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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Will Democrats Opt Out Of Reid's 'Opt-Out' Plan?

Harry Reid took a huge gamble by publicly announcing that he has sent a preliminary outline of Obamacare to the Congressional Budget Office for analysis, one that included the controversial public option with an "opt-out" clause, where individual states could opt out of the government run plan.

The health-care debate isn't over, notwithstanding the White House-Nancy Pelosi attempt to make it seem inevitable. Majority Leader Harry Reid had barely announced his plan to include a public insurance option when Connecticut Independent Joe Lieberman declared yesterday that he'd join a filibuster against such a Senate bill.

"We're trying to do too much at once," Mr. Lieberman said. "To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don't think we need it now."

Bravo, Joe. It's a relief to see at least someone standing up to the Washington rush to rearrange 18% of the U.S. economy without carefully inspecting the cost and the consequences. (See above for what the Senate Finance bill that is the basis for Mr. Reid's bill would do to insurance premiums.)

Mr. Lieberman added that he'd also oppose a bill that includes Mr. Reid's provision for states to "opt-out" of the public program "because it still creates a whole new government entitlement program for which taxpayers will be on the line." Exactly right again.

The opt-out language is a ruse designed to give the impression of political and consumer choice when it will provide none in practice. The many new mandates, regulations and taxes in Mr. Reid's bill would so distort every state's insurance market that premiums would rise fast in states that did opt-out, assuming private insurance was still available at all.

States would quickly have no choice but to sign onto Mr. Reid's Medicare-for-everyone alternative, which would charge lower rates because the government will rig the rules in its favor. Democrats on the left know that if they can create the public-option architecture in any form, it is certain to become the only option in relatively short order.

Seems Democratic leaders are already scurrying to find a way to opt out of his opt out proposal totally.

Yesterday Joseph Lieberman publicly stated he would back a Republican filibuster on any plan that held a government run public option, which in turn cause an uproar in the liberal blogosphere, with progressives once again denouncing Lieberman for not toeing the party line and having the audacity to think for himself and vote accordingly.

Today we see reactions coming out from other politicians, knowing that Harry Reid needs 60 votes to bypass a filibuster and with absolutely no Republicans on board (Reid lost Snowe when he went with his opt out plan), Liebermans vote is needed to have the magic number of 60.

Lieberman just blew that ship right out of the water for Reid.

The Politico shows other Democrats that are worried about Reid's plan.

It wasn’t just Lieberman. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), who faces a tough reelection, said Tuesday she was reluctant to sign on with Reid’s plan, too. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) won’t give any answer until he sees the final language.

Why would Reid float a plan he knew he didn't have the votes for?

Political posturing, and nothing more.

For all the troubles he’s having getting 60 votes now, Reid may also be putting some valuable chits in the bank, especially if he has to back down from the public option with a state opt-out to something less. By making such a high-profile push for a public option, Reid can argue to liberals that he threw himself behind their signature issue and shouldn’t be blamed if the votes just aren’t there.

That is the whole point in this gamble of Reid's.

He is behind his Republican challengers in the polls for reelection of his Nevada Senate seat and he needed to show the appearance of "trying", even knowing he doesn't stand a shot of this opt out plan garnering 60 votes to keep it from being filibustered.

Reid isn't the only Democratic politician having problems with the public option part of Obamacare.

Nancy Pelosi, House speaker, despite her claims earlier in the month (via The Hill) that she "has the votes now to pass her more “robust” version of a public option," does not actually have them, as reported today.

Pelosi, 10/14/09:

Pelosi also said in the meeting she believed she has the votes now to pass her more “robust” version of a public option. But she said that she wants to show unity among House Democrats rather than passing a bill with 218 members, the bare majority of the chamber.

Today we see, she has less than 200 votes (she needs 218).

The speaker has fewer than 200 votes for a public option pegged to Medicare, even though it would save an estimated $85 billion from the final cost of the health care bill. Forty-seven Democrats oppose a public option that would reimburse doctors at a rate 5 percent higher than Medicare, according to a whip list being circulated by progressives. That’s at least seven votes more than opponents need to sink the plan.

Then again, Pelosi wasn't the only one telling lies to pretend she had enough support to pass her version of Obamacare.

10/22/09, "Democratic Sources" tried the same lies:

Democratic sources tell me that Reid -- after a series of meetings with Democratic moderates -- has concluded he can pass a bill with a public option.

Obviously the Democratic leadership has a problem counting.

Plum Line has more on the actual numbers the House is facing:

Clyburn told the assembled members at the meeting that the leadership does not have the votes to pass the robust public option, according to a House progressive familiar with the meeting. That sparked aggressive pushback from liberals, who argued that leadership — and the White House — should be working harder to win over the remaining votes the bill needs.

The document shows that 47 House Dems are committed No votes, and eight are Leaning No, for a total of 55. That means of 256 House Dems, just under 200 remain, and a dozen of those are listed as undecided. The bill needs 218 votes for passage.

At least someone in Washington can count.