President Obama unveiled his "new and improved" health plan last week and implored congress to pass it even it meant using reconciliation.
Of course reconciliation was something Obama could have advocated11 months ago when it was clear Republicans were united in opposing healthcare reform but instead Obama wasted 11 months and opened himself and fellow Democrats to all the political skirmishing and bloodletting that has gone on since then at the hands of Republicans and the town hall crazies.
A few weeks ago Democratic senators began to circulate a letter to Harry Reid to use reconciliation to pass, not Obama's healthcare plan, but a public option. The number started with 4 and has now grown to 35.
Obama in unveiling his plan, left out the public option, running from it once again, reneging on his promise to support it going back to 2007, then lying about having never campaigned for it. He reneged on a pledge to support it as recently as his State of the Union message. Since then, Obama has thrown it under the bus. Which is ironic since the public option according to all the polls is a lot more popular in the country than he is.And a lot more important.
Now is the time for the Democratic leadership in congress to throw Obama and his healthcare plan under the bus and follow through on passing a public option using reconciliation.
In the first place the House, which has always supported a public option will be, as Maxine Waters said the other day, "thrilled" if the senate passes a public option. The opposition to the public option was in the senate all along where there was always 56-57 votes to pass it but not the 60 needed if reconciliation wasn't used.
Second, the public option is as Howard Dean and Pelosi and most others have pointed out, the centerpiece of healthcare reform, something Obama just doesn't get because Obama is a lot on talk and not much on policy. It is the most important component of healthcare reform. A lot more important to the country than Obama himself and his entire presidency.
Third, with the public option consistently polling close to 60% approval, passing it will save the Democrats in the fall elections and probably destroy the Republicans. Not passing it will lead to political catastrophe for the Democrats and the Republicans know that too.
And fourth, the public option is the most legitimate use of reconciliation since it affects the deficit like nothing else, with the CBO saying it would reduce the deficit by $130 billion over the next 10 years.
None of this can happen with Obama's healthcare plan.
The public option is the surest way to reduce costs and without it, high premium areas like New York City could see premiums rise to $24,000 a year for a family of four by 2016.
The senate and the House should ditch Obama's plan, respectfully ask Obama to shut up on healthcare and let the congress do their work, and pass the public option using reconciliation. The truth is for those Democrats who can stomach it is, Obama cant be trusted, his word is on anything is worthless and overall he has been a disaster as president. Not the diaster Bush was -- no one will ever match that -- but probably the biggest diaster of any Democratic president in history ( so much for electing someone because of their father's genes which, come to think of it is probably what got W elected as well as Obama, but for very different reasons).
Obama will sign anything that's put in front of him so its not as if the congress needs Obama's support which is worthless anyway both among most Democrats and out in the country.
With only a simple majority needed, a public option can pass the senate easily using reconciliation. Its now up to Reid to use it, save healthcare reform, give the country the most important peice of legislation since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and save the Democrats politically come the fall elections.
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