The headline in The Hill says it loud and clear:
Obama picks public option fight with liberals
Many people are rightly upset that the White House is sending stronger and stronger signals that they are willing to jettison a public option. What was once the defining feature of the Obama health care plan has now been dismissed with a bipartisan flourish. "[I]t's both the right and the left that have become so fixated on this that they forget everything else," he says.
Here's Kent Conrad on Fox News:
The fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the United States Senate for the public option, there never have been, so to continue to chase that rabbit is just a wasted effort.
If Conrad could set aside his "More About Me" world view for a moment and do some second grade math, he'd see that there aren't enough votes for a health care bill without a public option in the House
There are 435 seats on the House. Of those, 257 are filled by Democrats and 178 by Republicans. Which means a majority is 218. The Republicans have vowed to vote against health care, period. The Democrats can pass health care on their own, but if they lose 40 of their own, they only have 217 votes.
There are 57 Democrats who signed the July 30 letter saying that they "simply cannot vote" for a bill that "at minimum" does not have a public plan (PDF). There are 7 more not listed on the letter who have pledged to vote against any bill that does not have a robust public plan. That makes 64 Democrats who won't vote for the "co-ops" that both Kathleen Sibelius and Robert Gibbs say the White House is "open" to.
Do the math: 257 - 64 = 193. They need 218 to pass the bill. They don't have the votes.
While everyone else was focused on the Senate, FDL Action has been whipping progressive members of the House to vote against any health care bill that doesn't have a public plan since June 23.
This effort represents the 76% of Americans who want a public plan, and since these members come from heavily Democratic-leaning districts, it undoubtedly reflects the wishes of an even greater percentage of their own constituents:
|Eddie Bernice Johnson||D+27||TX-30|
|Jesse Jackson, Jr.||D+36||IL-02|
|Sheila Jackson Lee||D+24||TX-18|
|William Lacy Clay||D+27||M0-01|
This morning, Anthony Weiner on CNBC says that the President will lose 100 votes in the House if a health care bill does not have a public plan, and Gerald Nadler on WNYC likewise says there will not be enough votes without one. These Members of Congress were overwhelmingly elected by Democrats. In voting against any bill that does not have a public plan they are voting their districts.
The White House shouldn't ask them to do otherwise in order to pander for Republican votes they are never going to get. If Rahm Emanuel wants to beat somebody into voting for something that their district doesn't want, let him go talk to the "centrists" he's been coddling.
Jane Hamsher blogs at firedoglake.com