Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Schumer and the Public Option - Did I Say It Was Dead?
We don't pay much attention to what politicians say anymore, which leaves them free to flip and flop at will. Senator Charles Schumer, the senior Democrat from New York, has assumed the mantle of the Champion of the Public Option. I get action alerts from progressive groups asking me to write to him, encouraging him to continue his "strong" support for the public option in health care reform.
I'd like to point out one fact - he bailed on the public option back in early September. I am glad he's apparently trying again, but it galls me that no one's pointed out that he'd already left the building.
Here's what the Daily Kos got..
Chuck Schumer explains exactly how Harry Reid can get the public option passed through the Senate:
"SCHUMER: I am very optimistic that we're going to get a strong public option. The House is standing firm on public option. And I think all of those, when they saw the vote in the finance committee who thought, "Oh, it's over," hadn't really read the situation correctly.
STEWART: Well, how do you get it done? How does it end up in the final bill?
SCHUMER: Well, first, Leader Reid has the option of putting it in the final bill. If he puts it in the final bill, in the combined bill, then you would need 60 votes to remove it. And there clearly are not 60 votes against the public option. If -- and so, we're urging him to do that and he's seriously considering it.
Once it passes the Senate, if that were to happen, it's in the House bill, it's in the Senate bill, and it would have to be in the final product. So, it's very important to see if the public option is in the bill that Leader Reid puts together. He hasn't yet made up his mind, but many of us who believe in the public option are urging him to do so. And so far, we're getting -- we're getting heard.
Note that Schumer says Reid still hasn't decided what path he will take on the public option. That's not a very big deal if Reid has already made up his mind and just hasn't told anyone so that he can play his cards close to his chest. But if he really still hasn't decided whether or not to include the public option in the Senate bill, what in the world is holding him back? The public option is one of the single most popular elements of health care reform. It's a good idea, it's good politics, and it's time to get the job done."
And here's Jon Stewart, the only sane man on television, wondering what the hell the Democrats are doing.
Let me add a note here because this is really nagging at me. Schumer declared the public option dead weeks ago. With great authority. I saw it. It was a little press conference at a housing complex near the Hudson River and no one but the local yokels were there (which explains my presence).
I asked about health care reform. He very clearly, distinctly and absolutely declared the public option dead. Feel free to listen. Wait for it - it's toward the end.
Schumer declares Public Option DOA.
I feel better now. It's good to know who is who.