Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

And Schumer?

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Chuck Schumer’s signing of the public option letter has turned a lot of heads today. Cantwell has only said maybe, but Feingold is on board too. as are Lautenberg, Mikulski, and Shaheen. Even Reid is so far noncommital, which I take as a good sign.

Even hard-nosed realist Ezra Klein says there could be something here:

Adding the public option into the legislation would give [disaffected, demoralized liberals and progressives] something to fight for, and something to be excited about. If you believe, as most people do, that midterm elections are largely about base mobilization, and that Scott Brown’s victory was in part assured by demoralized Democrats who didn’t feel much affection for either Martha Coakley or the Democrats in Washington, this may be the party’s last, best hope to give its passionate supporters the win that would reinvigorate them for 2010. “I don’t think that was the original strategy behind signing this letter,” one Senate aide told me. “But that may be the strategy we fall backwards into.”

For all that, I’d still bet against the public option. For one thing, there’s sharp resistance to this idea in the White House. The administration has just spent weeks rebranding itself as a bipartisan outpost in a sea of bickering hacks. Resuscitating the most controversial element of the bill and running it through reconciliation looks less like reaching out and more like delivering a hard left cross to the opposition.

One way or another, however, Senate Democrats and the White House need to choose their path and communicate it clearly. If Democrats want to use the public option to reinvigorate their base and attack the insurers and push this bill over the finish line in a final blaze of populist fury, more power to them. If they decide that the process is fragile and Americans want bipartisanship and this is a bad time to introduce uncertainty into chaos, that makes sense, too.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 18, 2010 at 6:36 pm

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