A good question from Ezra Klein:
To my surprise, Schumer readily accepted that analysis. “We don’t have the 60 votes on the floor for the public option,” he agreed. “I will be the first to admit that.” He thought some smart deal making and horse-trading might get them to 60. But they weren’t there yet.
There are two questions here. The first is “60 votes for what?” Do they not have 60 votes in favor of a health-care plan that includes a public option? Or do they not have 60 votes against a filibuster of a health-care plan that includes a public option? If it’s the former, that’s okay: You only need 51. If it’s the latter, that’s a bigger problem. But I’d be interested to hear which Democrats will publicly commit to filibustering Barack Obama’s health-care reform bill. If that’s such a popular position back home, why aren’t more Democrats voicing it loudly?
And to slice the salami even thinner, consider two separate questions. One is if there’s a health care bill on the Senate floor that does not feature a public option and an amendment is brought to the floor to add one, are there 60 votes to break a filibuster and pass the amendment? Another question is whether if you brought a bill to the floor which included a public option, would Democrats filibuster the overall bill? Those are separate things. To say “I’m against such-and-such” is not equivalent to saying “I’m against any bill that includes such-and-such.” Obviously you can’t get 60 people to each get their way on each and every provision of health care. Is Blanche Lincoln so hostile to a public option that she would filibuster a massive health care package she otherwise likes just to avoid it?