Moderate Dems are running out of reasons to oppose a robust public option. The CBO, which deficit hawks like Kent Conrad and various House Blue Dogs esteem as a demi-god, says the robust public option saves money, according to preliminary reports. The CBO will release the analysis today.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A preliminary estimate from the Congressional Budget Office projects that the House Democrats' health care plan that includes a public option would cost $871 billion over 10 years, according to two Democratic sources.
CBO also found that the Democrats' bill reduces the deficit in the first 10 years.
This new CBO estimate, which aides caution is not final, is significantly less than the $1.1 trillion price tag of the original House bill that passed out of three committees this summer. More importantly, it comes under the $900 billion cap set by President Obama in his joint address to Congress last month.
CBO analyzed what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls a "more robust" public option -- one that ties reimbursement rates for doctors to current Medicare rates, plus a 5 percent increase.
Deficit reduction. Suck on that, Kent Conrad. But the bill does even more, by covering "96 percent of all Americans, providing greater bang for each federal dollar spent."
The new numbers have Pelosi renewing her push for votes.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus has been tallying support for a public insurance option tied to Medicare reimbursement rates over the last several weeks. According to people in the room Tuesday night, Pelosi told her members that the caucus is close to the 218 votes needed to pass the bill. She went on to say that the few remaining undecideds - or undeclareds - needed to let Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) know by Wednesday where they stand.
The caucus will meet again Wednesday evening to retake the Democratic temperature. If the 218 votes are there, the party will plow forward and go to conference committee negotiations with a strong hand.
The last report from the House had the whip count at "about 200," this news, and some strong leaning on the part of leadership, should round up those remaining votes. A robust public option--that scores almost as well as the Finance bill while covering more people--in the House bill will give Reid needed leverage in his negotiations. If he'll use it, and if he has White House backing.
At this point, there's no common sense reason for any Dem to oppose the House bill with a strong public option. It meets the White House's fiscal target and gets more people covered, ostensibly the goal of this whole project. The majority of Americans support it, the Democratic base is energized by it (and will be equally de-energized come next November if Dems fail on this), and even the CBO likes it. It sure looks like a win-win for Dems from where I'm sitting.