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Not Trusting Them

by Patrick Appel

A reader writes:

Quoting Patrick:

You can't propose this "compromise" openly because those who don't want the public option or Medicare buy-in would probably filibuster the unobjectionable parts of your bill in protest. But this is why I don't understand the reaction of the net roots given their priorities.

Simply put: we don't trust them.

Let's expand on your thought for a moment. Let's say that this is the secret agenda of the Democrats. They pass this bill and then come back with their surprise gift to the left, a robust public option, through reconciliation, next spring. We'd be thrilled and any antipathy Democrats are getting right now would be forgotten. No problem. Heck, maybe Lieberman is secretly on our side, derailing a weak public option so that we can get a good one through reconciliation. Way to take one for the team, Joe!

But why should progressives sit quietly and hope that's the plan? This whole time we've had Obama claiming he wants a public option while all evidence suggests he's been actively undermining it. There's a very long history of the Democratic party bending to the will of more conservative members of the party and ignoring progressives. So why should we think that's changed here?

If it turns out that this is all theater. That these Senators and Representatives have this other game in mind, and that our anger is ultimately a waste of energy, oh well. We don't actually have the ability to vote against this bill. All we can do is yell and scream for now. Our anger means nothing until November of 2010. So if that's the plan, then fine, all is well, but for now we can't assume that, and so we're going to yell.

Should some version of the Senate bill pass don't expect that the Democrats to use reconciliation to create a public option in the near term (before the 2010 election), but it is possible that it would happen in the medium or long term.