Supposedly the votes aren’t there for a public-option-via-reconciliation, but if Greenwald’s right the Dem leadership is actively whipping against it anyway, so what the fuck? As he points out, f the votes aren’t there then there should be no reason to need to organize opposition, and if the votes are there then introducing the PO doesn’t slow things down. Sanders might force the roll call vote even if it fails — that’s kinda the point of taking that sort’ve stand — and if that’s the case then whipping against the PO makes the Democratic Congress as a whole look worse by demonstrating larger amounts of opposition. If it fails by a couple votes they can blame those specific senators, but if it fails by a large margin… etc. If this is about standing on principle then what, to Sanders, is the difference between it losing by 1 vote or 100? I fail to see “well they’re going to convince him not to force the roll call because he’ll extra super duper not win instead of just normal not winning” as a convincing argument, and the problem is that absent that line making sense we’re pretty much in WELL YOU DONT REALLY THINK THEY DO THAT DO YOU?! territory. Because yes, yes, of course I do think they’d do that. We don’t really think the only reason we haven’t gotten health care in the last 50 years is because we never saw a high-octane legislative combo like the Obama Whitehouse and the Pelosi-Reid Congress right? (See what I did there?)
The one last hope for Senate Democratic leaders was to avoid a vote altogether on the public option, thereby relieving Senators of having to take a position and being exposed. But that trick would require the cooperation of all Senators — any one Senator can introduce a public option amendment during the reconciliation and force a vote — and it now seems that Bernie Sanders, to his great credit, is refusing to go along with the Democrats’ sham and will do exactly that: ignore the wishes of the Senate leadership and force a roll call vote on the public option.
So now what is to be done? They only need 50 votes, so they can’t use the filibuster excuse. They don’t seem able to prevent a vote, as they tried to do, because Sanders will force one. And it seems there aren’t enough Senate Democrats willing to vote against the public option after publicly saying all year long they supported it, which means it might get 50 votes if a roll call vote is held. So what is the Senate Democratic leadership now doing? They’re whipping against the public option, which they pretended all year along to so vigorously support:
Senate Democratic leaders are concerned about the amount of mischief their own Members could create if or when a health care reconciliation bill comes up for debate. And sources said some supporters of creating a public insurance option are privately worried that they will be asked to vote against the idea during debate on the bill, which could occur before March 26.
Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) acknowledged Wednesday that liberals may be asked to oppose any amendment, including one creating a public option, to ensure a smooth ride for the bill. “We have to tell people, ‘You just have to swallow hard’ and say that putting an amendment on this is either going to stop it or slow it down, and we just can’t let it happen,” Durbin, who supports a public option, told reporters.
If — as they claimed all year long — a majority of Congressional Democrats and the White House all support a public option, why would they possibly whip against it, and ensure its rejection, at exactly the moment when it finally became possible to pass it? If majorities of the House and Senate support it, as does the White House, how could the inclusion of a public option possibly jeopardize passage of the bill?