Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was on NBC’s Meet The Press today where he said that Democrats are close to having the 60 votes that they need to move healthcare reform forward in the Senate. Schumer said that the compromise that will lead to likely passage is a public option with a state opt out clause.
Here is the video:
When moderator David Gregory asked Schumer about having the votes to pass healthcare, he answered, “I and others have been talking to liberal Democrats, moderate Democrats, conservative Democrats. The liberals, they like it stronger, but they’re willing to live with level playing field, opt-out. The more moderate Democrats, there are some who actually like it. As long as it’s a level playing field, they’re comfortable with it. There are others who say that, “I’m not sure I like it, but I won’t hold up passage of the bill.”
He said that the Democrats are close to having the votes that they need, “I think we’re very close to getting the 60 votes we need to move forward, and my guess is that the public option level playing field with the state opt-out will be in the bill. But Leader Reid will make that decision after he talks to everybody several times.”
Giving the states the ability to opt out of the public option will likely get even the most conservative Democrats on board. Politically it moves the decision on the public option to the states, which resolves the dilemma that red state Democrats are facing. On its face this is a good compromise, except the uninsured people in conservative states.
I would be amazed if the healthcare reform bill got more than two Republican votes in the Senate. I suspect that they will still oppose the bill, because they believe that saying no is their path to electoral victory. In the long term the opt out clause will move a hot button issue to the states, and it is a safe bet that the Republicans who oppose the public option, where it is popular will have to defend their opposition in future campaigns.