David Sirota's selective House fantasy

On open left, yesterday, David Sirota posted an article about how there are 60 Democrats in the House who have pledged to vote against any bill without a public option. And to be sure, there are. There was a big drive organized by a coalition on the left back in August and it breathed new life back into the public option. 64 House Democrats signed a letter saying that exactly that - that such a bill is "unacceptable."

And then, David quoted from the letter:
Any bill that does not provide, at a minimum, for a public option with reimbursement rates based on Medicare rates - not negotiated rates - is unacceptable. [emphasis mine.]
David claims that stating that something is "unacceptable" obviously means that the members will vote against any such thing, no matter what.  Without the context of the current debate and the monumental logjam that has pervaded our health insurance policy for more that half a century, that may even be a reasonable assumption.  Based on that, David Sirota claims it more than likely that a bill coming out of Conference without a public option will not be able to pass in the House.

Now, let's read that again, shall we? These progressive representatives signed a letter not only saying that a bill without a public option is unacceptable, but that the public option must have its rates based on Medicare reimbursement rates.

Here is David's problem. The House bill that passed contained a public option, but it did not base its rates on Medicare. In fact, it had exactly what the letter said could not be supported - negotiated rates. Now, here is the full tally of the House vote. And here are the members who both signed the letter saying negotiated rates are "unacceptable" and then voted for a bill with negotiated rates:
  1. Corrine Brown
  2. Albio Sires
  3. Alcee Hastings
  4. Andre Carson
  5. Barbara Lee
  6. Barney Frank
  7. Bennie Thompson
  8. Bill Delahunt
  9. Bill Pascrell
  10. Bob Filner
  11. Carolyn Kilpatrick
  12. Carolyn Maloney
  13. Chaka Fattah
  14. Chellie Pingree
  15. Diane Watson
  16. Donald Payne
  17. Donna Edwards
  18. Earl Blumenauer
  19. Ed Towns
  20. Eddie Bernice Johnson
  21. Elijah Cummings
  22. Emanuel Cleaver
  23. Pete Stark
  24. Grace Napolitano
  25. Gwen Moore
  26. Hank Johnson
  27. Jackie Spier
  28. Jerry Nadler
  29. Jesse Jackson, Jr.
  30. Jim McDermott
  31. Jim McGovern
  32. John Conyers
  33. John Olver
  34. John Tierney
  35. John Yarmuth
  36. Jose Serrano
  37. Judy Chu
  38. Keith Ellison
  39. Laura Richardson
  40. Linda Sanchez
  41. Lloyd Doggett
  42. Lucille Roybal-Alard
  43. Luis Gutierrez
  44. Lynn Woolsey
  45. Marcia Fudge
  46. Marcy Kaptur
  47. Maurice Hinchey
  48. Maxine Waters
  49. Mazie Hirono
  50. Mel Watt
  51. Michael Honda
  52. Mike Capuano
  53. Nydia Velazquez
  54. Peter DeFazio
  55. Phil Hare
  56. Raul Grijalva
  57. Robert Wexler
  58. Rush Holt
  59. Sam Farr
  60. Sheila Jackson Lee
  61. William Lacy Clay
  62. Yvette Clarke
In other words, all but two signatories to the letter that defined a negotiated-rate public option as "unacceptable" voted for the House bill with a negotiated-rate public option. I applaud them for doing so. They understood the usefulness of the letter - to breathe new life into the public option and ensure that the House bill included one. But these are true progressives who actually want progress - they want us to move forward as a country. And for that, they voted for a bill even though it didn't include a Medicare-rate-based public option. They, I suspect, will do so again for a bill that does not, unfortunately, include the public option but will advance the cause of health insurance reform.  Plus, purely politically speaking, a bill without a public option is also likely to pick up additional Conserva-Dem votes.

Look, I am a true blue supporter of the public option. I wanted it bad. But I have to accept reality. I have to accept that a bill including the public option will not get 60 votes to break a filibuster in the Senate. But that does not mean I am willing to give up on health insurance reform that will insure 31 million additional Americans, vastly expand Community Health Centers, put sensible regulations in place for insurance companies to follow, and will help stop medical costs from driving people into bankruptcy. And I don't think progressive members of Congress are willing to give up either. They are true fighters. And they are real doers. They will pass what can be passed now, and continue to wage the struggle to make it better the day after the bill becomes law.