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Chuck Schumer--Public Plan Point Man, And Political Barometer

Last month, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND)--lukewarm on the public option himself--took a stab at reaching a bipartisan compromise by floating the idea of substituting a system of private co-operatives in place of a government-run plan. Reformers weren't happy, and neither was Schumer. He pulled the plug on the idea, declaring that the sort of co-ops Republicans might accept wouldn't serve nearly the same function as a national public plan.

This past Sunday, on Face the Nation, Schumer boldly predicted, "there will be a public option in the final bill, some form of it." And this week, when White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel suggested the White House might be on board with kicking the public option can down the road a bit, Schumer was perfectly clear. Delaying the creation of a public option is "not good enough."

Schumer has his share of critics on a number of issues, but inside the beltway, he is known as a pragmatic center-left Democrat, with no shortage of political savvy. His confidence is telling. And if it begins to falter, that would be telling, too.

About The Author


Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at