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60+ House Democrats Say "Any" Health Bill With No Public Option Is "Unacceptable"

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

For those caught up in the obsequiously triumphalist bullshit coming from the DC elite - you know the crap about the Senate allegedly passing the most important piece of progressive legislation in American history today (an analysis I completely reject) - it's important for us all to remember that the health care battle isn't over - and specifically, the battle over the public option isn't over.

Now, I know you've been told over and over and over again on television that that's not true. But that's because almost everyone on television is a card-carrying member of The Church of the Savvy. Somehow, everyone's forgotten that 60+ House Democrats have signed a letter just a few months ago saying:

Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates - not negotiated rates - is unacceptable.

In fact, just so you don't have to click over and read the whole letter, here's a screenshot of the scan of the physical letter, with the relevant sentence highlighted:

To see the list of House Democrats who signed the letter, go here.

"Unacceptable" is a pretty concrete word. When applied to legislation as it is in this letter, it means, um, "not acceptable," which means not supportable, which means a "no" vote. Sure, lawmakers often vote "yes" on things they deem "not perfect," "only mediocre" or even "somewhat unacceptable" - but they don't vote for things they unequivocally call "unacceptable." To do that is to "flip-flop, "contradict oneself" and/or "lie" - take your pick.

Were we all just expected to somehow know that these 60+ House Democrats were lying when they made this declaration to only deem "acceptable" a bill with a public option? As I noted in a recent newspaper column, I know the Church of the Savvy has been gaining new members among some rank-and-file progressives who simply absolve all lying - as long as the lying comes from Democrats. But it seems to me this would be one helluva whopper to simply swallow. And the fact that the press hasn't even bothered to ask these House members about this is sickening. Talk about the media doing its part via omission to help create ideological outcomes.

I mean, it's right there in black and white - a bloc of legislators is saying that the Senate bill is "unacceptable." And not just any bloc, a bloc big enough to stop a final bill from passing into law. On a percentage basis, 60 House Democratic votes - or about a fourth of the Democratic majority in the House - is the equivalent of 15 Ben Nelsons in the Senate threatening to filibuster the final bill.

I'd say that's news, even if the traditional DC press and the Professional DC Left in the veal pen now pretends that letter doesn't exist. And I'd say that the fight to get these legislators to uphold their simple promise is where we should direct our energies as this bill moves to the conference committee.

UPDATE: Via email, I got a very strongly worded screed that shows just what kind of anti-progressive tactics/rhetoric will be coming from the Establishment in the coming weeks. Check it out here.

UPDATE II: Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) says the public option debate is not over - as long as the progressive grassroots pushes hard right now.