It's safe to say that reformers are unhappy, though hardly shocked, about the news coming out of the Senate Finance Committee. But it's hard to know exactly how bad things are. One data point that may ultimately clarify things, though, is the way Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reacts to the developments, if and when that happens.
But that's just the thing. For the last few weeks, Schumer has been notably silent.
Months ago, Schumer was tapped to be the point man for the public plan in the Finance Committee. And for a long time, he was very visible in that role--swatting down weak alternatives to the public option, and predicting that the final legislation would contain a government plan. But at some point the momentum changed.
Schumer said he'd likely oppose--and urge other Democrats to oppose--any co-operative proposal that didn't fulfill most, if not all, of the aims a public option is supposed to fulfill. Now, though, it seems all but certain that the Finance Committee will propose a co-op op plan of some sort, and Schumer's reaction to it would be a telling--though perhaps not definitive--measure of the amount of support it might receive among a great number of Democrats in the Senate.
But first, of course, he has to weigh in. To this point, all inquiries to his office have gone unanswered. Obviously, the terms of the bill have not been finalized, and it's not completely surprising that he hasn't weighed in yet. But inquiring minds would like to know what he thinks of where things stand right now.