"Progressive Caucus Organizing to Demand Public Option"
Ryan Grim reports on the effort to do a “whip count” around the number of left-wing members of congress who are going to refuse to vote for a health care bill that doesn’t include a public option:
The whip count will send a message to to the administration, said CPC co-chair Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.): “Don’t cut deals with some elements of our party or with some elements of the Republican Party without including the progressives in that discussion,” he suggested. “So we’re going to count our votes, see how many we have and that’s the number we’re going to indicate to both the leadership and the administration.”
A senior administration official said Wednesday that killing the bill for not including a public option would be “tragic.” Centrist and conservative Democrats have expressed frustration at the forcefulness of the support for the public option, arguing that it’s a distraction from the broader package.
I tend to agree with anyone who thinks it would be tragic to kill an otherwise good bill on the grounds that it doesn’t include a public option. That said, though I’m a bit frustrated at the forcefulness of the support for the public option, one should be equally frustrated at the forcefulness of the opposition for the public option. In essence, centrist and conservative Democrats are holding the entire population of uninsured and underinsured Americans hostage to the insurance industry’s desire to kill this one particular provision.
As far as whether or not this progressive block holds together, I assume the key thing will be the extent to which labor stands behind Richard Trumka’s pledge not to support a health care bill that doesn’t include a public option. If someone had told you two years ago “congress is going to pass a universal health care bill opposed by the AFL-CIO with no Republican votes” you would have said “no they’re not; that’s impossible” and it doesn’t seem any more possible to me today.