In the Senate, this is about to become the "liberal" half of the debate. But it's not very liberal at all. It is a compromise, and a conservative one at that. For the real liberals, the public option was already a compromise from single-payer.He also uses that idea in an otherwise excellent interview with Sherrod Brown.
Still, it's just not true. There's a difference between compromising and losing. Single-payer lost, in last year's presidential nomination process. For better or worse, candidates who supported single-payer turned out to be fringe candidates among the generally very liberal voters in Democratic primaries and caucuses.
It's totally reasonable for liberals who campaigned for Obama and Democrats in Congress to treat the public option as something they campaigned for. It is not reasonable for those liberals -- those who supported Obama, Clinton, or Edwards in 2007-2008 -- to treat the "strong" public option as a compromise. Whatever they truly might want, the strong public option is what they campaigned for.
(Now, it's of course just as absurd, or perhaps more so, to call the extremely limited public option, even the strongest one in any of the five committees, a "government takeover," or "socialism," or any of the rest of the GOP wheeze. And if Ezra wants to argue that what is basically the consensus Democratic plan is an essentially conservative plan, he's welcome to do so, although I don't think saying that it's less than what liberals wanted is the same thing as saying that it's conservative).
Ezra knows his stuff, and in my view he shouldn't be falling for the liberal's rhetoric on this one. He says that liberals should get "credit" for their compromises...I agree, on the compromise between a strong public option and a weak public option with limited access and a state opt out. But not the shift from single-payer to a mixed plan with a public option; that's what they ran on, not what they compromised on.