Nelson: Speech Was ‘Game Changer’; Snowe? Not So Much

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We already know that House progressive leaders are giving President Obama’s health care speech positive, if not overwhelming reviews. But they’re engaged in a bit of legislative tug-of-war with Senate centrists, particularly over the public option. So how did conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans react?

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), who’s come out in support of the idea of triggering the public option, said “I think it was a bit of a game changer.”

That’s about as positive a review as you can get. But right now all eyes are on Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and her response was a bit less enthusiastic.“I appreciate that President Obama shared many of the details of his vision for health reform at this pivotal and historic moment, and signaled a willingness to work across party lines,” Snowe said. “At the same time, as I continue to oppose the inclusion of a public option in any package, I would have preferred that the issue were taken off the table as I have urged the President – given that any bill with a public option will not pass the Senate and this divisive subject is unnecessarily delaying our ability to reach common ground.”

However, she added that she’s “encouraged the President recognized that we cannot leave this imperative to chance – and acknowledged the safety net plan I have proposed is a ‘constructive’ idea ‘worth exploring.’ Such a fallback plan would be offered if, after we have implemented landmark insurance market reforms, private insurers fail to deliver the affordable coverage Americans require.”

Which basically means, even though the speech allayed Democratic concerns across the spectrum, we’re still on trigger watch.

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 brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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