THE BLOG

Why Senate Dems Should Approve Republicans' Public Option Amendment

05/23/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Senate Republicans may propose an amendment to the health care reconciliation bill for a "public option." If they do, Senate Democrats plan to vote it down in order to keep the bill identical to the House bill that passed Sunday evening.

The Republican idea is to "embarrass" the Democrats into voting against an insanely popular proposal that the Republicans totally opposed, but will appear, at least for one brief shining moment, to champion.

Senate Democrats should give this a sober second-thought -- assuming, that is, that the public option proposed is workable, and not a sham -- and vote "yea".

The politics are perfect. It would pass by more than 60 votes. Republicans could no longer claim that the Democrats' bill was a government takeover or socialism. It would immediately bend the cost curve. It would drive a permanent wedge between the Tea Party whackos and whatever remains of the "mainstream" conservative Republicans of William F Buckley, Jr. And, it would be bipartisan!

Most importantly, it may be the only chance for a long time to get a public option, and its positive impact on health care, wellness, and costs would redound to the benefit of the country many times over.

The House already passed a public option in its original health care reform bill. The votes are there to amend the reconciliation bill passed on Sunday to incorporate a public option. I am well-aware (and wrote) that prolonging the process has been one of the major reasons the whole healthcare reform effort lost political support.

But, it is now done. And, an extra few days to get the amended bill passed in the House will save us billions of dollars, trillions of words of insane rhetoric, and gazillions of hours wrangling over it in the future.

Call their bluff. If anyone thinks they are angry now, wait until their own unwittingly conspire to help pass a public option!