Will Romanoff’s Move Put the Public Option Back On the Table?

The big news this afternoon was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) abandoning his previous promise to offer an amendment to the Senate health care bill adding a public option into the bill. This amendment would need only 51 votes, as the public option reduces the deficit (by a lot) and therefore is in order for reconciliation. Sanders announcement that he is backing down to the Senate Democratic leadership and White House aides who cut a deal with hospital/drug lobbyists to kill the public option seemed to suggest the public option is dead. That is, until Colorado Senate Democratic candidate Andrew Romanoff tonight just issued a statement that will put significant pressure on his primary opponent, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), to offer the amendment instead:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Romanoff: Where’s the ‘Public Option’ Champion?

After  learning today that no member of the United States Senate would stand up for a “public option” in health care reform, U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff issued the following statement:

“As Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, I led the fight against insurance companies that unreasonably delay or deny their customers’ valid claims. I know first-hand the lengths that industry will go to resist reform.

“I am deeply disappointed to learn that no member of the U.S. Senate is willing to offer an amendment to restore the public option to the health care bill.

“Millions of Americans cannot afford to keep up with the soaring costs of health insurance. That is why a majority of the American people support a public option. The Congressional Budget Office has concluded that a public option will reduce the deficit.  

“I call on the leadership of the U.S. Senate to allow an up-or-down vote on the public option. We should not allow the insurance industry to kill the competition the American public wants.”

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Bennet has spent the last month and a half touting his letter demanding a public option – and getting a lot of press for that move (deservedly so, IMHO). But now, thanks to Romanoff’s demand, he will have to put up or shut up. If he refuses to offer the amendment, he shows his past efforts to be kabuki theater – grandstanding for attention while refusing to actually take the steps necessary to do what he publicly claims he wants to do.

Bennet, as this clip from the Rachel Maddow Show proves, has shown a willingness to respond to primary pressure on the public option – and he may be even more willing to respond to that pressure considering he just lost the Colorado Democratic caucuses this week.

Oh, and how many other Senate Democratic primary challengers across the country are going to start issuing similar statements against Senate Democratic incumbents?

Stay tuned – this is going to get interesting.  Romanoff will be on my AM760 radio show to discuss this on Monday. Tune in here from 7-10am every weekday.

28 thoughts on “Will Romanoff’s Move Put the Public Option Back On the Table?”

  1. I should just keep this thread on cut/paste.  This is the exact reason, pressure from the left leaning opponent keeping the congressman’s feet to the fire.

  2. saying he didn’t want to jeopardize passage in the House. And Pelosi said the public option doesn’t have the votes in the Senate. Meanwhile it’s Obama who actually made a deal not to have the PO.

  3. The easiest solution that would not confound the passage of the existing legislation is for the supporters of a public option in the Senate to declare that after the President signs this legislation they will work together to stop EVERYTHING until the 3.5 page Medicare Buy-in bill is passed in both the House and the Senate and signed by the President.

    Everyone is saying that it will be another 20 years before we see further significant change on Health Care.  So don’t let 20 seconds pass by without throwing the gauntlet.

    Medicare Buy-in or Bust, nothing else shall pass until that is done.

  4. Better some pandering to liberals than the alternative, but — as we saw with Obama, first on Iraq and then on HCR — it is easier to say this stuff from the outside as a potential candidate.

    At this point, liberals should give up on the PO.  Seriously.  I’m on record (to the point of the irritation of many) as being anti-the Senate Bill.  Well, an eviscerated, bastardized PO that is open to a small minority isn’t going to save it.  

    Liberals should start to rally around Grayson’s Medicare buy-in for all bill instead.  Better politics and better policy.

    The one thing I think that Kucinich could have negotiated for (and maybe he did and we will find out later) is an up or down vote on Grayson’s bill. Unless the entire Dem leadership is irredeemably corrupt and is lying through their teeth when they say they want to improve the bill, then there is no reason not to allow an up or down vote after the other legislation is signed into law.  

  5. pressuring Bennett on this.

    That said, I’d much rather see energy directed towards creating public options (or better yet, single payer) at the state level.  The implementation process for this bill could improve this reform, by reintroducing elements of reform that were promised then denied. Or the implementation process can be used to make this bill even worse.

    It’s time to turn our energies to the state level. Our opponents are already working on it.  

  6. doing everything they can to avoid and kill the public option, it would be entertaining to have the Republicans flip and call them on it.  Imagine the horror on Obama’s face if the Republicans and so called progressives introduced and passed medicare buy in.    

  7. “…the entire Dem leadership is< \/i> irredeemably corrupt and is lying through their teeth when they say they want to improve the bill…”

  8. the only socialist in the congress takes a decidedly non-socialist stance. Why should that trouble me? [!]

    Its not like he is an advocate of double-speak or anything like that. He’s not a GOPper, after all.

  9. How many of the Democrats now in Congress, especially the leadership and the liberals, came into office prior to the rise of Reagan in 1980? To me, we are expecting the impossible: For people who came into power by being risk adverse (exactly as they are now) to act any differently now that they are in the majority. The problem is in who they are. They were never going to be progressive because they have these roles they have been playing forever. Progressives are risk adverse and capitulate. Are we expecting them to be something other than the post FDR party that came into power by the 90s? I mean- even again- most of the liberals came into power during the rise of Reaganism.  

