The public option for health care may have been defeated twice in the Senate Finance Committee yesterday, but an analysis of the votes shows that the idea actually grew in support. The Heritage Foundation explains how:
The Washington Post front page blares today: “Prospects for Public Option Dim in Senate.” Don’t believe it. Yes, the Senate Finance Committee did vote down two amendments that each would have added a government-run insurance plan to the committee’s health care bill. But two key Democratic Senators who voted against Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s (D-WV) public plan, Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Tom Carper (D-DE), voted for Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) version.
According to an independent analysis of Senate Democrat public statements on the public option, that raises the number of Democrats on record supporting a public option from 47 to 49. Moreover, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairmen of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, told the liberal “Bill Press Radio Show” yesterday that Democrats “comfortably” have the remaining votes to reach 51 and pass a public plan once the debate moves to the House floor.
But what about Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus’ (D-MT) claim yesterday that, “No one has been able to show me how we can count up to 60 votes with a public option.” That may be true, but it is also irrelevant. The question is not whether Democrats can muster 60 votes to pass Obamacare; they only need 51 votes to do that. The only time the number 60 will be relevant is when the Senate votes on whether to end debate and vote on the final bill.
The legislation could come before the full Senate next week. Stay tuned for more.