Harry Reid Promises a Public Option, But Can He Deliver?

The Senate Majority Leader inspires confidence and skepticism

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promised last night that any final version of health care reform will include a public option. "We are going to have a public option before this bill goes to the president's desk," he said. His assurance comes in the wake of two different versions of the public option being voted down in the Senate Finance Committee earlier this week. Reid is inspiring victory laps from some liberals and skepticism from others, with one conservative pointing out that this could spell trouble for conservative Democrats.

  • Reid Might Say 'Public Option,' Mean 'Co-op'  Chris Bowers declares, "We are winning." But he noted that Reid may consider a public option the same thing as everyone else. "Before we get too excited though, remember that Harry Reid has previously described his favorite public option in a way that sounds awfully like a co-op." Duncan "Atrios" Black also notes, "Obviously not everything that could be called a 'public option' is any good."
  • Progressives Demonstrate Grassroots Influence  Dday lauds the liberal activism that he says made this happen. "Reid is acknowledging that he absolutely cannot get away with having a final bill without something he can call a "public option." And progressives have done a good job of very specifically separating out triggers and co-ops as something that would not fit that definition. This is almost entirely due to grassroots activism. The public option would have been thrown out months ago if nobody was advocating for it from the bottom up. It was certainly not the intention of anyone in Washington to go into October with this issue still up for grabs. They were perfectly content to jettison it to protect insurance industry profits."
  • Moderate Dems at Risk With Pressure from Left  RedState's James Richardson warns conservative Democrats that, as liberal influence rises, they risk being ousted. "Reid's comments today represent the increasing vulnerability of Democrats to attacks from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party for rejecting the public option," he write. "Moderate Democrats must fall in line like Speaker Reid or risk losing deep-pocketed progressive donors and online advocates like Moulitsas."
  • Reid's Promise No Guarantee  Alex Koppelman points out the obstacles ahead. "Given the near-certainty that the Republicans will filibuster and given the hesitation about the public option -- if not outright opposition -- that some members of Reid's own caucus have expressed, this is one promise the majority leader won't have an easy time fulfilling," he wrote. "His scenario relied on the idea that all 60 members of the Senate's Democratic caucus will at least come together to defeat a filibuster, even if not all of them vote for the bill itself."
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