The public option’s death has been officially announced. The trajectory of this debate has become one of the strangest political sequences I’ve seen (and I’ve been follow health care obsessively for about a year now). The pieces just don’t fit. The Democratic Party’s rhetoric doesn’t match its actions.
Democrats had us believe they wanted the provision when they had 60 senate votes, but just didn’t want to “go there” with reconciliation. But now they have to, and as Ryan Grim points out, enough Democrats have gone on record declaring their support for it, making it “a matter of will, not votes.”
Yet they’re not even holding a vote on it. What’s the harm? You put forth an amendment, get them all to go on record, and if it has the votes you move forward with it; if it fails, so what? Move forward with the rest of it. It seems that the only conceivable explanation for refusing to hold a vote is that Democratic leaders don’t want it. It’s becoming clearer that its death has nothing to do with Republicans.
More important is the fact that 60 percent of the general public wants a public plan. It’s an overriding priority for progressives and would enormously galvanize the Democratic base, making November considerably easier on them.