Ever since Senator Snowe voted for the terrible Senate Finance Committee bill, she's now gotten a seat at the table according to Senator Harry Reid, and that she will be a very important part of the ongoing discussions over the final bill in order to retain her support:
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Mr. Reid, said that Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, the lone Republican on the Finance Committee to vote in favor of the bill, would be invited to future sessions. And Mr. Manley said the Democratic leader was prepared to go to substantial lengths to keep Ms. Snowe’s support.
"He is prepared to do what he can to keep her on board while putting together a bill that can get the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster," Mr. Manley said.
And now the talk of the trigger on the public option has been resurrected by Rahm Emanuel, the WH chief of staff, in his interview with Judy Woodruff last night below the jump:
JUDY WOODRUFF: One of the differences is public option. A lot of unhappiness about that, not only among Republicans, but a number of Democrats. Is it, in essence, dead?
RAHM EMANUEL: No, I wouldn't say that at all. The president, as you know, in...
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it's not in this version that came out.
RAHM EMANUEL: No, it isn't in this version. The House will have their version.
The president believes that it's important to bringing the type of competition. He spoke to it in the joint session. But, as he said in that joint session, he believes strongly in it. He believes strongly because of what it achieves in the sense of keeping the competition that insurance companies need, so the prices don't continue to jump and out of control, that, if there are other ways to achieve that goal, as you know, Senator Snowe has the idea of a trigger, that, in case that price isn't achieved or that competition isn't achieved, there be a trigger that then the option, a public option, would come available.
Some -- Senator Carper has a different idea.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Of Delaware.
RAHM EMANUEL: Right.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.
RAHM EMANUEL: Of Delaware.
There are different ideas, but everybody is working around the same principle. How do you create competition, so insurance companies who dominate a market can't set prices and you have no other choice? And it is not allowing an insurance company to be the overpowering factor when, in fact, if you had that competition, both the consumer, i.e., the patient, and the doctor have the choice, and it's not left in the hands of the insurance companies.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you -- you make it sound like the president is flexible on that point, that he is prepared to accept something...
RAHM EMANUEL: Well, I thought I was doing a pretty good job reflecting what he said in the joint session, which was in front of 30 million people, which is, he believes it's the right way to go, but he's open to other ideas, as long as we don't miss -- from it.
But he's strong from the sense of what it does achieve, the type of competition that is not there in the system today, so people are basically at the beck and call of how the insurance companies want to set the price. He strongly believes in it. But if there's another way to achieve it -- Senator Snowe has the idea of a trigger -- people have to look at that.
Thus the trigger is still very much on the table, and it's the high price we'll have to pay for Senator Snowe's support. However, the trigger is designed to make sure the public option never gets started, and there are claims from Rahm Emanuel that the threat of the trigger will be enough to create competition from private insurers. These claims are not borne out by any sort of evidence, such as the trigger for Medicare Part D, which never got triggered, and we're still making overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans at great taxpayer expense.
We have our progressives in Congress who are willing to stand up for a trigger-free public option, and the unions are going hard against the Baucus bill since it taxes people's insurance plans and doesn't have a public option in it. The unions ignored Rahm Emanuel when he told them not to oppose the atrocious Senate Finance Bill:
The unions say in a full-page newspaper advertisement set to run today that lawmakers need to make "substantial" changes to the bill or they will urge their members to seek its defeat on the Senate floor. Emanuel asked organized labor not to go public in opposition, said Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
"He told us that we really don’t want to be looked upon as the group that stopped meaningful health-care reform," McEntee said in an interview yesterday. "We would love to be on the exact same page as the White House, but we see ourselves as fighting for our members."
McEntee said Emanuel called him and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on a Sunday last month and asked them not to oppose the legislation while the Finance Committee was considering it. "We didn’t talk to any senators about our opposition," he said.
Emanuel pressed labor again last week not to oppose the bill once it was approved by the committee, according to McEntee. "That was not the commitment we made," he said.
It's not just the unions that are pressing for the inclusion of a public option in the merged Senate bill, it's also Senators like Schumer who directly challenged Harry Reid to include the public option since Reid does have that power to do so:
Here's the transcript below in which Senator Schumer talks about Reid's ability to put in the public option:
Well first leader Reid has the option of putting it in the final bill. If he puts it in the final bill, in the combined bill, than you would need 60 votes to remove it and there are clearly not 60 votes against the public option. And so we're urging him to do that and he is seriously considering it. Once it passes the Senate if that were to happen, it is in the House bill, it is in the Senate bill, and it would have to be in the final product. So it is very important to see if the public option is in the bill leader Reid puts together. He hasn't yet made up his mind, but many of us who believe in the public option are urging him to do so. So far we are getting heard.
If Senator Reid refuses to put in the public option in the merged bills, then he's allowing what is called a silent filibuster by us on the public option. Nyceve and I are currently running a petition about the silent filibuster by Senator Reid.
Also, the question I'd like to see answered since AHIP just basically said that with the bill Senator Snowe just voted for, insurance premiums will rise 110% over the next ten years, why even keep the trigger for the public option on the table? Haven't they already demonstrated exactly why we need a trigger-free public option?
We have to continue to make it clear that a trigger on the public option does not in any way make it competitive against private insurers, and that we're not going to fall for that as a "public option" in any shape or form whatsoever.
It's why we need our progressives in Congress to continue to stay strong on their insistence that the final conference bill NOT have a triggered public option, but a public option that is competitive nationwide. We're going to be hearing a lot of drum-beating about the Snowe trigger in the days ahead, so please don't let up on those phone calls to our progressives with these talking points below!
Hi [Representative's Name]. I want to thank you for supporting the public option, but I don't want you to support a trigger or the state opt-in proposal for the public option! A trigger on the public option would be a surrender to the private insurance companies. Please don't let the insurance lobbyists win by allowing a trigger on the public option, or by allowing states to opt-in to the public option. I want a national public option that's available in all states immediately without an opt-out, an opt-in, or a trigger. I also don't support co-operatives as an alternative to the public option since the CBO have said they will do nothing to lower costs of private insurance premiums. If the bill doesn't have a public option to control premium costs, please vote against that bill!
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