I have now heard countless times that Democrats don't have enough votes for the public option. Twenty-four senators and 120 representatives have signed a letter supporting the public option. Apparently, that's still not enough. Serious people assure us that there just aren't the votes, even to pass it through reconciliation where you only need a simple majority. You know, there is one way to find out.
Take the damn vote.
That way we'll see if all the doomsayers were right or not. And more importantly, we'll see who is on which side when the votes actually get counted. And that's exactly what the problem is. The Democrats don't want to go on the record. They want to be able to kill the public option without admitting who it was that actually killed it.
It's amazing what happens sometimes when you actually take the vote. For example, on the jobs bill Scott Brown flipped over and unexpectedly voted with the Democrats. That led to four other Republicans supporting the bill because they thought it was going to pass anyway. And then a curious thing happened; a whole bunch of the people who voted to filibuster the bill turned around and voted in favor of it in the final vote. They theoretically felt so strong about the bill that they filibustered, but when forced to vote on the merits of the bill, they felt enough pressure from their constituents that they actually voted for it.
In the end, the jobs bill passed easily, 70-28. Why? Because these senators who voted in both directions didn't want to be on the record as opposing the bill. Amazing what taking a vote can get accomplished.
Howard Dean was on The Young Turks last night and he suggested that they could also take a vote on a Medicare buy-in as part of the health care bill. As he explained, that is another form of the public option. He pointed out that there appeared to be 59 Democratic senators on board for the Medicare buy-in compromise before Joe Lieberman (supposedly) single-handedly killed it. Why not try both? Try taking a vote on a robust public option and a Medicare buy-in and see which one people like better.
Here is what is inarguable from a policy perspective: there is no harm in trying. What's the worst that can happen -- we don't get either? Well, if we don't try we won't get either anyway. The only possible harm in taking the vote is finding out which Democrats sold out their voters for some campaign cash from health care companies. Now do you see why they're not planning a vote?
Well, that's exactly why we should put pressure on them to do the bare minimum -- take the vote. Send Harry Reid a message that all we want is a vote and that is the least he can do as Senate Majority Leader. We've all fought so hard and long for this and so many of these Democrats say they've been in favor of it for so long, so they have to at least give us this. Take the vote!
Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CenkUygur