  10. How many of the Democrats now in Congress, especially the leadership and the liberals, came into office prior to the rise of Reagan in 1980? To me, we are expecting the impossible: For people who came into power by being risk adverse (exactly as they are now) to act any differently now that they are in the majority. The problem is in who they are. They were never going to be progressive because they have these roles they have been playing forever. Progressives are risk adverse and capitulate. Are we expecting them to be something other than the post FDR party that came into power by the 90s? I mean- even again- most of the liberals came into power during the rise of Reaganism.  

  11. but has a 1% chance if happening.  This is an election year and the HCR debate has already torn the Democrats apart.  They won’t want to touch more healthcare with a 30 ft pole.  And for Obama it’s radioactive dynamite.

    It’s just not going to happen (unless people flood the streets and riot.  Do you think the DKOS folks will want to riot after passage of this bill?  They think they’ve grabbed the brass ring already.)  Once the industry has the mandate signed into law, they will start a long term deep freeze effort on ANY other reform.

  12. when it’s so much easier to fight over the gristle.  Oh yeah and they’ll fight you tooth and nail over the gristle as well (because, well, why should you have anything?)

  13. Personally, I’d like to see the fight continue at both levels.  I value a national approach, though, because I don’t want to see an uneven 50-state patchwork approach to health care like what we’ve seen with Medicaid.

  14. and people see what this great “progressive” “victory” looks like, even the Dkos crowd will be angry. People don’t like to be had, even if it takes them a while to catch on.

    I think Versailles will be revisiting healthcare a lot sooner than it thinks.

  15. at least in the short term.  Assuming the bill passes, it relies on state legislation to implement it. That is, it will be state by state.

    The analogy to Medicaid is not necessarily apt.  Medicaid is a means tested program for the poor. Such programs tend to be stigmatized as “welfare”. Assuming states can get around ERISA (a big if) there is no reason states cannot create universal, non-means tested programs.  I think universal or means tested is the key distinction, not state or federal.

    That said, if we can make progress at the state level, it would make further progress at the national level more likely. In the short term, the action will be at the state level – but not necessarily in the long term.

  16. which is a federal program, albeit on state-run exchanges, perhaps.

    Btw, wasn’t a national exchange instead of a state-based one supposed to be part of the reconciliation fix?

    There is a big reason that states cannot create universal, non-means tested programs, actually: conservatives in state governments.

    My point about Medicaid was my point about state-based approaches in general: There will always be states who are less progressive and less generous in what they give their citizens.  That’s why I’m not a fan of “states’ rights” for most things – it’s always used as an excuse to deny things to people of certain states, and at the end of the day I feel there are some things (like a government-run health insurance program) that everyone should get regardless of what state they’re in.

  17. but my point was that unless a few states pass things like “a government-run health insurance program,” it’s very unlikely they will make headway at the national level.

    I’m not suggesting state based approaches as an alternative to a federal approach.  I’m suggesting we need more attention to how they interact. So yes, pursue Grayson’s bill, but we can’t ignore the state role, which is where we are now.

    You are right about conservatives in state government, but they are in the federal government too. The reason Medicaid and TANF and other means tested programs usually have such a strong state role is that conservatives in Congress wanted it that way.  That’s why focusing some energy on creating real progressive reform in the bluest states has such potential to leverage change elsewhere.

    (If a national exchange was part of the fix, I missed it. I hope you’re right. Even so, states should try to enact single payer or a real public option – and then fight out the unfortunate ERISA battles that will follow.)

  18. I think we can agree that we need to be advancing on all fronts.

    You’re right about conservatives in the federal government, but my point was that if we can punch through the conservative opposition at the federal level and get what we want through, we can do good for the entire country in a single stroke, instead of having to claw through a long and exhausting struggle through all 50 state governments.

    I don’t know how much leverage a state-by-state approach can produce.  You seem to be operating on the assumption that what worked with single-payer being passed province-by-province in Canada will also work here.  I hope you’re right, but I can’t help but suspect that it won’t be the case; there’s nothing to say that lawmakers in Nebraska will see single-payer working in California and jump all over the idea.  If anything NE will use CA as a bogeyman (the same way conservatives use Canada, France and the UK as bogeymen) and say something like “single-payer is what those dirty hippies in California have… do you want to be like California?  I don’t think so!” thus making the argument about California instead of about the actual merits of single-payer.

    Even if it did work, I worry that there will be huge disparities in quality and coverage from state to state.  There are already disparities in Canada’s province-based system; I think they would be much worse in the United States.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for advancing single-payer through the states if it’s doable.  But I think at the end of the process we’re gonna need a federal solution that at least dictates a (high) minimum national standard of single-payer to be applied in ALL states, and then states can add on to it if they so choose.

    And I don’t know if the national exchange is in the reconciliation fix.  I know they were talking about it pre-Scott Brown but I don’t know if it actually made it in.

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