Yesterday Ezra had a post on the public option that struck an odd chord:
For all that, I’d still bet against the public option. For one thing, there’s sharp resistance to this idea in the White House. The administration has just spent weeks rebranding itself as a bipartisan outpost in a sea of bickering hacks. Resuscitating the most controversial element of the bill and running it through reconciliation looks less like reaching out and more like delivering a hard left cross to the opposition.
It seems that the opposition is irrelevant at this point. Originally, the White House opposition to the public option was supposedly because it couldn't get 60 Dem votes. If, as seems a pretty damned fair bet, they don't get at least two Republican votes for the plan without one. Which is why they're talking using reconciliation now. If you're going for 50 votes, why worry about the opposition? So far that apparently hasn't occurred to them, as they are apparently leaving out the most popular element, and including the least popular one.
The White House has arrived at a general outline of what this proposal will look like, a senior Dem leadership aide tells me. It will largely reflect the compromise reached between the House and Senate in January: It will likely contain the national exchange sought by House Dems, and tougher penalties on businesses that don’t insure workers.
Also, the White House has told the House Dem leadership that it isn’t prepared to raise the threshold of the Cadillac tax, as many House Dems want, the leadership aide says. The White House prefers instead to keep the version already agreed upon with unions, the aide adds....
But House leaders are under no illusions, and expect the White House to go to the summit with a proposal in hand that includes the Cadillac tax as is, and no public option, the leadership aide says.
Yglesis comments smartly on this:
[W]hile it’s true that the White House has sought to brand itself "as a bipartisan outpost" you know and I know and Ezra Klein knows and I certainly hope David Axelrod knows that at the end of the day if a health care bill emerges no Republicans will vote for it. And any shine of bipartisanship that Obama may or may not have put on himself is going to go away. So what’s the point in being "sharply opposed" to the public option concept? This is very bad logic, and if true very fishy behavior on the part of the White House. Given the level of liberal discomfort with the excise tax, the best policy option available would be for progressives to get their way on the public option (where progressives are right) and centrists to get their way on the tax question (where centrists are right) then you’d have an excellent bill. The path of least resistance is to do the reverse, but that would be a much worse substantive result.