The Progressive Caucus and its allies are holding a press conference this afternoon to emphasize their bottom line on health care: If it doesn’t have a strong public option, it does not get their vote.
In fact, Progressive Caucus Chairman Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., has said that because the reform bill has gotten “all mucked up” Congress “might have to come back and start over.”
Members of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party finally got fed up with the bending and scraping to the Blue Dogs who have been trying to slow down and water down reform on Wednesday, when the conservative Democrats announced that they had a “deal” with the Democratic leadership. Some of the details were outlined by The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein:
The original legislation let the public plan use Medicare payment rates for three years, after which point the secretary of health and human services would negotiate rates. Now the secretary negotiates rates from year one. States can set up co-op insurance plans, but in addition to, rather than in lieu of, the public plan. The small business exemption is raised from $250,000 to $500,000. There are some cuts elsewhere in the bill to bring down the cost…
Klein takes the debatable position that these details are not highly significant. What should not be in dispute is the larger concern over the Blue Dogs being given veto power over health care reform, when they do not speak for a majority of the voters. A deal is not a deal when the Blue Dogs say it is. It’s a deal when the Progressive Caucus—which happens to have the largest bloc of votes among House Democrats—can also say that it is a deal.
Terrance Heath’s Progressive Breakfast has more detail on what’s going on.
H/T: Steve Benin, The Political Animal.