Democratic wishful thinking on public option

by Rick Moran
American Thinker
October 28, 2009

Since the beginning of the weekend, blogs and the MSM have been full of the news that the public option has not only made a “comeback,” but that it is a virtual certainty to pass.

This has proven to be a bunch of hogswallow as the whip tally sheet in the House shows, via Greg Sargent’s The Plum Line:

The document – compiled by the office of House leader James Clyburn – was distributed privately at a meeting between Clyburn and House progressives today where the fate of the public option was the subject of some contentious debate, with liberals demanding that House leaders push harder to win over votes.

Clyburn spokesperson Kristie Greco would only say: “We currently do not have the votes for a robust public option.”

Health care reformers are eagerly awaiting the House vote count numbers on the robust public option – which would reimburse providers at Medicare rates plus five percent – because a House bill with a strong public option would increase the of leverage House leaders in upcoming conference negotiations with Senate leaders over the final bill. The exact count has been hotly debated in political circles since last week.

Clyburn told the assembled members at the meeting that the leadership does not have the votes to pass the robust public option, according to a House progressive familiar with the meeting. That sparked aggressive pushback from liberals, who argued that leadership – and the White House – should be working harder to win over the remaining votes the bill needs.

The document shows that 47 House Dems are committed No votes, and eight are Leaning No, for a total of 55. That means of 256 House Dems, just under 200 remain, and a dozen of those are listed as undecided. The bill needs 218 votes for passage.

We talked about this on my show last night . The Democrats are whistling past the graveyard, trying to build momentum where there is none, by simply lying about how close they are to passing a bill with the public option. Rich Baehr pointed out that Reid may be pushing it in the senate because he is in deep re-election trouble and needs to get the base on his side.

But beyond that, liberals are crying out for leadership from Obama and they’re not getting it. This, also, was discussed on the show last night and Tom Lifson believes that not only does Obama not know how to lead, he is scared to jump into the fray over the public option because it may go down to defeat.

Looking at the numbers, I don’t see how the liberals can get a “robust” public option through. Anything less and there are liable to be several dozen defections from the left as 60 liberal congressmen signed a letter stating they would not vote for health care reform unless it had a “strong” public option.

The robust public option: It’s not dead; it’s resting.

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