Today, everyone's officially on the same page. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and his leadership team, and the White House all stand behind the Senate health care bill, which, as we learned this week, includes a public option. But the days leading up to Reid's big Monday announcement were perhaps more trying for leading Democrats than has been publicly acknowledged, or than today's picture of calm would lead you to believe.
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Much of the hoopla surrounding Reid's decision centers around a tense Thursday night meeting between President Obama and Senate health care principals--including Reid and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)--at the White House. But according to sources briefed on White House-Senate health care negotiations, things began boiling over earlier in the week, when a key question was, Who's going to take the blame when the public option doesn't make it in to the base health care bill?
According to a source briefed on White House-Senate health care negotiations, the public option's saving grace was its political popularity with the Democratic base. The source described the back and forth between Senate health care principals and the White House as a "sort of stare down where the two sides were saying, 'you be the face of pulling it out.' Reid wants Obama to do it to give cover to his caucus, Obama wants Reid to do it so he's not the bad guy on the public option, and can still walk away with a win with reform, with bipartisanship, and with a card for everybody running for re-election."