[Posted by Karl]
The White House pressured Sen. Maj. Ldr. Harry Reid to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and hours later, liberal Sens. Tom Harkin and Jay Rockefeller said they would be willing to drop a “public option” government insurance program to win passage of a healthcare overhaul. It is unclear whether this development gets the Senate Democrats out of their weekly pep talk from Pres. Obama, or whether a photo-op chock full ‘o’ fauxmentum is coming tomorrow. Clearly, the White House is desperate to move Reid’s bill before Christmas. Dropping the public option gets the Dems closer to that goal, though how much closer remains unclear (e.g., the tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans — which Big Labor hates — is among the issues still unresolved). Indeed, if the swing senators continue to throw up objections after the public option gets dropped, there will be a very real question of whether they ever want to get to “yes” for Harry.
This news will only intensify this morning’s netroots screeching. TNR’s Jonathan Chait claimed that “Lieberman is the beneficiary, or possibly the victim, of a cultural stereotype that Jews are smart and good with numbers.” However, unlike many of his unhinged pals on the Left, Chait understands the real game:
If Harry Reid decided to submit to Lieberman’s demands, the health care bill would basically revert to what the Senate Finance Committee produced. That’s still a major piece of legislation. Expectations among liberals have risen since then, so the come-down is understandable. But this isn’t the end of reform.
Bingo. It has been clear for some time that dropping the public plan is necessary, but not sufficient to defeat a government takeover of the US healthcare. The Obama administration has always been willing to dance the public option – mandate two-step. The cat is in the bag. The bag will be in the river unless the GOP — and public opinion — stop the Dems from forcing everyone in America to buy health insurance.