Lying, intransigent Republicans plus cowardly Senate Democrats is a witches' brew for stalemate on healthcare reform. The same posturing pompous politicians who celebrate the courage of the Iranian people asserting their public will against the mullahs shrivel into whining, doubting pusillanimity when they have to..to...to....vote to serve the clear choice of ~70% of the American people for a public option in healthcare.
By this time the President knows that Senate Republicans will pretend bipartisanship until the 11th hour, and then vote as their ayatollahs in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries tell them. They will use the public option, or the mere possibility of a public option, as the excuse. It will be framed as a "federal takeover of healthcare".
Democrats have two choices. Get a backbone transplant, or provide the Republicans an offer they cannot refuse (or, if they do, they get trounced in 2010). Since a backbone transplant may or may not 'take', here is the offer they can't refuse:
Define and provide funding for the public option as if the insurance and pharmaceutical ayatollahs had gone off to Argentina to work on family values, i.e., define and fund it as if the public plan would have smooth sailing. Then, make the inclusion of the public plan optional on a state-by-state basis, i.e., no federal mandate to offer it in any given state.
At that point, state politics will prevail. If Mark Sanford needs a public option to pay for his Viagra, then the South Carolina legislature will vote to allow the public option into the State, and Sanford--with a gleam in his eye--will sign the bill. If, on the other hand, Sanford's trip was his last tango, then perhaps it would be vetoed.
In Washington state it would become an instant ballot initiative, and the people could vote it up or down (no Viagra pun intended here). Federalism prevails.
It will be absolutely delicious to watch Governors Pawlenty, Palin, Perry and Barbour (the only difference between "P" and "B" is the latter is voiced, so he fits) squirm as this issue is pushed onto their states' agendas. Will they support including the public plan in their states' insurance plan options...or, will they be kneeling and bowing to their mullahs of moolah?
An additional little twist: whatever a state decides will be its insurance plan options should be the only options available to Members of Congress and Senate from that State. It will be downright delectable to watch these members do what Representative Inglis did on the $787B stimulus--vote against it with righteous indignation and then plead with his Governor to take it because "it may help"!
We can have our public plan, and have fun in 2010 to boot.