Progressives Successfully Pressure Reid on Public Option

By:  Matthew Rothschild
The Progressive

Score one for progressive pressure.

Harry Reid and Barack Obama seemed primed for junking the public option until progressive forces rallied their troops and flexed their muscles.

A group called the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, at boldprogressives.org, even ran an ad in Nevada, putting Reid on the hot seat.

Other groups, including the AFL-CIO, let the Democrats know, in no uncertain terms, that we would not settle for less than a public option.

Progressive talk radio also played a part, with Ed Schultz, especially, banging away day in and day out on this issue for months.

Sen. Dick Durbin acknowledged the effect of the campaign on the Democratic leadership.

The toughness of progressive Senators like Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold and Tom Harkin, who held their ground for a public option, also was instrumental.

Helping the progressive cause, too, was a series of recent polls that showed—wonders of wonders!—that the public actually wants the public option.

But what kind of public option will it be?

First off, the opt-out choice will weaken the clout of the public option if many states take it.

And second, how soon will the public option be available?

And third, how many of us can join it?

We’ll have to check the fine print, but Obama’s public option was paltry, allowing only those without health insurance to join.

But if you’re getting private insurance through your employer, even lousy insurance, you won’t be able to get Obama’s public option.

And what 65 percent of Americans actually prefer is the ability to join Medicare. They favor a system of Medicare for All Who Want It, according to a New York Times/CBS poll last month.

So the Reid bill, while preferable to a “trigger” or to co-ops (which still may be in the bill, by the way), is a far cry from the most sensible solution.

That would be Medicare for All.

And the next best idea, Medicare for All Who Want It, isn’t on the table, either.

But Reid and Obama have gone farther than I thought they were, so I’ll eat half a plate of crow.