Democrats Debate Public Option: Publicly With GOP, And Privately Among Themselves
Democrats are engaged in an urgent debate behind closed doors about a government-run health insurance plan, known as the public option, according to The Associated Press. "Our caucus is now in the process of negotiating with ourselves because we need all 60 of us to get this done," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., a moderate who has not yet embraced the public option concept. Meanwhile, Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Mark Warner, D-Va., presented a compromise plan to other moderates that would replace the public option with nonprofits that receive initial government funding in states where private insurers fail to control costs (Werner, 12/4).
"Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., said he attended the meeting 'out of respect for Tom Carper' but 'generally speaking, I didn't hear anything that changes my mind,'" CongressDaily reports. "Lieberman has said he will not vote for cloture on the bill if it includes a public option. He said they went over several proposals from Carper, and that other ideas and proposals came up." Other moderates appeared more receptive (Edney and Friedman, 12/4).
"Meanwhile liberals such as Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) made plain they are in no mood to further shift their positions to accommodate their centrist counterparts," The Hill reports. Brown said, "We've compromised the public option three times -- maybe four depending on how you define it -- and this bill's not going to continue to become more pro-insurance-company. End of story'" (Young, 12/3).
In a separate story, The Hill reports that Republican Sens. Tom Coburn, Okla., and David Vitter, La., have renewed a push for an amendment that would force lawmakers to join any public plan they create. "It's called leadership," Coburn said. "If it's good enough for everybody else, we ought to be leading by example" (Rushing, 12/4).