Thursday, December 17, 2009

More on the Public Option in the Future

Hey, I'm not jealous just because Nate Silver's set of 20 Questions (for liberals against the health care bill) was a lot more visible than my similar set of 12 Questions...his questions were very good, and he and I seem to be on the same page on the basic situation.

That said, I have to call him out on this response-to-response:
The notion that only Blue Dog seats are endangered is flat wrong. There's almost no way that Democrats will end up with more votes for a public option at any point in the near future -- keep in mind that the House passed its bill, which had only a mediocre public option, by just about the bare minimum of votes.
I think it's correct that it's very unlikely that the House will be more liberal in the near future, and somewhat unlikely that the Senate will be more liberal in the near future.  That's just to say that the current number of Dems in the House is probably at a high water mark; it's still possible that the next Senate could have one or two more Democrats (before good GOP opportunities in 2012 and 2014), but probably not.

However, that doesn't mean that there will be fewer votes for a public option in the next Congresses.  As I discussed earlier this week, the most likely effect of passage of the current Senate bill is that all future Democratic candidates are going to be far more supportive of adding a public option.  So there may be fewer Democrats in the next Congress, but more public option supporters. 

Moreover -- and in this Nate and I agree, except that I think I'm more optimistic about it -- reconciliation is a perfectly usable path for the public option in the next Congress, if (and only if) the basic bill passes now. 

But if the bill fails now, I just don't see anything reviving any time soon, and certainly not anything that will need more liberals in both Houses of Congress.

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