Are Democrats about to dramatically improve and pass what so far has looked like a deeply flawed and corrupt bill by adding a strong public option or Medicare buy in?
Think about it: only an idiot would really think the Republicans would support real health care reform that took money out of the pockets of insurance companies, and if the debate started with single payer, a public option, or opening medicare to all, enough Blue Dogs and DLCers would have joined the GOP to sustain a filibuster and kill the bill. Likewise, the media would not have been kind to such a bill and would have parroted the GOP talking points about the evils of socialism.
So what do you do? Get over the initial hurdles with a bill that is nearly identical to one signed into law by a Republican governor. Republicans will protest it anyway, but swing voters might notice their hypocrisy, which would limit the effectiveness of GOP protests.
Once the bill got past the procedural hurdles to the point that it could be done with reconciliation, it still does no good to telegraph the punch, but it does help to get the public to visibly ''twist their arms'' with ever growing demands for a public option.
Then if they substitute a strong public option, Medicare buy in, or hell, even single payer at the last second, the protests of the right and their parrots in the media won't matter. The public will get it, and thank the Democrats for it at the polls in November.
It would have a side benefit as far as all the money insurance companies threw at Democrats to sway their vote. The Democrats would get to keep that money, and what could the insurance companies say? That they expected a quid pro quo? A second benefit would be that Democrats could honestly say their vote on this could not be bought in spite of all the money that was showered on them and it could reset the relationship between pols and lobbyists.
This scenario would require a lot of coordination and discipline, which the Democrats as a party rarely demonstrated apart from voting for the worst excrement of the Bush administration, and maybe the current talk of a public option is just shining us on until they pass a corporate give away--but maybe, just maybe, these aren't the droids you're looking for.
UPDATE: I was wrong. March 29, 2010