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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Big Day for Health Reform and the "Public Option"

Today will be a decisive day in the health reform battle. Today, the Senate Finance committee will decide whether or not to amend the Baucus bill to add a public option. The Committees 13 Democrats and 10 Republicans will consider no fewer than 4 "public option" options and at this point, no one knows what will happen. Most counts find 9 Democrats in favor of a public option and no Republicans. Max Baucus, not one of the 9, has said he supports a public option but does not believe that it can pass in the Senate (assuming a 60 vote threshold).
Blanche Lincoln, Blue Dog Democrat from Arkansas, is an unknown quantity. She is slowly inching toward the endangered senator list - like several Democrats up for re-election in 2010 her seat was once deemed to be safe, until the health care debate changed the 2010 electoral calculus. There is also the issue of Olympia Snowe and her support of a state-based public option trigger - a trigger that would only be pulled if private insurance reforms fail. At least 2 Democrats support Snowe's alternative. If the Senate Finance Committee adds the public option, in form other than Snowe's trigger, then all bets are off with regard to Democrats using reconciliation to pass the bill - they will use reconciliation. Then the battle will shift to the House where leaders will put heavy pressure on select Blue Dogs just to get the simple majority needed there. Today is one of those rare, high drama days in American politics and a day worth closely following.


The Finance committee meeting will begin at 10 AM and will likely be broadcast on C-SPAN.