Pelosi said today, "there is no way I can pass a bill in the House of Representatives without a public option." Does she mean it? Is she using the public option as a bargaining chip or do the internal politics of her caucus demand that any health care package include a public option? One senior GOP aide in the House offered me this analysis on background earlier today:
Barring a major turn of events, the chance of a public option passing through both the House and the Senate is minimal. The big question now is what compromise will look like. This is not where the President wanted to be, and he has bled a TON of political capital. Worse for him is that independents are turning away from his agenda in droves, and his liberal base will not tolerate compromise.
So...we seem to be at an impasse. The Dems probably don't have the votes to ram the public option through the Senate, and they don't have the votes for a bill without a public option in the House. But don't blame Democrats for any of this -- the White House certainly isn't. Per Obama, it's the Republicans that are conspiring against him: "early on a decision was made by the Republican leadership that said, look, let's not give them a victory."
Note to Obama: 1) Not everything is about you. Republicans don't like your health care reform because it's an enormously expensive monstrosity that does not even meet your own minimum requirements of being deficit neutral and reducing health care inflation; and 2) maybe you didn't notice but the Democrats have a filibuster-proof majority in Congress.
Update: A Republican emails to remind me of comments by Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad just four days ago on Fox News Sunday: "Conrad (D-N.D.), who supports setting up health insurance co-operatives with government seed money to compete with private insurers, described the public option as all but a lost cause. â€˜Look, the fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the U.S. Senate for the public option, there never have been,' Conrad said in an interview on â€˜Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.' â€˜So to continue to chase that rabbit is, I think, a wasted effort,' Conrad said."