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D. Brad Wright

D. Brad Wright

Posted: September 30, 2009 07:44 AM

The Death of the Public Option?

What's Your Reaction?

Okay, so maybe that title is a bit hyperbolic, but one thing's for sure: Two different amendments were raised in the Senate Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday that sought to include a public option in Max Baucus' bill, and both were voted down.

First up was Sen. Rockefeller's robust public option that was defeated 15-8. Then came Sen. Schumer's watered-down public option that was defeated 13-10. It's important to note that of the 23 members of Finance, 15 are Democrats and 8 are Republicans. A little quick math tells us that some Democrats voted against a public option--especially the stronger version. A couple left-of-center Senators were able to support the weaker version. No one (e.g., Snowe) crossed the aisle in the other direction.

So, what does this mean? My math says a bill with a public option should expect no more than 55 votes in the Senate (maybe less), unless for some unforeseen reason Finance members decide to switch their votes down the line. Baucus' rationale--getting a bill that can garner 60 votes--seems a self-fulfilling prophecy at this point.

That means the Senate bill won't have a public option, the House bill will, and conference is where the fun begins. What's more, the results of the voting on Schumer's amendment vs. Rockefeller's suggest that what emerges from conference may look pretty lame as public options go....assuming one is included at all.

But don't just take my word for it. Here's what others in the know are saying......

Ezra Klein has this on Schumer, this on Schumer's public option vs. Rockefeller's public option, and this on whether Medicare and the public option will bankrupt the country.

Marc Ambinder wonders if there's a way to bring moderate Dems back in line here.

Steve Benen offers a little of this and that.

And, finally, Jonathan Cohn throws his hat in the ring with a summary of the public option's death and his take on Sen. Rockefeller.
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