Harry Reid just announced that he’ll include a public option (with a provision that allows individual states to opt out of it) in the version of the health care bill he brings to the floor of the senate. This is a huge (though still partial) victory for progressives. Over the weekend there was a flurry of reporting over whether Reid would include the opt-out provision, or the "trigger" provision favored by Olympia Snowe, which would not create a public option unless and until some time in the future when health insurance costs had not diminished. The fact of the matter is, as David Sirota wrote here, the trigger is simply a way to kill the public option. Had Reid included it in the floor bill, progressives would have had to muster 60 votes to pass an amendment to strip the trigger out and replace it with the opt-out language. There’s no way they would have been able to do that.
But with the opt-out public option included in the unamended floor-bill, opponents of the public option will now have to get 60 votes to pass their own amendment killing it, and they don’t have those votes either. This means that the opt-out public option will almost certainly be in the final bill that comes up for a vote in the full senate. That’s huge, since the house will also have a public option (an even stronger one, without the opt-out provision).
Reid is essentially calling the bluff of recalcitrant senators like Nelson, Lincoln and Landrieu, because the only way they can defeat the public option now is to join a Republican filibuster, something that I think Reid is gambling they won’t do.
As I said on Maddow on Friday night, if you can’t get members of your own party not to filibuster your single most important domestic policy priority, it’s hard to understand why you even have a party to begin with.