Within the next hour or so, it looks like Harry Reid is going to announce a healthcare reform bill with a public insurance plan included.
This is, of course, fantastic news.
But going back to my 'Denial' post from earlier, let's do a bit of role playing here to further illustrate my point that the recent trigger news isn't about the president deliberately trying to undermine or kill the public option.
Let's say it becomes clear that Nelson and Lincoln are going to filibuster healthcare reform with the Republicans -- for real -- by voting against cloture. This means 58 votes and a successful Republican filibuster.
Meanwhile, it's clear that reconciliation would butcher the reform bill -- perhaps even stripping the public option from the bill, along with other crucial aspects of reform. At the same time, Olympia Snowe and both Nelson and Lincoln suggest they would vote for cloture on a bill with a triggered public option.
You're the president. What do you do?
1. Embark on a serious arm-twisting campaign to win over Nelson and Lincoln on the opt-out public option, and hope they change their mind in time for a cloture vote?
2. Roll the dice with reconciliation which even experts like Lawrence O'Donnell suggest would turn a reform bill into a pile of shit?
3. Accept the trigger and move the bill forward, then spend the extra time twisting arms for a stronger public option in conference committee -- maybe even winning over Nelson and Lincoln in the process?
In reality, it sounds like Reid has a path to 60 votes for the opt-out public option. Excellent. But this exercise is meant to explain why, if at all, the White House may have been considering the trigger at this stage. As Jon Cohn wrote today, President Obama clearly wants a strong public option, but the Snowe/trigger was Plan-B for getting the bill out of the Senate and into conference committee and for that reason, they were willing to keep it on the table.
(Also, keep in mind the underlying fact that the House Progressive Caucus has pledged to vote against anything with a trigger, so a trigger would doom the final bill in the House. Just a reminder.)