Why Heather Graham is Dangerous for Health Reform

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Public option supporters inside and outside the Senate are still pushing Harry Reid to bring back the idea and pass it via reconciliation, Jay Rockefeller’s hesitance notwithstanding. My guess is Rockefeller’s opposition to this plan is based on concern that the public option could completely blowup the renewed push for Democratic health care reform. The public option gets passions stirred up on the right and left and does not engender a feeling of bipartisanship, which the White House is at least feigning interest in right now. Ezra Klein articulates this concern well here:

The public option is popular policy, it’s good policy, and it energizes the base. The problem is that it’s not popular policy with the handful of conservative House and Senate votes that you need to push this bill over the finish line.

Caucus politics present another dilemma: The public option died due to the opposition of Nelson, Landrieu, Lincoln, Lieberman and a handful of other conservative — and vulnerable — Democrats. Reid cut a deal with them, and they signed onto the final product. For many, that was a big political risk. The price was letting them say they killed the public option. Bringing it back to the bill will mean they voted for a bill that ended up including something they’d promised their constituents they’d killed. Cross them on this and you’ve lost their trust — and thus their votes — in the future.

Then there’s the larger political strategy that the White House, and the Democrats, seem to have settled on. The idea, which is centered around Thursday’s summit, is to look more bipartisan than the obstructionist Republicans. Resuscitating the most controversial part of the bill does not fit with that plan.

Of course, that logic hasn’t stopped Heather Graham from jumping on the bandwagon.