Derangement" Matt Taibbi has a fascinating account of the horse trading around the war funding and the timeline to get out of Iraq. He argues that in order to get language indicating that there needed to be a timeline into various bills a whole lot of moolah and perks were given away to wavering congressmen and senators. After the timeline was used to leverage their bargaining power the timeline was dropped, but the perks and the goodies stayed in the bill. Isn't this exactly what is happening, in a double reverse twist, in the Senate Bill? It may be a strategy that, ultimately, backfires. But if Reid doesn't put the HELP public option in the final Senate Bill, or doesn't force the sixty Democrats to vote for cloture, and in the meantime pays off Snowe, Lieberman, and all the other wavering Dems for their "support" we will have exactly the same situation Taibbi describes. A good bill, a good bill with the Public Option, will have been dangled in front of the public as the reason we had to massage Snowe, Lieberman, Collins, Baucus et al... to get their "support." But suddenly they get to keep the goodies--like committee assignments and a seat at the table--but the Public Option, like the Timeline, will be dropped.

Some of us have been saying for quite a while that Obama's super deep game was too deep for a quite straightforward question of ends and means. Isn't this the proof? That Reid can even, for one moment, quite publicly, toy with the idea of leaving the Public Option out of the Senate Bill speaks volumes.


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