House Progressive Caucus to Obama: No Public-Option, No Support
The battle lines are being drawn prior to the speech President Obama will deliver to a joint session of Congress next Wednesday. One group which has now put itself on record with an either/or demand is the House Progressive Caucus. In a letter delivered last night to Obama, the Caucus said:
Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, a public option built on the Medicare provider system and with reimbursement based on Medicare rates-not negotiated rates-is unacceptable. A plan with negotiated rates would ensure higher costs for the public plan, and would do nothing to achieve the goal of providing choice and competition to keep rates down. The public plan with set rates saves $75 billion, which could be lost if rates are negotiated with providers. Further, this public option must be available immediately and must not be contingent upon any trigger.
The Progressive (they don’t like the word “liberal” anymore) Caucus, as I recall, has about 77 members. The lack of a public option, however, could cost Democrats upward of 100 votes and coupled with Republican votes against – not to mention Blue Dogs – would doom the bill in the House.
So what the Progressive Caucus is doing is drawing a line in the sand over which they claim they will not budge. In actuality they’ve put President Obama in what most would consider a no-win situation.
Of course word has it that a pubic option is very unlikely in the Senate version of a bill and if it is forced into a bill it will cost all Republican Senate support (even the usual 3 that go along with the Dems) and most likely a few Democratic Senators (Landreau, for instance, who has stated publicly that she won’t vote for a bill with a public option) . That would put them well below the 60 needed to end debate. It would also leave them with only the reconciliation process which needs a simple majority to pass a bill, with which to turn. And that is fraught with all sorts of dangers for the Democrats as the process allows parliamentary objections at almost every step and allows non-budgetary items (reconciliation is a budgetary process) to be stripped from the bill.
This has left the White House with few options. But one is an appeal to party loyalty and loyalty to President Obama as well as a smidgen of “post-racial” politics:
White House advisers will likely insist that liberals mustn’t deny the president a historic victory and enable a defeat that could cripple the first African-American presidency.
And cripple it we must – bad ideas are bad ideas, regardless of the race or party of those pushing them. This health
care insurance reform scheme is the penultimate bad idea – along with cap-and-trade, TARP, the unstimulative “stimulus” bill, the omnipork spending bill, the take over of GM and Chrysler, the bailout of the (selected) financial institutions and the projected 9 trillion in deficits. I wouldn’t care if the the president were purple, I’d want anyone pushing those sorts of ideas politically “crippled”. I’d figure that since the president and Congress had already managed to hobble the nation, hobbling their ability to do more damage is the only good idea to come along is quite some time.
Of course I’d also most likely be labeled a racist and obstructionist by them if I actually said such a thing, wouldn’t I?