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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Harry Reid's Public 'Opt-Out' Option

Dana Milbanks xxplains, via the Washington Post:

The Senate majority leader, after haggling behind closed doors with members of his Democratic caucus, realized that he couldn't cobble together the 60 votes he needed to pass health-care legislation with a government-run health plan. So Reid chose another option: He shut down the private talks, booked the Senate TV studio and went public with his own proposal.

Harry Reid's gamble to add a public option to Obamacare, with the opportunity for individual states to opt out (to which two state officials, Pawlenty and Deeds have already showed interest in doing) , was done shy of 3 or 4 votes needed to even pass his plan.

He sent it to the Congressional Budget Office for analysis.. that is it so far.

Then there was the small matter of lacking the votes to pass the public option. "Do you feel 100 percent sure right now that you have the 60 votes?" CNN's Dana Bash inquired. Reid looked down at the lectern. He looked up at the ceiling. He chuckled. He put his palms together as if in prayer. Then he spoke. "My caucus believes strongly there should be health-care reform" was the non sequitur he offered.

Bash reminded the leader that she had asked him "particularly on this idea of a public option."

Instead of answering, Reid, with a Zen expression, looked to the back of the room to solicit a question from somebody else. But Bash piped up again. "Senator Reid, with all due respect, is it possible to answer the question on whether or not you have the votes?"

"I believe we clearly will have the support of my caucus to move to this bill and start legislating," he replied, which also didn't answer the question.

By this time, Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley, had one foot on the podium, as if he were ready to rush the stage and whisk his boss to safety.

Of course, everybody knew that Reid didn't have the votes. That's why he was standing there alone, a Gang of One. As Democratic aides described it, the moment had less to do with health-care policy than with Nevada politics -- and one vulnerable senator's justifiable fear of liberal anger......

Emphasis mine.

Sidenote- Reid is trailing in the polls behind his Republican challengers for his seat.

The reason this option is such a gamble is because it does not have the complete support of liberals, moderates or republicans and has "disappointed" the one lone Republican, Snowe, that initially voted to move Obamacare out of the Senate committee.

[Update] Minnesota and Virginia are not the only two with their politicians saying they would lead the charge to opt out, since word of Reid's gamble came out, Utah House Speaker Dave Clark stated "we already have a health-care system in Utah that is bottom three in cost for the nation. As I understand the latest version (of health care legislation) — always subject to numerous changes — I would recommend Utah opt out."

Utah Senate Majority Leader Sheldon Killpack wil be offering another bill in January to make sure Utah can opt out.

This is all before the bill even comes up for a vote.

I am pretty sure moderates and those undecided on whether to take the gamble with Reid, will wait until the CBO comes out with their cost analysis of Reid's plan, but as it stands, Reid still doesn't have the votes needed.