The push to revive the public option suffered a major setback today when White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the popular measure lacks the 50 votes it would need in the Senate to survive the budget reconciliation process. Gibbs' abruptness caught Senate Dem leadership by surprise, but what he said isn't really at odds with their own take. And yet, the number of public proponents of the plan keeps growing, and it's easy to remember a time when it seemed pretty clear that there were at least 50 votes for a public option in the Senate.
Read More →
So what are the public option's chances in the Senate? Ostensibly, they're not very good.
"I think the public option ought to be done, but it's a long shot," said Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA). Specter is one of 23 signatories to a letter advocating passing the public option by way of reconciliation, so he has his eyes wide open. And there's some reason to believe this. The public option had four ardent Democratic opponents during the long fight over the Senate bill this past fall and winter: Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT).