Sunday, March 7, 2010

Anthony Weiner, If You Want a Vote on the Public Option, Why Not Demand It?

By FireDogLake's Jon Walker FDL

Anthony Weiner (D-NY) has a new op-ed in Politico calling for giving the public option a vote in the Senate. While he does not address the process dynamics, he leaves the impression that he is calling for an up-or-down vote on the public option as an amendment to the reconciliation bill or as a stand-alone reconciliation measure.

Supporters of the public option in Congress and the country want the president to succeed. I think we dishonor the long debate over this issue to let it simply disappear without a trace.

At the end of all whodunits is the “aha” moment. We know Kristin shot J.R. We know Maggie shot Mr. Burns. Heck, we even know that Colonel Mustard did it with a rope in the study.

Let’s put the public option to a vote, once and for all.

I fully agree with this sentiment and think the public option deserves an up-or-down vote as part of reconciliation. In fact, I spelled out the strategy for how just one determined Democratic senator could likely force an up-or-down vote on a public option amendment to any reconciliation sidecar bill. But, while I can only write about this stuff, Anthony Weiner, as a member of Congress, can actually do something about it–beyond writing op-eds.

We have seen how the Bart Stupak (D-MI), by standing firm with a handful of supporters, has gotten the Democratic leadership basically willing to move mountains to satisfy him. If Weiner could get, say, eight public option supporters together who agreed to oppose the Senate health care bill until they were promised a reconciliation vote on the public option in the Senate, he could achieve a similar result. All Weiner would need is a promise from Vice President Joe Biden and Majority Leader Harry Reid not to use any procedural tricks to stop the vote, and a promise from one Senate public option supporter, like Michael Bennet (D-CO), to work with them on crafting a public option that could survive the Byrd rule. That would result in the public option getting a vote as part of the vote-a-rama at the end of the reconciliation debate.

This is really a very modest request, and with Democrats desperately trying to whip the votes, they basically wouldn’t be able to refuse. I think most Americans would agree that the public option deserves an up-or-down vote in the Senate. Even if it does not pass, the American people are owed the right to know what senators stand with the American people and which are fighting to protect the profits of the private insurance companies.

So, the real question is: what are the public option supporters doing to make sure that vote happens? Are there even a handful of House or Senate Democrats who think the American people deserve an honest accounting from their representatives?